Keep yourself socially connected as you age
I have always prided myself on being comfortable in my own company. I realise, though, that this has always been a choice – whenever I wanted, I could call up a friend to make a date.
Now, circumstances have changed: a good friend has moved to Kenya, my sister has been in New Zealand for almost twenty years, and four friends are grieving the loss of a loved one. I long to connect with each of them, loving the times in which we can just savour each other’s company. I am also enjoying the energy of new and revived friendships.
In a Next Avenue blog, Wendy Sue Knecht offers a few helpful tips in finding love and friendship as we get older. See what is of value for you.
1. Re-frame old mindsets
Knecht believes that “with the right mindset, it is easier to find love and friendship”.
The transition for Knecht from singleness to marriage at age 47 was not a difficult one. She says, “Having more self-knowledge made it easier to feel open to new experiences. Being set in my ways was a choice and served no purpose. I made a conscious decision not to be ‘stuck’ in a rigid mindset.”
2. Free others and yourself from perfection
As we age, we learn to accept our flaws, Knecht contends, and this engenders confidence. Youth often holds to strict standards for all to live up to. “Once you come to accept your own faults and imperfections, it is easier to accept other people for who they are. Not only do I not expect anyone to be perfect, I would hate for anyone to expect that of me,” she says.
3. Others don’t define you if you define yourself
Remember those adolescent years when your greatest need was to feel accepted? The best way to do it was to fit in and look like the others as much as possible.
“Once we have the self-assurance of age, it is no longer necessary to find a partner or a friend to define ourselves. You can appreciate others more fully when you realize they are not a reflection of you,” Knecht claims. Learn to listen without judgement, and you can appreciate varying viewpoints and tastes.
4. Embrace quirkiness and celebrate difference
Allowing yourself to be an original is so liberating. Have fun and allow yourself to enjoy a sense of humour. If your friend dresses up and you love your jeans, make it a shared joke between you. Appreciate differences and embrace each one’s uniqueness. I learnt this on a recent Bucket Wheel family vacation to Ireland. I was desperate for all to see the Book of Kells and was disappointed to find I was the only fan. I had to accept that, for the rest of the family, standing in a queue to see a book was not a priority (and kissing a stone was not mine!).
5. Keep an open mind
“Keeping an open mind is key to finding new friends and love as you get older. Never say never; love and friendship could be just around the corner,” Knecht enthuses.
Think of your happiest times – you will find that a good proportion of them were spent with lovely friends.