As I write this, I am on the plane heading East to the Windy City with my little family in tow. America is asleep at my feet while my ultimate concierge is next to me, carrying on a conversation with the person next to him… of course! I am listening to upbeat music with perfect sound from my headset. I always sit in the seat next to the window. As I look out, I am in awe of several fluffy clouds resting on the bluest sky. I have mixed emotions. I feel a rush of gratitude but today’s gratitude is mixed with a tinge of melancholy. “Too bad,” I think to myself, “I can’t pick up the phone and call one of my close friends to talk.” This made me think of an idea for today’s musings that is so important to happiness late in life: how to keep female connections thriving after 50.
How To Keep Female Connections Thriving After 50
I recently read a survey that said, “A woman loses half of her network every seven years.” Why? Because women’s lifestyles change. It has nothing to do with being fickle.
In 1985, a survey was taken asking women, “Over the last six months how many women were you close enough to, to discuss matters important to you?”
59% listed three or more.
In 2004, the same survey was taken, and the most common answer was zero. Compare this to 1985 when only 10 % said they had zero confidants. In 2004, the number skyrocketed to 25%.
This means that one out of four of us are walking around with no female friends with whom to share our lives.
If you are one of these women, there are incredible opportunities out there. Here are some common sense ideas for you.
Reunite with old friends
Making new friends later in life is not always easy. I recommend that you consider reuniting with old friends. In fact, I have anecdotal evidence that this is an ideal way to enhance your circle of female friends.
Observing my girlfriends who have had long-term friendships since college or their younger married days, I can see that they share a uniquely strong bond. They celebrate their birthdays together, they attend one another’s family events, they go out as couples and they share their deepest thoughts. It seems that they are sisters without being blood relatives. What a blessing that is. Don’t you agree?
Track down your old friends you had a history with on LinkedIn or Facebook and send a text or an email or message on Facebook. If you cannot find them look for other women who know them. Rekindle your relationship.
Listen for the CLICK!
You have to have the “click!” Clicking with women, like yourself, is critical. You have to have something in common to talk about with one another. And, be a good listener. Talk about them and listen to them. This is a likable trait. If they mention something they like or do, let them know you do that, too. Be sincere but find common ground. Our differences can be intriguing, yet our commonalities help new friendships flourish.
I recently wrote how important it is to show your vulnerable side, that is of course if you can. Showing your vulnerability to another woman opens personal conversations that lead to bonding. Bonding leads to close friendships. Remember, darlings, it takes great strength to show our weaknesses.
Start a group
I started a group in California that is beginning its third year. I had a new multigenerational group meet-up in Chicago a few months ago. The ages in that group ranged in age from 28 years of age to 96 years young. Most of the women did not know each other, a few knew one another casually, and two were close friends. At the end of two + hours, they wanted to reunite.
So, darlings, start your groups and invite who you want in the group. What better way to avoid loneliness then starting your group?
Did you know that of all the countries in the world, Denmark’s population is ranked the happiest? Why? 91% of them belong to a group.
There are all types of groups to from. Choose what makes your heart sing. A weekly lunch date. A movie group once a month. You could invite five women and ask each of them to bring a friend. You will meet new people that way.
Stay connected, even when it’s tough!
Emilie and I became friends through our mutual friends, Penelope and Patti. Our friendship is in its second year. We made a pact that we would stay in touch. We knew if we didn’t, our friendship would probably fade away.
Two weeks ago I emailed Emilie. I wrote, “Dear Emilie, It is tough for me to keep up with our emails because I have much on my plate, especially running around the house cleaning up after America! You write such wonderful emails to me, and I so enjoy reading them. I love hearing what is going on in your life. If I do not answer right away, I want you to know I genuinely care. Please keep writing. Love, Susan.”
In other words, darlings, stay connected with those who mean a lot to you. After all, that’s what friends are for… for the good times, the sad times and the in-between times. There is something special, safe and timeless about female connections. These connections nurture our souls in a way that is unique and extraordinary. Take the time needed to keep female friendships thriving, and you just may find yourself thriving right along with your bustling social calendar.
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