Making New Friends: It’s Never Too Late

Practical tips, advice and hope for those who live alone

By Gwenn Voelckers

Question from a reader

I’ve been divorced for about a year now, and struggle with loneliness. I miss the friends we shared as a couple, but I’m just not comfortable socializing with couples anymore. I’m 58, and it feels awkward to try to make friends at my age. Any advice for me?

Answer from Gwenn

You’re not alone. Unfortunately, what you are experiencing often happens in the aftermath of a separation or divorce, especially if it was acrimonious. Friends’ loyalties can be split and, just as you feel uncomfortable relating to your former “couple” friends, some couples may feel uncomfortable relating to a now-single friend.

So how do you meet new people and cultivate friendships as an adult? Here are a few tips:

First, be your own best friend

Taking care of yourself matters. Loving yourself shows. When you feel good about yourself you radiate a calm confidence and kindness that invites people in.

Healthy, positive people attract and gravitate to other healthy, positive people where friendships can flourish.

Do more of what you enjoy doing

You won’t make new friends sitting alone at home. Get out of the house and do those things that bring you joy, whether it’s practicing yoga, learning a new language, taking a cooking class, playing music or any number of activities that put you with others.

You’ll meet people who share and appreciate your interests and aspirations, which — to quote Humphrey Bogart in “Casablanca” — could lead to “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

Consider a support group

It’s not uncommon for new friendships to be borne out of compassion and empathy. A divorce or grief support group will put you in touch with others facing similar challenges.

A friend of mine met her second husband in a divorce support group. She shared, “We got to know each other as friends first, and have remained ‘best friends’ throughout our marriage. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me.”

Say “yes” to invitations and opportunities to be with people

Circulating at neighborhood porch parties, gallery openings, retirement parties, weddings, etc. can be the ticket to making a new friend. You’ll be out and about with people with whom you share something in common.

Show up and don’t be shy about extending an invitation to someone you meet. It could be a cup of coffee, drinks after work or walk in the park.

Don’t overlook your family

My sister is my best friend, and she helped me re-establish a network of friends after my divorce. I had gone into the proverbial “cave” and lost contact with practically everyone.

Her friends became my friends, and now, years later, I enjoy the company of her friends, as well as my own.

Rekindle relationships with old friends

It happens. It’s not uncommon for friends to drift apart when careers, marriage, kids or other life events require time and focus.

But things change. Life marches on and many of us have retired and become empty nesters. You now have glorious time on your hands to reconnect with old friends — friends who were an important part of your life at one point and may still have lots to offer.

Just yesterday, I got a text from an old friend. It began, “It’s been ages! I just retired in June after 34 years. I’d love to connect.”  We are meeting next week.

It’s as easy as that! You can do it.

Give a “singles” event a try

Many divorced or widowed women and men find fun and friendship in community activities organized just for singles. It could be a movie night, dining out, hiking, biking, kayaking, you name it.

You can find these opportunities online in community calendars or in local newspapers. You could also check out for a wide-ranging list of activities, gatherings, and events for people with similar interests and hobbies.

Volunteer or champion a cause

Supporting an organization or cause you believe in will put you in contact with people working toward a common goal.

Community gardens, political parties, hospitals, museums, animal shelters and many other organizations often need volunteers. Strong connections can be made when you work alongside others who want to make the world a better place to live, work, play and pray.

Friendships enrich our lives. Good friends are there for you in hard times when you need someone to lean on. And they are there for you in good times to help celebrate life’s successes and happy moments.

When I’m in the company of my good friends, I feel a warm sense of belonging. They know me and I know them. We laugh and cry together, prop each other up, and share our deepest feelings and fears, hopes and dreams, and of course, favorite recipes and movies.

My friends are family.

If you are feeling lonely or left out, know that you can always meet new people, make new friends, and nurture existing ones. It’s never too late.

Gwenn Voelckers is the founder and facilitator of Alone and Content, empowerment workshops for women and author of “Alone and Content,” a collection of inspiring essays for those who live alone. For information about her workshops, to purchase her book, or invite her to speak, visit