If you’ve reached a certain age and found your social life lacking, you’re not alone. It’s not at all uncommon for people to lose friendships when they reach midlife or shortly after. There are lots of reasons you could find yourself without the close relationships you once had. In fact, for some people this phenomenon can occur as young as 25, and the number of friends one has continues to decrease as the years go by. So, it’s no wonder that by the time we reach our forties and fifties, many of us look around to find we’re short on meaningful real-life friendships. Here are a few of the reasons you might be losing friends and some ideas for how to counteract them.
Though divorce rates have been on the decline for the last few years, almost 50 percent of marriages in the United States still end in divorce or separation. When couples split up, they don’t just divvy up their financial assets, they are also often forced to split their friends. If you have lots of “couple friends,” there may be a natural loss of relationships as marriages in your social circle falter. Invest some time and energy into friends that are just your own to avoid having all of your friends attached to your significant other. And of course, if you ever find yourself in the unfortunate situation of having to choose sides, fight hard for the friendships that truly matter to you.
People often relocate when they retire. Whether it’s you or your friends or a combination of both choosing to move away after retirement, it can often lead to the friendship slipping away. We may have the best intentions of “staying in touch,” but like any long-distance relationship, friendships can tend to fade away when we can’t see each other regularly. If you or someone that you love and have a true connection with moves, make an effort to keep in touch any way you can. It will undoubtedly be challenging, but things like social media and video chatting apps can make it a lot more doable. Another good idea is to plan some of your vacations around visits to or with important friends.
Also read: Making new friends in midlife
Though it may be tough to admit, many friendships end because someone gets sick. As much as we want to think that we will be there for friends who are suffering from health issues, people who get sick often aren’t around as much for quality time with friends. That doesn’t mean that you no longer hold them in your heart or can’t be emotionally supportive, but it’s likely that you won’t physically be together as often. Plus, if your physical abilities no longer match a friend’s, there will probably be fewer activities that you can enjoy together. A sick friend’s priorities will naturally be very different from a friend who is physically well–it’s no one’s fault, it’s just a part of life. Spending less time together often leads to the dissolution of a friendship. To maintain friendships in this situation, try devoting some time to regular visits and phone calls–you could even offer to be there as moral support for doctor’s visits.
If you’ve come to the conclusion that it’s simply too late to save or reignite lost friendships, hope is not lost. As long as you desire to be in relationship with other people, you’ll find opportunities to make new friends. Sign up for a new exercise or art class, join your co-workers for happy hour, take a solo vacation, and most importantly have an open mind.