When I started meditating more than I drank, I found that there were certain friends I could be with whether we were partying or not. Then there were others who were not as interesting outside of a bar… or who felt that I wasn’t as interesting. We just weren’t a good match anymore.
As I started to do my own work while stepping out of my own victim mentality and wanting to feel more empowered in my life, I found it more difficult to be around friends with whom I bonded through complaining. Some of us drifted apart, but others wanted to shif too, so we worked on it together.
And when I realized there were some people who cared about me but whom, when I was with them, I’d leave feeling worse about myself, I let go of them too.
Some could see moments like this as a positive change, but for many people – including myself – it can be really lonely… even before the isolation of the pandemic.
So here we are with various reasons for having fewer friends – outgrowing them, drifting apart, a pandemic, increasingly busy lives – and we’re no longer in college but we want to make new friends. And we’re like, “How the heck do we do that, again?”
But listen, the challenge with making friends isn’t that you’re uncool or awkward – ‘cause I know we often feel that way. It’s more that as we get older, the essential ingredients of cultivating a friendship are fewer and far between – free time for spontaneous hangouts and time to be vulnerable with one another.
So how do we make quality friends later in life?
I hate to break it to those of you who want shiz to happen spontaneously, but the key is to take some initiative. And maybe even (gasp) plan!
If we want to create deep, meaningful, and intimate relationships with others, we have to be willing to create it ourselves.
For me, it felt like creating community and friendships was easier when I was living in California. I had lived in a Buddhist retreat center and been very active in other dharma communities. When I moved to Alaska, it felt much harder to find a thriving, robust dharma community.
After literally crying about this to a meditation teacher while on retreat, I she asked me, “Maybe you need to create this.” after feeling a ton of nausea at this thought, I started a kalyana mitta group – a small community group of spiritual friends – and we meditated together online, and I hosted in-person day-long retreats at our yurt. I met new people AND deepened friendships I already had. It helped!
Another reason why people have a hard time making friends later in life is because of the stigma attached to putting yourself out there after a certain age. We feel dorky when we ask, “Do you want to be my friend?” But most of us would really appreciate hearing that.
So instead of indulging those thoughts telling us that trying to meet new people makes us seem lonely or sad, we can remind ourselves that so many people are looking for the same thing – and they would be stoked to find someone like you to spend time with.
If you’re wanting to create new friendships for any reason, consider taking it upon yourself to create situations where you’ll meet new people and plan for them.
You can organize regularly scheduled group activities like a weekend hike, a kalyana mitta, or a book club.
It’s also key to get over our initial shyness and actually ask for new people’s contact info. Yes – for realz. It may feel awkward or vulnerable, but there’s data that shows these conversations are likely to go much better than we think.
Plus, if someone says no, we don’t have to take it personally. We can assume what the data shows – they are too busy.
Why risk all this discomfort? Remember also that friendships aren’t just nice; they’re essential.
Humans are social creatures. We don’t need tons of friends, but we do need connection to friends. Your mental and physical health will also benefit from it, too – loneliness can be as bad for us as smoking one pack a day!
Another big part of the challenge is finding people who have the same vision as you about friendship, and it helps if they also see making friends as a priority – as important as partners and careers. Something to invest in.
One of the coolest things is that we get to pick where we meet new friends so we attract our people.Maybe for you that’s a yoga retreat or joining a hiking or climbing group, or a dinner club.
Making new friends requires the same thing that most worthwhile things in life do – taking risks, being uncomfortable, letting go of what other people think of us, and cultivating the belief that we’re 100% worthy and lovable as we are – perfectly imperfect.
So head out there and do cool shit so you can meet fun people – don’t wait to meet the cool people first. You are that person. Reach out to people. Be vulnerable. We are all longing for connection and friendship – and need it.
In this Episode you will learn:
// Why it’s hard to make friends later in life
// The one thing you must do to create a community around you
// Ways you can plan to create new friendships
// Why friendships are essential to all of us
// Episode 2: How to Not Care What Other People Think About You
// Episode 36: How to Let People Be Wrong About You
// Blog post: Your Tribe Matters
// If you want to finally get clear about your unique Soul purpose and how to create a life that supports it during this one precious life we have, apply for the Adventure Mastermind. It’s deep work. Important, necessary, and essential to what the world needs right now. Be a part of it
There is only ONE SPOT left, so if you’re remotely curious, apply. It will help you get clear, and then we can chat to see if it’s actually a good fit. Trust me – it’s an intense 6 months so I am just as invested as you are in making sure it’s an amazing match. Head over to AdventureMastermind.com and apply for the next cohort. We have 2 altered states retreats, weekly coaching, virtual retreats, and more. I’ve got you!
// If you’re new to the squad, grab the Rebel Buddhist Toolkit I created at RebelBuddhist.com. It has all you need to start creating a life of more freedom, adventure, and purpose. You’ll also get access to the Rebel Buddhist FB group, and tune in weekly when I go live on new topics.
// Want to dive into this work on a deeper level on your own time? To study it and practice it together with a group of people with the same goals of freedom, adventure and purpose? Check out Freedom School – the community for ALL things related to freedom, inside and out.