If all my friends have found love, do I have to find new friends?

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Hi Meredith,

I'm in my mid 30s and single. I've been having a hard time transitioning from having friends to hanging out with them and having them as emotional support only occasionally. My main friends have found love, married, have kids and a busy life, and I'm really happy for them but they reach out less and less these days.

I feel lonely a lot and haven't met many new friends I feel a deep friendship with, like I did with my other long-term friends. I try dating but nobody sparks my interest.

I guess my question is – should I just learn to be my own friend and support system instead of reaching out to old friends who have a different life now? What are the rules on friendship now? Are you just supposed to move on and silently wave goodby and be thankful for what was?

– Single

I moderated a panel a few weeks ago for the Newburyport Literary Festival. The authors had all written books about friendship. I was shocked by how many people attended the online event, and how many questions people had that were just like yours. Please know you're not alone. Long friendships change over time – and change can feel very uncomfortable.

Don't move on from old friends, please – unless you don't like them anymore. Also know that the changes will keep coming. Now that I'm in my 40s, some of my friends with kids who were unavailable a decade ago are very ready to hang out. Some admit they felt lonely during the years they had to be more focused on home.

You can make things easier for the busiest friends by suggesting activities that are possible. For the closest friends, ask to go to them. Bring food. Some of my best days with my BFF (who now lives far away) were spent on her couch. We talked for a few minutes at a time as two kids ran around, interrupting. I loved it.

Also remember that friendship is about more than emotional support. Sometimes it's just about fun. Make sure you focus on that too.

You will want to keep growing your circle. It's great to have single/different friends who understand where you are. Of course those friendships won't feel like the others – yet. It takes years of shared experiences (or months, at least) to turn friends into family. I bet your friends with children are doing the same work as they try to meet people who can round out their experience. It takes patience.

This is a time when people are making big changes. Everyone can feel lonely at different times.

Some relationships will need extra work and attention. Others will get smaller until they get bigger again. Try to maintain and add. No big subtractions unless that's what you want.

– Meredith

Readers? Any advice on being a single friend?