2nd time around the block

I was on my second rodeo to the UK when, to my relief (and joy), I was invited into the inner sanctum of a large group of ex-pats.

Over the years, I'd collected friends from various places: different jobs, travels, parties, and mutual connections.

And there were times when I wished we could all merge into one big group so I could hang out with all my favourite people at once.

But they were a diverse bunch who didn't always gel. (You know how awkward 21st parties can be).

So, at first, having this big group of ready-made friends in one place was great.

There was always an excuse for a party, every weekend packed full of fun, the calendar booked out for months.

We were all on the same wavelength, bonding over London gripes and never feeling lonely or homesick.

After a while, though, I grew weary of the same old faces and conversations and doing the same thing every weekend.

As the group evolved, it became more close-knit to the point of being exclusive—a clique.

The one time I tried introducing old friends from back home into the group, it didn't go well. The group was too tight, and they felt on the out. And the founder didn't feel the need for new members.

The natural-born connector within me felt frustrated.

While close friend groups offer a sense of belonging, they also have limitations.

By sticking so closely together, there was no time for anyone new or anything different.

We were so tight there was nothing left to give. They got the best of me.

And worse, I made the mistake of putting all my eggs in one basket.

Having a diverse social network of both close and casual friendships brings greater happiness and overall well-being through a richer experience, more personal growth and a wider range of emotions.

But sometimes, an existing group of longtime friends may become set in their ways, reluctant to explore new interests or horizons or support us in ways we can show up in the world outside our friend group.

With life in our 50s changing with empty nests, relationship breakdowns, and career shifts, our social circle may shift, resulting in the need to make new friends. (Not always easy when friend groups are already established and cliquey like mine was).

And whilst having all our friends in one cosy little circle might seem ideal, be careful what you wish for.

Because life is complex. We need different friends for different reasons and different seasons.

I learned that the hard way.

When their two years were up, the whole group dispersed and returned home down under, leaving me alone yet again with an empty basket to fill.

Friendship Made Easy in your 50s

...a friendship enthusiast helping single women in their 50s build real friendships for deeper connection, by sharing personal experience, curated expert advice, tips and thoughtful, no-fluff stories delivered to your inbox each week.

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