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  • Childless Not By Choice: A Tip For Friendships and Support

    Friendships can be a struggle.  Especially, when it feels like you are in a different season of life than those around you.  When your friends have kids and you don’t, maintaining those friendships in a way where there is mutual support and communication is no small feat.  Many people who are childless not by choice state the changes in friendships is one of the more stressful parts about being childless not by choice.  Especially when these changes happen abruptly.

    Finding and keeping friends as adults is a challenge for most people.  In my work as a therapist the difficulty of making friends as an adult is a frequent topic in the processing of people’s stressors.  With more people working remote the workplace isn’t as easy of a place to develop close friendships.  With the workplace being where many adults make their friends, this change has made developing adult friendships harder for even more people.  On the flip side, the pandemic made many of us more comfortable with doing things online not only for work but socially.  For those of us in our 30s, 40s, 50s, and beyond the concept of online “friends” felt less than, scary, and not true friendships.  We’d work with kids and internally scoff when the kids talked about their friends and then we realized they were talking about online friends they’ve never met in person.  Oftentimes, we viewed this as a concerned.  Only having online friends is still a concern, in my opinion, for kids and adolescents that are learning about relationship, how to be a friend, and how to manage conflict between friends.  Adults however, theoretically, have already learned those basic skills.  Some are more proficient than others.  For adults, who might have busy schedules, the need for friends in specific niches, the world of online friendships might be just the solution to the problem of loneliness due to lack of friendships, as part of a broader circle of friendships.

    Online friendships, or social media friendships, can look a lot of different ways.  Maybe it is casually direct messaging or commenting on each others posts.  Things can then escalate to virtual happy hours, or get togethers.  In the childless community there are a lot of different opportunities for free virtual gatherings where you can meet others experiencing childlessness.  Sometimes, these gatherings are within the context of supportive get togethers, sometimes education or workshops, there are also childless not by choice groups that get together to engage in fun activities where the focus of the gathering isn’t childlessness, but it is what brought the particular group together.  Sonder Sisterhood has workshops and social events, LightHouse Gateway is an online support community, and many individual accounts have periodic virtual get togethers that they promote.  The community is out there, when you know where to look.  *be care meeting in person and use your best judgement regarding safety.

    Having some online friends that you share a common experience with can be a part of well rounded friendship group.  For those of us who are childless not by choice it isn’t uncommon for our friendships to go through changes, with fluctuations around how available our local friends are to get together.  Our friends that are parents often have seasons when they are not available due to parenting responsibilities.  Having some online friends can put less pressure on our in person friendships.  When those in person friendships abruptly change we have other community we can engage in, with people that understand what we are experiencing.  

    If you are feeling lonely, isolated, or in the middle of some grief where you just don’t feel like going out, the online childless not by choice community is an option I hope you consider.  I can’t vouch for all of it, but there are some fun, supportive, and encouraging people that might be just the right friendship fit for you.  Go check it out.

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