Midlife making friends: how to make friends in your forties

Midlife making friends: how to make friends in your forties

In my mid 40s I find myself living in a new city, in a new country, having to start making friends from scratch.

Had I been in my twenties, or thirties, no worries, easy – just hangout with work colleagues, join a club, a gym; friends pretty much fall in your lap when you’re young.

But the other side of 45, with two school-age kids, and a less than working knowledge of the host language, the prospect of making new friends in a new city felt pretty daunting. Scrap that terrifying.

Seriously how do you make friends  when you’re middle-aged (yikes) and living in a foreign country?

#Attempt 1: Join a running club

RunningMy first attempt to make friends in Paris was a total flop.

As someone who enjoys running, I have a handful of 10ks and a couple of half marathons under my belt. I thought I’d join a running club, a French one. I’ve done it before in London, twice, and made some amazing friends – naming checking you Paula!

On my first week – I know brave, I set out to meet a bunch of French women who enjoy running. Seriously what could go wrong?

Everything.

  • Wrong age (too old)
  • Wrong shape (way too curvatious)
  • Not glamorous enough (not wearing my Lulu Lemon that night)

And I wasn’t fast enough. I was abandoned, ditched, dumped in the middle of the Tuileries, and had to make my own way home, alone. That was my welcome to Paris.

#Attempt 2: Kids school

Using your kids is a tried and tested strategy to make friends.

At my kids’ first school in Paris there was a sort of parents’ association.  Brilliant I thought, I’ll get to know some other mums. I went to the first meeting hoping to see a few friendly faces.

This wasn’t a meeting, this was a husting followed by an election to the school’s parents’ committee, and it was brutal.

One parent wanted to talk about safety issues at the school as it was just after the Paris attacks. The head teacher shut her down, no we were here to choose the school committee and nothing else.

Using my very rudimentary French, I just about worked out that the previous school committee president should not be re-elected because she had spent far too much funds on a parents’ cocktail evening (what’s wrong with that? That’s my kinda mum).

Party mum was duly stood down, and a whole bunch of other mum’s stood up and, in perfect French, extolled why they should be elected.

We had to pick our top three candidates, in secret, and the results were notched up on the blackboard.

I sat quietly, counting the minutes to make a quick and quiet get away. I never went back.

#Attempt 3: Language school

want to learn french in parisRight, surely this must work. Join a language school – this has to work. How else can you make friends in a foreign country?

The class will be filled with people just like me, new to France, keen to learn the language. I joined an extensive programme, at a well renowned school, three hours, three times a week.

My class was full of international students: an Indian lawyer, learning the language to land a job, an Argentinian business student biding time before returning to South America, two Filipino nuns, a Chilean actress-to-be having her time in Paris, and a German / American au pair, Sabrina.

I got on really well with Sabrina, a masters grad, she was in Paris to rekindle a romance with a previous petit ami (that’s the word boyfriend – cute).

We’d meet for coffee, the odd lunch; have a mutual moan about how hard it is to make friends in Paris. But after a few short months, and really not enjoying Paris, following tiff with her host family, finding her petit ami had hooked up with his previous petite amie, she was back on a plane to sunny California. But Sabrina has shown me where I can get great coffee in Paris.

#4 Social Media – success!

ChampagneThis is where the party is.

Hey, I’m in my mid forties, middle-aged, late to the party, give me a break!

How has social media helped me make friends? 

When I left for Paris, my Facebook account was pretty dull, just a news feed of pages I had liked, with the odd comment, quip or wisecrack from a friend to two. I belonged to a couple of mummy groups, which were great for finding a reliable plumber.

But the expat mums Facebook groups are a godsend, a lifeline to many, funny, entertaining, and a place to ask for help, or seek support. Need a dentist, doctor or a vet who speaks English there’s a mum who knows one.  Need an English speaking babysitter, there’s a mum who knows one.  Need to get your head round French bureaucracy, there’s a mum who can help.

A whole host of events have been arranged through Facebook from Karaoke, Dance Like Beyoncé (seriously it had to be done), champagne night out, paint parties for kids and for mums, picnics for kids – my social life has never looked so good.

I never gave MeetUp a second thought back in London, but here in Paris it’s been a great way to meet mums and make friends.

One of my first Meet Ups was an expat mums’ book swap. A book group where we meet in a restaurant bring books with us that we have enjoyed and want to find new homes for. We scoff a fantastic meal, quaff great French wine, make friends and take home new books.

Yes, it’s a book club where you don’t actually have to read the book for the meeting, but you should have read the book.

I try to make a monthly mums’ lunch Meet Up at Marks and Spencer here in Paris, and while I’m there stock up on baked beans, tomato soup, Percy Pigs and extra strong tea bags.

After a few false starts things are looking up and as well as amassing a new collection of books I am starting to collect friends.

Have you found yourself in a situation where you’ve had to make friends from scratch? What have you done, did it work? Did you have any disasters? You can tell Tooting Mama!

Cuddle Fairy
Dear Bear and Beany

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ethannevelyn

85 Comments

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  2. Alison
    September 14, 2016 / 9:50 pm

    Hi. I’m in pretty much the boat you found yourself in when you moved to Paris too. How hard IS it to make friends in Paris?! Sheesh. As well as MeetUp, could you recommend any other sites? It’s been tough missing my old UK pals, hardest part of moving I’d say. Great, relatable and positive article. Thanks.

    • Tooting Mama
      September 15, 2016 / 9:05 am

      Hi there – thanks. It really is hard and leaving friends and family is so tough. As well as Meet Up, there is Message which does organises meet ups in local areas http://www.messageparis.org/public_website/ that might be worth a look.

    • Tooting Mama
      September 4, 2016 / 11:45 am

      I think I was more foolhardy than brave. It’s always good to push yourself a little bit, shake your life up a bit (in this case a lot!) but after a few false starts, things are getting better!

  3. September 3, 2016 / 3:17 pm

    Well done you for persevering! Luckily for me, I’ve not been in this situation yet but with hubby’s business, it could be on the cards and tips like this are always good! #KCACOLS
    Sonia recently posted…The Best Recipes for Cooking with KidsMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      September 4, 2016 / 11:59 am

      Oooh, well if you make the move, remember this post – and social media will be your best friend!

    • Tooting Mama
      September 3, 2016 / 6:40 am

      WoW good luck with the new start in your life! Social media is the way forward, and it’s getting yourself out there. Thanks for stopping by.

    • Tooting Mama
      September 2, 2016 / 6:27 pm

      Oh excellent! I and have fun meeting new people!

  4. Soppymum (Sara)
    September 2, 2016 / 2:43 pm

    I’m currently living in the Seychelles for 6 months and have found social media amazing! Really hope you continue to make friends and settle in #kcacols
    Soppymum (Sara) recently posted…Me and mine project – August in SeychellesMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      September 2, 2016 / 6:23 pm

      Hi thank you! Things are much better now, I’ve hooked into the expat community here, and there’s plenty going on and lots of people to meet. Thanks for stopping by.

  5. September 1, 2016 / 8:31 pm

    Good luck with it – I agree it can be so hard to make friends in a new place…. Or even in an old/familiar place! I’m still trying to figure it out lol #kcacols

  6. Janet
    August 28, 2016 / 3:30 pm

    It’s really, really, hard to make friends, isnt it? I thought it was just me being unsocial – oh and I haven’t moved anywhere abroad, still here in the UK so it might be me! I think you’ve done so well to make friends – and at least you experienced other things like running etc… The school meeting sounds brutal and made me laugh! I don’t know how I would have handled that situation lol. Thanks for linking up to #AnythingGoes

    • Tooting Mama
      August 28, 2016 / 6:48 pm

      I think making friends is hard, even if you don’t live in another country or city! I don’t think it’s you at all. It takes a lot to go out there and start anew. I can feel my skin growing thicker!

  7. August 26, 2016 / 1:47 pm

    Wow that’s such a big move for you. I’ve moved around a lot, and must admit it is hard to form new friendships, even in my old home town. But the thought of doing it in another language is terrifying! Well done you, and thanks for the tips which I’m sure I’ll find useful next time! #SharingTheBlogLove

    • Tooting Mama
      August 26, 2016 / 3:31 pm

      Thank you! It is hard just going out there and finding friends – but there’s a big English speaking expat community out here and once you tap into that it get’s a whole lot better. Thanks so much for stopping by – much appreciated!

  8. August 25, 2016 / 9:16 pm

    An interesting read. I think you’ve done well and gone all out there. I can’t believe the runners abandoned you! What shit friends they would have made anyway. Well done for persevering. #sharingthebloglove

    • Tooting Mama
      August 26, 2016 / 6:47 am

      Thank you! I know the running club wasn’t particularly friendly but hey got out there and did it! But I do now have a really nice bunch of mummy friends so things have worked out well.

  9. August 25, 2016 / 3:28 pm

    aww this made me smile and nod my head. I can just imagine you stuck somewhere in Paris in running gear lol! it is hard to make friends these days. and I find it is hard to meet people who are similar in terms of what they want, interests etc. im pleased you are slowly starting to get there #KCACOLS
    emma me and b recently posted…Six Lunchbox Tips – Variety is Key!My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      August 25, 2016 / 3:55 pm

      It can be hard to make new friends, but it takes a bit of perseverance and bit of thick skin. Small steps, but I have a nice growing collection of mummy friends!

  10. August 25, 2016 / 11:36 am

    This is a great, great post. I’ve found that I’ve lost friends who I could hang out with in person since I had children – not because we fell out, but because of scheduling problems and people moving away. So here I am emerging from having my second baby and wanting to go out on the town, and I have no one to go with. I’ve failed spectacularly at making local mum friends at baby groups etc. But I’ve had some success with Meetup too, and I’m hoping I’ll meet some new people when my son starts school, which hopefully isn’t as scary as your school! Thanks for sharing. #sharingthebloglove

    • Tooting Mama
      August 25, 2016 / 11:56 am

      Thank you! I can totally relate to this, Meet Up has been brilliant. And back in the UK I was part of an awesome PTA – I got super good at facepainting, I can do a mean Spiderman! Good luck, you just have to be brave and put yourself out there!

  11. August 25, 2016 / 11:07 am

    I would never do the first one!!!! I am so rubbish at running I am sure nobody would like to be my friend LOL.I like the idea of the language school. Surely, mummies there have very similar feelings to you and just want to meet new people. #SharingtheBlogLove

    • Tooting Mama
      August 25, 2016 / 11:27 am

      Thanks Frenchie Mummy, of course – there’s lots of expat mummies out here looking for friends – we’re slowly starting to find each other – now I have a nice bunch of mums who I can call friends – it just took a little time to find them!

  12. Rebecca Taylor
    August 25, 2016 / 10:55 am

    MeetUp sounds fab. I am so pleased you made some friends. It’s such a shame that people aren’t always friendly and welcoming, but it is good that it has all worked out. I think you were very brave for even trying any of those things! #Sharingthebloglove

    • Tooting Mama
      August 25, 2016 / 11:24 am

      I guess it’s the same where ever you are, you just have to put yourself out there and see what happens, but so far the people I have met have been pretty wonderful and amazing!

  13. August 24, 2016 / 8:17 am

    Oh i’m so pleased that you turned a corner with meeting people and have now got your circle of friends started again. Its hard being in a new country, I’ve done it but not with kids so well done:)
    mainy x
    #fabfridaypost

    • Tooting Mama
      August 24, 2016 / 9:18 am

      Hi there, thanks so much for your comment. I really didn’t realise how hard it would be. There have been ups and downs but I’m getting the hang of making friends!

  14. August 24, 2016 / 4:50 am

    I’m so glad things are looking up for you. Meeting up for a meal, making new friends and free book back – now that’s sound like a good plan any day! I too have to make new friends when I moved out of London two years ago without knowing anyone with a new born and a crazy threenger. It was tough, but it does get easier with my both started school and all. There were mums who were in the same shoe as me – so it was like we know how it is already. Great post – I do need to brush up on m running too! 😉 xx Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…#ExplorerKids – Round Up #22My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      August 24, 2016 / 10:49 am

      Hi there delighted to be part of #FabFridayPost it is hard moving to a new city, country and starting over, but it has been about persevering and pushing boundaries and as they say moving out of the comfort zone. It’s taken time, but it’s working! Thanks so much for dropping by!

  15. August 21, 2016 / 4:05 pm

    Meetup has been great for me in making friends. I have also met alot of people through Yelp so maybe worth checking if they have a group near you too!

    #Sharingthebloglove

  16. August 21, 2016 / 7:59 am

    The running club and school parents’ association sound absolutely brutal! I’m glad you’ve made friends online. Last year I moved to a new city where I had a lot of family, but no friends, and online has been my saviour. #KCACOLS

    • Tooting Mama
      August 21, 2016 / 10:33 am

      You are so right – social media has been my life line!

  17. August 20, 2016 / 7:53 pm

    I am rubbish at making friends and just don’t know how to even start. Alice starts school in September and I am already dreading having to be in the school playground and try to make friends and fit in. Social media is a good way, I have met up with a couple of lovely bloggers through it. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove Laura x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…School Shoes, Splash Parks and More Birthday’s…Happy Days #22My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      September 5, 2016 / 5:58 pm

      Hi there, hope the start to school has been good, I know what you mean about the school playground. The first day I walked in I thought I had fake written on me! It will get better and social media is the way forward!

  18. kerry norris
    August 20, 2016 / 3:02 pm

    These are all really good ideas. I think i’ve had to find myself some new/other friends since having kids. Running club sounds beneficial in more ways than one x

    • Tooting Mama
      September 5, 2016 / 5:57 pm

      Thank you. I think at some point we all have to reach out and make new friends. The UK running clubs were brilliant – life long friendships have been made there!

  19. August 19, 2016 / 6:45 pm

    Even though I’ve lived it, it’s hard to imagine life without the internet. How did we ever manage? I often wonder how I’ll ever explain my childhood to my baby girl.

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 6:57 pm

      I know! How did we manage? Making old fashioned arrangements with telephones, pens and paper! My kids have no idea of how life used to be!

  20. August 19, 2016 / 5:40 pm

    Wow, such a daunting thing to have to do. You certainly threw yourself into it and gave it a good shot. Thank goodness for social media! #fabfridaypost

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 6:20 pm

      Hi it was daunting at first, but throwing oneself in was really the only best course of action – sink our swim as they say!

  21. Becky
    August 19, 2016 / 3:43 pm

    Oh I know.. I know.. It takes awhile to meet a friend or two. I am from the Silicon Valley and moved to a small village in Germany (Former East) with my family. Here all the ladies work and well I have met only one cool chick my age and my neighbour is 60 so we walk once a week. However I don’t mind driving an hour away to Leipzig to hang out with the international group of gals while I look for work.

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 5:16 pm

      Wow, I do know how you feel! It must have been quite a culture shock going from Silicon Valley to a small German village. It’s a slow process making friends – but well done you too!

  22. August 19, 2016 / 1:14 pm

    I can imagine making friends in a new country can be quite difficult. So glad to hear that social media is helping you to do so and I like the sound of the regular lunch in M&S 🙂 #sharingthebloglove
    Louise (Little Hearts, Big Love) recently posted…LEJOG Day 4 – We did it!My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 1:58 pm

      Thank you, social media has been a life line and a little wander around M&S is a nice reminder of home.

  23. August 19, 2016 / 10:54 am

    Sounds like you are doing amazingly well. Hoorah for Facebook eh! It must be wonderful living in Paris! Tor x #FabFridayPost

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 1:57 pm

      Thank you so much, yes it’s pretty awesome living in Paris, agree with you hurrah for Facebook!

  24. August 19, 2016 / 9:20 am

    Very brave of you to step outside of your box, constantly. Friendship may happen serendipitously, when you least expect it. Stay tough and keep it up. I’m sorry it’s hard. At least you can have some comfort in knowing you have all of us, out here in the ether as friends, amies! #FabFridayPost

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 9:46 am

      Hi thank you. I think you’ve summed it up very well – it’s case of moving outside your comfort zone! And the blogging community is great.

  25. August 18, 2016 / 8:56 pm

    I find it hard enough now – not to make them, but to make them stick. Our NCT friends were great, but I’m the only one working full time, the others have had 2nd or 3rd mat leaves, so see each other during the week and I’ve been left behind. At work, most people live further away, those who live close don’t have kids and are younger. Luckily I’ve got good farming friends and go dancing for which you know lots of people and can just turn up alone.

    #sharingthebloglve

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 7:23 am

      I’m so with you there! When I was working it was hard to socialise with colleagues, but great you have farming friends close by and the dancing sound awesome!

  26. August 18, 2016 / 3:36 pm

    I am rubbish at making new friends, I tend to draw in the people that take me for granted and don’t end up being an actual friend to me. These are some good ideas, I would love to find a book club but the trouble would be finding time to read all the books

    • Tooting Mama
      August 19, 2016 / 7:21 am

      There’s no doubt making good, true friends is hard.

      I know what you mean about book clubs and getting time to read the books, but that’s the beauty of the book swap it’s a great way to recycle old books and socialise at the same time!

  27. August 18, 2016 / 2:21 pm

    I totally relate to this having moved to a new town age 40. I love the book swap idea – might see if I can get one going here – thank you!

    • Tooting Mama
      August 18, 2016 / 2:27 pm

      Thank you! I love the book swap, it’s my must not miss event and has been a great way to meet other mums. Good luck – let me know how you are doing!

  28. August 18, 2016 / 2:02 pm

    Lovely post. Image running club made me chuckle ( sorry !) thanks for sharing x

    • Tooting Mama
      August 18, 2016 / 2:16 pm

      Hi thanks so much for your comment, looking back on it I can laugh, but at the time it really was WTF!

  29. August 18, 2016 / 12:42 pm

    Oh, I am rubbish at making friends! I think I’ve acquired about 1 new friend in the last year but lost touch with a good few others. I totally agree on the social media front though – in recent months I’ve met up with a couple of friends from different places – some blogging friends, some Instagram – and it’s been amazing how well we’ve hit it off. It’s definitely the way to go! (Also – party mum sounds great – you should have grabbed her on the way out!) Thanks so much for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…#SharingtheBlogLove #8My Profile

  30. August 18, 2016 / 10:23 am

    Great post. I’m so pleased you found your tribe and I love the idea of a book club where you swap books and socialise. Vx

    • Tooting Mama
      August 18, 2016 / 10:37 am

      Hi Vicki, thanks, yes the book swap is the best book club ever! When I get back to the UK I want to get one going, we have such a good time. Great book, good food, awesome wine! Perfect.

  31. August 18, 2016 / 10:22 am

    Meetup has been my saviour. After a long term illness, I’d been stuck indoors for way too long, only leaving the house to walk the dog, go to work when I could and attend family gatherings. Friends had pretty much given up on me (yes I know they’re not real friends then!) Joined a couple of local meetup groups when I felt better and have a social life again. Love it! 🙂 Glad it’s working for you over there too 🙂

    • Tooting Mama
      August 18, 2016 / 10:25 am

      I’m so glad MeetUp has worked out, and how horrid that friends fall away in your time of need! As you say they aren’t real friends. Social media has been great and there’s so many amazing groups on MeetUp, it’s often hard to decide which group to go for. Brilliant that thinks are working out!

    • Tooting Mama
      August 18, 2016 / 7:19 am

      I have certainly found that out!

  32. August 17, 2016 / 3:57 pm

    Surprised by the school scenario,normally your kids are a good route for making new friends in a new place. One thing is for sure, you certainly need thick skin and persistence and eventually it will work out for the best. Great to see that you have cracked it through the social media route. The only way is up from there! #BloggerClubUK

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 6:32 pm

      Hmm yes the school (it’s quite a posh bilingual school in Paris – needless to say we no longer go there!). You are right about the thick skin and persistence you just have to get yourself out there. Social media has been brilliant – old school just didn’t work!

  33. August 17, 2016 / 3:48 pm

    I’m 30 and find it incredibly hard to make friends. I have no idea what I would do if I were in your position in Paris. Good on you for trying to sort out a regular meet up!
    Lyndsey O’Halloran recently posted…Summer SwimmingMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 6:30 pm

      It is hard to make friends (I’m with you on that one) I have had to become a reluctant extrovert! But persistence and social media has paid off.

  34. August 17, 2016 / 1:45 pm

    Like your fail stories! Social media is great. As a 30 something in a new town with a new baby you’d think I would be able to make friends but nope I’m ignored from many angles. I have singled a couple out and very bluntly said I have no friends lets meet up.. Give me your phone number!! I made 1 friend this way. I’ve made a lot of blogger friends in social media since I started blogging!

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 1:57 pm

      Aaah thank you. I thought I’ll just get them out and share those superbly grand failings.

      I know exactly how you feel, and I really admire your spirit and courage to go up to people and say hey new in town, no friends, let’s be friends. Brilliant that you have made friend that way.

      I also think you have to develop a thick skin to shake of the fails, pick yourself up and start again. Keep on going!

  35. August 17, 2016 / 11:41 am

    Fab ways to meet new friends!
    I think you certainly have more confidence when you are young.
    And agree that social media is fab for networking and making new friends.

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 11:51 am

      Thanks glad you like the suggestions, I agree when you’re young you have so much more confidence to go out there and meet people. But social media has really helped break down social barriers.

  36. August 17, 2016 / 10:23 am

    I really thought a running group would’ve been ideal, such a shame. But thank God for social media! I’m not very good at making new friends but I’m definitely trying to change that ?

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 10:46 am

      The running group in London / UK was great, France, well just a little more cool and reserved. But yes thanks God for social media it’s opened up a new world! It’s not easy making new friends – but go for it – you have nothing to loose!

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 10:08 am

      I was a bit slow on the social media uptake but getting the hang of it now. Yes a running club was a brilliant way to meet people – btw thanks for the comment.

    • Tooting Mama
      August 17, 2016 / 10:06 am

      I know how you feel, it can be really hard to make friends, but brilliant you have a groups of mummy friends via T.

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