Starting new relationships when you’re over 40 can be difficult, but joining a class or volunteering can make it easier.

Making friends can be relatively easy when you’re young. School, college, and extramural groups provide several opportunities to make new friends.

But when you’re in your 40s, making new friends might be challenging.

According to research from 2020, more than one-third (35%) of adults in the U.S. aged 45 years old and older report feeling lonely.

Loneliness can have a negative impact on your mental health. While it can be difficult to put yourself out there, making new friends can be a form of self-care.

If you’d like to find new relationships and friendships after 40, try using your current social circle while joining in-person meetups that revolve around your interests.

Friendship is important to our mental and physical health, and it becomes increasingly important as we age, according to research from 2020.

So, why is it so hard to meet new friends and date in your 40s? A few factors might be at play.

Fewer opportunities

When we’re younger, it’s relatively easy to meet new friends through school and college. When we’re older, we’re less likely to be in spaces where we meet many new people and spend time with them every day.

The pandemic made it harder to socialize in person, especially at work — the one place many people in their 40s meet others.

Lack of time

When we’re in our 40s or older, we often have little time to meet others. You might have a long list of responsibilities such as work, raising children or teenagers, and spending time with partners and family members.

Even if you still have the energy to meet new people, other people your age might not.

A 2015 study suggests that people over 30 value quality of relationships over quantity, so they might prefer maintaining friendships over meeting new people.

Past experiences

If you’ve had relationships that have gone sour — whether platonic or romantic — you might feel nervous about making new connections.

But you’re not alone. Your agemates might be wary, too.

There are a few ways to connect with new people and develop healthy platonic and romantic relationships.

1. Old friends

Your old friendships can help you form new friendships. Your friends’ friends can become your new friends — you likely already have some things in common!

Consider telling your current friends that you want to expand your social circle. They might want to introduce you to a friend they’d think you’d like.

2. “Bring a friend” parties

While it’s great to spend one-on-one time with your friends, try to attend social gatherings — such as parties, barbeques, or dinners — where new people will be present.

If you’re in the mood for hosting a party, encourage your friends to bring plus-ones (or plus-twos). This could include potlucks, picnics, or bring-and-share barbeques.

Try to make it clear to your party-goers that the purpose of the party is for everyone to make new friends. You never know, some of your friends might want to expand their friendship circle, too!

3. Traveling

If you enjoy traveling and have the ability to do so, it can bring you the opportunity to meet new people. As a bonus, they’ll share your interest in travel, so there’s no shortage of possible icebreakers!

Cruises and group trips abroad can be a great way to form new friendships, but day trips and walking tours in nearby towns can also be wonderful.

Try touristy outings such as visiting museums and going on sightseeing busses. These can provide wonderful opportunities to meet interesting people.

4. Taking classes

If you’ve always wanted to learn something new, taking a class can be a great opportunity to work on your skills while making friends.

Whether it’s an exercise class, dance class, or pottery lesson, you’re guaranteed to meet someone with a shared interest.

5. Joining hobby and interest groups

Much like classes, hobby groups provide an opportunity to connect with people who have similar interests.

These groups can include:

  • hiking groups
  • dog clubs and walking groups
  • book clubs
  • sports clubs
  • improv groups
  • gardening clubs
  • religious groups

Joining a hobby group can be a fun way to nurture your interests while meeting others.

6. Hanging out in community spaces

Simply spending time in community spaces such as libraries or museums can lead to you forming new friendships.

If something is particularly enjoyable to you — for example, spending time at your local planetarium or birdwatching in the park — try to be open to meeting new people there.

7. Attending local events

Events such as block parties, pub quizzes, and park runs can provide the perfect opportunity to connect with your neighbors and spend time with people who live nearby.

You can find these types of events in your local paper or on Facebook.

8. Volunteering

Volunteering can be a great way to give back and connect with new people. Consider choosing a cause that’s close to your heart and where you’ll probably meet people who have similar values.

You could volunteer at:

  • a soup kitchen
  • your child’s school
  • an animal shelter
  • your local library
  • a senior citizen’s home
  • an environmental club
  • an NGO

Studies suggest that volunteering regularly can promote brain functioning and improve life satisfaction as you age.

9. Trying apps and online forums

Apps such as Tinder and Bumble are a great way to meet people of all ages. Apps are great for meeting new people to date, and they can also help you find new friends.

For example, Bumble has a feature for making friends called Bumble BFF.

You could also meet new friends through interest forums. Discord servers and online forums are great places to connect with people around the world who might have similar interests to you.

10. Using other websites

Websites such as MeetUp work by using the internet to help people meet offline. You can join a group, find a local event, or meet people in person.

The groups are typically based on interests such as hiking, tech, parenting, or art. So, you’ll likely end up having plenty in common with the people you meet face-to-face.

If you’re finding it hard to meet new people after 40, don’t give up hope!

While it can be a challenge, there are several opportunities to make new friends and meet people who share your values and interests.