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How to Make and Keep New Friends

Two women smiling and laughing as they paint outdoors
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Some friendships last a lifetime, while others fade. But maintaining a social circle as you age is important for your health and happiness. Staying socially connected is linked to better physical, mental and cognitive health — and even a longer life — according to a 2023 advisory from the U.S. surgeon general.

Yet adults today have fewer close friends than adults did decades ago, according to a 2021 American Enterprise Institute survey. Half of adults experience loneliness, recent studies suggest.

To cultivate new friendships, try these five tips.

  1. Be patient and persistent. Making friends involves a little trial and error. Don’t be discouraged if things don’t click with someone; keep putting yourself out there.
  2. Open up. We move from acquaintance to friendship by letting people in. So just be yourself: genuine; flawed. Share your musical tastes, your fears, your likes and dislikes.
  3. Make time. Getting to know someone takes time. Make space in your schedule for others and protect that time. 
  4. Go play. Participating in activities that you enjoy — a book club, art class, sports team, hiking club or political group — is a natural way to connect with like-minded folks.  
  5. Smile. It’s simple but powerful. Studies show that a smiling face pulls us in and holds our attention — and that people are attracted to positive emotions.

To learn more about how to expand your friend circle, read this article in Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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