Do you have a tribe?

by | Relationships

Some women have close friendships, friends from university. Or perhaps friends made via their children, friendships formed via maternity classes or at the school gate. Others have close friends from work.

But there are other women who don’t have friends. Circumstances have meant they never formed these close bonds. For some there was not the opportunities to make friends at work, or they concentrated social activity with their husband/ partner.

Our childhood can mean that we never found it easy to make and keep friends. It’s so much harder when people are shy or introverted.

For me, I never kept in touch with friends from school, and whilst sociable with people I worked with they never became friends due to different circumstances. A husband who wanted us to spend all our time together, working as a consultant so colleagues weren’t local and living so far away from town making the task of driving 10 miles to meet something seem too difficult to contemplate.

Separating from my husband has made me want to make friends.

And it has been so much easier than I anticipated.

Meet Up groups have been a god send. Now living in Cheltenham there are so many groups, you can find them based on interests (film, music, walking) or age or circumstances.
It became easy to get to know others, but these aren’t necessarily friends.

Going to a ladies friendship group I found it overwhelming at a table for 12, but much easier to talk with the people sat closest to me. This led to swapping numbers and meeting up.

But to take a relationship further you need to meet people that are your tribe. People like you. People you can be yourself with.

The second group meal I went to I met a couple of ladies and we got on so well. We arranged to meet for drinks in a bar on a Friday at 5pm and chatted away like we had known each other for ever. We now meet regularly and chat on the phone. I’ve got girlfriends!

I met another friend, Helen, via my love of music. Meeting at an open-air gig, via a guy I’d met at different meetup gig for music lovers, we hit it off right away and meet regularly and chat several times a week. It’s not just gigs we go to also walks with her lovely dog, chilling out at home and going to house parties. She has helped me find my inner fun loving me that had been hidden for years.

I’ve also met people through friends. A work-based friend invited me along to meet up with some of his friends who live in Cheltenham. I nearly didn’t turn up. I said to myself that I didn’t want to go out and meet half a dozen people I didn’t know. But he came to collect me. Whilst I got on well with everyone, I really hit it off with Lois, and we also meet and chat regularly.

But it’s not just making friends, it’s finding a tribe of people like us.

It’s important to be able to be me. I don’t want to put on an act. I didn’t go to one group as the description didn’t sound like me at all stilettos and lots of make-up, could be wrong but I’m a more casual, fresh faced person who loves to dance, and want people like that. But they don’t only have to be the same as me. It’s nice to have friends who fit with different parts of my personality. So, with some of my friends it is more quiet chats than rocking at a gig.

Being 60 and making friends, I could be 6 and starting school. I’m learning how to make friendships stronger it’s not just meeting up once a week but chatting away in between.

It’s about what you can do to help and not just having someone to help you. I’ve friends to listen to me when I’m sad, and I’ve listened to them too, and helped them with things going on in their lives.

I’ve made male friends too but there is a different dynamic going on there. In time I’m sure I’ll have a relationship with someone but for now the most important thing is to cultivate female friendships and to continue to nurture them.

I know that sometimes young women will grow apart from their friends as they become a couple. With all my new friends we are very clear. We want our female friends, and these are important to us.

So what about you? Have you been lucky to have long term friendships or, maybe like me it is something you have built in later life? I’d love to hear from you, feel free to comment on my blog.

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Denise Taylor

Chief Inspiration Officer, The 50 Plus Coach.