Advanced search

Mumsnet has not checked the qualifications of anyone posting here. If you need help urgently, please see our domestic violence webguide and/or relationships webguide, which can point you to expert advice and support.

In my 40s, lost close friendships - is it normal to lose friends as you age?

(44 Posts)
WrenNatsworthy Fri 10-Jun-16 17:44:26

I'm 43, married for 6 years, we have an 8 year old son. We had an enormous wedding surrounded by lots of friends and family. Before I met my husband I had a series of disastrous relationships, but my female friendships were solid. I value my female friends very much. I was closest to two women in particular and they were my rock solid friends, or so I thought. They were the ones who came round the night before my wedding and painted my hands with henna, and one of them is Godmother to my son. She also acted as 'doula' when I was in labour.
Life is never that simple and lovely all the time, and we've all 3 had things happen to us which have changed us -and I can't write all the ins and outs since 2009 here. So, in a nutshell, one of them fell out with the other, I tried and succeeded in helping them sort it out and once they found their way back to one another I found myself very much pushed out, particularly by one of them who has said some very hurtful things which I'm trying to forgive but unfortunately can't forget, and I keep dwelling on them.
As one of them lives close to me I often hear them chatting in her garden and I am afraid I find it very difficult, as I'm not invited to join them as I once was. I'd always imagined that by my age friendships would be easy and would last - this is so embarrassingly schoolyard!
I'm not friendless by any means, I have lots of lovely people in my life and am never short of invitations or a social life, I took voluntary redundancy to start a business so I've been very busy.
However I miss the friendship I had with these two very much. I still see one of them, usually on her own, and we're part of a wider circle so I do see them both on occasion, but it's never going to be as it was and it still makes me very very sad. It also makes me sad for my son, as our children are all friends and he doesn't get to see them all as often as they see each other because the three families don't get together any more as we used to.
So I suppose what I'm after is wisdom, from those who have been through this 'friendship breakup', an outside perspective on it all, and lastly, somewhere to write down how I feel. That I'm very sad, and I really miss my friends.That I wonder what I could have done differently to stop it from happening.
We had been friends for over 20 years, and sometimes in over dramatic moments I just feel like walking away from the whole friendship circle to stop it hurting. I can't afford to move house, but I would if I could, as the garden thing is worse at this time of year, and painful.
Thanks for reading, I feel a bit silly, but I'm going to create the thread despite being a bit terrified about it!

MadeMan Fri 10-Jun-16 18:10:46

In my experience, yes it is normal to lose friends as I get older. There's not many people I drag around from my past.

Always new people to meet that better fit the person I am now, rather than the person I once was.

Whatthefoxgoingon Fri 10-Jun-16 18:17:09

Unless you nurture friendships, they tend to fade out. I only have ten really close friends now, I can many more when I was younger.

At the ten I still have are true and I could call on any of them in a crisis.

Whatthefoxgoingon Fri 10-Jun-16 18:17:36


WrenNatsworthy Fri 10-Jun-16 18:23:24

Yes, friendships have to be nurtured. It's hard when you're the one doing all the nurturing. I'm grieving I suppose, it seems like such a waste of 20 years of nurturing to be reduced to polite chat. There's so much more to say but I'd have to divulge information about their lives that's not mine to share.

NoMudNoLotus Fri 10-Jun-16 18:26:49

Wren this happened to me too.

I lost my very close female friendships -,and I nurtured them too. I really miss them.

NoMudNoLotus Fri 10-Jun-16 18:29:14

It is painful - I often see my ex best friend in the corridor at work . She doesn't acknowledge me at all - even though I'm godmother to her DD.

Whatthefoxgoingon Fri 10-Jun-16 18:44:09

Oh no. Nurturing has to be both ways, doesn't work if it's one sided sad

MildlyattractiveBetty Fri 10-Jun-16 18:50:18

I've found this too - it's funny what you say about it being embarrassing schoolyard behaviour because that's exactly how I feel. My group of 5 girls all managed to not fall out through our entire teenage - 20s years and now it's ridiculous. I don't know whether jealousy, competitiveness and husbands are what drove us apart or just that we grew into different people but it doesn't make it any less sad.

WrenNatsworthy Fri 10-Jun-16 18:55:48

I'm sad for us all but I am somewhat relieved to find I'm not alone with this Betty and NoMud 😞

ishouldcocoa Fri 10-Jun-16 19:00:30

I have lost a few, but found a few new ones. Not sure if they'll measure up to the 'old' ones, but I'm willing to give it a try.

I think we change as we grow older, and some people just don't 'fit' us as well as they used to. Bit like shoulder pads...!

Effster23 Fri 10-Jun-16 19:04:47

I know the feeling completely. I'm 6 month into grieving for the two friends I met at uni; ours wasn't a row or anything. Just an "I can't make it" blown out of proportion.
They are still incredibly close, faceache seems to want to make sure I see all their doings. Stupid social media.
But it hurts!

WrenNatsworthy Fri 10-Jun-16 19:05:59

Yes, it's true.
I do tend to hold onto friends, I met my oldest friend when I was 4, and I do have two '4 o'clock in the morning' friends as well. As in, if something happened at 4am they'd be there.
So that's good, I think.
But I miss these two, and I think if I didn't live where I do it wouldn't be as painful, as I'd get some physical distance from the situation.

WrenNatsworthy Fri 10-Jun-16 19:08:30

No Effster Facebook doesn't help does it, am sorryto hear of your woes. Thankfully these two aren't ones for social media over sharing so I am spared that pain.

thiswayplease Fri 10-Jun-16 19:16:42

I had a similar experience with one of my best friends, we were drifting apart and I didn't like it or want it to happen.

I spoke to my friend, explained what I felt and she explained her point of view. We had a few strained months but stronger now because of it.

The way I looked at is was that the friendship was flagging, I either said something and saved the friendship or the friendship would fading naturally. I love my friend dearly and glad I done it, she is too (we often bring it up in drunken conversation apologising for being crap friends)

On the other hand I have lost friendship that I was not willing to go the extra mile for.

If you still value your friendship with them speak to them, invite them round, be honest with them. If they don't accept then you know where you stand.

No matter what your age, losing a friend is a tough experience

Kennington Fri 10-Jun-16 19:19:40

I found they are better: less intense and I don't see them so much but we slot back into the same groove again easily.
I now have lots of acquaintances who are great and helpful too but not close friends.
But having said that I hated all those deep and meaningful philosophical chat at college. Cringe. And talking about men. They aren't so complicated. That mysterious brooding look was just a dead eyed stare to me.

QueenOnAPlate Fri 10-Jun-16 19:24:21

I find friendships do change. I had some really close friends around 10 years ago, 2 of whom became close and excluded me which devastated me at the time. Now I have 10 people I could call for coffee and that seems to work better as life is so busy. In some ways I miss my close friends, but I don't miss the bitchiness that has always seemed to be part of those relationships.
I am much more flexible with how I see friendship too. I enjoy being active on a couple of Facebook groups, I do a little bit of politics and I do some voluntary work which keeps life sociable and interesting.
One of my ex bestirs lives very close to me which I hate. We have a WI which I would like to join ( thriving and pretty cool) but she is very active in it so I don't want to go and I think it would have been great to make friends at.

springydaffs Fri 10-Jun-16 22:30:02

There's not many people I drag around from my past.

What a strange way to look at it Mademan. I suppose I don't see old friendships like an old suit that has gone out of fashion.

Very painful op. Yanb remotely u. It's so painful flowers

NoMudNoLotus Fri 10-Jun-16 22:42:42

It is Springy very painful.

I often dreams involving my ex closest friend , our children were bridesmaids for the other, godparents for each other's - so when I wake up from my dream where we are still friends , it really hurts.

It's made me quite wary of new friendships.

MadeMan Sat 11-Jun-16 11:02:15

"What a strange way to look at it Mademan."

Not really. I don't stay in touch with people just because I might have gone to school with them once upon a time and we all used to have a big laugh on the bus home or whatever.

People come and go in my life and if I have nothing in common with them anymore apart from the 'good old days' then I don't see much point in clinging on to them; better to be with new people.

WrenNatsworthy Sat 11-Jun-16 11:53:49

Well that's good for you Mademan I've always envied people with that level of detachment, although I'm not talking about old school friends here.

The one friendship was rather intense and in some ways I'm better off away from it. I think this grieving is very much part of letting that go.

HandyWoman Sat 11-Jun-16 12:03:54

I think some of the close friendships we have on our twenties can be super intense. They are almost more than friendships because of the age-and-stage. Then after marriage and kids and middle age people continue to grow, but not need each other in the same way, or events or our marriages or lives make us drift further apart.

Due to being in therapy and having gone through divorce I've really grown apart from someone who was my absolute No.1 best friend for 25 years. She is finding it hard to 'let me go' and keeps trying to 'grab hold' of me. It's a strange situation, but part of growing up. And there is a little bit of sadness and loss. But there were unhealthy dynamics at work and it's better that the relationship changes. I thought we would be best friends for ever, so it is surprising. But it's one of life's lessons, that things/life/people always change...

dangerrabbit Sat 11-Jun-16 12:27:09

I'm mid 30s and I've certainly found my friendships have shifted over the past few years.

dangerrabbit Sat 11-Jun-16 12:29:19

Oh, and my former therapist (who I would estimate as about 70) told me that people tend to shed friends in their 40s and end up with an average of about 5 friends at 45.

Shakey15000 Sat 11-Jun-16 12:47:00

I don't think it's unusual. Perhaps a combination of knowing oneself etc.

That said, I was close friends with 3 others. Or so I thought. Even though we moved geographically we kept in touch through FB, I would visit for weekends. When we started families I would send birthday cards with a fiver in but it wasn't reciprocated. I carried on for a few years, a tad miffed but thought "you don't give to receive" etc.

Then one turned 40 and I didn't receive an invite to her party which hurt. Then finally I wasn't invited to a christening even though I'd sent a present after the birth, flowers to my friend. I thought it may be because it was a small affair but found out it was in a massive cathedral followed by a party.

That hurt me very much and since then I haven't been in touch or sent cards. It appears to have gone unnoticed which I have to accept. Oddly though, we're all still on FB yet I haven't interacted since 2014 and no mention made confused

Petty of me I know to not disengage/ unfriend. I guess I'm waiting for one of them to ask if I'm ok. As it happens we've had a shit couple of years ( I don't tell FB land my ins and outs status wise!) and I could have really done with their support. sad

Join the discussion

Join the discussion

Registering is free, easy, and means you can join in the discussion, get discounts, win prizes and lots more.

Register now