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What to do when you feel lonely

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COVID-19 has significantly changed our way of life, and has increased the amount of people who feel lonely. With many people in lock-down, and schools either cancelling in-class options or lowering the amount of people who can be there at once, it can be very isolating. 

 

Whether you are a student, or you live alone, or maybe you just feel lonely in the place you are in, here are some ways to curb your loneliness during these unusual times:

 

 

  • Find Others to Talk To

 

 

It may seem obvious, but finding others to talk to can really help your loneliness. If you don’t like phone calls, or are unable to meet up with people in person, try an online chat, forum, or website. Bonus points if you make a connection with someone who you can talk to continuously over the course of a few weeks. Having the ability to stay in contact with someone and follow up with them about what you had already talked about can really ground you and make you feel less lonely.

 

 

  • Plan Solo Dates

 

 

It may sound awkward, but plan something special for yourself. Maybe you really just want to have a picnic. You go have that picnic! It doesn’t require you to have more people. Make it special for yourself and pack a book and some fruit and a nice blanket. It’s literally planning a special date where you are the one who is being treated and it can decrease your feelings of loneliness because you are still treating yourself. 

 

 

  • Read

 

 

Reading can be a useful tool to avoid the outside word. It could be fiction, non-fiction, graphic novel, whatever! Immersing yourself in a good book can be extremely useful in spending long periods of time NOT thinking about being lonely. Books are a perfect example of something you can do and enjoy alone, but not feel lonely doing. Plus, it gives you something to talk about the next time you see or hear from someone. 

 

 

  • Plan a Self-Care Night

 

 

Similar to planning a solo date, this is just for you. Bring out those face masks, pull out the nail polish, and pour that bubble bath. Tonight is for you and you alone. Bring a book in the bath with you and you can cross two things off this list! When you are feeling lonely, it can be very easy to stop taking care of yourself. Maybe you live alone, and you don’t feel like showering every day, or treating yourself. Put in that time for yourself and you will definitely feel better. You don’t need someone else to treat you when you know exactly what your needs are. 

 

 

  • Make Your Bed

 

 

Something so small and self-explanatory. Every morning when you wake up, make that bed of yours. Feeling lonely can make you dwell in the comfort of your bed, so you want to make sure that it is as clean as possible for the next time you escape under the covers. 

 

 

  • Stay Active

 

 

You will read it everywhere, but make sure that you are moving your body at least a little bit everyday. There is yoga, there is a park calling your name saying “come walk here”, stretch! Any little thing can help with your mental state and can curb your loneliness, especially if you are in nature and are really appreciating the world around you. Set aside at least 30 minutes to dance to your favorite pump up jam, or whatever you want to do. Just keep that heart rate up and you are golden!

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Things you and your friends can do from the comfort of your own couch

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Got the travel bug but can’t leave home? Itching to go to your favourite museums or learn about wildlife? Here are 4 tips for things to do without leaving the couch. 

Just because you can’t leave, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t learn and experience the world. Put together a list of things you’d like to see and share them with friends!

 

Virtual museums

Thanks to Google Arts & Culture, you can view artworks from over 2000 museums worldwide, including The Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), and the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. 

https://artsandculture.google.com/story/10-museums-you-can-explore-right-here-right-now/igKSKBBnEBSGKg

 


Music & Theatre

Missing out on going to the theatre or seeing live music? Look for live streams from your favourite musicians, check out BroadwayHD, or tune into nightly streams from the Metropolitan Opera House


Theme Parks

Missed out on your trip to Disney World this year? Well, you are in luck! You can virtually plan your next trip on the Walt Disney Resort Virtual Tour, or check out some YouTube channels for a chance to check out their rides, shows, and more! Like SoCal Attractions 360


Nature & Outdoors

Want to see some adorable animals, or check out some of the most beautiful national parks in the world? There are numerous Parks, Zoo, and Aquariums around the world that have live cams and virtual tours showing some gorgeous outdoor scenery and cute animals in their enclosures. 

Here are just a few:

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10 Ways to Be a Positive Light in these Troubled Times

bigstock-Beautiful-Woman-Smiling-In-Nat-354469721 Be the Change!

2020 has felt like one big game of Jumanji that just keeps going. The fires that raged in Australia, the Coronavirus sweeping across the world, floods, riots, it is a lot to handle. 

“2020 will be my year” was the mantra for lots of people on January 1st, and although it seems like a lost cause now, maybe this year can still be your year. The best way to feel happiness is to spread happiness to others - check out these 10 ways to be a positive light during 2020.

 

 

1. Smile

 

“But no one can see me smile behind my mask.” Yes. Yes we can. 

Have you noticed people scurrying past each other, keeping their "phsyical distance" to the point of avoiding eye contact in public places?  

The Covid Culture and words like, "asymptomatic carrier" has created a culture of fear of other people which we need to stop! 

Be the change, lead the revolution - and just smile at a stranger!

Why not be that person who makes someone’s day just by exercising those beautiful face muscles. This could be done when walking past someone, it could be when you are going through a till at the grocery store, or it could even be to the car who stopped beside you at a red light.

If you are worried that smiling is pointless behind a mask, remember that the muscles required to help you smile also move your skin around your nose and eyes, so you can totally see a smile, even with your mouth safely hidden behind your mask. 

 

 

2. Avoid online disputes

 

The wise Ice Cube once said, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Continuously remember that the words you are spreading online don’t just sit there in cyberspace. There is someone else, somewhere else, on the other side of the screen reading what you are writing and, depending on what you are posting, it can be extremely harmful. We have also seen a large increase in the amount of people taking part in cancel culture, which can tear another person’s life apart. 

Everyone is allowed and encouraged to have their own opinion, but just remember when you are writing something online, you aren’t writing in a diary. You are writing to billions of people worldwide, and they can be affected by what you are writing. 

 

 

3. Social interaction is important 

 

Humans are social beings, so we need our ‘people time’. This could be through a Skype or Facetime call, going out with friends if your area allows, and even striking up conversations with people when you are out and about. Gaining social interaction is important to your mental health, but it is also important for other’s mental health. 

For example, why not strike up a conversation with the person at the cash register when you get groceries? A lot of people whose jobs are deemed essential get interaction from their coworkers, but it’s always nice to have a pleasant interaction with a customer.

Make pleasant small talk. Or, take a moment to thank them for working during the pandemic. You will make their day 100% percent of the time. 

 

 

4. Support your favorite local businesses

 

During the pandemic a lot of local businesses have been fighting to stay afloat. If they survived the beginning, when everything was closed down, they need your help more than ever. 

If you are a fan of a Food delivery service and your favorite local restaurants are on there, check to see if they have a contribution button. You can also help them get more money by seeing if they offer delivery or takeout without a delivery servcie, that way all the proceeds help them to stay open. 

If you have a membership at a gym, consider keeping your membership active and subscribing to their online offerings, if that's all they can offer, just to be supportive. Got a favorite local store? See what you can do to help them out. Even buying something small could help them reach their daily quota to stay afloat. 

 

 

5. Practice random acts of kindness

 

Random acts of kindness is such a broad idea, but that’s a good thing. There are millions of things that you can do every day to help others and spread kindness. Here are just a few things you can try implementing into your day to cheer others up:

  • Open a door for someone
  • Pay for the person behind you in line when you get coffee
  • Send a cute picture or motivational text to a friend, family member, or coworker
  • If you live with your family, do something for someone else you don’t normally do
  • Donate to charity
  • Your pets deserve some love and kindness too so spend some extra time with them
  • Donate food to food banks or supplies to homeless and women’s shelters

 

 

6. Tune out of the News

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads?"

Journalism insiders know this to be a cynical outlook on the way the news media often chooses to highlight tragedies and disasters in the news because it tends to be attention-grabbing.

Covid-19, protests, Antifa, a tense political climate - these are all being broadcast on the news everywhere you turn - the radio, your Facebook feed, television. And for many people, hearing these negative themes over and over again is affecting mental health.

So change your own vibration and tune out - turn off the news and listen to a favourite podcast instead.

Read a book instead of your phone's newsfeed.

Take a social media detox break.

And feel better. Then spread your new, more positive feelings out to the rest of the world!

 

 

7. Change the Subject

 

Building on the above point - just because the media is talking about pandemics and divisive movements all day long, doesn't mean you need to.  

Bring a positive and welcome change to your social and family circles and change the subject. 

Talk about something else!  What are you working on in your personal life right now? What stories from your own life experiences can you share or relive? What are you cooking at home these days?

Your friends and family will have less to debate and more to relate if you introduce some pleasant, positive topics into your conversations, give it a try and enjoy an escape from all the negative energy pushed on us these days!

 

 

8. Practice empathy

 

Just like practicing random acts of kindness, try practicing empathy once a day to help those around you. Here are some examples:

  • If you are stable financially, try supporting others who may not be
  • Don’t overbuy things
  • Take only what you need and allow others to have a share
  • Just like number four says, support your local businesses and encourage others to as well
  • Engaging in helpful acts can increase your empathy and help you to feel socially connected when you are lonely

 

 

9. Be a source of encouragement

 

This goes hand in hand with practicing empathy. Reach out to friends and family and if any of them are lonely, anxious, or depressed, encourage them however possible. Perhaps someone lost their job or they are frustrated with something happening in their life, being there to listen and encourage them can go a long way. 

 

 

10. Help where you can

 

Helping can mean a lot of different things. You can help out at home by cleaning, organizing, making meals, or helping others with work. Maybe your friends need your help, or your coworker. Asking others how you can help can increase your relationship with them and can let them know you care. Maybe your coworker is having a rough day or someone you know received some bad news. See if there is something that you can do to make their day better. 

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How to Make (and KEEP) New Friends as an Adult

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Make friends easily but just can’t keep them? Adult friendships can be as slippery as a wet bar of soap. Everyone has a job, possibly a family and kids, it can be downright stressful and can feel hopeless. Keeping friendships can be easy, though, if you take into account these useful strategies. 

Here are some tips and tricks, taken from Psychology Today about how to make (and keep) friends as adults. As you branch out and attempt to start a new friendship, give this one a try. 

 

Health

Having a solid friendship isn’t just good for your mental health, it’s also good for your physical health. Genuine friendships boost your immune system and lower your blood pressure. Emotionally, they help you lower your risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

While friendship can be very important for your health, make sure that you are also taking the time to be by yourself and reflect. Friendships can be exhausting at times, especially in the digital age where you can contact someone with a voice command from Siri. If you find that you are overwhelmed or that you need to take a break, not from the friendship, but just from excessive communication, let your friend know. They will understand and want what is best for you. 


Community

Friendship isn’t necessarily just a one-on-one relationship. Try expanding your friendships into your neighbourhood, your workplace, places of worship or anywhere that you frequent or take interest in.

Having trouble finding a sense of community during the current pandemic? Try finding an online community that meets to discuss something you have in common! This could be an interest, a religion, or a career. Depending on what you are looking for, there are lots of websites with group chats or profiles where you can talk about the things you have in common. This may fulfill that sense of community you are looking for. 

 


Follow Up

Meeting people isn’t the hardest part about making friends, it’s continuing to grow a relationship. By continuing to speak to your friend, you are showing them that you care about them and that you want to develop your friendship. A good icebreaker that has been around for decades is the 21 questions game. You each go back and forth, asking a question, and you can either both answer the question or just the person you are asking. This leads to a mutual understanding that you want to learn about the other person, and it helps them to feel like you care and that they matter to you. 

Try starting conversations that may be more personal or continuous. 

This may be the most important thing to do during this current pandemic. Many friends lose touch due to the fact that there may be little to no face-to-face interaction. Make sure to check in on friends you haven’t spoken to in a while to let them know you are there for them and that you would love to have a phone call or a zoom call. It can really brighten someone’s day.

 

Little Things

It’s easy to sabotage a friendship before it even really begins. Wanting everything to be perfect maybe what is holding you back from something great. Instead of some impressive gesture, try something simple. This could be a joke of the day or sending a cute picture of your pet or something you found funny that day. These little things make people feel noticed and let them know you listen. 

 

Check out this link for another great article with more information on this topic: 

10 Ways to Make (and Keep) Friendships as an Adult

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/friendship-20/201605/10-ways-make-and-keep-friendships-adult

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Try a New Hobby with Your Friends - some ideas

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Some of us are out of work or at least working from the comfort of our own homes during the Coronavirus pandemic. Without physical interaction and face-to-face contact with our friends, it can be tough to continue to have things in common. 

Many people prefer to see their friends in person – they like to go out for coffee, for brunch, maybe grab a drink and go out on the town. Right now, it’s time to do some improvisation.

To make sure that you are keeping contact with your friends, and not losing touch, why not try to learn something new together – while still staying socially distant and abiding by guidelines given to you by your specific area. 

Here are some hobbies that you can pick up by buying some supplies and either watching DIY YouTube videos or Facetiming your friends and figuring it out together:

 

Knitting or Crocheting – 

If you look up Knitting or Crocheting on Pinterest, there is a world of free patterns with levels from ‘Beginner’ to ‘This is crazy how will I ever be able to make that.’ Feel free to check out our Pinterest board here for some easy beginner patterns. 

Knitting or crocheting can be a fun little hobby, and you can swap patterns or gifts with your friends with whatever you make. Some of the easiest things you can make are cup cozies, slippers, coasters, blankets and scarves. 

Have a young one? Or does your best friend have a child? There are thousands of free tutorials on how to make crocheted stuffed animals! It’s a perfect gift. It also allows for interpretation, or it shows the person you are giving it to that you made something specifically for them, which can be very special. 

 

Yoga – 

Some of the downsides to the Coronavirus Pandemic are not being able to workout, sitting around all day, and not getting enough physical activity to keep your body in tip-top shape. You don’t need to be in excellent physical shape or need to know every pose ever done to be able to start a regular yoga routine. Yoga stretches have been known to help with various illnesses, chronic pains, and mental health. 

A post made on thegoodbody.com shows some great statistics about those who incorporate yoga into their lives and different health benefits like it is proven to improve back pain. Regularly, those who participate in yoga see an increase in flexibility, stress relief, general fitness, physical fitness, and an improvement in their general health. 

If you currently have a gym membership to somewhere that already offers yoga classes, ask if they are offering online live streams. If not, check out a variety of yoga videos on YouTube, or our Pinterest board here

 

Painting or Calligraphy – 

A great way to let your inner Picasso is to try painting! Sync up your Youtube Playlist with your friends and throw on some Bob Ross painting tutorials. Make some happy little accidents and get crazy with it! You don’t need to be good at painting to have fun. You can easily buy or order a starter set of paints and use some leftover printer paper unless you want to go full out and create a masterpiece you would feel happy to decorate your home with. It is as easy as putting a brush to paint and then brush to canvas. 

Tip: Get a group of friends together and choose your favourite Bob Ross video. In your own homes, try to follow the video, and then use your choice of video chat service to unveil each of your paintings. It is a great way to have fun together while abiding by social distancing rules. 

Calligraphy is a whole different idea. Calligraphy, by definition, is “decorative handwriting or handwritten lettering,” according to dictionary.com. Why not try it out? Maybe you or your friends need signage made, or need letters addressed. It’s a fun little party trick that really impresses people! You can even find free worksheets online to help you get started and show you all the types of fonts you can create before you go off.

 


Gardening – 

There is just something really inspiring and satisfying about starting a little garden. If you live in a home with a yard, you can create a nice garden with flowers, herbs, or vegetables. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to grow your own food? It definitely feels good to knock a few dollars off your visit to the grocery store. 

Maybe you live in a condo or an apartment with no access to your own soil. You can always grow them inside with proper care and maintenance. 

Are you someone who seems to kill every plant you ever touch? 

Try a cactus, an aloe vera plant, or succulent. Easy to maintain and care for, these plants are perfect for those who forget to water their plants, but still want the gratification that comes from having another living thing in or outside of your home. While cacti and succulents are pretty to the eye and make your space look fresh, an aloe vera plant is really nice to keep on hand. Aloe Vera can help with sunburns, dry skin, acne, and even help with the itchiness of bug bites. Before trying to treat any of these things with the gel inside the plant, make sure you leave it for a bit after cutting a piece off and then putting a spot on your skin to make sure there is no reaction. 

Word of warning, if you happen to have pets in or around your home, make sure to research the plants you are purchasing or have around the house to ensure that if your furry friend gets a hold of them, they are not poisonous. 

 

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Loneliness: A Worldwide Epidemic

bigstock-Young-Handsome-Lonely-Man-Sits-361989871 Men are more vulnerable than women, and young people are reporting more loneliness in the newest large-scale study on loneliness

A new study has been published in the scientific journal Personality and Individual Differences (Barreto et al., 2020), suggesting that for industrialized countries, loneliness is one of the fastest-growing social and health concerns.

Study participants took part in the BBC Loneliness Experiment, an online survey launched on BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service. Overall, more than 46,000 volunteers between 16 and 99 years old from 237 countries contributed to the study.

Some of the findings in this worldwide study on loneliness:

 

1. Younger People are Loneliner than Older People

Surprised? While some might think of lonely in a stereotype of a senior citizen, the reality exposed by the study is that middle aged people are lonelier than seniors, and young people are even lonelier than middle aged people!

This might suggest that the problem of loneliness is getting worse over time. 

As our culture changes and with traditional social media networks making loneliness worse (see our image at the bottom of this blog post) - it seems like an intervention is needed more now than ever.

 

2. Men are Lonelier than Women

While all genders experience loneliness, men across all ages report a slight increase in loneliness over women. This is interesting to us at FriendMatch, as we are the only friendship service that caters to all genders - many of the other popular friendship apps cater only to women. FriendMatch has also done our own study demonstrating that our own members are just as interested in making friends with someone from another gender as from their own gender - it is clear from the BBC study that we need to bring this kind of service to more people across more categories.

 

3. Your Country Affects Your Loneliness Levels

Do you live in an individualistic society, where your individual success is a more important life goal than the needs of a larger group such as your extended family?  In these types of societies, which included countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, more frequent loneliness was reported in the study than people living in more collectivistic societies (such as Guatemala).

Interestingly, a couple years back, the U.S. Surgeon General declared loneliness a health epidemic in the country, and in the U.K., a Minister of Loneliness has been appointed.

For more information and statistics about loneliness, check out our fact sheets below:

 

 

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5 Relatable Reasons Meghan Markle may not have many real friends

meghan-markle-no-close-friends Loneliness might have been one of Meghan Markle's leading reasons for leaving the UK

Is the real reason Meghan Markle left the UK actually due to loneliness?

There were not too many reports of friends of Meghan's at her wedding to Prince Harry. Not school friends, childhood friends, or new UK friends - we explore this more below.

 

Instead, as is well known now, we saw A-list celebrities not previously linked to Meghan.

 So why does Meghan not have more real friends in her life?

We speculate that some of these reasons are surprisingly common, things that our own members on FriendMatch - and maybe you or someone you know - have gone through too.

If you have ever experienced loneliness, you know that every challenge is harder without friends to build your confidence, listen to you vent, and openly share your troubles, thoughts, and ideas with.

Right from the start when Meghan moved to the UK, reports from sources cited that she appeared to be lonely.

According to the Daily Beast, sources were quoted shortly after Meghan moved to the UK saying, "Meghan is often spotted walking about the estate.. - and is usually spotted alone." The same source goes on to say that the only companion seen with Meghan is "usually a cop" and that Meghan seemed "very solitary." (View the article on Marie Claire here)

So why doesn't Meghan Markle have real, close friends? We explore how this issue may have led her into extreme stress  - to the point of leaving everything she thought she wanted behind in the UK.

1. No Childhood friends because - No Longer Has Much in Common with them

When Meghan Markle moved to the UK to become a duchess, her new life became completely different, unrecognizable from her childhood experiences. Suddenly, the only thing she likely still has in common with her childhood friends is her past.

This is actually an extreme example of something that is very common for a lot of people. 

You don't always lose touch with old friends because they have changed - it is because you have.

Some people want to distance themselves from their past because they are looking to change their self image, because you evolved, experienced personal growth, or even gave up old bad habits, such as drugs or a partying lifestyle that you want to leave behind.

If you want to distance yourself from your past, why stay connected to it?

If you have changed an no longer have much in common with your childhood friends, what is left to talk about except old times?

And if you are trying to distance yourself from these old times, why stay connected to it?

There are exceptions. If you had strong friendships, or friends that you had exceptional emotional connections to, friends you just "clicked" with, your friendship might last the test of time and changes, and then you might be more inclined to stay in touch.

In Markle's case, as she tries to fit in with her new, very different social circles, it's possible that she feels she needs to let go of parts of her past which she feels no longer fits with her new image.

 

2. Markle lost a lot of friends when she divorced her first husband

There is some speculation that Markle actually lost a lot of her friends when she divorced her former husband, Trevor Engleson.

Some friends have spoken out about taking sides after Markle left her husband. 

This is very common too, and again something we see on FriendMatch a lot.

When couples are together long-term, or married, they start to share friends, as Meghan and her husband did.  There were a lot more friends, family, and a more laid-back vibe from what we know of her wedding in Jamaica.

These mutual friends can sometimes take sides, causing one party from the divorce to lose friends after the separation.

There is a second reason for losing friends after a divorce - even when mutual friends don't take sides, sometimes, when we leave an ex, we want to distance ourselves from all ties to this person. This can mean leaving mutual friends behind too, as they can become tied up in our identity we had as a person in a relationship.  

With the media focusing a lot on the fact that Meghan did have a divorce, something which many traditional royal wives do not bring to the table, Meghan may have had an even stronger motive to completely distance herself from the life she had as a married women with another man.

The effect of this led to increased feelings of loneliness and isolation in her new role as a duchess.

 

3. A New Love Interest = No time for friends

Under normal circumstances, who hasn't been swept up in a new relationship?  New romantic relationships can be all-consuming for anyone. We have probably all experienced distance from a friend who is caught up in a new love interest and suddenly spends all their time with their new beau.

When your new love interest is a real-life prince and lives acrosss the sea, this can be a very extreme case of a new relationship taking up all time and energy. Perhaps Meghan did not have time or thoughts for much more than her new romance when she started seeing Prince Harry, especially considering the hyperspeed timeline of it - dating, marriage, and baby all in about two years - while also adjusting to an entire new royal lifestyle at the same time.

Our theory? Meghan did not even have time to connect with what was left of her old friendships, nevermind find and making new friends.

 

4. New Baby - Exciting! Fun! ... But also isolating.

 Life events alert! A new baby can bring massive changes to any parent's life, and even when we do have friends, we might feel lonely if these friends don't also have babies or kids, as we may feel like the things we want to relate about are not so relatable anymore with our usual crew.

This doesn't mean it's time to drop our childless friends - but what it does mean is that this is an ideal time in life to add new friends to your circle. For mothers like Meghan, this is a good time to connect with other moms or new moms where you will find kindred spirits with lots in common who are open and eager to talk about diapers, breastfeeding and burping with, among other things.

Meghan in her new role, in the spotlight, could not so easily join the local mommy group. While her sister in law Duchess Kate Middleton, with her three young children and interest in the early years, would seem the perfect candidate as a new confidante, it's clear the sister in-laws simply don't connect -whether it's packed schedules on both ends or a difference in personalities - leaving Meghan with very few options beyond Harry for companionship after giving birth to Archie.

This is especially unfortunate, as many new moms can be especially vulnerable to loneliness.

 

5. Moving to a new Country - How Do We Make New Friends When We Move?

This is one of the largest-cited reasons why people use FriendMatch - moving to a new location. 

As with every other example listed, Meghan brings this to the extreme, as she moved across the ocean to a culture that is in many ways very different from her American upbringing.

A lot of people don't know how to find and make new friends when they move. (Check out our other blog post - "5 Ways to Make New Friends When You Move").

Meghan Markle herself as said in a famous interview from her documentary, "Harry and Meghan, an African Journey" that she felt very lonely and isolated - while in the circumstances of the interview this statement might have seemed out of touch, at FriendMatch we feel it is easy to see why she felt that way.

 

Meghan's extreme sadness in this famous interview is a bit more understandable when we think about how awful we have felt in our loneliest times

 

Bonus Reason: No Family Friends

For some people, the social and health benefits of friendship can be in part fulfilled by family, including siblings or cousins. 

In Meghan's case, it has been made clear that this is not an option for her. Her half-sister has publicly stated negative statements about Meghan's character, and there were not any cousins or other siblings at her wedding, or reported in her social circle since her move to the UK.

With no family friendships to fall back on, when Meghan felt her worst, saw a bad article in the media, or felt low self-esteem, having no real, close, genuine friendships to fall back on might very well be one of the driving reasons behind her unhappiness in the UK.

 

Meghan might be lonely, but she is not alone in feeling that way - the problem is, loneliness is linked to unhappiness and even a shorter lifespan! Loneliness is also becoming an alarming epidemic.  Check out our other blog post, "Is Loneliness a Rising Epidemic in Young People?"

And if you are looking to make new friends yourself, check out our Search page to find new friends, or our FAQs page to learn more about how FriendMatch works.

 

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The Newest Ways to Meet Friends Online

The Newest Ways to Meet Friends Online

Our society has changed and evolved from how it used to be, and the Internet has played a major role in this.

When it comes to how we socialize, maintain friendships, and meet new people, our online world has transformed friendships. (More on how maintaining friendships has been affected in another blog post to come!)

Nowadays, especially thanks to the efforts of online dating, meeting someone online has become completely normalized.

From this, we have evolved to accepting a new type of relationship from the online world - making platonic friends online.

Here's our roundup of some of the latest ways to meet new friends online.

 

1. Online Friendship Sites

How it works: Take the concept of online dating, make a few tweaks, and adjust the model for platonic friendship instead. 

Online friendship sites, (like FriendMatch!) take a proven model for meeting new people, and apply it to friends instead of romance. 

Similar to dating sites and apps, you fill out a profile online first.

Then you can browse profiles of other members, but instead of filtering by physical attributes, you will be filtering your search by other options such as location, age, hobbies, and interests.

To start a new friendship, just like with dating you must start by sending a message to those members you are interested in.

Besides FriendMatch, other friendship sites include BumbleBFF, Girlfriend Circles (women only), and Peanut.

Pros: 

  • Meet new people with confidence. Unlike any other methods in this article, you can confidently message members on these sites and apps, knowing that every member registered is looking to meet new friends.
  • Easy, familiar setup: Simply browse profiles and send messages to those who you think you might click with.
  • Low cost. Unlike dating sites, many friendship sites are much less expensive to use, if not free. (FriendMatch is free to use, with an upgraded option that lets you send more messages daily.)
  • With a dating site, once you have successfully met a match, you're done! But with friendship sites, there is no limit to how many friends you can make.
  • You can make new friends nearby, locally that you can meet in person, or you can make online-only friendships if you are just looking for someone to talk to.

Cons:

  • Just like with online dating, you might not meet your bff instantly. It takes time and sometimes patience, sometimes many messages and meetups to find the person you will click with. But hang in there, because the right friend is worth the effort!
  • Just like any social network or dating network, you might be approached by people you are not interested in getting to know. You have the option to ignore these requests, respond with your non-interest, or block the members on most sites and apps.

 

2. Blogging

Nowadays, another way that some people are making new friendships online is through blogging!

How it works: Whether you are a blogger yourself, or a fan of someone else's blog, real friendships are made through blogging platforms. 

There are thousands of blogs and bloggers out there to choose from, one for every interest. Many bloggers share information about their interests, or even their daily life. You might follow a blog because the blogger has many things in common with yourself, and you enjoy following their story.

Friendships can happen through blogs when you start connecting with each other, often through the comments section first. 

In some cases, one blogger will comment frequently on a blog post, and sometimes through this, commonalities are found, and sometimes connections are formed. This leads to direct messaging, which leads to a deeper connection.

Some bloggers have different meet and greet events, where these friendships can move from online to offline, or sometimes some comments lead to other forms of messaging if a connection is made, which leads to friendship, either online only or offline. 

Pros:

  • When bloggers connect with each other, through their posts it can feel like you have already gotten to know each other, and already know which things you have in common.
  • Blogging can be deceptively lonely - while bloggers share highlights from their lives, being a blogger is still a unique position to hold that local friends and family will not always completley understand, so it can be really refreshing to meet with fellow bloggers who understand this way of life.

Cons:

  • Unlike with friendship sites and apps, you can't always be certain that the blogger you love to follow is actually interested in meeting new friends, so it's best to build a friendship more slowly via this route.
  • If you don't have a blog yourself, it might be harder to connect with a blogger you feel would make a great friend for you, because even if you share details about yourself in supportive comments on their blog posts, the blogger might categorize you as a fan and not a friend.

 

3. Discussion Forums and Facebook Groups

Zero waste groups and forums, vegan groups, keto groups, professional groups, pregnancy and new mom groups - there is a niche online discussion forum or Facebook group for just about every hobby or interest out there!

How it works: Start by joining a group that matches up with your interests. Here, in this group, you will find and connect with other people who share the same interests as you. You don't need to jump into narrowing down a new friend right away, but start by just participating in the discussions. Eventually, you might find that you connect with some members really well, or have more things in common with them, or perhaps live nearby them.

There are two ways to find new friends from these groups:

1) Occasionally these groups will host offline meetups and events, when you attend you might just meet some new, like-minded friends. 

2) You can also send a direct message to someone you feel you have a connection with, starting with a deeper conversation, and from there perhaps moving on to a platonic online friendship, or even meeting up for an offline, traditional friendship.

Pros:

  • No need for searching profiles - you already have things in common with the people in these groups.
  • Hosted group events offline give you the chance to meet new friends.

Cons:

  • Similar to the other methods in this article, you can't be certain that the people you would like to become friends with are actively seeking new friendships.
  • Group events and meetups can be intimidating to go to alone.

 

4. Instagram

Similar to blogging, friendships are now being formed right off Instagram!  Through Instagram, people often share lots of information about themselves, their lifestyle, their goals.  From this, you might start to feel like you know which people you have lots in common with, or which people you might like to get to know.

How it works: If you think someone you follow on Instagram would also make a nice addition to your social circle, start by getting to know them through Instagram. Leave comments on their posts, or reply to their Instagram stories. 

You can take it step further by sending a direct message and introducing yourself. Slowly, over time and many messages, comments back and forth, you might start getting to know each other better. From here, you have the option to suggest meeting up sometime to hang out, or just keep it as an online friendship.

Pros:

  • You can go slow with meeting new friends on Instagram - if you feel like the friend-chemistry isn't working, it's easy to back out.

Cons:

  • No certainty that the person you know on Instagram is actually looking to make new friends.

 

5. Online Classifieds Sites 

Remember, way before the Internet days, when people used to place romance ads in the newspaper classifieds? This is still happening!

How it works: Now people are usingCraigslist, Kijiji, Angie's List, even newspaper online classifieds in their search not just for romantic relationships, but for friendships!  People are now posting ads that introduce themselves, and describe what kind of friends they are seeking, in a creative way to find new friends locally.

Pros:

  • You can approach with confidence - those who are posting these ads are looking for new friendships.

Cons:

  • Lots of scrolling - since online classifieds sites are not designed for friendship seeking, it's not easy to filter by things like age, gender, location, and interests, as you can with friendship websites and apps.

 

6. Meetup

Meetup has been around for awhile, and the concept is that groups of people host offline group encounters as a chance to go out, socialize, and meet new people.

Pros:

  • No planning required, just show up!

Cons:

  • Going out in a group style by yourself can be intimidating.
  • Not really designed for 1 on 1 friendships.

 

There you have it! Our list of some of the modern ways to find new friendship online. 

Did we miss any ideas? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

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Australia to NYC: Making new friends as an adult

Australia to NYC: Making new friends as an adult

Recently, I moved from Australia to New York City. It was, and still is, incredibly scary and challenging. While I knew a handful of people, they were scattered between Manhattan and New Jersey, and most were friends of a friend- not my own connections. I didn’t want to pity-invited along to any event. In a city  of 8 million people, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to find, and make, friends but it was, and it wasn’t long before I started to feel a little bit isolated and consider a life where my only friends in the city would be the raccoons in Central Park.

Raccoons, and possible rabies, aside, I knew I had to do something about this feeling of disconnect from society, or I’d end up a lonely spinster in arguably one of the greatest cities in the world, known for its vivid social scene.

 

So I got to work. Thinking about how I’d made friends in my previous, Australian life, it dawned on me that not all of my best and closest friendships had been formed at school or work places- the two places I assumed were the time-honoured friend-making scenes. So, I put together a list of ways  to meet great friends in my new city.  Here are some things that worked for me:

 

Meetups

I discovered that going along to meet ups for something you’re interested in or passionate about is a great way to meet people. Not only are you mingling with other living, breathing hominids, but you’re also meeting people with similar interests to you, and because you have an inbuilt convo starter, you don’t need to make small talk about the local sports team or the unseasonable weather we’ve been having lately.

 

Book or Movie Review Clubs

Similar to meet ups, a book club or movie review club is a great way to meet people because you’re forced to not be a wallflower and to participate in the conversation. Maybe you’ll find your next bestie after you both give 50 Shades of Grey withering reviews, and bond over your shared highlighting of all the naughty parts in the book- (the only parts worth reading). The other benefit to making friends at things like this is that you’re still keeping up with your passions and hobbies. You get to keep your interests and make friends.

 

Helping people

Take a look around you, is someone struggling with a map or a Metrocard? Give them a hand. It won’t take much time and maybe you’re catching the same train, so you’ll have some time to chat.

This is exactly how I made a friend from Boston, after witnessing him struggle with the ticketing machine and offering my assistance.

Even if you don’t make a lifelong friend, you’ll feel good for helping someone and you’ll become well-practiced at approaching people, and with this comes confidence- good practice for more new friends!

 

Co-working spaces

I use a co-working space and I witnessed the blossoming of a new friendship right before my eyes recently.

Dan was casually working away at a desk in an open spaced area shared with others when Al, the eagle eye, spots some kind of gaming-card deck, the name of which is unknown to me, and asks Dan if he can “check out his deck”. Dan responds in the positive and the next twenty minutes they were dedicated to talking about the game, the styles they played and where. At the end of this brief encounter, the pair were Facebook friends and making plans to hook up to play said game in the future. While I wouldn’t advocate laying out a token of all the things you’re interested in like a weird, religious shrine for others to see and remark upon, open planned spaces encourage and foster these kinds of interactions and I have found them to be a good way to meet people.

 

Internet dating

I once met a group of guys out one night on the roller derby scene and as the night progressed, my best friend and I hung out with them more and more and we bonded quite quickly. Drunkenly insisting one of our new found pals couldn’t possibly make the late night commute to his home- in another town an hour away, we forced the poor guy to spend the night on our too-small couch. Waking in the morning to see he’d since left but had neatly folded his sheets and blankets, placing them on said couch, and hadn’t made off with our TV, made us think he was an ok guy. Later on in the day, I’m flicking through potential suitors online and see someone who looks awfully familiar to our new found friend- we were a match! We thought this pretty funny and laughed ourselves silly and then we forced him to move in with us and we’ve been great friends ever since. While we were never romantic, as the site had intended in pairing us up, that person is now one of my best friends, and I’ve met other friends through him. So while internet dating can be , it’s not entirely unreasonable to use it to make friends.

A tip - while you may be tempted to invent romantic scenarios with this new person, or people, in your head- don’t. It isn’t that actively dating someone is a bad way of meeting friends, but you want your own friends and not temporary friends you’ll have to give up if the relationship doesn’t last. So you may have to sacrifice one hottie, and the relationship potential they have, in order to make, and remain, friends. .

 

So while it may seem daunting and an impossible task, it isn’t always doom and gloom when it comes to making friends as an adult. I hope this list has inspired you to look outside the box when it comes to making new friends. What did you think of this list? Have you tried any of these things? 

 

About Jamie-lee Owen

Jamie-lee Owen is a writer and raccoon lover. More of her work can be found at jleeowen.com

 

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Making New Friends at Alcoholics Anonymous

I stopped hanging out with my main group of friends because the guitarist of the rock band I carried equipment for was extremely condescending towards me and always wanted me to contribute money towards him buying drugs. These were toxic friends, and they saw nothing wrong with putting me down either. They also drank and smoked cigarettes and used drugs, when I was trying to quit all of these things. So I stopped hanging out with them. But almost all my friends were in this rock band and the people who worked for it.

Suddenly I had nobody to hang out with.  But it got worse.

After leaving this group, I got drunk at another friend’s house, and by the end of the night my insatiable thirst for beer resulted in me grabbing the last beer his grandfather ever brewed, while he wasn’t looking, and drinking it. My  friend found out and punched me in the face and I was banned from his house. It was at this point I realized that I needed to go to AA. I needed to become a better person and surround myself with people who could bring out the best in me.
I had gone before when I was younger, but it was because I had to for probation, and I would just wait for the meetings to be over so that I could get my sheet signed.  This time I wanted to do it right.

I was prejudiced against members of the military when I began AA, but the nicest person I met there was a Gulf War veteran with PTSD named Jeremy. He was very empathetic with everyone at the tables. I thought, “Wow, this guy actually cares when bad things happen to people he doesn’t know!” At AA I have started to care more about the joys and problems of both my new AA friends and even strangers, and to feel their emotions with them. I am also learning that a 22-year-old like myself can be friends with much older people. There are people of all ages at AA groups.

In one meeting, I was sitting with some guys my age and one older guy.  I found myself  opening up about how my dad had a seizure from getting a cerebral edema after hitting his head too many times when he was drunk. I told them, “It was not long after he got the surgery to drain it before he started drinking again and I never want to be that stupid.”

They agreed that it was pretty stupid and reassured me that I didn’t have to be like that. After the meeting a young man named Colin said, “We’re all about the same age. If you ever need anyone to hang out with, you can chill with us.” He gave me his number and the older guy told me about the three-quarters house they lived at (a place with strict rules where recovering drug addicts live) and said I should check it out. These people that I had just met suggested I come live with them! I am fortunate enough that I am sober to the point where I don’t need to live in a place like that, but it was touching to be invited.

The club where I go to most of my meetings is located in a strip mall; ironically it is right next to a liquor store. Inside there are tables topped with hard white plastic surrounded by folding chairs. In the back there is free coffee and tea set out along with tall stacks of Styrofoam cups. On the walls there are there picture frames on the wall with the 12 Steps and 12 Traditions in them and sayings such as, “Let Go and Let God”, “Willingness is the Key”, and “One Day at a Time”. There is also a print of the classic AA painting of two members of AA talking to an alcoholic on a wall.  To me this highlights the key success behind the organization – understanding people helping each other to become better.

The atmosphere at the club was so friendly and supportive. The 12th step is to help other alcoholics achieve sobriety, so a major goal of members of AA is to help you. There is something called “The Fellowship” at AA, which means a friendly and supportive community of people with the common goal of staying sober. It is very easy to make new friends at AA because when you first get there a card is handed around and everyone puts their name and number on it so you can call people if you need help or even a friend. I realized that people often lose friends when they stop drinking and doing drugs, because they can’t afford to be around people doing things like that, or because their friends were shallow and won’t want to spend time with them unless they’re getting high or drunk. Members of AA are very willing to spend time with you outside of the club because they understand that newly sober people need sober friends.

Before and after meetings everyone hangs out in the court to talk or smoke cigarettes. I don’t smoke anymore but this is where I really got to know a lot of people. One of my best friends at AA is John, a tall skinny 27 -year-old with brown hair and ears that stick out really far.

I think one reason why it was easier to make friends in AA is that the 4th step in AA is taking moral inventory, assessing when you were good or evil. During meetings people often confess to doing bad things in the past, and judging others is called “taking someone else’s inventory” and is considered useless and self-defeating. Anyone can be themselves in AA and will be shown compassion, in fact honesty is strongly encouraged as opposed to hiding faults like one would need to elsewhere.

I don’t have a car because for several years I had terrible priorities. At AA people often have lost the privilege to drive because of DUIs, so people often give each other rides. I have made many friends by being driven home by people. One of them, Joe, became my sponsor. Joe drives John and me home after the 10:00 P.M. meetings sometimes, which are my favorite meetings because that’s the one most of my friends go to.  Joe is really funny and cool and I count on him for advice on important issues.

I got a job because of AA and I also made two new friends, my bosses Bill and Charlie. I mentioned that I didn’t have a job at one point when we were standing around in the court where people smoke. A 50-year-old named Charlie told me that he was a roofer. He offered to train me to be a roofer and the first day he came and picked me up he talked for a while and I learned a lot about him. He used to be a millionaire because he ran a huge roofing company. Then he lost everything because of the 2008 Wall Street crash and the Great Recession. It turns out the road I live on is named after his family! While I was working with him I met one of his business partners who also goes to AA, a 69-year-old named Bill. Bill and I have become very good friends and he says that one of his favorite times of day is when he is driving around with me to go to various jobs and pick things up from Home Depot. We talk a lot and can relate to each other very well even though there is a 47-year age gap.

I am extremely glad that I started going to AA on regular basis. I have made about ten new friends in just four months and I am making more all the time. Every day I can go hang out with people, there are several meetings a day so that I never have to be alone. In these past four months I’ve gotten a job and a girlfriend, two things I haven’t had in a long time. Ditching my toxic friends and lifestyle and deciding to make new friends and a healthier lifestyle by going to Alcoholics Anonymous was one of the best choices I’ve ever made.*

 

 

 -Submitted by Michael Ericson

*NB. All names have been changed in this story.

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Friends: The Prescription for a Long, Healthy Life

More and more statistics are showing that spending more time with friends will not only make you happier, but healthier as well. 

As more research is emerging, it is becoming apparent that friendship can be one of the best things for your health. 

Here are some interesting stats:

Spending time with friends was shown to reduce the risk of heart disease by 29 %.

Spending time with friends has been shown to reduce the risk of stroke by 32 %. 

 

More stats to come!

 

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Why people are going online to make friends

Why people are going online to make friends

 

Why are people using the Internet to make friends?

  

"It's not as easy to make and keep friendships today as it used to be," says FriendMatch founder Katie Hartle, "people are looking to the Internet to solve this problem."

 

In the UK, a "National Campaign to End Loneliness" was created.

In the USA and Canada, the rising epidemic of loneliness is increasingly being covered in the news.

The impact of loneliness is more than just a social problem:

 Loneliness is creating an impact on the heatlh of men and women of all ages.

  Articles and studies are showing that lonely people have higher rates of inflammation and weakened immune systems, and that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death by 30%!

 In the United Kingdom, Loneliness is Worse Among Young People

 In 2010 the Mental Health Foundation found loneliness to be a worse among young people than the elderly. The 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed were more likely to feel lonely often, to worry about feeling alone and to feel depressed because of loneliness than the over-55s!

 

Coffees, book clubs, and dinner parties; interests of friend-seekers

In a study of 7,000 FriendMatch.com members, newly released data shows that members are using FriendMatch to make friends because they want to have more experiences: 

The main activities members were interested in:

54% of FriendMatch members analyzed would love to meet for coffee with their new friends.

23% of members are interested in joining a book club or wine club.

32% of FriendMatch members would like to have a dinner party with their new friends.

 

Who is making friends online:

43% of FriendMatch members are women between the ages of 18 - 29.

At the time of the study, Women made up approx. 63% of all FriendMatch members.

 Friend-seekers come from around the world, but the top three countries for members on FriendMatch, in order are:

1. United States  2. Canada  3. United Kingdom.

 

About FriendMatch.com

FriendMatch is an online service to help you meet real new friends, from your neighborhood or from around the world.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Spend Valentine's Day with Friends! Some Ideas..

Spend Valentine's Day with Friends! Some Ideas..

Ways to Spend Valentine's Day with Friends

Valentine's Day might make you think of chocolate, flowers, cards and dinners, but this holiday can also be a really wonderful excuse to have fun and get together with your friends!

Here are some things you can do with your friends this Valentine's Day.  What did we miss? Chime in below!

Get Crafty!

Get together and make some of those beautiful diy Valentine's decorations you always see on Pinterest.
It's fun to get creative with friends, and you can pull out your creations year after year and remember your lovely time with your friends.

Bake up a Storm

Join forces and make a giant batch of gorgeous sugar cookies with a friend - give extra cookies to your sweetie or surprise a neighbor or friend in need with a batch.

Coffee + Desserts

We can be so busy during the day.  But it's easy to make time to get together for coffee and dessert after dinner. Go out to a restaurant with your gals or do coffee and homemade dessert in the living room.
So simple, there's lots of time to chat and catch up.

Spa Time

Treat yourself without the sweets! White bathrobes. Face masks. Steam. A Turkish hammam is ideal, but a diy day with homemade concoctions is also fun. Gather your pals and unwind with spa time.

Go Dancing

You don't have a date night planned, but you still want to wear something red and dress up? Go dancing! Lots of clubs have Valentine's Day specials, it's a great way to have fun and hit the town with your friends on Valentine's Day.

Take a Group Class at the Gym

Zumba or yoga, whatever new class you might want to try - drag a friend and have twice the fun! Perfect before that tasty discount chocolate!   

 

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11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unless you are suffering at Christmastime, in which case you might want to jam stockings up your ears to avoid hearing one more overly-joyful overly-played holiday jingle!

The reality is that Christmas can be hard for some people. Really hard.

Anna and John Wilkins have not celebrated Christmas in years. After their daughter was suddenly killed in a car crash one year, the season of merriment has not yet appealed to the couple. 

"All those meaningful family traditions we had have just become painful reminders of Susie, and of everything that we have lost and missed since we lost her," explains Anna, who along with her husband, no longer puts up decorations, and actively avoids the holiday.

 Mourning the loss of a family member or friend can make the forced-cheerfulness and consumerism of the holiday season feel especially empty and meaningless.

There are other reasons for feeling sad at Christmas too.  Any struggle is amplified at Christmas, and add to that shorter days and a higher rate of Seasonal Affected Disorder, and things only get worse.

Whether it's a breakup, you're living alone in a new city, or if you are facing a struggle with a disease like cancer, advertisements that are constantly showing us happy scenes of perfect families can sometimes only show us what we are missing and enhance the pain from the season.

Even people without extraordinary struggles can feel worse at Christmas - sometimes money is tight, and with the super-high expectations of gifts, food, alcohol, and attending events demanding all these things, the cash-strapped can feel especially poor in a season of plenty.

Sometimes rebelling against a "traditional" Christmas is just the thing to do. 

 

 

If you must stay home

 

 

Listen to talk radio or a podcast

Radio has been described as one of the most personal forms of media. 

Even in today's modern Internet era, this is still true.

On a radio talk show or a good podcast. the host speaks directly to you. 

Radio programmers know that their listeners are usually listening alone, and the result is an intimate experience where you might feel comfortable and familiar with some of your favourite hosts, as if they are dear friends. 

A good radio show or podcast can be good company and good entertainment at the same time - a nice distraction from Christmas!

With podcasts, you can listen to entire marathons of your favourite programs, so if you are up all night, at least you are in good company!

Some great podcasts to try:

The NoSleep Podcast If you like horror fiction and radio drama, you will love this podcast! Short horror stories produced and narrated in a dramatic style - so much fun!

Myths and Legends Like most podcasts, you can listen to this one in any order. Learn the original versions of folk and fairy tales like Cinderella and King Arthur from narrator Jason who relays the stories with a dry and slightly sarcastic wit that is most entertaining while also being handy for conversation starters.

 

Take a walk or a hike

Look at the Christmas lights. Create background stories for the scenes you come across - the families rushing off laden with gifts and food, the happy reunions.

Hint - A casual glance towards a home's happy-window-Christmas-scene, with its lit-up tree and jammed full of revelers as you walk by is okay.  Try to avoid standing in front of any houses and staring straight into the window though, no matter how interesting the back story appears to be!

However, if peeking into many worlds of family togetherness is distressing and not amusing, skip the neighbourhood walk and go to a park or nature area instead.

Adopt a pet, a furry friend who is also lonely this Christmas.

Give it the best day ever. Take it on your winter walk. Feed him treats. If you can't commit to adopting a pet, there are many shelters who are desperately seeking "foster" parents - so foster a dog or cat for awhile.  They make great company!

Do a puzzle

If your mind is distressed, sometimes it can help to focus on an engaging task. 

Celebrate the way people of other faiths do..

Enjoy a nice meal at a Chinese restaurant.  Catch a movie a the theatres. (No one will see you alone in the dark theatre!)

Pull an Ebeneezer Scrooge (post-ghostly visits)

Spread joy to any less-fortunate souls you see that day. Load up some coffee gift cards, pack paper bags with treats, and offer them to anyone you see, who looks like they are having a worse Christmas than you.

Read to seniors

Many seniors living in these places have a lonely Christmas - sometimes they are not able to leave the care of their institution, and so they are without their families. Many of these seniors have lost many friends, maybe their spouse, and family members.

But you can still bring a little kindness into a senior's holiday. a nice old fashioned Christmas story.

Yes, it's festive, but giving kindness to someone lonely might just give you that needed feeling of classic joy this Christmas!

Make arrangements with a hospice, personal care home, or retirement village. Choose a classic novel or an old-fashioned book with a historic storyline that might bring a senior back to a simpler time that they might remember fondly. 

Many seniors, besides having a lonelier holiday than many, also have long given up hope for reading books. Vision loss and decreased mobility make it hard to turn pages and read. 

But stories are special, calming, and entertaining!  You can read to a senior one-on-one, or make arrangements for a microphone, and arrange with the care home staff to give a reading to a crowd on Christmas.

One great book choice for seniors? Try Christmas with Anne and other Stories, a wonderful Canadian collection of festive short stories set in the early 1900s. 

Use FriendMatch to connect with a new friend

Come onto FriendMatch and find someone else in the world who feels the same way you do.

 

If you can escape your town

 

Sometimes the easiest way to avoid your troubles is to just run away from them! 

Okay, that might not be the most responsible statement, but sometimes a temporary but instant solution is simply needed.  And December 24 is one of the cheapest days for air travel!

Here are some ideas for how to escape whatever is bothering you this Christmas:

 

Go Skiiing

Picture it; the pristine Canadian Rockies, fresh, sparkly powdery snow, the lifts are running, and they are drastically less busy than they will be in a few weeks. 

Christmas is the perfect season for skiing, and everyone has their favourite ski destination. 

Sure, you'll see a lot of snow and Christmas trees, but that doesn't mean you can't spend the whole day on the glorious mountain, and enjoy the frostiest beers and whatever meal you like in front of a warm fire apres-ski.

 

Go to the Beach

 

One year, Peter's wife left him right before the holoidays.

He was devastated, "I couldn't stand all the "merry this" and "good cheer" that when I felt so hearbroken, I had to get away.  And more than that, I didn't want to face my entire extended family at our usual gatherings and explain what had happened. I still didn't understand it myself!"

On a whim, Peter booked himself a week at a resort in Mexico.

Now married again, Peter and his wife spend every second Christmas away from home.

"Travelling at Christmas has become a new tradition to look forward to. We always go somewhere new and exciting, and we take advantage of great airfare and resort prices before the rush!"

It's even easier to forget about Christmas when you are sitting under a hot sun, drinking a margarita and reading a new book, (Self-care!) or snorkeling...

..or whatever you love to do when all your responsibilities are waiting patiently for you at home.

It can also be much cheaper to travel to a hot destination like Mexico for Christmas time - after the holidays, the rates for sun holidays go straight up.

 

 

Head to a city with Great Nightlife

If you want to be alone, but you don't want to feel alone, a good solution is to spend Christmas in a buzzing party city.  

Head to Miami for tons of culture, and a perhaps slightly toned-down version of a vibrant nightlife - in some places in the world, the streets are filled with music, art, and people - all kinds of interesting characters - to keep you company.  Grab a seat on Ocean avenue, order an iced coffee or a cuba libre and soak up the energy as you people-watch.

Other options of this sort include the French Quarter in New Orleans, Reykjavik in Iceland, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

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Ways to Spend Halloween with Friends! When trick or treating is no longer an option..

Ways to Spend Halloween with Friends! When trick or treating is no longer an option..

Do your neighbours give you funny looks when you try trick or treating? 

If you're all grown up, but young at heart when it comes to Halloween, there's good  news!

There are lots of ways to celebrate Halloween with friends as grownups, when you're too old to trick or treat.

Here's some of our ideas! Got more ideas? Share below in the comments!

 

 

Get Crafty!

Get together and create a Halloween craft (see our post Crafting with Cocktails for ideas!). This can be as simple as carving a couple of pumpkins, or do what we all do - find something elaborate on Pinterest to replicate!

 

 

Have a Halloween-themed Potluck

Encourage everyone to stick to the theme for a memorable dinner party. This also works great for an appetizers and dessert party. Costumes optional!

 

 

Horror and classic Halloween movie marathon

There are so many good horrors to choose from, from classic Alfred Hitchcock and Stephen King movies to modern trilogies like Saw or Paranormal Activity, or just play a marathon of the Simpsons Treehouse of Horror episodes if you like your horror served lightly with comedic relief!

 

 

Go for a Walk 

On Halloween, there is an extra energy in the air. In many areas, the air is just a bit crisp, and houses and neighbourhoods are brightly lit and inviting, the excitement of so many costumed kids (and grownups!) adds a real air of festivity to the evening. 

If you miss the days when you could go trick or treating, you can still experience the energy of Halloween by taking a walk with a friend. You'll enjoy the sights and sounds while getting a nice workout and good company.  If you're feeling really brave, visit your nearest historic cemetery!

After the walk, treat yourselves to some chocolate from the candy bowl or go for coffee! 

 

Take a Ghost Tour

There are so many of these around, there is probably one in your neighborhood.

Not only are these tours a fun way to celebrate the season, they usually highlight the most interesting local history that you probably never learned in school!  

Kick off your tour with warming cocktails or cap it off with hot chocolate or a pint at the nearest haunted pub.

 

Team up with Friends and Make the Ultimate Haunted House!

Remember that one house on the block as a kid, the one that went all out on Halloween? The fog, the sound effects, the costumed adult jumping out at you?

As an adult, you now have the power to be that person!

If you love Halloween, horror, and getting creative, team up with a friend or friends and create the ultimate trick or treating experience at one of your houses. When the trick or treating is done, kick back with some well-earned snacks, drinks, a horror flick, and leftover candy of course!

 

 

Throw a Halloween Party

This option is always on the table! It's probably one of the easiest parties to throw - just carve some pumpkins, make punch, throw on the horror sounds background and put your costume on!

 

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Crafting with Cocktails: Fall Fun Day!

Crafting with Cocktails: Fall Fun Day!

Crafting with Cocktails

In this series, we suggest cocktail and craft pairings – because getting your hands dirty and being creative is a wonderful outlet from the stresses of adulting! And getting together with your friends and a couple of cocktails makes it even better.

 

Fall craft idea – Glitter and painted pumpkins

This craft is so easy to do, not even mimosas will cramp your style!  All it takes is a coat of spray paint to transform your pumpkin – and you can use any type of paint or colour, making it easy to create a décor scheme or coordinate with other decorations.

The effect is gorgeous – get ready to gain major crafting street-cred and lots of compliments!

The drink is the ultimate fall crafting cocktail – all the fun and bubbles of champagne infused with the fall flavors of pear, ginger and sage.  It’s perfect for day drinking, and it can be prepped ahead of time so you can put all the focus on your crafterpieces!

Get your bubbles and your spray paint and let’s get started!

 

Supplies:

Protect your clothes – old sheets work great!

Spray paint – any colours you want.

Pumpkins!

Embellishments – gemstones or stencils

 

Instructions:

It’s so easy, you could even do it after a couple of cocktails!

  1. Lay assorted pumpkins or squashes down newspaper
  2. Put clothing-protectors on. (We used old sheets with holes cut out - classic ghost costume!)
  3. Pour Pear Ginger Sage Champagne Cocktails.
  4. Spray paint those pumpkins! Don’t forget the stem!

Optional – Add glitter, or gemstones, or stencil on patterns.

  1. Pour more cocktails while painted pumpkins dry.  Nibble on autumn-inspired hors d'oeuvres.

Food and Drink Suggestions:

Sipping:

Pear Ginger Sage Champage Cocktails

Get this fabulous seasonal cocktail recipe here from Dishing Up the Dirt.

(It's FriendMatch Test-Kitchen approved!)

Nibbling:

Make use of what's fresh and seasonal. Lots of beautiful vegetables are available now fresh and locally, so take advantage - sprinkling fresh herbs also on everything when possible.

Try grilled cheese-stuffed peppers, use a mix of sweet peppers and jalepenos, stuff them with soft cheese, (goat cheese or cream cheese will do nicely), then drizzle in honey and sprinkled with thyme.

What's Gaby Cooking! breaks down how to serve a gorgeous crudité platter, a beautiful way to make use of fresh veggies. Check out her tips here.

If you're looking for something more filling, a cheese plate, rounded out with fresh seasonal fruits, local honeys, nuts and seeds, is another good option.  We love the Cheese platter from Seven Layer Charlotte - check out her tips on perfecting the cheese tray here

 

 

 

More Fall Crafts Inspiration

 

Want to do something different with your beautiful pumpkins?  

Try stacking them into a pumpkin-witch, or make some creative jack-o-lanterns.   

The spa-day pumpkin, the shark pumpkin, and the hamburger pumpkin were all on display at a Halloween event at the Grand Wailea Resort in Maui, but you could replicate them at home! 

 

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How to Host a Raw, Vegan Thanksgiving for Friends

How to Host a Raw, Vegan Thanksgiving for Friends

This year for Thanksgiving, why not fit in an extra celebration with friends?

Instead of repeating the traditional feast, (turkey burnout!?) make it a culinary adventure with this exciting and healthy raw plant-based menu. It's high in vitamins and low on calories, so there's more room for extra (organic) wine and pumpkin pie topped with coconut whipped cream! 

This is the raw menu from the cookbook, "Living Raw Food," by Chef Sarma Melngailis.  

This Thanksgiving menu was also served at Sarma's raw restaurant in New York City for Thanksgiving. 

Note that you need a food dehydrator to make the recipes. 

 

The Menu

Serves 10 - 12 guests

Marinated mushrooms (can use dark and light for two-toned "meat")

Mashed root vegetables

Stuffing

Cranberry sauce

Brussels sprouts

Organic red and white wine

Vegan pumpkin pie with raw vegan whipped cream

 

 

The Scene

Think natural as a decor theme. Set your table with seasonal produce and simple candles in mismatched-sized jars. Decorate your house with a generous number of wildflower bouquets, and be sure to mix grasses, cat tails, and berry branches into the bouquets if you can. With all the time saved on cooking this meal, you will extra time to go for a nature walk and gather these supplies!  (Or your nearest farmer's market.)

 

The Recipes

From the cookbook, "Living Raw Food."

You can make all of these recipes one day ahead, and just warm everything up in your dehyrdrator 30-40 minutes before serving!

 

Marinated Mushrooms

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups olive oil

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons minced rosemary

3 tablespoons each, minced sage and thyme

1 tablespoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

10-12 large portobello mushroom caps, cleaned and sliced thick on the diagonal

4-5 large king oyster mushroom stems, sliced thick on the diagonal (use extra portobellos if unavailable)

Combine all ingredients except mushrooms in a large bowl, whisk til well mixed.

Add mushrooms to the marinade and coat well. Set aside to marinate for 10-15 minutes. 

Place mushrooms on a teflex-lined sheet in your dehyrdator and allow to dehyrdate until the mushrooms become tender and look roasted, 1-2 hours. 

 

Mashed Root Vegetables

4 cups pine nuts, soaked 1 hour or more

2 cups water

4 cups celeriac, peeled and chopped

5 cups jicama, peeled and chopped

1.5 cups parsnips, peeled and chopped

2 cups olive oil

4 tablespoons nutritional yeast

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons truffle oil

1 cup scallions, white and pale green parts, chopped

20 turns fresh ground pepper

2 teaspoons sea salt

 

In a blender, puree the pine nuts and water until smooth and creamy.

Place the puree in a large bowl, add all the remaining ingredients, mix well.

Pour 1 cup pine nut cream and 3-4 cups of the vegetable mixture into a food processor and process until smooth. Set aside in a large bowl and continue with the remaining pine nut cream and vegetable mixture. 

Stir the mixture well and let sit for at least 2 hours to allow any liquid that forms to pool on top.

Pour off the liquid. If it's still a bit runny, place the mixture on a clean kitchen towel and gently squeeze out any excess liquid. Transfer to a bowl and season with additional sea salt to taste.

 

Brussels Sprouts

1/4 cup pistachio oil

1/2 cup olive oil

1/2 cup maple syrup

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh ground pink pepper

5 cups Brussels sprouts

In a large bowl, whisk together the oils, maple syrup, salt and pepper.

Remove discolored outer leaves from the Brussels sprouts, and cut off the hard stems. 

Some leaves will separate from the core. Continue cutting away the hard interior until the sprout is entirely separated into individual leaves, placing the leaves into the oil mixture as you separate them. Repeat with the remaining Brussels sprouts

Toss the sprouts mixture and marinate for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, for more tender Brussels sprouts, place them on a Teflex-lined tray in the dehyrdator for up to 45 minutes. You can also do this just before serving so that they will be warm.

 

 Stuffing

4 cups chopped cauliflower florets

2 tablespoons olive oil

sea salt

8 cups ground pecans, ground to a crumbly texture in the food processor

2 cups carrots, peeled and diced small

2 cups celery, diced small

2 cup onion, peeled, diced small

1 teaspoon truffle oil

2 tablespoons rosemary, minced

3 tablespoons thyme, minced

freshly ground black pepper

Place cauliflower in food processor and process until it has a texture similar to sesame seeds, with no large pieces.

Add the olive oil and a pinch of sea salt and process just until mixed.

Spread the mixture on a Teflex sheet and dehyrdate for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, mix the other ingredients in a large bowl.

Remove the cauliflower from the dehydrator, mix with the remaining ingredients, and season to taste with salt and pepper. 

 

Cranberry Sauce

8 ounces fresh cranberries

1/2 cup filtered water

1/4 agave nectar

2 strips orange zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

about 2 cups Irish Moss, soaked in hot water for 10 minutes or more, drained

In a high-speed blender, puree all the ingredients except for the Irish moss until very smooth. 

Add the Irish moss to the blender and mix at high speed until the mixture heats up to about 115 degrees Farenheit.

Pour the mixture into a bowl or shallow pan and refrigerate at least 2 hours.

 

 

 

Dessert:

Raw, Vegan Pumpkin Pie - Recipe available at the Real Foods Witch blog.

Top it with raw whipping cream: 

Refrigerate full-fat coconut milk until chilled, then whip until fluffy! Add a bit of your favourite sweetner and vanilla if you'd like. 

Mmmm!

 

 

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Are Married People Lonelier than Single People?

Are Married People Lonelier than Single People?

 

A recent study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships examined the relationships with friends, neighbors, and extended family members, and compared the connections that single people had versus married couples. 

They found that on average, single people spend more time connecting with friends, neighbors, and relatives than married people.

Single people are more likely to give help to, receive help from, and stay in touch with siblings, friends, parents and neighbors than those who are married.

In fact, even if someone has a divorce, they will still spend less time with friends and neighbors, suggesting that the effects of a less social lifestyle can last beyond marriage.

(And maybe we should all be reaching out to our friends who have just gone through a divorce - they might need the company more than they know!)

The study results were able to rule out other factors, like age, kids, education, and income.

So why are married couples so antisocial?

The authors of the study have a few ideas:

  •  People believe that their husband/wife is their soulmate, and should fulfill all social needs
  • Single people may need to make more effort to fulfill their social needs since there is no one to socialize with at home
  • Another theory? Maybe this is another one we can blame on our busy, modern society!

Married people might feel that by the time work/volunteering/the gym/whatever is caught up with (which is never), there is barely time left over to put into a good marriage relationship.

What do you think?

To see the study, check out this link:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407515597564

 

If you are married, and worried that you are socializing enough, The Newlywed Handbook (written by the editors of www.thenest.com), has some advice about double dating for married couples:

 

Turn friendly casual friends into new couple friends 

Do you know any cool couples who might be fun to hang out with? These could be friends-of-friends, friends from work, or volunteering, or even neighbors. 

See how you all might enjoy hanging out by starting with a fun activity that gives you lots to talk about, like an "Escape Room", or a ghost tour, or a Teppanyaki - style Japanese restaurant.

Make sure both genders enjoy the company

At first, either the girls or the guys will dominate the conversations and planning - likely the person who set up the connection. But with a bit of effort, you can all enjoy good bonds with new friends at the same time.

The group time will be more satisfying if the girls and the guys get along great - so if the husbands know each other through work, the ladies should eventually make an effort to email each other, and meet for lunch or coffee without the guys too.

Expand your group again!

Four people at a dinner party is great! Three couples is even more fun! If you get four couples - eight people - now you can use your full dishes set from your registry! 

 

Are married people lonelier than single people

 

Make sure to check out our other blog post, "Social tips for Couples"!

 

Do you think married people are lonelier than single people?

 

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Plan a Grownup Birthday Party

 

A birthday party is the perfect excuse to invite friends over for a fun celebration and make the birthday man or lady feel extra special on their day, so don't miss out on this opportunity!

Whether you throw a party for yourself or for a dear friend, here are some ideas to make birthday celebrations special, even after the candles start crowding that cake!

 

Choose a Theme

All your party elements - food, decorations, activity - pull together in a delightful way when your party has some kind of underlying theme or "raison d'etre".

The theme can be all-out, like, "Hawaiian Luau", but it can also be just as effective to have a theme that is more subtle, like, "Classic Birthday Party with a Grownup Twist" (see below for ideas on this theme.)

 

Here are some more examples of easy theme ideas for adult birthday parties:

Pink

Fuchsia theme. Get napkins, balloons, and flowers in this color. Create a punch or signature cocktail to match. Make birthday cake, cupcakes or cookies with icing in the same color.  

Nature-Lover

Woodsy theme. Sprigs of wildflowers in mason jars. Those tree-stump cake stands. Chili bar with fixins'. Ask your guests to wear plaid.

 

 

 

 Fiesta Birthday

So much fun as an adult - hello big batch margaritas! 

Make margaritas, set up a taco bar, and make sure there's lots of guacamole.

Buy (or make!) a pinata and stuff it with candy. Throw some posters of Mexico up on the walls if it's cold or go out on the deck or yard if it's nice out. 

 

 

Set the Mood 

 

Your theme will inspire you with ideas. Decorations, music, and even real invitations can set the tone for your wonderful party.

Putting up decorations is of course completely trivial and not necessary.  THAT'S WHY IT'S SO MUCH FUN! ;)

Birthdays are special occasions, even if you are throwing the party for yourself, show yourself and your guests some love with fresh flowers on the table, or balloons up on the wall!

 

 

Plan your Menu

A theme can help you pull a menu together. 

Depending on the nature of your party, it's nice to have:

  • A signature drink
  • Appetizers
  • A main course 
  • A Birthday cake

Especially a birthday cake. It's so essential. Don't forget the candles!

If your guests offer to bring something, let them! Ask them to bring an appetizer, a side, or even the cake, and let them know about your theme. There, one less thing for you to do!

 

 

Add special touches

Even if you're throwing your own birthday party, elevate it from regular get-together level to "special birthday party level" by throwing in a special touch.

It's not very often as an adult that you get an opportunity to "play", or to be creative for no reason beyond having a few laughs. Take your birthday party as an opportunity to do something fun or creative.

Make a craft, do a painting, or set up a photo booth - because why should kids have all the fun?

 

Some of our Grownup Birthday Party Ideas:

 

Classic Birthday Party with a Grownup Twist

Remember the standard birthday party when you were a kid? So simple and fun!

Balloons, streamers, pizza, pop, and that standard birthday cake.

Take this this idea and elevate it to adult levels with minor changes:

Keep the balloons and streamers. Set up an Italian soda bar or a signature drink in place of the pop. 

Like this Birthday Cake Martini:

 

Keep the pizza on the menu - but make homemade pizzas with gourmet toppings.  Or fire up your own pizza oven!

Get the prettiest, tastiest birthday cake that you can find homemade or from a special bakery, and remember the candles.

 

Send your friends home with grown-up goody bags and good memories, old and new!

 

Paint Night

You can host your very own paint night at home!

For this party, nurture creativity and bright colors in your party accents. 

Grab small canvases and paints for cheap from the dollar store or that big-box store that has everything - get kids paints, they're cheap and they'll do the job, after all it's mostly for fun!

Set up YouTube on your TV in front of the painting station - you can watch full episodes of the ultimate paint-along guide, Bob Ross, and try out this drinking game...

Set your table with big blossoms for that colorful feeling, or set the whole theme based on the painting you do. (Mountain cabin in the woods?)

 

Have you ever celebrated with a unique birthday party?

 

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Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

 Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

There is a known rule in the community-building playbook, "Start with Petunias".

If you want to transform your neighbourhood into the kind of thriving, safe, attractive, and pleasant community, it's best to start small. Plant flowers. 
Here are seven more small, simple things you can do to make your neighbourhood amazing:

 

1. Spend More Time in Your Front Yard or Front Step  

Jay Walljasper, in his book, "The Great Neighborhood Book", describes sitting on your front stoop a

"great city pastime that has become endangered", and notes that some historians feel that when we spend more time in the backyards, instead of our front yards, we are decreasing our connection with our neighbours. 

What are some ways to pass time in our front porch or steps? Watch the world go by, read the newspaper, have a beer, and wave at your neighbours! 

 

2. Go for Neighbourhood Walks  

You know that quote about how showing up is 99% of the effort you must put in? By strolling your neighbourhood, you are showing up, and that does a lot.

Not only is this good for your health, but it's good for the health of your community. When a community has locals taking regular walks, it is like having a neighbourhood patrol. An active and engaged neighbourhood is a neighbourhood that is monitored and safe - criminals usually prefer to go somewhere more quiet and deserted looking. 

 

3. Welcome New Neighbours

An old-fashioned tradition worth reviving! Drop by with a basket of muffins and introduce yourself.  Share helpful information about the neighbourhood. 

 

4. Celebrate Holidays and Seasons  

It's easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life, but the holidays and seasons are a good chance to be thoughtful and to brighten your community. 

The Great Neighborhood Book has many suggestions for ways to embrace the holidays and seasons; 

  • Swap seedlings from your garden in the spring
  • Organize a special trick-or-treat experience for the children at Halloween
  • Coordinate Christmas decorations around the block with your neighbours - make ice lanterns, or decorate all the lamp posts.  
  • Organize a caroling night complete with cookies and cocoa after.
  • Make note of #5! 

 

5. Give Small Gifts  

Gifts for neighbours do not have to be elaborate but they are so rewarding to give! 

A basket of extra tomatoes from your garden will surely be appreciated by your neighbour who doesn't keep a garden.  Use your big snowblower to do your elderly neighbour's walkway. A box of homemade cookies. An offer to collect mail while your neighbour is on vacation.

Everyone has a gift to give. 

Be thoughtful with small gifts, and don't be surprised when you start receiving surprises and gifts too!

 

6. Take Your Kids to the Park  

It's another tried and true, old-fashioned action. Why mess with success? 

And if your neighbourhood park isn't that great... developing one might be a great project to pull together the community! 

 

7. Make it Great for Pets

Some green space, a safe walking path, a community water dish - according to Walljasper, a dog-friendly neighbourhood will have dog-walkers out at all hours. This is a wonderful way to prevent crime and meet new people.

 

 

 

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Meet New People

Find out how FriendMatch is helping people to make new friends

How does FRIENDMATCH Help Me Make New Friends?

FriendMatch is an online service to help you meet new people from your neighborhood or from around the world.

Types of Friends: Exercise partners, couple friends, new parents groups, book clubs, dinner party clubs, just someone to have coffee with and talk about life…etc.


What DO I have to do?

Sign up for free. 

Use our search tools to find new friends.  Search by age, gender, location, interests, or just by keyword.

Send a message and introduce yourself to people you’d like to get to know better, and then take your friendship from there!

We provide tips and tools to help you keep in touch with your friends- a blog with inspirational friendship stories and tips, speed-friending networking events - because life is busy and we want to help!

Click here to sign up to FriendMatch for free and start making new, real friends, from nearby or from around the world

(Like online dating, but for friends instead of dates!)