How to Deepen your Connections in your 40s
From my conversations with women over 40 (and even those in their 30s), having more meaningful and deeper connections rings in as one of the top cravings experienced.
Friendships that were close at one point have simmered to occasional coffee catch-ups that barely graze the surface of what’s happening in our lives.
Spouses or long-term partners have gone from hot and all-encompassing to an almost roommate status (and that’s for those that are lucky!). And, for many, the partnerships have fizzled out entirely.
Connection is a basic human need. We crave it, yet we don’t create an environment for it flourish and thrive.
WHY OUR CONNECTIONS DISAPPEAR IN OUR 40s
As with anything, for something to thrive, it has to be tended and regularly fed.
We live in such a crazy busy world, that we’ve become slaves to our over-packed schedules and we barely have time to take care of ourselves, much less a relationship with someone else (whether that be a friend or loved one).
We miss the deeper connections of our youth and blame our overbooked calendars as the reason for the growing divide between ourselves and our people.
For many women, there are two significant challenges to maintaining and tending our relationships: motherhood and career-hood.
Once babies and kids enter the picture, their little lives, understandably, take over everything else. There’s no more time for anything other than making sure their needs are met. As they get older, weekends are filled with birthday parties and soccer games; and, weeknights booked with practices, extracurricular classes, homework, and everything else.
Chasing a career is also all-consuming, regardless of whether you have children or not. Whether it’s throwing yourself all in at work to climb the proverbial ladder, or embarking on building your own empire, we forge ahead at full speed and push everything else to the side, and to “someday.”
Look, I get that your job or business is important. I understand that your kids and their livelihood are also top priorities. But, neither of these should come at the sacrifice of your health - mental and physical.
As a mother, you need time away from your kids to recharge so you can be an even better mother. Your kids need time away from you, so they can see you as someone more than just “mom” and learn how to, eventually, define themselves outside of your sphere of influence.
Your career will also benefit from disconnecting from work, to connect with friends or your partner.
As for relationships with your partner, married or not, it also needs attention to flourish. Relationships don’t grow when the parties involved are too busy to make each other a priority.
If you don’t water a plant or give it sunlight, what happens? It dies.
So do relationships and friendships. The water and the sun are our time, attention, and interest.
I know it’s hard to make that time and even harder to get your friends to commit to that time, but it’s worth the effort.
HOW TO RECONNECT WITH CURRENT OR OLD FRIENDS (INCLUDING YOUR PARTNER!)
When we’ve lost touch with old friends, or let too much space invade our romantic partnerships, it can feel daunting to close the distance.
"Maybe it’s too late?"
"Maybe they’re angry with me…"
Maybe it is too late, but you won’t know if you don’t try to reignite the spark that fueled the relationship in the past (that goes for friends or loved ones)!
While we can certainly go out and make new connections, why start from scratch when you can save relationships that are currently existing on the backburner!
To reconnect with current or old friends, partners, or family members, try the following:
Talk to them: You have to reach out and reconnect with them to reopen the lines of communication. This isn’t sharing the shiny goodness in life and moving on; this is a true heart-to-heart conversation. If it helps, share this article or talk about it with them. Then, if they’re open to it, create a standing and recurring plan to see each other more often.
Make it a routine: People stick to routines because they’re creatures of habit, so when you plan to see your friends on a standing and recurring basis, make it a themed event: book club, wine night, mani/pedi and brunch, etc. Same goes with your partner: plan a weekly date night, where you agree to get out of the house, just the two of you, without talking about the kids.
Take the topics deeper: As I mentioned, this has to be a heart-to-heart relationship; no fluff! You can’t skim the surface and expect to establish any depth to a relationship or friendship. Talk about the more in-depth stuff, be vulnerable, share yourself and allow those bonds to grow stronger.
Follow up and stay in touch: Don’t show up for the regularly scheduled meetup, then go radio silent in between. Check back in and see how things are going. Follow up after your friend or partner does the big thing they shared with you. Send encouraging words, or if nothing else, an occasional note to remind them how much they and the relationship mean to you.
HOW TO CREATE NEW CONNECTIONS IN YOUR 40s
Let’s say you give all of this a try, and you just can’t get some of those “old” connections off the ground. That’s okay! You don’t have to toss these people out of your life completely!
They’re on their path, too, and if taking time for connection isn’t a priority for them, or they have changed to the point where a close relationship with you no longer fits, don’t take it personally. It doesn’t actually have anything to do with you!
But, it does mean that you have to create some new connections. To do this correctly, you must make the time, and it has to be a priority.
You’ll need to accept the fact that it will likely mean you have to get uncomfortable to put yourself out there.
Whether you’re trying to attract a new lover or new friends, it’s much the same process.
You can find opportunities to make new connections everywhere you go! Look for new options across many different sectors - work, hobbies, gym, etc.
First and foremost, you’ll need to expand your circle to meet new people. Potential new friends are everywhere, so let down your guard and talk to that stranger on the yoga mat next to you.
If you’re recently, or not so recently single, and you’re ready for a romantic connection, then it’s time to get back out there and meet someone. Dating in your 40s comes with added challenges, but isn’t all that scary once you get into it (I met my boyfriend of almost two years online as a 41-year-old!).
Life is short and flies by, but we need friendships and relationships to make the time sweeter.
So, put down your phone, clear some time in your calendar, and make it a priority to reconnect with old friends, and find new ones to fill the connection void in your heart.
Make your spouse or partner a priority, or dip your toes in the water to find a new one (assuming you’re already single...not advocating finding someone new while you’re still in a relationship!!).
Finding your people and fueling those bonds will be good for your mental health and your happiness depends on it!
If you’re interested in connecting with other like-minded women such as yourself, I’m going to be opening a brand-spankin’ new Facebook group for women over 40 looking for more connection, purpose, and adventure. If that sounds like something you’d be interested in, join my email list to get notified when the group is open and ready for members!