About Loneliness and How to Meet New People...
When my children were very young, I had the privilege of being a stay-at-home mom. Our days were filled with arts & crafts, children’s bookstore readings, play dates and kitchen science experiments. I met lots of moms in the park who were looking for adult companionship and an opportunity to break up endless days of baby talk, potty training and doing non-stop laundry.
The older and more independent my kids became, the fewer the opportunities were to meet people and make new friends. After divorce, the couples-friends I had acquired dwindled to less than a handful. I sold my house and moved several times, eventually out of state, relegating many of my friendships to once a year visits and weekly telephone chats.
This is by no means uncommon. Single-parents, empty nesters and women who take care of their elderly parents know firsthand how lonely life transitions can be. Most women have precious little time to keep up with the friendships they already have, let alone cultivate new ones.
If you are lonely and craving girl-time, it is important to know that you can make new friends at any stage of life. It just requires a bit of forethought and effort. Like any other skill you are trying to develop, the more you put yourself out there, the easier it will become. Here are some ideas to help you get started.
- First of all, put a big smile on your face and avoid all negative self-talk.
- Get off the sofa and turn off the television. If you stay at home the only people you will meet are those delivering your mail and packages.
- Take the initiative and make small talk with the person next to you at the pharmacy, the grocers or Starbuck’s. You will find that most women welcome the opportunity to have a pleasant chat while they are waiting in line.
- Meetup.com is a free online platform that can help you meet people in person through interest groups and events in your area. The site is organized by topic of interest and offers something for everybody, i.e. business networkers, food aficionados, movie enthusiasts, hiking groups, etc. After you sign up (via email) all you have to do is check off the activities or hobbies you are interested in, and Meetup will send you email notifications about real-life gatherings happening in your community. Find it at www.Meetup.com
- Join a book club. Most public libraries have monthly gatherings where you can participate in discussions and find out about books you might not normally be motivated to read on your own. Some libraries also host special free events like concerts, plays, and art exhibits. Contact your local library for information about locations, dates and times.
- Enroll in an exercise class at the Y, the gym or through your city’s Parks and Recreation Department. These places also post notices about people looking for company to run or take walks with in your neighborhood.
- Volunteer your time. Check out VolunteerMatch.com for opportunities in your area. The American Red Cross is always looking for help, as are organizations like Habitat for Humanity, and Kids Against Hunger.
- GirlfriendSocial.com is a website dedicated to connecting women with new female platonic friendships. There is no cost to join, and no fees.
- Take an art class or learn a new hobby. What I love most about this is that you will cultivate a new skill and have a good time while you make new friends. Look for classes or events in your local newspaper, chamber of commerce, house of worship or community center. It’s a win-win!
You don’t have to be lonely. Venturing outside your comfort zone can be a little scary, but rest assured, it will become easier with time and practice. You can do it!
Copyright 3-21-19 Sharon Gnatt Epel for La Ishá Inc.
Photo credit: Kristina Tripkovic