It is not unusual to lose friends when you first become a single mother. Separation and divorce comes with lots of sadness and loss, including that of friendships from your married life. It can leave you wondering how to find new friends as a single mum.
If you had a messy or public split, people who you were friends with as a couple might decide to take sides … and not necessarily with you. This is a bitter pill to swallow especially if you feel unheard or misrepresented.
For others (myself included) there is a gradual shift in friendships as you begin your new path into single motherhood. I found it harder to relate to my partnered friends and was drawn toward other single mothers.
I can honestly say I have remained in a close friendship with just one of my married friends since my separation. I don’t dislike my old mates, we just drifted apart and we never got around to closing the gap because our lives had become so different. This might happen to you. If it does, please know that it is a normal part of the transition from partnered mum to single mum.
The problem comes if you don’t make new friendships because we all need good friends during motherhood. This could be for several reasons, such as:
- Taking time to socialise and meet people is way down your list of priorities
- Invitations drop off because (and this still happens) people think because you are single you will steal their husband. Honestly, are they mad? We’ve just got rid of one, do they really think we want another?
- You might have lost your confidence and self-esteem making it hard to put yourself out there
- The trust is gone because past friends have let you down and you don’t want to get burnt again
- You are embarrassed – looking for friends in adulthood feels humiliating (it absolutely is not though!)
- There is not enough time in the day
10 Ways to find new friends as a single mum
1. USE A FRIEND FINDER APP
I’m going to start with the suggestion of using a friend finder app as it is the easiest way to find new friends locally who have the same interests as you. Like dating apps, they take a lot of the work out of the search because you are immediately connected with other people looking for friends too.
My favourite app is Peanut because it is especially for mums and mums-to-be. This means we all have two important things in common … motherhood and the need for friendship. It’s a great common ground from which to start.
Other apps have different demographics which might suit you better. Be wary of mixed-sex friendship apps because you will get hit on and this can confuse the search for genuine friends.
Find out more here: 8 Best friend finder apps in Australia.
2. JOIN A FACEBOOK GROUP
Here on Beanstalk, we have the Single Mum Vine Facebook group which is specifically for single mums to connect and focus on the good parts of single motherhood. It is one of thousands of FB groups that you can join to find like-minded friends.
Don’t be put off by the digital aspect. Lots of people meet online nowadays before taking the next step and meeting up in real life.
I met one of my very best friends on the Single Mum Vine. We live in different states but have visited one another regularly over the last four years and speak nearly every day. Love ya Kitty!
Two years ago, I decided to volunteer at my local Lifeline shop to do something selfless that took me out of my own life and away from my work desk.
Little did I know the huge effect it would have on my social life.
I’ve met lots of ladies who I totally click with and, most importantly, have a damn good laugh with.
Meeting people through volunteering is different from meeting people through work. We already have lots in common, there is less pressure on work targets and volunteering for a cause bigger than ourselves makes spending time together worthwhile and enjoyable … a great breeding ground for new friendships.
Further reading: How volunteering can seriously help your mental health.
4. THROW A PARTY
A trick I used when my girls were younger and my friendship group had dwindled to insignificance, was to let my kids have a party.
Organising a party means you need to connect with their friend’s parents and this opens opportunities for new friendships.
When the kids are being dropped off and picked up welcome the parents in and offer them a cuppa. Even if they can’t stay, they’ll remember your kindness and you might become a candidate on their possible-friend-list.
Tip: Keep the parties small. Five or so kids. Or you’ll be too stressed and busy to focus on finding friends and won’t have time to chat with the parents and decide which ones you click with.
5. GET INVOLVED AT SCHOOL OR PLAYGROUP
If you have some spare time, even just a few hours a week, offer your support to your children’s school or playgroup. This is a surefire way of getting into the mix and bagging yourself a new buddy.
You’ll find yourself helping alongside teachers, teacher aids and other parents. Any of whom could be potential new pals.
You’ll be Miss Popular straight away because schools are always looking for help from parents. So put your hand up and join the PTA, help with reading or ask them how you can assist.
WAYS TO MAKE NEW FRIENDS
6. SMILE AND CHAT
Whether you are volunteering, helping at school, watching your child play sport, waiting at school pick-up or ordering a coffee, make a point to smile and chat with the people around you
You might be super stressed and the last thing you feel like doing is smiling and striking up small talk but it is a requirement of making friends.
Dr Younes Henni, PhD did some research which shows that:
“A quick chat with someone you barely know can uplift your mood and offset feelings of loneliness. Such as smiling, making eye contact, and exchanging a few sentences while ordering a cup of coffee, was found to boost happiness and feelings of belonging.”
This means that smiling and chatting not only puts you in the running for a new companion but it will make you feel better too.
7. JOIN WEIGHT WATCHERS
Ok so it doesn’t necessarily have to be Weight Watchers, it can be any kind of club where you connect with people who have a common interest or goal as you.
Weight Watchers is a great example as it has a huge community of people all trying to change habits and live a healthier life, and most importantly, it has a huge focus on community. They have online and in-person meetings which are ripe for finding friends and the bonus is that you have a ready-made conversation topic.
If you have a goal or hobby you want to peruse, do it alongside other people so you can buddy up and make the journey fun and friendship-filled.
8. JOIN A GYM
If you’ve not joined a gym yet, now could be the time.
When you have a gym routine, you’ll find you’re always bumping into the same people. Over time, you’ll work out their characters and which you might choose as your chums. If another gym member smiles at you, then smile back and make a passing comment. Next time it might become a small chat, a laugh together the following week, and an arrangement to meet for coffee the next.
If the machine circuit isn’t doing it for you. Join some classes. Arrive early and hang around after to join in the pre and post class chats.
Note: Male friends are great but if a guy is winking at you or asking you back to his for a healthy smoothie, there is a high chance that it’s not just friendship he’s after.
It’s all very well putting yourself in the right place to meet new people. You can even master the smiling and chatting thing but to clinch a friendship someone has to take it to the next level i.e. arrange to get together outside of the situation you are in.
And that person might have to be you.
Remember, your potential friend might feel the same. She/he might really like you but is too shy to take the friendship further. If you both feel this way and don’t do anything, you are at a stalemate.
Make a gentle suggestion to catch up for coffee in the week and see how your possible pal reacts. If they are keen, jump on it and make arrangements straight away. Swap numbers and seal the deal. If they don’t seem keen, that’s ok, you tested the water without making a fool of yourself.
You might not be ready for a relationship but getting out and dating is a good way to kick-start your social life and meet people.
I went on eharmony for six months and made it really clear on my profile that I was looking for company only and not a long-term commitment. It turns out a lot of people are looking for the same. During that time, I made two close males friends who I am still in contact with. I also have friends who have made firm friends through dating apps when the spark was missing but they got on like a house on fire.
Opening up your world and meeting new people from different walks of life means lots more potential to find new friends.
Further reading: The beginners guide on how to date as a single parent.