- One in five (18%) women surveyed aged over 50 reported not having a single close friend they can lean on for help, and almost half of women over fifty (48%) feel that they have no one they can talk to, despite having friends.
- Married women over 50 seem to struggle the most when it comes to friendships, with 31% admitting they don’t have any friends to lean on, compared to those who are single or divorced (23% respectively).
- When feeling lonely, one in two respondents (50%) “muddle through” on their own rather than reaching out to a friend, partner, or colleague.
- As the respondent categories aged, the less likely they were to rely on healthcare professionals
- 10% of women surveyed aged 42-49’s would seek support from a GP, but only 3.9% of women surveyed aged 67+ would seek help from a healthcare professional.
- Similarly, 9.5% of 42-49’s would get support from a therapist, but only 1% of women 67+ report doing so.
Why are women struggling with friendships after 40?
According to Phoebe Adams, co-founder of Connected Women, there are several factors at play. “As women, we invest so much of our lives into our romantic relationships, our children, our careers, and our ageing parents,” she says. “When we finally have time to invest in ourselves, we often feel those friendships have dwindled or disappeared.”
Additionally, despite looking and feeling younger than ever before, we may have forgotten how to build new friendships. “Unlike other times in our lives, where friendship is built on shared experiences – like school, university, work, or chats at the school gate, forming adult friendships can become more elusive the older we get,” explains Phoebe.
Phoebe’s tips for making new friends and expanding your support network as an adult
Seek out enriching communities
“The secret to making new friends is to put yourself in a situation where you’ll repeatedly have contact with others,” explains Phoebe. “Something like Connected Women, a safe space for women to connect both online and in the real world, provides a relaxed and comfortable environment where everyone is there for the same sole purpose – meaningful connections and long-term friendships.”
Build a routine
“The more you throw yourself out there, the more comfortable you will get approaching new groups of people and starting conversations,” explains Phoebe. “Whether joining a walking group or book club, consistency in showing up and getting familiar with others in the group is a sure-fire way to establish strong relationships. It’s important to remember that friendships take time, so being consistent and sticking to a routine will help to push things along.”
Embrace your passions
“Whether you’re an avid reader but have never joined a book club or are a passionate hiker but always go it alone, finding something new within an area of interest to throw yourself into will immediately connect you with others who enjoy similar things as yourself,” Phoebe explains.
Finally, Phoebe says, it’s OK to be vulnerable. “Setting your intention to make new friendships and sharing this with the people you love will help to foster a supportive community of individuals who will undoubtedly encourage you on your journey.”
“Maintaining a positive self-image and quiet confidence is essential for midlife women who seek meaningful connections with others. Self-image refers to the beliefs and feelings we hold about ourselves, including our worth and value as individuals. Research has shown that women in this stage of life often desire more friendships but can struggle to know where to begin; that’s why it’s crucial to embrace our individuality when meeting new people. By valuing ourselves and consciously nurturing a positive self-image, we inevitably become more attractive to others – which, of course, becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy! It’s never too late to prioritise self-care and establish new and valuable connections.”