• Keeping Friends

Friendship and menopause: Change of life

Published: April 13, 2013 | Last Updated: April 14, 2013 By | 1 Reply Continue Reading
Ironically, two different readers wrote this week with questions about friendship and menopause. The similarity between their experiences was interesting.

Question from Sue

I have had a long-term friendship of 45 years. Over the last five years, my friend has become very rude to me. I have tried to politely speak to her about it, but she refuses to see and acknowledge this behavior. I believe that her going through menopause has something to do with this change.

Anyway, I have gotten to the point that I want nothing to do with her. The length of our friendship is the only thing holding me back from never speaking to her again. What would you
suggest in a situation like this?

Question from Alicia

Many of my friends and family members are going through menopause/perimenopause right now, and I find myself surrounded by a lot of grumpy women. I can totally see it for what it is, but it’s getting really old to be exposed constantly to bossy, bitchy, rude, sanctimonious, know-it-all attitudes. Sometimes I’m caught in the line of fire of demands or unsolicited advice, but other times, I see these women behaving badly to mutual friends or family members. I’m seriously wondering how many friendships (and marriages) don’t survive “The Change.”

I try to let them vent. I try to help them laugh or blow off situations that make them cranky, but honestly, it’s not a pleasant way to spend what little social time I have.

Answer from Irene:

At midlife, many women commonly experience physical changes, often accompanied by cognitive and emotional ones as well. Experts aren’t sure whether these changes are due to fluctuating hormones, stress, sleeplessness, or a combination of these and other factors.

Mood swings and depression are extremely common symptoms of menopause, particularly among women who have a history of prior mood problems. Here a few thoughts on friendship and menopause:

  • If you suspect that one of your friends is irritable and hard to get along with due to menopause, you can delicately raise the issue with the individual. Without blaming her and making her feel any worse, suggest that she speak to her internist or gynecologist to obtain help for specific problems related to menopause that she might have expressed to you (e.g. anxiety, sleeplessness, feeling edgy, etc.).
  • Since physical activity can often be helpful in improving mood, you can suggest that you do something active when you are together rather than sitting through long, inactive gripe sessions.
  • If your friend’s mood seems impaired and you sense she might be depressed, ask her how she is feeling and give her some feedback. It may open the door for you to suggest that she speak to a mental health professional.

Unfortunately, the symptoms of perimenopause and menopause can extend for many years, with the severity and duration varying from person-to-person: That said, you may not know how long the friendship problem(s) will last.

A few more tips about friendship and menopause:

  • Don’t allow anyone, friend or family, to consistently act rude, abusive or “bitchy” to you. Set limits regarding the type of behavior that is acceptable within the context of the relationship.
  • Determine which menopausal friendships you value most versus the ones that are more peripheral to your life. Try to be more tolerant and understanding of the former.
  • If you have a long-standing friendship that seems in peril, realize that every relationship has its ups and downs. Consider whether you need to invoke more distance between you and your friend for the time being, at least temporarily.
  • Don’t surround yourself with too many friends with the same problem at once. Take a breather and spend time with friends who are relaxed and easy to be with.

Have you encountered friendship problems related to a friend going through menopause?

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Category: Dealing with difficult friends

Comments (1)

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  1. Mitsy says:

    Oh, I have to respond to this one because I’m in menopause (big time) & have been dealing with weight issues, depression, etc. However, what has happened in my case is that I’m much more prone to be upset with someone who doesn’t return a phone call (this seems to be a huge pet peeve of mine). I translate that into disrespect & I’m finding I have less tolerance for people who are too busy to return a call. For the most part, I’ve had good interactions with most people (even co-workers). The one friend/co-worker, who I’ve written about a lot on this blog, I’m getting along well with. Perhaps she’s figured out that I won’t take a lot of b.s. off of her so she’s behaving a lot better towards me. She’s past menopause but has the controlling boyfriend. Menopause can cause a lot of emotional issues & I know that I’ve dealt with my share of depression in recent months myself but I do not take out issues on people who have done nothing wrong towards me.

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