“Help me make new friends!”

Woman's World - - Ask America’s Ultimate Experts -

Friends don’t just en­rich our lives—know­ing there is al­ways some­one to call, to con­fide in, to laugh and cry with lit­er­ally helps us live longer. But what if you’ve lost track of child­hood friends or moved to a new town? Is it re­ally pos­si­ble to forge great friend­ships as an adult? Yes, de­clare our ex­perts! All you need to do to broaden your so­cial cir­cle—and boost your joy ev­ery day—is . . . 1 Meet up! Join the “Vil­lage Move­ment”!

You’ve heard it takes a vil­lage to raise a child. Well, a new move­ment is prov­ing it takes a vil­lage to make friends, too. “More and more neigh­bor­hoods are cre­at­ing ‘ vil­lage’ groups, which help seniors make con­nec­tions in their com­mu­nity, sus­tain­ing them emo­tion­ally, as well as lo­gis­ti­cally,” ex­plains psy­chol­o­gist An­drea Bo­nior, Ph. D. “Mem­bers do ev­ery­thing from form walk­ing clubs to swap rides for doc­tor’s ap­point­ments.” To find a vil­lage near you (or learn how to start one), just log on to Vil­lage Net­work (Vtvnet­work.org).

Be like Kevin Ba­con!

It’s the first bit of ad­vice friend­ship ex­pert Chris­tine Hoover gives folks in­ter­ested in mak­ing new friends and here’s why: “At the end of the movie Foot­loose, there’s a dance, but ev­ery­one is just stand­ing on op­po­site sides of the room not talk­ing to each other— un­til Kevin Ba­con’s char­ac­ter walks in and takes the ini­tia­tive!” In other words, “be the one to take the first step, like his char­ac­ter, and don’t over­look the easy things that spark friend­ships, like sim­ply say­ing hello or ask­ing an ac­quain­tance to have cof­fee or dessert with you.”

Pin­point your peo­ple!

What makes your com­mu­nity unique? The an­swer can help you find friend­ship hot spots, says Hoover. “Ten years ago, when I moved to Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, I didn’t know any­one. But I soon learned that Char­lottesville is a real book-lovers’ com­mu­nity. There’s a book fes­ti­val ev­ery year and so many book clubs. So I quickly found a club and be­gan meet­ing peo­ple.” Bot­tom line: Pick up your lo­cal news­pa­per or head to your nearby Y to learn about clubs, classes and vol­un­teer­ing op­por­tu­ni­ties where you can meet like-minded folks.

2 Grow closer! Bridge long dis­tances!

“Once a year, I get to­gether with my old col­lege friends,” says Hoover. “When we get to­gether, we have some­thing we call ‘pur­pose­ful share time,’ where we share chal­lenges we might be go­ing through. Over the years, we’ve helped each other get through so many ups and downs just by lis­ten­ing.” Too far away for in-per­son vis­its? “I talk on the phone with one of my old­est friends once a month. I put it right on the cal­en­dar. It doesn’t have to be a long con­ver­sa­tion. Just be­ing con­sis­tent helps you stay con­nected.”

Share goals!

A per­fect way to strengthen the great friend­ships you al­ready have? Do some­thing new to­gether! “Much like in a ro­man­tic re­la­tion­ship, it can help you forge a stronger con­nec­tion,” prom­ises Bo­nior. Sim­ply set a spe­cific, doable goal that you can help each other achieve, maybe sign­ing up for an art class to­gether, host­ing a monthly potluck to­gether or vol­un­teer­ing an hour a week at the lo­cal an­i­mal shel­ter to­gether.

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