What is a genuine friendship? Let’s start with a group of famous friends who were prime examples of true friends. Who can forget that iconic ‘girlfriend’ show called The Golden Girls? Four unique women, Blanche, Dorothy, Sophia, and Rose, each totally different from the others, all living together after marriages and careers. They were unlikely friends but somehow became as close as sisters. These women and their antics entertained viewers for seven seasons and are still entertaining in re-runs to this day.
Maybe you’re fortunate enough to have known a friend forever (like a high school friend). Or a similarly ‘vintaged’ newer friend who you connect with for a variety of reasons. Genuine friendships are priceless. Younger friends are great as well. But being able to share deeply with someone your own age is a valuable gift and can very often lead to true friendship. Like the Gold Girls.
When my good friends and I do get together our conversation turns to the Beatles, college in the 60s, adult children and grandchildren, or even health concerns; we find ourselves sharing as kindred spirits. We get it. These are signs of a good friendship. We’ve experienced those things and some of them we experienced together. The understanding, the memories, and the sharing are unique and treasures I hold dear.
#1 Grow Close Friends by Being One
I remember my mom telling me, “Honey if you want to make a new friend, you have to be a friend”? Junior High loneliness comes to mind here for me. It took me a while to find my ‘tribe’. I wasn’t even the new kid, just one of the hundreds who came from several feeder elementary schools. My grade school, jr. high, and high school friends are still in my life today. We don’t get together as we used to because our family now lives in another state. But, my mom was right. I cared about, chatted with, played with, and even complained with the kids around me. And, it worked!
What are you looking for in a friend? Be that. Is it that simple? Maybe not if you’re looking for an immediate result, but if you’ve got a little time it’s the best way. A good friend told me when we moved to our new state to give myself a year to let the new friendships ripen. She was right!
Here are some ‘being a friend’ things that come to mind: be a listener, be open and honest, and be a giver. Can you add to that list? I’m sure you can! This is a starting point. More ideas can be found in another post on Quiet Hollow called, “Making Keeper Friends”.
#2 Grow a Genuine Friendship by Doing What you Love Doing
What’s your ‘thing’? Walking the trails in your town, going to a book group or Bible study or meetup, hanging out at the yarn shop or Hobby Lobby? Maybe it’s time to dust off that hobby or sport you used to be so passionate about and get going with it again. You’ll probably find others involved in the things you love which makes connecting even easier.
Let’s chat about what walking this road of welcome and making a golden girlfriend have in common. If we think about being welcoming where ever we are, do you think that could become a habit (I’m also reading Atomic Habits right now…Squirrel!)? A consistent attitude is a natural way of responding to the people God puts in our path (our road). Maybe think about how that would look different from what you’re doing right now. For me, it would mean being a little more brave, opening my mouth more often, being myself, and most importantly smiling.
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#3 Make a True Friendship by Realizing You’re Not Alone
Finding new friends is different for us older adults. Well, in some ways! As an introvert, I still get a little anxious walking into a new social situation, talking to a new neighbor, or going to a new church or Bible study. Since I’ve been writing and reading about this topic for a while, however, my hesitancy to step out in this area is decreasing. And, my focus on the other person is increasing.
Some may be hindered from getting out there by the notion that as older adults we’re beyond the stage of making new friends. UNTRUE! If somebody is telling you those words or you hear the words thinking you in the back of your brain, simply ignore the voice. There are so many of us wanting to make some new good friends and staying home is, well, not going to help at all.
If you’re suffering from loneliness (which is a whole other deeper issue) or on the verge; isolation is the exact opposite of what you’ll want to be doing. Professional help might be a good next step for you if getting out there is the farthest thing from your mind. ❤️
So, there are others out there just like you wanting to be friends. Millions of them. What are you waiting for? Go! Check out this post with even more ideas for connecting! I think you’ll love “3 Strategies for Making Keeper Friends“!
And most importantly, you deserve some new true friends. We all do!
Our Favorite Posts about Friends
#4 Make a New Friend by Striking Up a Conversation
Sounds easy, right? Well, if you’re an introvert, shy, or socially awkward (or all three!), this could be a challenge. There are some tools I’ve heard about over the years and even tried. My problem is that I forget them when I find myself in a situation where it would be good to remember them! You probably don’t look around thinking how everyone seems to know everyone and you don’t have anyone to connect with, but I do that very thing sometimes.
Here are a few tips, and some tools for your ‘talking toolbox’.
- Say ‘Hi’ and introduce yourself.
- Skip or spend very little time on small talk.
- Ask questions! How they know the host, what they like about the place if they have grandkids.
- Make sure most of your questions are open-ended. Yes and No’s stop a convo in its tracks!
- Have fun with your new acquaintance or move on. You don’t have to stay stuck in a situation that feels unsafe or weird or just not you. Be polite and move on. At this point, if you’ve decided to stay the conversation will probably take on a life of its own! Enjoy.?
For more ideas and a few conversation starter acronyms which are easy ways to remember and start yourself asking those convo starter questions, check out this handy tool: The Convo Starter Cheatsheet and it’s free!
#5 Celebrate Your New Friends
One way to celebrate your new girlfriend is setting a time to get together; for shopping, for coffee, for a movie, for lunch…whatever fits. At this point, your friendship can start to deepen. You’ll be getting to know each other more and more. Give this ‘baby friendship’ some time to mature before you decide if you aren’t that crazy about the idea. But, know that you can walk away from something that doesn’t feel right. Be careful not to be expecting perfection and on the other hand, to have your friendship bar too high.
It might be time to get your old and new friends together for a Golden Girls party! Of course, you’ll want to serve cheesecake! It could be a time to informally mix your old and new friends. Or, you could go all out with decorations and party supplies! Check out this collection below on Amazon.
Let’s Wrap This Up
Not too long ago I saw the final episode of the Golden Girls. I’d never seen it before and thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a two-parter and luckily both parts aired the day I was watching. I won’t ruin the story for you if you haven’t seen it yet, but there was a major shift in the living arrangement of these golden girlfriends.
Although the show came to an end, you know that Blanche and Dorothy, Rose and Sophia will remain close friends even though one of them will be several states away. Situations change on TV and they will change in your life too. Let me tell you, moving from Washington state to Texas changed things for me! So, the making of golden girlfriends continues.
Making new friends is really an extension or a side benefit of simply caring about and engaging with other people. In a way, it’s hospitality on the go! Jen Schmidt talks about that concept in her chapter called just that (“Hospitality on the Go”) in her insightful book titled Just Open the Door. It’s all about belonging and helping others to feel like they belong too. That form of hospitality could happen in the baseball stands watching your grandkids play with other grandmas, or at the coffee shop trying a new roast. I love this quote from Just Open the Door,
See, the Lord has given us everything we need to walk this road of welcome. ~Jen Schmidt
Once you jump in and start working on making new friends (while being one), you might just get hooked on the process. Getting out there and meeting new people can be fun, even if you tend toward introversion. And, the more you strike up those conversations, join the book clubs, or take up a new hobby, the easier it gets.(Don’t forget to take advantage of the Convo Starter Cheatsheet!) Of course, not every new acquaintance will turn into a golden girlfriend. Some remain happy, casual acquaintances, some drift away, and you’ll find with some, that after an initial spark, the connection doesn’t ever really develop. And, you know what? That’s okay. You can’t and won’t be friends with everybody!
Also, as you’re making new friends, know that you’re possibly bringing friendship to someone who’s been looking for a while themselves! And, if you’re both fortunate you’ll develop a golden girl friendship with someone you can share deeper things, cry with, laugh with, and possibly pray with. No matter how old we are there are friends out there waiting to meet us and share a piece of cheesecake. (I’ll take mine with strawberries and whipped cream!)
Finding a new purpose in living and joy in the day-to-day was the goal when author Kathy Rowland and her entire family (adult kids and grandkids) moved from the PNW to Texas several years ago. The focus of Quiet Hollow is to encourage ‘next chapter women’ – those who are retired, empty-nesters, or have found themselves without a spouse to jump back into life. And, she shares multiple tips, ideas, and possibilities toward that end. Kathy completed her almost 30 years as an elementary teacher and hopped into over a decade of volunteer work, side hustle-type businesses, and grandchild care before discovering her unique and fulfilling purpose for the next chapter of life. What you read on Quiet Hollow is a large part of that calling. Another part is the happy life she’s leading in Central Texas in the same neighborhood as the 3 big kids and her 5 grandkids. She and her college sweetheart husband made sure to add a pool to their new Texas home, so there are lots of noisy, splashy days in their little oasis of a backyard. Come join her on Quiet Hollow in a conversation about finding and living the life you were created to live in this later stage. The chats will be full of laughter, support, faith, and inspiration to create.