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Making friends at 60: "I don't want to die alone..."

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QUESTION:

Dear Irene,

How does one get over being so alone? I do have a few very good friends, but too few! I am dying of loneliness! I don't know what's wrong with me that I can't seem to "connect" and make new friends. I don't want to die alone too! I'm turning 60 this year. Any suggestions?? Many thanks!

Signed, Laura

ANSWER:

Hi Laura,

Your question obviously follows my last post mentioning two tragic news stories recently published about older women who died alone without anyone noticing for some time. The imagery was chilling and most people would hate to think of dying that way.

Admittedly, there are times when it is tougher than others to make new friends. For example, college students are continually thrown into contact with other people in similar circumstances. Young moms can take advantage of abundant opportunities to make friends with parents of their kids or with other women involved in school committees. If someone's working, she might become friends with colleagues. You haven't told me much about you but it sounds like you're at a place in life where you need to actively seek out friendships because it isn't occurring naturally.

Making friends is more a matter of circumstances than age, per se. Unless there is something about you that pushes others away, if you follow your interests and remain actively involved with people, you will be able to replenish your stock of friends. The choice is yours: Get involved with cultural, political, or social groups. Join a gym, book club, cooking club, or take a class. Volunteer in your community at the library or hospital. If you have a dog, start up a conversation with another dog walker on your route.

One caveat: Don't expect too much too soon. Friendships take time but if you are welcoming to potential friends and pursue your own passions, you'll be able to turn new acquaintances into deep friendships over time. If you come across as desperate or clingy, it might be a turnoff to a future friend-to-be.

Being aware of your loneliness and that you want close friendships is an important first step. I hope this is helpful.

Warm regards,
Irene

Have a question about female friendships? Send it to The Friendship Doctor.

Irene S. Levine, PhD is a freelance journalist and author. She holds an appointment as a professor of psychiatry at the New York University School of Medicine. Her new book about female friendships, Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup with Your Best Friend, was recently published by Overlook Press. She also blogs about female friendships at The Friendship Blog and at PsychologyToday.com.

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