If you're facing single motherhood – whether by divorce, choice or happenstance, you need support. Yet, you likely feel lonelier than ever.
You are not alone. Americans are lonelier than ever.
According to a recent Survey Center on American Life1 of more than 2,000 adults, nearly half of all Americans have fewer than three close friends, down from 27% in 1990 when 33% reported having 10 or more close friends, compared to just 13% today.
The key to this phase of life is to think both strategically and be open-minded about who you spend time with. It might mean you part ways with old friends who are holding you back, or have become toxic after your breakup. But it also means a whole, exciting world of possibility.
Feeling awkward and not sure where to start? I give some advice on how to make friends as a single mom, including trying one of the friendship apps we researched.
Single mom, looking for friends after divorce?
Here are the types of people you need in your life right now:
1. A comrade
Someone going through the exact same thing. Divorcing? Inseminating? Just got knocked up and gonna see it through? You need someone who is there, too. For networking purposes, if nothing else — share tips on lawyers, doctors, child support. For me, this is hands down my bestie Morghan, who I quote here, is a family lawyer. Our paths happened to coincide in infinite ways. We've done all kinds of stuff together, including go through divorce, vacation and contemplating creating a blended family together.
2. A mother superior
This is a mentor of sorts — A woman who went through what you're going through and came out the other side being more or less who you want to be. I have a couple of these, including single mom bloggers Alaina Shearer of Ms. Single Mama and Honoree Corder of The Successful Single Mom – both of whom are wildly successful businesswomen and remarried happily.
3. The dude
This is your single dad friend. I have several single dad friends, but the main jam is Marc. You need this friend because he is a man — a straight man who is going through the same thing you are, but with a penis. My friendship with Marc has proven invaluable for his perspective on dating and parenting, points of view that have made me a better girlfriend, parent and ex-wife.
Now, I don't know a lot of people at this stage of life who go out to bars and cruise dudes, though Morghan and I had a fun minute or two that involved some Jameson and firefighters and you can read about it here. Most of us set up respectful wine or dinner dates with fellows met online. In any case, you need someone to commiserate with — someone who will not judge you as being a filthy whore because you have sex with men who are not the father of your children, and also will not easily tire of your endless dating antics, because if you're lucky there will be many.
I've got a few of these (I like to circulate between several people, so as not to tire them of my tales). Several are single moms who live afar, and we catch up via IM after our kids are asleep. Others include my friends Betsy and Kris who have been married for a zillion years and think my dating life is hilarious and twisted and also hilarious. And then there is Sasha, who is 15 years older than me and married for the first time in her early 40s. This came after years working in the music industry and enjoying romance and her body in ways that not every woman does — but I do. “I can totally relate,” she says when I share without shame my latest dalliance. “When I was your age I.Could.Not.Get.Enough. You keep doing what you're doing.”
5. The local
This mom may not be your besteset soulmate sister, but she lives nearby and that is a lot. This is a mom — better if there are three such moms – or more — who you can call when you're stuck at the office and need someone to snag your kid at the Boy Scout meeting. She's the one with whom you can coordinate childcare coverage for all those effing half and snow days at school, and will take your kids when you feel like you're on death's door with the flu, and she will not judge you when you call her every.single.day of spirit week and ask, “OK, what are we supposed to dress for today?”
Maybe you don't have a zillion things in common, but that doesn't mean that you don't have a glass of wine with her once in a while and gossip about the cute dads at the school or encourage your kids to be closer friends because that is what community and family is all about. And if you are really luck you will really come to love and like her, and even if one of you moves away, or gets married you will still be close forever – because you will always have that bond that is single motherhood. And even though you don't chose it or wish it on others, it is like war. Men who go through war together always cherish that time as precious and those friendships as their dearest, most brotherly. Because even though it is horrific and unspeakable, those difficulties are the stuff of life. That is when you are most alive. And the people who go through it with you are the only ones who understand.
To find local moms, search for “single parent groups near me” and look for Facebook and Nextdoor groups for single parents or divorced women. Other places to find moms friends in your hood include churches, Meetup and Reddit, as well as your kids' school — whether chatting with parents at pickup or joining the PTA.
6. Your ex (Should you be friends with your ex?)
Should you be friends with your ex? This one is a big maybe, and if the answer is yes, then the friendship will solidify years after the breakup or divorce.
However, you do need to prioritize healthy co-parenting, even if your ex is a narcissist, and even if family therapy or co-parenting classes are in order. The upside is that amicable co-parenting, especially if it involves equal time-sharing, which is best for kids — as well as gender equality.
7. A friend with benefits (maybe)
Maybe you just want sex. Or a fun connection, a physical relationship—but none of the baggage of a full-on relationship.
Maybe you're enjoying something really great, but not sure how to define it.
Maybe a FWB is right for you.
I'm not fond of the term “friends with benefits.” I prefer, “Someone I'm sleeping with,” or “a lover.”
My terminology suggests what people have been doing since God created penises and vaginas: Enjoying each other sexually and romantically without any social commitments. When all parties are evolved adults, it can be a very satisfying arrangement. But it is rarely without its complications.
There are pros and cons of a friends-with-benefits relationship. But, lots and lots of pros.
Happy loving, ladies!
How to make friends after divorce as a single mom
If you are a single mom looking for friends:
- Get over the negative thinking that you are unlovable and perpetually lonely — as a friend or otherwise. Good vibes attract good vibes. This is a new start after divorce.
- Be open to finding friends everywhere: other parents on the playground, colleagues, neighbors
- Be open to finding all kinds of friends, of all ages and demographics. Love is love!
- Invest in and prioritize your friendships through hiring babysitters to go out, kid-free, check in regularly and extend your time and care as you would any important relationship
Where to meet people and find friends after divorce
Finding a single mom friend who is also ambitious, open-minded about sex and dating, and shares your parenting style may be a tall order, especially if you live in a small community in a state not aligned with your politics.
If you feel overwhelmed and confused about how to make friends as an adult at this stage of life, you are not alone!
Grieving friends you lost in a divorce or breakup, as well as accepting that your life as a solo parent may be different than what you envisioned would be your ideal life is required to move on. Sometimes the challenge is healing ourselves through self-care or therapy before we can connect with others.
Here are 10 places you can go to make new friends:
1. Friendship apps
There is a growing list of apps designed specifically to help lonely people find friends. The Wall Street Journal even wrote about this trend, as people are more and more comfortable using technology to make meaningful personal connections of all kids.
We compiled this list of 25 apps to make friends and meet new people for 2023 to help you sort through the noise. Find out which apps are worth your time and which ones aren't worth checking out.
2. Dating apps
Just as you would ask friends for a romantic setup, put the word out that you are looking for new friends, and ask those you trust for introductions. Dating apps including Bumble, Match and Tinder have friendship features exactly for the many people who feel exactly like you do — lonely and in search of quality platonic friendships.
Also, be open to making platonic friends with nice people you meet for dates, but lacked the spark. I made several important friendships with single men I met for potential dating on various apps, but instead fostered relationships that lasted much longer than any boyfriend!
Reddit is a large and growing web of often thoughtful conversations about literally everything and anything — including local topics like politics, community organizing, parenting and schools, and more. See if there are any Reddit Community groups or threads for your city — like this one for Brevard County, Florida.
4. Local gym or yoga studio
Local gyms can be a great way to meet other fitness-minded people who you see again and again in the weight room, fitness classes or buck-naked in the locker room or sauna.
5. Local sports league
Whether you are semi-pro or amateur, there are other athletes in your town who want to be friends. Seek out a softball league, tennis class, bocce ball court, bowling league, ping pong club — or form your own neighborhood family badminton rally or kayak outings.
As always, if you can’t find what you are looking for, start your own effort. Build it and the friends may just come!
6. Faith-based organizations, like “churches with singles groups near me”
Many people find they feel awkward if not explicitly rejected from their religious community after divorce, or as a single mom. Maybe it is time to seek out a new church or temple if you no longer feel welcome in what was your spiritual home, or are craving such a community.
Or, consider forming within your current congregation a single parent meetup, divorce recovery group or fellowship organization devoted to one of your interests (say, a monthly movie night, service group or professional evening).
7. Community-based organizations
Friends can be found anywhere you can find a shared connection. Some examples:
- Service organizations — United Way, Junior League, Big Brother Big Sisters
- Professional organizations
- Investment clubs
- Book clubs
- Your PTO or other school-based org
- Your kids activities: Scouts, sports, music
- Neighborhood cleanup, neighborhood watch or HMO
- Local political organizations
8. Search for “single mom groups near me” or “single parent support groups near me”
Google might connect you with your new BFF. Each local community has its own scene, and by going to search engines, you may discover a group through a local church, YMCA or JCC, park district or other community group. Takes two seconds!
Here is the Meetup.org page for my city of Richmond, Va., where there are several groups just for people looking to make friends:
10. Social media
Following and interacting with people from your area on Instagram, Twitter and Nextdoor can lead to learning about great local resources, as well as meaningful friendships.
Discord Server is like Slack, but for socializing. You can create invite only groups to discuss specific topics with your friends, or join larger conversations about pop culture, movies, technology, gaming and more — through voice, video, and text.
Facebook groups of all kinds can be a great way to feel connected and get info on topics that are important to you — both in the ether, as well as in your neighborhood. Sometimes, national groups can net local friendships.
Years ago I created Millionaire Single Moms — An awesome forum for professional single moms to hang out, dish on divorce, kids, sex, dating, money, career. Many of us have made meaningful Internet friendships, and many even have found friends in their town who have changed their lives.
Don’t be shy about finding Facebook groups that focus on your own community, and be confident other people there are also yearning for new friends.
11. Take classes
Take an in-person class at a local university, community college, art studio, theater, gym, museum, a community center in anything that strikes your interest — as well as things outside your interests. Learn something new, meet new people at the same time.
My dear friends Amanda and Melissa met 25 years ago in a screenwriting class through a local university — and have been BFFs ever since. Melissa even met her husband through Amanda, though he is now her ex-husband, and that is another story … but you know what I’m saying.
Bottom line: Single moms, you need to make friends after divorce
Making friends as a single mom can be even more challenging than for other adults — but your unique life stage can also make it a great way to make friends and connect with both men and women in a similar situations.
- “The State of American Friendship: Change, Challenges, and Loss — Findings from the May 2021 American Perspectives Survey,” By Daniel A. Fox. June 8, 2021 americansurveycenter.org/research/the-state-of-american-friendship-change-challenges-and-loss/