I made new friends in my 50s by finding common interests. We play pickleball, see live music, and have dinner parties.

I made new friends in my 50s by finding common interests. We play pickleball, see live music, and have dinner parties.
  • After moving to the Palm Springs area, my husband and I had a hard time making friends.

  • We were younger than many other people in the area.

  • However, after someone I knew connected us to friends of hers, we made a new friend group.

While we knew we would be among the younger side when we moved to the Palm Springs area in 2021, as it's known for having many retirees and 55+ communities, my husband and I were open to new experiences. I was excited for a different kind of future when I left the world of corporate recruitment from Silicon Valley and leaned into my new career of writing and teaching meditation.

It's difficult to make new friends as an adult, but it is possible. In the past, finding friends through our children was the easiest way to make connections. It was easy to connect with other parents when we took them to activities. However, now that our children are older, I had to find new ways of meeting people.

I knew that a combination of a positive attitude and the law of attraction would be fruitful. While I had no problem engaging with strangers, I understood that finding others who enjoyed similar activities might take a while. There were multiple starts and stops to friendships, but I remained open and curious about others. Here's how I ended up making a great group of friends, and what we do together.

I made my first friends through a referral

I was sporadically in touch with a high school friend who saw a post of mine online about moving to the desert community, which is located a few hours from Los Angeles. She used to live in Los Angeles, and had some friends who had also recently made the move to the desert. When she asked if I would like to be connected, I took her up on the offer. As a former recruiter, I knew how successful referrals from others could be. My Arizona friend sent a group text to introduce me to her friend Kirsten, and soon, a date was made to go on a hike.

We met with masks on, as it was still early in the pandemic, and went for a hike in the legendary Living Desert, which has ample hiking trails behind its animal exhibits. We shared our stories of raising kids, moving while our youngest children were still in high school, and finding the new lifestyle in the desert to be both exciting and sometimes challenging. Our love of the arts, exploration of the area, family values, and similar age demographics were a few of the overlaps that signified this friendship was blossoming.

While my husband and I love to entertain, our new friends Kirsten and Erik have been taking the lead by including us in their trips to the Palm Springs Art Museum lecture series and inviting us over to their house for dinners. Soon, we met their other friends, Chris and Kelly, who were planning to relocate from San Jose — then our group became six. It was a rare group where we all enjoyed spending time with each other, and no one was left out.

Shelley Karpaty's husband Mike, center, with their friends from left to right: Chris, Kelly, Kirsten, and Erik at the Palm Springs Vintage Mart.
Shelley Karpaty (not pictured) and her husband Mike (center) enjoy going to the Palm Springs Vintage Mart with their friends Chris, Kelly, Kristen, and Erik (from left to right).Courtesy of author

Our friendship group grew over time

Chris and Kelly began flying down more frequently from San Jose, and on one flight, they met another couple, Krista and Colin, on the airplane. Krista and Colin were also working toward relocating to Palm Springs full-time. Being the open-hearted people that they are, a conversation turned into a friendship, and now we have a group of eight.

While our friendships are relatively new, we have all made a concerted effort to get together in various combinations most weekends. There seems to be a maturity and transparency of enough life lived yet an enthusiasm for what is to follow. We have all been through some rough patches in life, and I sense that our level of empathy and compassion for one another will continue to grow. It's been so much fun to get to know each other.

It's not easy to find friends at this age, and at this point, we joke with one another that "Eight is Enough" as a nod to a show that was popular when our generation was growing up. This weekend, some of the group will be listening to storytellers up in Joshua Tree at a fundraiser for veterans. And soon, we will be seeing Israel Nash at our favorite venue, Pappy & Harriets.

We hike, have house party dinners, celebrate birthdays, play pickleball, hear live music, and keep in touch over a group text during the week. And it all began with a referral connection all the way from Arizona. I am deeply grateful for these new yet steadfast friendships in my life, where we all genuinely care about each other with acceptance and authenticity.

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