You Don’t Have to Be Lonely in Midlife
Feeling Lonely in Midlife? Squad Goals Aren’t Just for 20-Somethings
Taylor Swift has a squad, the Rats and the Brats had packs, Scooby had his gang, and the lords of the ring have a fellowship. Whether you have a small group of close friends or a large network of acquaintances, those connections get more meaningful and more important as we get older. Call it a clan, a village, a posse, or a tribe, the people we surround ourselves with have a big impact on who we are, how we see the world, and how we age. You don’t have to feel lonely in midlife – but friendship may look a little different now.
More Like Autumn Chickens
We’re not spring chickens anymore, but we aren’t wandering off into the sunset either. As we hit middle age, which is generally considered those years between 45 and 65, some of us are looking to slow it down and take it easy after years of go, go, go, while others are ready to move in new directions, find richer experiences, and try new things.
These golden years of our lives aren’t geared toward a rocking chair on the porch existence anymore. We want a fulfilling journey all the way through, and that includes fulfilling friendships.
A Daily Dose of Friendship
As we age, friendships become more important, not less. Research has shown that a daily dose of friends can keep us happier but also healthier. These relationships can reduce stress, improve physical health, and increase life expectancy. They offer support, encouragement, honesty, laughter, and emotional connection. Not only that, COVID aside, they help get us out of the house for dinners, drinks, outings, adventures, and fun. And who couldn’t use more fun?
How to Find Your People
Some women have girlfriends they’ve known most of their lives who are their go-to, ride or die, first phone call they make, at their side at a moment’s notice, lifelong support system.
But if you’re like most women, those friendships are not constant.
They ebb and flow as the demands of life and life circumstances change. Or they fade away because the only thing you have in common anymore is your history.
So, where do you find your people?
It can be hard to find them once you start getting a little older. You’ve learned to filter out the riffraff and are okay with being less tolerant of people who leave you feeling drained. But you don’t have built-in social situations anymore like the lobby at dance class, the elementary school pickup line, the bleachers at sporting events, or the school fundraising committees.
Where do you look? It’s going to take a little effort, but it’s time to bust out of your comfort zone and get out there and meet people. You might even find that it’s easier to make friends now that you’re older – you’re more confident, more self-assured, and more willing to just be yourself.
Here’s where to look for new friends:
Take a class – cliché? Perhaps, but it’s a great way to learn something new and meet other people who like what you like. Pottery, cooking, art, skydiving, knitting, lion taming, whatever floats your boat (oh, maybe sailing!), give it a try.
Social media – look for local groups with your interests. You might be surprised who you’ll meet and connect with.
Sign up for a fitness class – be sure to find one geared toward your fitness level and your age group. We don’t want anyone pulling a groin or ending up in the ER. You’ll meet people that way, but probably not in the way that you hope.
Join a book club – a book club is a great place to make friends, especially these days, as we social distance and rely heavily on Zoom and Google Meets. You can meet people while staying safely ensconced in your own home.
Volunteer – this is one of the best ways to connect with like-minded people. Volunteering for an organization that speaks to your heart can help you find your people.
Try a friend-making app – believe it or not, there are apps to help people just like you find other people just like you. Bumble BFF, Friender, Peanut, and Meetup are just a few. Swiping right has never been more rewarding.
It’s Never Too Late to Not Be Lonely in Midlife
Whether your idea of living more fully in your 40s, 50s, and 60s means slowing down or speeding up, you can’t do it without a web of friends to stick by you, push you forward, keep you grounded, and make you laugh, think, and feel.
While our friendships early in life may have shaped us into the people we are today, friendships in the middle of our lives help us become more of who we already are. Instead of determining your path, they simply come along for the ride. They are what Aristotle called friendships of the good. These “good” friendships happen when women share values, trust, depth, honesty, humor, and a deep appreciation for each other’s inherent goodness. They enrich our lives and make them more fun and more meaningful. You’re never too old to revive old friendships, create new ones, make connections, and find your squad. Now get out there and find your people.
Meet my talented and beautiful friend, Sara!
Speaking of Reviving Old Friendships…
A note from Sue: My high school friend, Sara Turner McCann wrote this article. We met in the Evil Ms. Brown’s Trigonometry class our junior year. Sara has no recollection of the class itself; we joke that blotting it from her memory was her only defense.
Our friendship started one day when Sara turned around in her seat to invite me to hang out with her. I’d moved across the country and was incredibly lonely, and to be honest, she may have saved my life with her offer of friendship. We lost contact during college and our young adult years, but reconnected through Facebook. Since rekindling our friendship, Sara also joined my team of freelance writers and has become a vital part of the business. We’ve had fun attending Traffic & Conversion and she and my dear friend and project manager, Jessica Salas joined me for a writer’s retreat in the Ozarks. I love her with all my heart and am so pleased to introduce her to you here.