Table of Contents
About the Author - Dr. Angela Caveney
Are you an empty nester with no friends?
Midlife is a fantastic phase of life, ripe with endless possibilities and joy, yet there are some nearly universal struggles that most of us face after the kids move out, including social isolation and loneliness. (These challenges can be particularly acute if you are empty nesting as a single parent.)
As our children leave the nest to begin their own lives, we often find that the common ground we had within our social circles, once buzzing with PTA meetings, weekend sports matches, and school fundraising events, has very suddenly shifted. We're left wondering, "where did everyone go?"
Simultaneously, as big midlife changes settle in, our personal interests and life goals often start to diverge from those of our current friends.
The solution? Easy right? Just make new friends whose interests and goals align with ours.
Not so fast...
Making new friends in midlife can be very difficult, and it's particularly hard if you have moved to a new city, identify as a social introvert or are looking for a new, less toxic, friend group.
In this article, I outline my top 7 tips to help you if you suddenly find yourself to be an empty nester with no friends.
What is Empty Nest Syndrome?
Empty nest syndrome refers to feelings of sadness, loss, and emptiness that most parents experience when their children leave home. At this time, the parental role we've played for so many years suddenly changes, and we may feel a profound sense of loss and uncertainty about our purpose moving forward.
To learn more about Empty Nest Syndrome, including the signs and symptoms, its impact on our adult children and ways to cope, check out our article entitled Empty Nest Syndrome: From Surviving to Thriving in a Quiet House.
Mindset Tips for Empty Nesters With No Friends
If you are an empty nester with no friends, the very first thing you need to do is turn inward to rediscover yourself.
What are your core personal values?
What limiting beliefs are holding you back?
What steps do you need to take to reframe this phase of your life into something positive?
#1. Defining your core personal values
Defining your core personal values, at any phase of life, is the key to begin unlocking happiness and transforming your life and your relationships. In my article about discovering and defining your core personal values, I've outlined the exact, step-by-step process I use, as a Clinical Psychologist, when working with clients. This is also the same process I used to determine my own values.
This exercise will take thoughtful reflection and some effort, but, trust me, it is time well spent. Once you have a clear compass to guide you through life's countless choices, you'll be better equipped to find and cultivate friendships that are authentically aligned with your goals and purpose.
#2. Examine your limiting beliefs
Are your thoughts full of negative self-talk and self limiting beliefs about why you are an empty nester with no friends? Very common limiting beliefs in midlife related to friendship include, "I'm too old to make new friends", "I don't have time to plan something to do with friends" and, "I'm too tired/stressed to go looking for new friends".
Having heard these stories repeated in your mind so many times, do they feel like absolute truths? Does it seem like they are foregone conclusions and unchangeable?
In this article about self limiting beliefs in midlife, we walk you through the process of developing awareness of these thoughts and their origins so that you can work toward creating a healthier mindset focused on achieving your friendship goals.
#3. Reframe empty nesting as a positive
One trait I've personally observed in empty nesters with no friends is that they view this phase of their lives through a lens of negativity and loss. To put it bluntly, few things are bigger "friend repellents" than negativity.
If this is you, work hard to focus on ways to bring joy into your life such that empty nesting becomes an exciting period of significant rediscovery, renewal and freedom. A chance to reinvent yourself! You now have TIME to strengthen your friendships and social network. Opportunity abounds! You just have to look for and be open to it.
If you are in need of some inspiration to help with reframing your thoughts, my article on Quotes For Empty Nesters is a great place to start.
Social Groups for Empty Nesters With No Friends
If you have one near you, social groups (such as social clubs), for empty nesters, provide fantastic opportunities to make new friends. There are also tons of other benefits to joining social groups for empty nesters!
I created The Trybe Women's Social Club with the specific purpose of addressing the very significant issues of social isolation and loneliness in women in midlife. You're an empty nester with no friends? No problem. We've got you. Join us. Problem solved.
For those whose local community does not include a vibrant social club such as The Trybe, we created a digital version of our membership.
(Note. Nearly every 45+ woman I encounter who does not have a social club like The Trybe nearby says she wishes there was was one. If you are interested in starting a social club near you, reach out to me and I'll provide a framework for you to follow. Also, be sure to check out this article listing some of the benefits to starting your own social club.)
Things for Empty Nesters With No Friends To Do
This blog article is about helping empty nesters with no friends find connection, but one of the best ways to find new friends is to get busy exploring your own interests and trying new things, such as hobbies.
Once you find an activity or hobby that you enjoy, you're bound to find like-minded friends who share similar interests. Few things bond people faster and stronger than a mutual passion.
Find Other Empty Nesters With No Friends Through Traveling With Purpose
Ah, the joys of empty nester travel! No more exhausting yourself (or your kiddos) trying to see every single sight in one day!
When you travel with purpose you’re choosing new adventures based on what’s important to you. Whether you create a theme trip based on personal interests, seek out sacred spaces, or craft a volunteer or eco-friendly vacation, you’ll be making deeply meaningful memories and inevitably "bump" into others doing the same.
By focusing on what traveling with purpose means for you, you'll quite naturally find others who share your interests and your world view. This can be the recipe for some of the greatest friendships.
How Starting a Business Can Help Empty Nesters With No Friends
Imagine making new friends as you turn your passions into profit, your hobbies into a bustling business, and your wisdom into a sought-after service. This isn't just retirement. It's your exciting encore!
Midlife is a fantastic time for entrepreneurs to thrive. There are so many benefits to, and great options for, starting a business in midlife. One of these benefits is the potential for finding and making some of the best friends of your life!
Starting your own company naturally fosters an environment of community and connection. As an entrepreneur, you regularly interact with a diverse range of individuals, including clients, suppliers, mentors and fellow entrepreneurs. These interactions can, over time, often bloom into meaningful relationships based on shared interests, professional aspirations, and mutual respect.
Moreover, running a business often involves participating in networking events, industry conferences, and community initiatives. These platforms provide unmatched opportunities to meet like-minded individuals and forge new friendships.
In summary, the shared experience of entrepreneurship, with its unique challenges and rewards, can create a strong bond and a sense of camaraderie between individuals, leading to a significant source of comfort and friendship.
If you are an empty nester with no friends, I hope that you now understand that you are far from alone in this struggle. The empty nest phase might initially seem daunting or even lonely, but, with a proactive approach, and by keeping your core personal values in mind, it CAN be a phase of life full of close connection with others.
If you'd like more support and to learn a detailed step-by-step process for finding and cultivating friendships, check out my guide and workbook entitled Find Your Tribe! 5 Steps to Making Friends in Midlife.
About the Author
Angela Caveney, Ph.D. is a Clinical Psychologist, Neuropsychologist and Founder of The Trybe Women's Social Club. Her absolute favorite things to do are to help women find their people, rediscover themselves and thrive throughout midlife. She can be reached directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.