Big life changes, like death or divorce, have a ripple effect that touches every other aspect of your life. Old friends may fade away, old relationships may become uncomfortable, and old habits might start to feel depressing instead of enjoyable. Learn how to make new friends after divorce, or another major life change, and start building a new life for yourself. Now is the time to explore new hobbies, find new haunts and discover a whole new you.
The sad truth is, some of your friends will vanish after you go through divorce or another life-changing event (such as the death of a spouse or even extreme weight loss). The Huffington Post recently explored the topic, and found that many friendships change or disintegrate entirely after breakups.
Often, friends make themselves scarce during the divorce itself. These people may re-emerge into your life once all is said and done. People drift away during these times because they’re uncomfortable, and that discomfort may continue after the divorce is final.
In the case of divorce, other factors may also be at play. If you’re divorced you’re single, and single women make some married women feel threatened. Breakups also have a way of tempting people to take sides, and some of your friends may decide they’re not on yours. Others may be afraid that your divorce, illness or change is “catching” – your grief may infect their lives and shake things up there, as well.
Old Relationships, New Challenges
After a major life change, you are not the same person. Your friends may have trouble interacting with you in the same way, and you could find yourself on equally unstable footing. Start exploring the new you by seeking out new friends, while hanging on to the old of course.
Here’s the rub: it’s never easy to make friends, and after a certain age it starts to feel harder and harder.
“At middle-age, I realized I had few friends (does the one who lives halfway across the country count?) Worse, I didn’t know how to find new ones.” VN member Lynne Spreen shared her story, and her pain. “Finding new friends at our age is harder because our peers aren’t looking. By now, they generally have all the friends they need, so you have to sort of sneak up on them… I now know that the best way to make friends later in life is to find the activity and let the friendship follow.”
“A wise person has said that if in your whole life you have three close and entirely supportive friends, you are extremely fortunate,” says VN member Sienna Jae Fein.
And you may not find a best bud in your efforts to make new friends, but sometimes it’s okay to have a handful of casual acquaintances to enjoy the afternoon with. After a life-changing event, you should get out and meet new people and discover new things. If friendship results from that, more’s the better.
How to Make Friends
“I think it’s harder to make friends the older you get because there are fewer opportunities for encountering others in situations where friendships can develop. We have to go out of our way to join groups, take classes, go to meetings — and do so regularly, so that we get to know people. It takes time,” said VN member Seawriter.
“I recently went through a rough separation and divorce, covering a span of three years. At the end of it, I had assumed my friends had my back, and was looking forward to rebuilding a lot of those relationships…I actually lost all my dear, close friends, who told me I had been too unhappy for too long, and they were done with me.” Paula Ellen, VN member and featured commenter, shared her own friendship story. It’s got a sad beginning, but it doesn’t end that way.
“I had to do something to find new friends, so I took advice that I had been giving others for years. Find things you love to do, and find groups of others who enjoy the same activity. Join these groups and be active in them. It will take some time, but friendships will form,” she explained. She started volunteering after subscribing to a website that provided her with local opportunities.
Next, she took a class to learn a new skill. Look to your local YWCA, community colleges and public gathering spots to find classes near you. Arts and crafts classes, exercise classes, cooking classes – any of all of these could become your next hobby. You might also look to your community theater, something else Paula Ellen tried. You don’t have to be on stage to contribute. Community theatre groups always need help behind-the-scenes, at the front desk and in the advertising department.
“Get out there and do something. Anything. Just get out there. Lose yourself in something you like to do, and the rest will come,” said Paula Ellen.
VN member Trixie suggests hosting a “Ladies Night.” Invite women you know to your home for the event, serve some snacks, and tell everyone to bring a book or magazine to trade. While everyone works out their trades, they’ll all be getting to know each other. If the evening is a success, encourage one of the other women to host their own Ladies Night next month. With luck, you can turn the event into a monthly date and potentially make some new friends and deepen existing relationships.
“Meetup.com exists to promote events for like-minded people. There’s something for everyone, you sign up online and meet in the real world. New people keep joining as others drop out, so you’re always seeing new faces,” says VN member crystalli. She’s joined groups through the site, and she’s had positive results with making friends.
Why You Need Friends
Making new friends is a good way to cope with divorce or another life-changing event. Even positive events will rock your world and have an affect on you and your relationships. If you’re divorced, try making friends who are single. This will help you adjust to your new, not-married lifestyle. Building new relationships is a great way to create new memories that don’t make you think about the past you’ve left behind.
It is hard to make new friends, but it’s well worth the effort. It’s always good to expose yourself to new points of view, new interests, new places and things to try. Life can change at any time, and it feels pretty scary. Instead of shying away from it and dwelling on the past, move forward and embrace the future. Maybe this is the first step in a new, happier life.