Now people are more disconnected from each other. People have given up on previous friendships and contacts. It’s a chore to call people to reconnect, taking up so much energy. Then they wonder why they are lonely. Don’t throw away old friends or people you meet. If you feel lonely, get up and find an exercise class, yoga, art class, church, music class, school class, or anything that you are interested in. You can talk to the other people in the class and make new friends – just put yourself out and if one doesn’t seem to want to be friends, another will and there is NO shame in trying. Even if you are shy – just put yourself out there and be proud of your effort! See if someone wants to meet for coffee or go to lunch. Sometimes the person will start to include you in their group. Just try to make an effort.
The best thing you can do to get over loneliness, and push yourself, whether shy or not, is to just call someone to meet up. It might take a few calls to find someone who isn’t busy or out of town – all are good excuses, so don’t feel like it means avoidance just yet. Find an activity to invite someone to do with you, or meet for lunch, dinner, or coffee, or hang out at your place (maybe you have a dinner you want to share or got a new album you want to listen to with someone, or there is a movie or show to watch, for example). I grew up shy and always had a handful of friends – I just did not think about my shyness (until it meant I had to get in front of the class). I later learned to get assertive (and aggressive if need be). And people respected me – so my friend list grew and grew. Just talk to people – it may take a few times before you feel a kinship but do not give up! I am still more comfortable in the background, but I have made it a point to call or text people to meet up. I recently had breakfast with a high school friend, and then went to the Botanical Gardens with an old friend from work. We really caught back up and made plans to meet again at some point. It wasn’t even like so many years had passed, but everything fell in place as easily as back then.
Go to reunions – sign up to find out about high school or college or work or other type ones. I used to ignore all high school reunions until I went to one. It was so fun to see people and old friends again, and I made new friends. From then on, I was recruited to be on the reunion committee, so I am now an integral part of making the reunions work. From a shy high schooler to a bring-us-together type, I have pushed back my shyness to help us get together. Our college dorm floor people have reunions pretty much yearly – we get together often enough to reconnect (we lived together on the same floor in the dorm for our first two years, so we got close – we had boys on one end and girls on the other end of the floor).
At work, ask someone to sit with you for lunch or go out to lunch with someone. A friendship can build from that. I made a work friend by meeting up for lunches and our friendship continues after we both retired. We still meet up occasionally. There are so many good people to meet from work. Some of my best friends and travel partners are from meeting at work.
Sometimes you can pose a question to someone and start a conversation. Eventually you can message or call the person for more discussions. Say hi to people on the street or make a nice comment about their dog or outfit or such. Learn to have casual conversations again. If you see the same person occasionally or daily, strike up more of a conversation. Maybe you can take a walk together. Maybe that person would become a friend you can do things with.
If you feel you have nothing to talk about, practice telling stories about your growing up times, family, movies you’ve seen or books you’ve read. Try to keep politics out of conversations because it is too polarizing a topic. Try not to dominate the conversation. Ask people questions about themselves – don’t just unload all your information but ask about others. People generally like to talk about themselves and appreciate people who are interested. If you see someone sitting down or walking, ask if you can sit there or walk with the person (though to walk with someone make sure the person if familiar to you so no stranger targets you). I made a lot of friends just sitting with them watching our kids in a class or practicing or competing. Some were even famous (which I didn’t know at the time!). Besides, maybe they are feelig lonely too.
Volunteer and take classes – they are great ways to meet people. Many times, a committee assignment makes you work with others and friendships can form. I made many friends by working on committees and volunteering time with others. I can call many of them to meet up with. I go see shows where I used to volunteer and see many ol’ friends at them and we chat for a bit. I do not feel loneliness – because people are available for me to call or them to call me.
Relatives are also good people to keep in touch with. You can meet up for holidays but also other times – take a trip or go to a performance or a hike. There are many possibilities to do with relatives who can also be a friend but doesn’t take time to establish a connection.
Practice makes perfect. Talk to people and it gets easier with practice. Just push yourself, even if you start by talking to people on the phone, for practice. You can fix loneliness – but it might have to start with you. If someone contacts you – reply to the person. They took effort to contact you – reply and maybe meet up.
Meet your neighbors – they can become great friends. Take some cookies or something over to introduce yourself. Maybe there is music playing that you both like – make mention of it. Start talking about anything that can be a common interest. Got a pet? Like to walk or bike or hike? Go to farmer’s markets or concerts or plays or gardens? Play sports?
If you have moved to a new place and have no friends yet, don’t hole up in your apartment or wherever. Go to places people congregate – church, farmer’s market, craft fairs, parks, etc. Make a point of smiling and saying hi to people. Make small talk to practice talking to people – then maybe someone will want to talk more. Meet and talk to people in the building or neighborhood. Do keep your guard up to realize who the bad characters are – the ones with bad intentions. Don’t let people take advantage of you. Don’t tend to just blindly trust all strangers – take time to get to know someone and see if others in the class or wherever know anything about them in case the person isn’t safe. I have a good radar to know when someone is worth my trust or if I should stay away – but not everyone can tell, so work toward that skill. Exercise is important to help your brain release good endorphins to help your lonely mood. There are other ways to boost endorphins, including most anything you find pleasure in. So, think of what makes you happy and see how you can boost your mood up.
I refuse to be lonely – I plan meet-ups and coffee dates. I might not have anything planned for a week, but I am ok with that, being an introvert. I need some alone time and it’s ok. An extrovert needs more people time, but no matter where you fall, just get started by contacting and interacting with people – in person and not just online. Get out of your comfort zone and make real contact with real people. Your loneliness may just be a thing of the past. Don’t wallow in loneliness but try to take an action against it. Do yourself a favor and find people to hang out with.