Does The Menopause Affect Friendships?
Have your friendships suddenly become a bit fraught or you’ve noticed it’s getting much harder to be around the people you care about the most? These are both tell-tale signs that your menopause could be affecting your relationships. Read on to discover how to avoid doing irreparable damage to your closest, oldest and most cherished friendships…
Mood swings are a typical symptom of the menopause and if you also suffer from menopausal sleep issues or insomnia then those menopausal mood swings are going to be even more accentuated. You could find yourself feeling a lot snappier and rattier than normal. Things that you would normally ignore or let lie might start to get under your skin causing you to be a little more feisty than usual.
The last thing you need is to feel rejected or alienated from your current circle of friends. If your unpredictable bouts of lack of tolerance and absence of patience is upsetting and unsettling those around you, then it’s time to let them know what’s behind your mood swings. Honesty is always the best policy and once they know that you’re experiencing some menopausal moments they can adjust to being more sensitive and more understanding during the times when you’re clearly experiencing some hormone-related rising tension and anxiety.
Throughout the menopause it is perfectly normal to have days when your energy levels plummet for no apparent reason at all. This is typically linked to fluctuating levels of oestrogen and may be more debilitating than you thought it would be. It’s important that you don’t over-commit yourself to a packed diary schedule of work or social engagements, otherwise you could end up feeling even more depleted. This is a time when you need to be resting and gentle with yourself so that your body and energy systems can re-adjust to your new hormone levels. Make sure you don’t pack out your weeks and weekends with too many activities, keep your schedule lighter than normal. When you receive an invite explain to your friends that you have been experiencing menopausal energy dips and that you’ll need to decide on the day if you’ll be able to attend. Giving yourself this flexibility often helps to dissipate any stress and anxiety leading up to the event.
Friendships should be all about balance but often we tend to slip into familiar roles to create an easy forum in which to exchange thoughts, feelings and ideas. Having a knowledge of the role that you play in your different friendships could give you a clue as to how your friendships will fare as you make your way through the menopause. Some friendships are very equal and balanced whereas in other friendships you may tend to take a more supportive role, whereby you constantly listen to the other person’s problems and suggest solutions or give praise and encouragement with little time spent on exploring your own concerns. Up until now it has probably felt very easy to be so supportive, even enjoyable and life-affirming. However, it’s the friendships in which you provide the support that you may want to naturally shy away from as your menopause starts to heighten. So why is this the case?
Well, the hormone progesterone influences a woman’s ability to feel naturally supportive and caring. Progesterone helps us turn up that maternal nurturing factor of our personality. However, during the menopause progesterone levels plummet and this could leave you feeling like the last thing you want to do is listen to someone else’s problems! Time to assess and reflect on how you want this to play out. If you feel a sadness at losing a particular friend then it’s time to explain that you either need a bit of time apart to cope with the changes you are going through or could you see if there are a few simple ways that your friend could provide you with the support for a change? Often when given realistic pointers some friends jump at the opportunity to flip into being the one that delivers the support.
However, it’s equally as important to recognise that there may be some friendships that have just run their course and this is an opportunity for you to carve yourself a new social platform and surround yourself with more balanced, more inspiring and more understanding friendships to move forward with as the next chapter of your life unfolds.