Broadening your horizons at any age can be refreshing. Especially once you’re close to retirement or even retired, it’s important to find like-minded people to engage with. So, where do you even start, and how can you make it both fun and safe?
Enter MeetUp, an easy way to connect with people in your area. The concept for this social media platform is surprisingly simple and much needed. Here’s everything you need to know about MeetUp, including benefits, getting started, and making new friends that can last a lifetime.
MeetUp is a social media platform accessible through their cellular app or website. It’s great for meeting new people that share your interests for both online and in-person events. Remember all of the clubs you were in high school? It’s like that but with endless possibilities.
There’s no fee to sign up, either, making it an affordable option for folks on a budget. However, some groups do charge a fee for events, so keep an eye on pricing.
Once you’ve signed up for an account with basic information, including an email and your location (I used the big city closest to me for more options), you’ll get an email with a link to verify your email address. The next steps are pretty simple: you’ll be asked your main reason for setting up an account (that’s to hone down recommendations for you), so click on “Meeting People Like Me” to find new friends.
Next, you’ll be asked to pick a few interests to narrow the search even further. You’ll find things like Art & Culture, Dancing, Pets & Animals, and Spirituality. You may choose as many (or as few) that appeal to you.
From there, you’ll narrow it down even more. Think of it as online dating without the dating. And the more options and selections you choose, the more options you’ll receive. And you know what’s even cooler? If you don’t find a group to your liking, you can create your own for a fee.
If you want to chat with folks around your age, all you need to do is search for keywords. I put in “seniors” and “50s” to narrow down the group options. Again, I’d go with a particular age decade to get closer to my age. If you want to see all the MeetUp groups the city offers, don’t do a keyword search and simply browse. You can pick from online or in person and even go as far as to select how far away you’d like to drive if it’s an in-person meeting.
Until recently, I wasn’t a member of MeetUp, so I was VERY surprised to read some group titles when I did make the dive and created my own account. I found everything from Cougars and Cubs (an older women, younger male vibe) to one called Badass Women Love Bourbon.
Yeah, it’s that fun! Again, I suggest using one or two keywords to get started and then expanding from there. Once you’re in a group, you can leave it at any time, so there’s no obligation.
There are groups that I didn’t even know could exist as well. For example, I’m a huge horror genre fan, so I typed in the keyword “horror” for my area. There are horror fiction writing groups, a horror online game night, and horror movie watch parties.
And since I’ve been digging around the website, I found a few MeetUps that I’m actually very interested in attending, both online and in person.
My mother, God rest her, passed away in 2009. For my father, she was the sun with which he orbited around. While losing a parent is absolutely devastating, she was so much more than that. He lost his better half and was not only grieving; he was devastatingly lonely. He was living in their big house by himself, and, while he put on a brave face, I knew better.
Sure, he talked to his children, but with each of us not having experienced the death of a spouse (knock on wood), he really could have used someone going through the same experience to cry with, talk to, and maybe even laugh.
Trust me, we tried. He refused face-to-face bereavement groups, and MeetUp would have come in perfectly handy as he could have chatted online with others in the same boat without feeling the uncomfortableness that goes along with talking in person.
Additionally, when I was going through a divorce 16 years ago, instead of feeling like I was alone on a deserted island amongst my friends, I would have begged to talk to folks in my position (a divorced mother with a young child in my 30s). And I would have felt more secure chatting online than in person and jumped at the chance to share my story with others.
MeetUp may not just be the website for you; it can be for your mother who lost her husband, an aunt going through menopause, a sister that wants to take up a new hobby, and countless other situations where another friend can come in handy.
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