As someone who works from home and can be quite the recluse, I also recognise how important it is to form friendship connections with other women – especially as we age.
Research indicates that loneliness can increase your risk of illness, premature death and may even be as bad for your health as smoking! Having a partner is not always the answer – it’s the outside female friendships that seem to most influence wellness.
That’s all good to say but what if you have woken up in your 50s and inadvertently drifted away from many of your friendships in the blur of child rearing, work and also perhaps changing life direction?
The menopause transition raises a whole other complexity to this issue – I found myself retreating even further as my body and mind struggled to work out what was going on! I even had times where I didn’t want to socialise because my body was changing, I had gained some weight, didn’t have clothes that fitted and felt quite blah – not a great excuse but a real one.
Personally, it’s only in the last year or so that I have felt that I have the time, energy and headspace to find my tribe again. I’ve transitioned through menopause and although of course, I’m still a working in progress, I’m feeling good – even about my changing body. I also recognise that in many ways I’m a different person now and that perhaps it’s time to form some new and different friendships.
So, what to do?
I feel quite lucky that I have now begun to make some wonderful new friendship while also reconnecting with some of my older friends. You know those people that you don’t see for 20 years and then get together and not stop talking for hours and feel like it was only last week you saw each other? I’m privileged to have a couple of those.
With my new friendships – that’s been pretty interesting as a 54 year old woman. I’ve found friendships in interesting ways – one through my podiatrist (I think we will be lifelong friends), some through a women’s networking group where I attend in person events and others through the most random ways.
One of the most unlikely places I’ve met some wonderful friends is through Instagram! We share the same philosophies about ageing and they inspire me every day. I must admit that the first time I met up with someone through Instagram, I was very nervous. I’ve never been involved in internet dating but I’m assuming it something similar – will it be a real person? will we connect? will they even look they do online? I seem to have a good filtering process however, as everyone I have met in real life has been a perfect match!
Some of the new ways I hope to form friendships in midlife is through of the spaces I’m creating – my online post menopause facebook group, my courses and also some of the in person events I have planned for the future. I’d particularly love to facilitate some group hiking get togethers. And, that’s part of the reason I’m doing what I’m doing as I recognise that women in this post menopausal stage of life need a place to connect with other women – particularly if you are women who is not prepared to sit back, let life pass you by and merely survive. My goal is to create a community of likeminded women who want to thrive as they age.
What I’ve found myself overall is that I’m more open minded and open to connecting now than as a younger woman – something I kind of thought would be the opposite but I suppose that in some ways we all crave connection because it’s a part of our biology. Love and belonging places smack bang in the middle of Maslows hierarchy of needs.
But most of all, on a very basic level, true female friendships improve our happiness. It’s definitely worth the effort.