Is it Time for Some New Friends?

By Kate Kupferer

Change is inevitable. We move, get new jobs, perhaps get married, have children, and then send them away on their own. And throughout these life changes, we have and maintain friendships, both old and new. But with each new twist in life, sometimes it is good to gain some new friends to help with the transitions.

Maybe It’s Time for Some New Women Friends?
In May, I received a card from my friend Mary announcing her daughter’s graduation from high school. I called Mary to congratulate her on her daughter’s accomplishment, and I was surprised to hear a catch in her voice instead of the elation I thought she’d be feeling. “I’m worried,” she confided, “that I’m about to become lonely.” It wasn’t just that her only child was leaving for college. Or that she was newly divorced. She was actually more anxious about falling out of touch with the women friends she’d made primarily through her daughter’s schools and activities. “I feel like this is the end of a huge part of my life.”

Change is a natural occurrence in all of our lives. I can fully empathize with Mary’s apprehension about the transitions she faces in the coming months. We’ve all been there, standing on the edge of a familiar shore, looking out at a distant horizon, and not wanting to dip our toes in the water. But, like it or not, change is inevitable. We graduate, go back to school, get a promotion, launch a business, move to a new city, send kids out into the world, and say goodbye to loved ones. And, as with an iceberg calving into the sea, it’s almost impossible to predict all the rippling effects of life’s changes large and small. The better bet is to chart a course for the journey that you wish to make.

For many women in transition—whose children are leaving home, whose relationships have run their course, or whose careers are winding down—this can be a time to deepen the bonds with current friends with whom you’ve already shared many varied experiences. Perhaps now you can find the time to take up a new hobby or rekindle an old one with a friend. Think about all the years you were too busy to learn Spanish, take guitar lessons, roam the flea markets, or get back on skis. Reach out to your circle of friends and you just may find someone who is willing to venture into new territory with you. And, if not…

Graduate to New Women Friendships
“You’re the captain of your own ship,” my dad would often respond when I complained about things. And believe me, it was annoying to hear that when I was younger and simply wanted to vent. But he was just trying to tell me that I was at the helm of my life’s voyage: wind, sails, tack and all. Maybe you won’t be able to convince anyone you know to try scuba diving with you. So stay open to making new women friends who might be eager to share a new pursuit. These days, with online social networking, it can be easier than you think to meet new people who share the same interests. Especially with! And one terrific benefit to new friends is that they have no preconceived notions about you. It won’t occur to a new friend that you’re ‘not the type’ to take up yoga or tennis or a vegan diet.

In fact, studies show that new friends keep us younger by slowing down ‘brain drain’ as we age. And even better than keeping our brains younger, our friends help keep our hearts younger too. But this is not to say that younger women don’t also find themselves in new situations and in need of new friends.

Looking for New Women Friends When You’re Younger 
Some of the strongest bonds between women are forged during school years. The rapport from the friends we make as students serves to validate our ideas and offer a breather from academic stress. Recently, my sister shared a story with me about an email she received last month from a dynamic young woman named Rachel who had interned for her one summer. Rachel was graduating from business school and wanted to thank my sister for the chance to gain real business experience, which she felt helped her secure her first job. But she was also full of nerves to be leaving school because many of her friends were heading in different directions. “Some of my friends are going home for the summer to take a break from school, some are still looking for jobs and still others are moving to new cities. I’m excited to begin this new phase of my life,” she told my sister. “I just didn’t expect I’d be searching for new friends at the same time!”

My sister reassured her that she will have the energy for both new friends and her new job. Maybe not in equal parts, but to trust that she’ll find the right balance once she learns to navigate new waters. Set those goals— is here to help—and dive in.

If the end of the school year is prompting you to think about your plans for the next season, of the year or life, then now is a great time to consider branching out and connecting with new friends. And if your “branches” are a bit bare, then please look to the internet, and, to help those branches grow. The need for friendship is universal, common and natural—and always needs nurturing. And summer is always a great time to plant some new seeds.

Coming Up: My Job Went Virtual and I’m Lonely
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