Jane Fonda Gives a ‘Direct’ and ‘Unselfconscious’ Lesson in Making Friends After 60 – But It’s Brilliant Anytime
Jane Fonda is never too old to prove everyone wrong, even when it comes to her ex-husband.
At 85, Jane Fonda—who celebrated her 85th birthday by announcing her cancer remission—understands firsthand just how crucial friendships are to a sense of health and well-being. After being told by her “favorite” ex-husband, Ted Turner, that making new friends after 60 is just not something you do, she set out to prove everyone wrong—and as with most things in life, the long-renowned actor and activist was successful in her efforts.
There are many reasons people say it’s harder to make friends the older you get. From busy lifestyles, to established social circles, divergent life stages, social anxiety, and straight-up fear of rejection, it’s hardly uncommon to feel there are more and more barriers to forging fresh connections as we age.
In an interview with CBS, during which Rita Moreno, Sally Field, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin promoted their film, 80 For Brady, Fonda dished on how to meet new people, and how to actively pursue them as friends.
Bonus: she even offers a short script one might use to introduce new people into one’s life.
Let’s dig in, shall we?
Jane Fonda On Sustaining And Pursuing Friendships
So what’s Jane Fonda’s big secret to instigating meaningful friendships, even into an older, golden age? Intention, of course. Direct, unselfconscious intention.
Her advice to anyone who’s struggling to truly connect with would-be friends?
“You have to be intentional,” she said.
“I never used to be intentional. I would meet Sally Field, for example, but not pursue her—well, I did pursue you,” she added, looking at Field.
“Oh, goodness sakes, I couldn’t make you stop,” Field joked.
Fonda in her defense, responded, “See because she tends to be reclusive.”
And Fonda’s Grace and Frankie bestie, Tomlin, agreed that she is certainly difficult to ignore.
“I don’t really like people that much,” shared Tomlin. “I try to avoid them. But those who are intentional,” she said, pointing at Fonda, “you just can’t get rid of them.”
Putting Intentional Friendships Into Practice With Fonda-Style Honesty
So, how do you actually put this intentionality into practice and start making new friends? Fonda makes it sound simple, and maybe it is. She says you should seek out the people you most enjoy being around.
“You have to pursue people that you want to be friends with,” she said.
And for those who still can’t imagine just how they’d turn an acquaintance into a friend, she shares a handy script.
“…you have to say, ‘I’m intentionally wanting to be your friend,’” she said. “And it works. People hear that and then they stick around, and you develop new friendships.”
As far as pre-planned scripts go, this one’s a winner because it’s straightforward, honest, and vulnerable—all the qualities of a worthwhile friend, some would say.
Jane Fonda On Female Friendships
In her recent interview, Fonda shared that her friendships with women in particular are at the crux of her identity.
“I don’t even know what I would do without my women friends,” she said. “I mean it’s, ‘I have my friends, therefore I am.’”
“Women sit facing each other, eye-to-eye, and they say, ‘I’m in trouble, I need you, can you help me?’ We’re not afraid of being vulnerable,” she added.
Unsurprisingly, there are some men who take feel left out of Fonda’s statement.
For instance, @McHoward21 tweeted, “This is bogus and untrue for the men in my circle. I think society projects that as how men ‘are’ but I think in many circles this is not accurate.”
While it’s true that concepts of masculinity and femininity are most definitely undergoing an era of change, when it comes to friendships, Fonda is nonetheless still hailed as an expert of sorts, and with good reason.
Field recently told Entertainment Tonight that she and Fonda have been close since the 1980s, adding that their friendship started when Fonda “literally knocked on my door and said, ‘Come on, we’re going to lunch.’”
And Fonda and Tomlin have famously been friends for 40+ years, since they co-starred in the 1980 hit 9 to 5. They pair even gave a TED talk on female friendship in 2015.
Jane Fonda Is Right: You Can Make New Friends At Any Age
When it comes to making new friends, Fonda hits the nail on the head: quality friends raise your sense of belonging, happiness, and self-worth. They also help you cope with stress, among countless other benefits.
In spite of the many ways that our preferences and hangups become more defined as we age, the reality is that friendships are indeed central to our physical and mental health—no matter how old we get.
As Jane Fonda so eloquently puts it, putting yourself out there, making real connections, and allowing yourself to be vulnerable are all part and parcel of instigating new and lasting friendships. Perhaps they’re also the secret to feeling youthful for longer, something Fonda seems to know a thing or two about.
While it is true that overall, making new friends as an adult requires more effort and intentionality than it does in childhood, adolescence, or even young adulthood, it is still 100% possible with determination, open-mindedness, and the will to leave one’s comfort zone now and again.
You heard it here first: not only are late-blooming friendships possible, but the chances of making deeper, more authentic friendships later in life is arguably more likely as we grow older, wiser, and become more discerning human beings with a stronger sense of self.