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Home / Girl Talk

Confessions: Will I ever make friends again?

 I lost loads of friends when my husband and I recently divorced (Shutterstock)

Hi Chris,

When I was young, I had lots of friends. Today, however, I hardly seem to have any.

Ever since I left college I have constantly lost friends, for example through career moves. More slipped away as I got married and had children.

And I lost loads more when my husband and I recently divorced.

Somehow, people we hang out with as a couple just stopped inviting me over after the split. And for some reason, I seem to find it far harder to get new friends like I did when I was younger.

How can I change this?

Middle Age Friends

——

Hi Middle Age Friends!

Making friends when you are young is easy, probably because school-going children and students are age mates doing the same things together. Sadly, after school, it is not easy to make friends. Adults have less free time, and life changes. Marriage and career moves also break up friendships. Indeed, on average, adults lose half their friends every seven years.

Fortunately making new friends is not as hard as it seems, especially in a working environment. Friendships can grow from just a few minutes of chatting every day by the water cooler. Build on that by starting to ask about their weekends, and gradually suggesting doing things together. Outside of work, this is more difficult, but still doable.

Start by figuring out what interests you. Join rotary or evening classes. Know about restaurant openings, concerts and festivals, then you will always have something to invite someone to.

Learn how to talk to total strangers by practising on waiters and shop assistants. Grumpy remarks about your surroundings make good beginnings: “Gosh it is hot in here, isn’t it?” Ask open-ended questions: “How is business these days?”

Working together or joining groups does not automatically create friends, because the connection will stay within the group unless you start meeting outside it. So invite work colleagues out for lunch.

Try organising something, even if it is just a get together for drinks. Within every group, there is usually someone who is particularly well-connected. It is the one who is running around talking to everyone. Get close to them.

But so far these are just acquaintances. Now you must build them into true friendships. Most people do not, and so they stay acquaintances and go no further.

Close friends are people you can trust. Who you can really connect with, face-to-face. Online friends and drinking buddies are not the same. They won’t visit you when you are sick or be there in a crisis.

Real friends are worth their weight in gold. So be the friend to them that you would like them to be to you. Reliable, thoughtful and trustworthy.

Real friendship takes time and effort, but also makes you a better person. And someone who will attract more friends in the future.

All the best,

Chris

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