Why women need their friends

Posted on: 14 October 2014 by Lynda Shaw

Dr Lynda Shaw looks at how older women use support networks of other women to help them as they age

friends over 50

As you go through life you may have experienced your children flying the nest, the highs and lows of a career, your parents getting older, the menopause or manopause and possibly the terrible heartache of losing someone very close, but interestingly women in their 50s plus, often turn to their support network of other women whilst men tend to rely on their partners as they age.

A friend you can trust is important to women, offering that all important shoulder to cry on but also for fun and laughter. Women seem to never have enough friends, particularly in later life and so they welcome with open arms new friends, older or younger to share stories and life’s emotions. There is no denying it, women are great networkers, they often talk and disclose a lot more information in order to seek a stronger friendship bond. Women tend to be more emotional and intuitive in reading situations.

As men age, testosterone diminishes in the male brain and some researchers suggest their response to oxytocin and estrogen may now become stronger thus resulting in more nurturing behavior which tends to be aimed at their partners and children. Men are generally good at observing and just enjoying social situations but as they age they tend to be equally happy to relax with their partner.

Women tend to use retirement as an opportunity to join clubs, societies or be a part of their local community to make new or see old friends. Men tend to use retirement to slow down and enjoy the peace and quiet of later years although many of course enjoy being very active. Although we should always steer far away from stereotypes, there is no denying these patterns in ageing exist!

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