Life & Culture

Had Enough of “Friends”?

meetup.logo

Call me old-fashioned, I prefer to be social face-to-face rather than on Facebook. But analog gatherings aren’t easy to come by, unless you already have an incredibly active network of friends.

There’s a website that can help. Meetup.com lets you search for groups of like-minded people based on common interests. These groups hold regular events—a.k.a. “meetups”—that anyone can attend. There’s a meetup for nearly every interest: hula hoopingBible study, Language Exchange, even pet therapy, where children read to dogs. Most meetups are  free or reasonably priced. And if there’s a group that you wish existed and doesn’t, the site makes it easy to start one of your own. Meetup.com’s slogan: use the Internet to get off the Internet.

You can find meetups in more than 92,000 cities and for more than 90,000 interests. Just go to the Meetup.com home page, click on the red “Find a Meetup Group” button on the top left and type in an area of interest and a zip code or town. A search for “senior” in “New York City” turns up groups like Savvy Seniors Who Like to Have Fun, the Senior Men’s Discussion Group and one for “senior brunchers.” Or you can join a group by interest; most are intergenerational and include seniors among their members: a Central Park sketching group, a digital photography workshop, an Astoria book club, a film & culture club

Sift through the search results to find a group that’s right for you. If I’m interested in swing dancing, but want to avoid gymnastic gyrations, a search for “ballroom dancing” finds groups like Salsa New York that offer free basic lessons and Saturday night classes for beginners and intermediate dancers.

If you want to try a group, just click the Join Us button—joining is free. You’ll be asked to create a login and password (one password works for all groups). You can join with first name only or a nickname if you’re not comfortable revealing your true identity, though it is a good idea to upload a photo of yourself. You’ll also need to give your email address, but it won’t be displayed or shared. Some groups ask you to introduce yourself online or answer a profile question; most make these optional.

It might seem scary to join a group of strangers, but events are usually held in public places like museums or coffee shops, so there’s a built-in safety element. Check to see how many people are attending the event you’re interested in; unless you’re looking for a date, it’s probably not worth going if there’s only one other member attending.

When  the group schedules an event, you’ll get an email invite. You’re not obligated to attend or even to decline – you can just ignore the invite.  I RSVP if I plan on going. If I change my mind, I change the RSVP to reflect that, too.

Looking for the right group for you? Try these tips.

  • Read the description well A search for “dining” and “New York City” turns up groups that indicate age ranges. Only you know if you prefer sipping Zinfandel with the New York Singles Over 40 Dinner Club or tossing back Jell-O Shots with 20-somethings at the Manhattan Happy Hour Social Group.
  • Look for costs Even though joining Meetup is free, some groups charge a fee or hold events at a venue and expect you to buy something. The New York Investing Meetup charges $15 per meeting. New York City Atheists spend $20 for brunch.
  • Check out the group stats A search for “knitting” and zip code “10000” finds about 60 groups, including Knit Together, which meets roughly every two weeks. Even though the group has 1,145 members, only about a dozen people generally attend.
  • Read the reviews If you read the comments for New York Road Walkers, for example, you’ll discover that it’s actually a runners’ group. A member of the White Plains Tea Party writes that people over 65 should pay for private insurance and refuse Social Security. Good to know that before striking up a conversation.
  • “Read” the photos, too A search for “hiking” and “Manhattan” yields outdoorsy groups like Northern Manhattan Outside. Clicking on the “Photos” tab lets me know that the terrain they travel is mostly flat.
  • Check accessibility Groups list an address and phone number for a venue but often overlook accessibility factors. If you’re concerned, it’s best to call ahead and ask if the event is wheelchair- or walker-friendly. It’s perfectly fine to email the organizer with questions, too.
  • Use Meetup on the road If I’m alone in, say, Philadelphia, Meetup allows me to find groups like Philly Museums and Technology so I don’t have to walk around a museum by myself.

I’m taking the plunge and joining the New York City Beekeeping Meetup—and RSVPing for an upcoming hive inspection… whatever that is. Soon, I’ll let you know how it went and report back with all the details.

The Lowdown

What Meet new people and try new activities
Where Around the world or in your neighborhood
When Anytime
How Much Some meetups are free, others charge a fee or expect you to buy something at the venue, like lunch or dinner
Wheelchair Accessible? Depends on the particular venue. Contact the group’s organizer with any questions.
Senior Friendly? Very—several groups are specifically for seniors.

COMMENTS

19 responses to “Had Enough of “Friends”?

  1. I, too, am looking for a group of people, or just one person with whom to walk. I’m a 66-year old female who needs to walk for weight loss, and I’m not looking to date. I just want a walking buddy or buddies, preferably people who also have interests in the world, like to talk about all sorts of things, who likes debating the issues of the day. I’m in Brooklyn. If anyone knows of a group or wants a friendly walking companion, please post.

    1. Hi Sylvia, I too like to do things with groups and also with one person, hopefully making at least one good friend. Most of the meetups over 50 like to go to bars and over crowded, loud restaurants. I don’t drink or smoke. Like to walk but not when too cold, lol. I also like to dance, aerobics, swimming, bowling and good plays, etc. If interested please contact me through Senior Planet PM. I live in Manhattan, NYC. :)

  2. Hi! I lived here in New York City and iam just looking for friends
    male or female. Iam not into dating, just friends to go out to chat
    and eat sometimes like once a week, thats all. I dont drink alcohol.
    Iam not looking for a boyfriend, just a going out buddy. Iam friendly
    And easy to get along with.I speak tagalog also.

  3. I am a 58 y.o. mom, grandmother, divorcee’. Just looking for new friends and groups in the cities I want to travel to. New York City, London and surrounding areas, Ireland, Canada. Love to read, have coffee, talk, exploring via walking or driving. I LOVE bad weather. Winter and Fall are my favorite seasons. I’m in Sacramento. Northern CA is on fire right now so it’s sad and depressing here right now.

  4. Hi All! I am a retired senior male, travelled for a while and now life has fallen into routine. I am looking for a meet up around northwestern region of Pennsylvania – around Clarion or Venango or Crawford counties or environs for friendship or e- mail pals with senior females or even males. Card games or occasional snack and tea parties etc. okay. Others outside of this part of Pennslyvania can write me as e-mail pals also. I like reading and intelligent discussions. If interested e-mail me: ynoning.ideownus@aol.com

    Thanks, Pulman

  5. Hi! I am looking for a meet up that fosters friendships with women like myself. I am 59 years old and happily married, but since moving to NYC 11 years ago I have not had many opportunities to make meaningful friendships. Any suggestions?

    Thank you,

    Cindy

  6. I live and play out West—Washington state and looks like we need to form a senior group out here. I’m active and increasingly frustrated by the lack of connection with like-minded seniors. Am going back to local “Meet up”, but seems to be mostly younger folks…just venting. May all who find this site connect in a good way.

  7. I am a very active and energetic senior who is looking for an interesting getting to know you group for seniors. A group where you can share interests and life stories with decent and respectful seniors in the city. I love to dance. Can anybody help me? Would appreciate it. Thanks. See you there.

    1. I’ve been looking for the same thing. Most of the senior groups that I checked out they just have card games. I’ve always been very active and like to do things out. Since I’ve lost my husband I feel very alone. Let me know if you find anything.

      1. Hi, Valerie
        Like to meet up and send u information on my Belly Dance Classes for fitness and
        Fun free for seniors. Call 212-213-9409. Zoë

    2. Myla, if you are in Manhattan, NYC, there are 2 dancing places: Line dance Sunday 2-16-20 at 2pm, and International Folk Dancing every Sunday at 1pm. If you’re interested you (or anyone else) can contact me through Senior Planet private message so I can give the details. :)
      P.S. I just read SP’s conditions for comments, so I’ll stop contacting commenters. I’m sorry they took that position as it would’ve been very nice for many to contact each other.

  8. I am a recent widow looking for different interest groups to share mutual interests and activities (male & female)–It’s time to move-on so to speak. Actually it is past time. Hopefully you can suggest a few group resources for me to follow-up on. By the way I am not interested in finding a significant-other or dates only in making new friends and enjoying life. (Don’t misunderstand me feel there is nothing wrong with that if it is what a person seeks.)

    1. I’VE SPEND A LOT OF TIME LOOKING FOR THE SAME THING. I LOST MY HUSBAND 2 YRS AGO AND I STILL CANNOT FIND A GROUP TO MEET NEW FRIENDS TO GO OUT WITH AND TALK. ALL THE MEETING I’VE GONE TO ALL WANT DATING ETC. IF YOU FIND ANYTHING LET ME KNOW. THANKS

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