ANNE-MARIE McELRONE’S and Susan Goupil’s sons played together on the same Dartmouth, N.S. soccer team, but they had never met. Then Goupil volunteered her home as the pick-up spot for the team’s uniforms—and answered the door wearing leggings and high heels. “Wow,” McElrone remembers thinking, “that’s impressive for 10:30 a.m. on a Saturday.”
It wasn’t just Goupil’s style that impressed McElrone—it was her positive energy. The two started chatting at games. When Goupil asked for help with a team barbecue, McElrone volunteered her grill. They started going to yoga together. Soon, they were introducing each other to their friend groups. “I wasn’t expecting to make new friends at my age,” says McElrone, now 53. “Not those close, turn-to-all the-time kinds of friends.”
Close friendships can be transformative—and not just for our social calendars. Friends make us feel safe and reduce our stress. In Goupil, McElrone had found a confidante, and someone she can count on. Their now eight-year-old friendship has also helped her discover new things about herself. “I wasn’t always comfortable in my skin,” she says. “I’ve found a way to be more confident and more myself by watching her and seeing her reflect back to me what she sees in me.”
Making—and keeping—friends can be challenging at any age, but it can feel especially daunting as we grow older. Time, distance, work and family responsibilities can all become barriers to finding and maintaining friendships. Luckily, there are simple things you can do to both deepen existing friendships and build new ones.
When you’re feeling lonely and isolated, it can be hard to bond with others. To break the cycle—or prevent it in the first place—you need to be proactive.
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