Today’s blog was contributed by Rosemary Bointon, a valued member of my private Facebook group, GrandWomen with Moxie. This is her story of how she’s been able to turn friends online to friends in real life. It warms my heart because I know that women need women. Enjoy!
Making new friends in these times of soaring loneliness is essential. As we age, friends you can rely on get fewer and fewer. Those needed for advice and laughter, for social connections and companionship.
Some move away when they retire and some move into a retirement home that may be in another area. Others want to travel or set up a guest house in remote mountains. And sadly, some come to the end of their time on earth and we lose them permanently.
It is well documented that having social connections is essential for your health and long life. That means friends. And since the old ones may disappear, we must develop the skill of making new friends.
These days, it’s becoming more likely that people meet online. I’m not talking about the dating options, but about two or more people getting on together through online connections and making a friend.
There are lots of ways to do it, but this is the story of how met women online and then met up in person. It’s the story of how joining activities online can result in making new friends.
FIRST ENCOUNTERS OF THE FRIENDLY KIND
I’m Rosemary. I’m British but live in Portugal.
During Covid and lockdown, like so many others, we didn’t go anywhere or meet anyone much. That’s why, back in the lockdowns of Covid, I joined Honey Good’s private Facebook group, Grandwomen with Moxie.
Honey is American and lives in Chicago. (As her readers will know!)
On that first occasion of attending a Zoom call with a great bunch of grand women, there was a speaker, Merry Lynch.
Merry is American, but her husband is Polish and they live in Poland.
She runs a course on vision boarding and she offered it to the people from Honey’s group for free. I took her up on it and joined the course. It was a lot of fun.
Annie is British and lives in the UK.
Annie came across Merry’s course when Merry posted about it on Instagram. So, she signed up for it. And here is the vision board Annie created: travel, well-being and nature shine out of Annie’s vision. Isn’t it beautiful?
Merry’s course was fantastic and both Annie and Rosemary thought it was well worth doing. They are both internet friends with Merry and keep in touch with her.
THE LURE AND JOYS OF TRAVEL
About 6 weeks ago, Merry put up a post on her FB page asking about people’s travel plans. Annie posted that she was going to Portugal. Merry immediately responded that Annie should meet up with Rosemary. Susan Honey Good chimed in recommending we get together too.
So Annie contacted Rosemary with the dates she was going to be in Lisbon. It was fun to be meeting up with somebody sympathetic sounding who you don’t really know. And on April 26, Annie and Rosemary met up at the ferry terminal in Lisbon.
WHEN SIGHTSEEING IS THE BACKDROP TO TRAVEL
Annie and Rosemary decided to go and see the botanical gardens in Lisbon. Here’s what they shared.
It was gorgeous in the gardens. Big tall palm trees and a wealth of greenery. Pools of limpid water. It was lovely and we did admire it. However, all the time we were wandering around the gardens, we were gabbling away to each other.
Eventually, the need to keep talking overcame the urge to go sightseeing. Our overused vocal cords required a tea break. We moved on to a second session. We exchanged life views, and experiences and discussed our plans for our futures. This time under a tree in the Principe Real gardens with refreshing drinks and scrumptious blueberry pancakes.
We decided that it was, unfortunately, time to head home. But first, we took a quick peek into the delightful Embaixada, our second sightseeing target. If you want to look for some quirky original clothes, interesting accessories or shoes, Embaixada is your venue! The café area is the perfect place to exchange life histories and has exceptional food.
We enjoyed wandering through the narrow, cobbled streets when it was time to head back to the ferry. We ended up in the Time Out Market, which is a lot of fun to visit.
WHEN TALKING TO A STRANGER ONLINE ENDS UP IN A NEW FRIENDSHIP
Because we each made the effort to do something new, we were rewarded. In our case, attending new groups, joining a course about how to make your vision turn into your actual future. We ended up with a new friend, a real one. We participated in and read the posts on Honey’s and Merry’s FB page. We followed their advice, responded and were rewarded.
It’s not so hard to reach out. It just feels that way the first few times you do it. Try it out in baby steps.
It’s good to get in a bit of practice by, for example, asking people how they ended up in that group or event. Then in turn to be genuinely interested in their replies. Keep the conversation up. As the more you know about somebody, the easier it is to see how you will get on in a personal capacity.
WHEN TAKING THE RISK PAYS DIVIDENDS
It really helped to have the encouragement of the organizers of the groups who had brought us together. I would not meet up with someone who, for example, sent me a message out of the blue. If they were not engaged with a group of people with whom I was engaged. (I’m sure you too have received those messages.)
It’s a question of making a judgment call and being sensible. Even when it’s obvious that your new contact is not some maniac, the connection between you could end up at best, tepid. Fortunately, Annie and I got on like a house on fire and now have lots of different plans to help each other out.
Becoming friends wasn’t an especially quick consequence of the actions we had originally taken. But nevertheless, it was the result. We simply would never have met if I hadn’t attended Honey’s zoom call with Merry as the speaker. And if Annie hadn’t seen the Instagram and joined Merry’s vision board group.
CREATING YOUR ROUTE TO THE MAZE TO FIND NEW FRIENDS
Annie and I pondered on how the actions that we had taken in 2020 had led us to make this connection in 2022. Annie summed it up when she said,
‘Yes, it’s strange, how we both walked through the same door in different parts of the world, that unknown to us led to a walk through the Botanical Gardens!’
The online route to making new friends is perfectly possible. All you need to do is to join in, make connections, nurture them and then relax into enjoying the friendship.
And don’t forget, doing something new and making friends is great for your long-term health and for a longer life.
If you are wondering whether it is safe to make friends online, you need to be sensible about how and where you meet. And then, take it from there. But think of how meeting up with new people in different places can add a real frisson of excitement. And also gratification to the travels that you’ve so long wanted to enjoy again.
So, thank you, Honey and Merry, for facilitating the meeting between Annie and me. And thank you Annie for being brave enough to meet up with a stranger.
Annie and I wish you many new friends and we’ll be glad to see you.
Have you made a new friend online through participating in a group? If you haven’t yet, would you consider reaching out to contact somebody you’d come across online?
Rosemary Bointon helps older people work out what to do now to live longer, in better health with more fun and adventures. She’s a certified content writer. You can find on her blog www.longlifefunlife.com or contact her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
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