• Few or No Friends

Making friends after separating

February 14, 2017 | By | 13 Replies Continue Reading
After separating from a long-time partner, a woman feels friendless.

QUESTION

Hi,

I’m 54 years old, currently out of a 12-year relationship. I’m all alone and have no friends. I did everything with my ex.

I talk to my brother and son but have no friends at all, only work acquaintances. How can I make friends at my age? It’s so lonely. Thank you.

Signed, Rosa

ANSWER

Hi Rosa,

Whether the decision was yours, his, or mutual, it’s tough to pick up the pieces after separating from a partner. Our lives as part of couple get into certain patterns and it sounds like yours didn’t involve many friends.

In addition, when a relationship starts teetering before it ends, people often pull back from involvements with friends and even relatives. As a result, there is no social cushion on which to land – people who know you well enough that they are supportive and sympathetic to your life transition.

Be assured that this is a transition from which you can bounce back and recover. It may signal a future better than the past. And no one is ever too old to make new friends. Of course, you can’t make friends instantly. Your relationships with acquaintances will morph into friendships if you nurture them.

  • Reach out to other people you know at work or in your neighborhood.
  • Don’t expect too much too soon.
  • Do things you enjoy, ones that involve people, so you have opportunities to meet new acquaintances.

Your note is brief so I’m not sure how hard this has hit you but if you feel depressed (e.g., have no hope, have trouble eating or sleeping, or have suicidal thoughts), seek professional help to get over this hump.

Wishing you’re the best, Irene


Previously on The Friendship Blog:

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Category: Coping with loneliness, HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (13)

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  1. ct62 says:

    Hi Rosa,

    I am in your exact situation right now and I am hoping by reading these posts (just found this site) will help me make some friends. Like you I am recently out of a 12 year relationship and lost friends because I did everything with my ex. NOT a good thing as I have learned. I have my brother who I talk to and my son at times, but they are busy with their own lives. Maybe we can learn at the same time.

    Christine

  2. Me says:

    I have been trying for days to respond to this thread and cannot log on. I wanted to reply to Heidi, specifically.

  3. Heidi says:

    I agree with all of the above. Although I am surprised that Jacqueline enjoys her alone time as much as she indicates. I like my own company, but I always am looking to talk to others. Jacqueline, you have adjusted. I’d add, talk to anyone in your path to prevent the feelings of isolation that arise from lack of human interaction. I can have a good conversation and laughter with total strangers in stores and at bus stops. No social map to navigate or any ulterior motives, just good company for a brief period.

  4. Irene (the other one) says:

    I agree with Jaqueline (and the others) – take small steps, learn to love yourself and your own company.

    If there are voluntary groups or charities near you join one of those (if you agree with their ethos) and offer your services there. You never know, you could meet the best friends you’ll ever have. Giving of oneself is by far the best way of receiving in relationships.

    • Jacqueline says:

      I wish to respond to you, Heidi, as I feel you have made me out to be a hermit, and that you singled my post out, in particular. You may have meant well, but this is not how you made me feel.

      There is nothing for you to “understand” about me. We are all different and those differences should be respected and not judged. You can only appreciate someone else’s story when you have walked a mile in their boots.

      I do not have to justify anything to you or anyone else, but I do work with the public and talk to them all day long.

      I am a vibrant and outgoing person.

      I would not wish an abusive relationship on anyone. But when you are in one, your partner mentally, physically, verbally, sexually, and psychologically abuses you. Your partner rarely lets you out of his sight and totally manipulates and controls you. You are isolated from the world, and follow your partner’s rules, or else! So, you become very mistrusting of everyone.

      The road back to healing, rebuilding the pieces of your life, your self-esteem, your self confidence, is a long hard one. You have to learn to trust again, starting with yourself. You have to learn to love yourself first (your partner certainly didn’t). All you want is to be left alone, in peace, free to do what YOU want or do not want.

      There are so many steps to take to re-enter the world you left when you entered your partner’s bizarre one. These steps are out of our comfort zone and take many baby steps of testing the waters, until we feel brave enough to jump back in.

      • Jacqueline says:

        Finally made it back! Thanks, Irene 🙂

      • Kelly says:

        Jacqueline, my heart echos your sentiments. It is such a long road in the healing process especially when once you have the courage to break free from a long abusive relationship, there is an even harder road (which I have been in for 4 yrs – “still in”.. after a 13yr marriage) during divorcing someone that is toxic (Narc/Soc, psychopath, all forms of abuse) and then when children are in the mix; that is all the more challenging – and sometimes scary.

        It is probably the most difficult process I have ever had to navigate and to be honest its nice to live how you want and do what you want whenever you want. .I have edited how I think now when I used to feel overwhelming guilt for being selfish – my sister reminded me it is self-love.

        I love meeting new people and “playing nice in the sandbox” I like to call it. People will come into our lives for a variety of reasons. I have lost some of my closest friends of 20yrs but sometimes the challenges we face are too much for them to handle and that is ok.

        For me, I am still learning to trust again. Toxic people come in many forms not just your spouse and I have learned to take baby steps and be patient. Life is precious and too short so I focus on all the positive things in my life and find new things to be grateful for every day.

        • Jacqueline says:

          Hi Kelly,

          Sounds like you are on the right path. There will always be bumps in the road, but as our healing process continues, it will get better and better.

  5. Amy F says:

    If I were you, I’d be more open in the pursuit of friends and acquaintances rather than looking to meet people my own age. I’d pursue interests and hobbies to try to meet like minded individuals, starting slowly with people with whom to converse, and seeing what happens. If you’re part of The Resistance, you’ll find loads of opportunities to meet others through political advocacy groups in your area. Do some googling and check out Facebook groups. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how many like-minded folks you’ll find in your own neighborhood who are politically active. Try book clubs (your local library probably has one), adult education classes at local community colleges or high schools, exercise classes etc. Don’t expect too much too soon, or be overeager when you meet a potential friend. So slow and see what happens.

  6. Sandra says:

    Rosa,
    Like Irene said, you’re never too old to make new friends. And if you’re in your early 50s, you’re young!

    I haven’t gone through your experience, but I’ve had several life changes that forced me to seek out new friends. In particular, a lot of my social life revolved around my son’s school activities when he was young. When he grew up, that part of my life changed. When I left an office job to work freelance from home, my social life changed too.
    Each time, I had to look around and discover new ways to make friends.

    Do you have neighbors who’d like to meet for coffee or drinks? Is there a community center in your neighborhood? How about a book club or travel group at your local library? I would imagine you have hobbies and interests, or even a sport, that would involve other people in groups or clubs.

    Thank you for writing this letter and thanks to Irene for posting. It’s a good reminder that none of us should rely totally on family relationships or romantic relationships for our social lives. We need other friends in our world.

  7. Jacqueline says:

    In my experience, at the age of 60, I had to start all over as well. The only difference is that I was coming out of an abusive relationship, so I had been really isolated from everyone…friends and family.

    I found the best way to start was with MYSELF. I learned to love myself and become my own best friend. I took myself out to eat, went for beautiful nature walks, read, went to movies, took some workshops, etc. As I felt more and more comfortable with myself, I stepped out of my comfort zone and started to say hello to people I passed along the way, people I saw on a routine basis. In one group, I went out on a limb and asked a woman who seemed to like me as much as I liked her, for her phone number. She said she was so happy because she had wanted to, but felt too shy to do so.

    I wait for no one when there is really something I want to do. As a matter of fact, I just booked a mini-vacation in July, and rented a little house in the country, all by myself! (I do have two kitties which the owner says I can bring.) Something I have always wanted to do, but never had the confidence.

    It took time and many baby steps to get to this point. But, if I can do it, anyone can! I am also older than you. I am now 62 years old and having the time of my life, happier, secure, and at peace for the first time in my life!!!

    I hope this helps.

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