In an informal poll taken in The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide group, 85% of women rated the importance of friendship a four or five, on a scale 1-5. If friendship is so important to us, why are so many women feeling disconnected and disappointed when it comes to making and deepening friendships?
In this episode, meet Nina Lorez Collins who’s made it her business to cultivate friendship, both online and IRL. We talk about the difficulties we face as women in friendship and share some really exciting ways we are partnering to create connection with women like you.
Nina Lorez Collins is the Chief Creative Officer for Hello Revel, an event & community platform for women over 40, as well as the founder of The Woolfer, which Revel acquired in 2021. Her book, What Would Virginia Woolf Do? And Other Questions I Ask Myself As I Attempt to Age Without Apology, was published in April 2018. She’s a graduate of Barnard College, has a Masters degree from Columbia in the field of Narrative Medicine, and a long professional background in book publishing, both as a literary scout and then as an agent. Nina is the board chair of the Brooklyn Public Library as well as a trustee of the publishing house Spiegel & Grau. In addition to her work at Revel, she manages the literary estate of her late mother, the filmmaker and writer Kathleen Collins. She has four grown children and lives in Brooklyn. Nina is also the host of the Revel podcast Raging Gracefully.
I wanted to talk with my friends specifically about aging. At the time, I was 46 and I was having these peri-menopausal symptoms. Most of my friends are older than I am, at least in New York where I live, most people have kids in their thirties. So when I was 23 and had my first baby, most of my friends were like 30 having their first baby. And so my friends have always been kind of five to 10 years older than I am and, suddenly, I was having peri-menopausal symptoms and I was like, “Why the f*ck did no one tell me this was going to happen?” I’m 46. My friends are like 50, 52, 55…Why has no one told me about this?
When Nina was feeling like she needed more from her friendships, she didn’t get mad, she got creative. In 2015, Nina created What Would Viriginia Woolf Do, a small, private Facebook group for her friends over 40 to connect in a meaningful way.
I created it in some ways to fill a gap that I was experiencing in my friendships. I invited all these women onto the platform and we started having these intimate conversations in a way than we were having in real life. And then I met all these new women, I’ve met if not thousands, certainly hundreds and hundreds of new women and made lots of real friendships through it.
But Nina’s group didn’t stay small for long. With over 30,000 members, she decided to leave Facebook in 2019 and create a more intimate space, and rebrand as The Woolfer two years later.
In the summer of 2021, Nina joined forces with Revel, a community for women over 40 who want more in their next chapter. I’ll share more about that in a minute, but first, I thought it was important to understand the challenges of friendship over 40. I asked Nina how her own friendships have changed since turning 40. “I feel like when we’re in our twenties and thirties, it’s a different kind of socialization. As I’ve gotten older, I know who to go to for what. So I know which friend to call if I’m thinking about having an affair, or if I’m really mad at my kids, or if I want someone to give me financial advice, like I have lots of close friends who I really, really love, but I know who to go to for what thing.”
Jackie: When I was in my twenties and thirties, maybe I would have expected that one person ticked a lot of boxes, so now you start to see, she’s really good at this, and this is where we connect, and the expectation that one person doesn’t have to fill all of these needs in friendship, we can find different people for that.
Nina: I think that’s really smart. And a by-product of just maturity. Also. in kind of the wisdom we have as we get older, kind of like we see with relationships, one love relationship is not going to fill all needs, but when we’re younger, I think we do have more of those hopes. So when I think back to some of the girlfriend relationships that or fell apart when I was younger, which is something I think people don’t talk about enough how normal that is, but probably some of it was do it probably a lot of it was due to kind of unrealistic expectations of those relationships.
Even some of the best of friends have struggled over the past couple of years, causing miscommunication and sometimes even resulting in ghosting, what Merriam Webster defines as “informal : the act or practice of abruptly cutting off all contact with someone, usually without explanation by no longer accepting or responding to phone calls, instant messages, etc.”
Jackie: I think over the past two years, people are just overwhelmed. If you text me and you’re like, “Oh, I saw this movie and I wanted to share it with you and I’m not in the head space to banter back and forth about whatever it is that you want to talk about, maybe I don’t answer. Or maybe you don’t answer.
Nina: I don’t take stuff like that personally. I think that another lesson of getting older is that most of the time, people aren’t really thinking about you. It’s not about you. Most of the time, people have a lot of other stuff going on. If someone doesn’t answer a text or two like I could care less. When someone’s ghosting you, when someone like doesn’t like you and doesn’t want to be around you…
Jackie: How do you know the difference?
Nina: Well, I’m trying to remember when I was last ghosted. I had a friendship and she basically made it clear she did not want to be my friend anymore. We didn’t really have like a big falling out. It was a weird situation when our kids were like youngish and she had a house on the vineyard, like a family house. And we always rented a house in Martha’s Vineyard and we ended up renting the house by accident next door to her because it worked for us. We had dogs and we had certain needs and this house was like perfect for us. And I was like, oh, it’s next door. I thought that’ll be okay. But it wasn’t like I wanted to have dinner with them every night. I was just like this is where it is. But I think it really pissed her off. It felt invasive. I don’t really know why she didn’t want to be friends with me anymore. But she kind of ghosted me, just was like really cold and not nice to me — and it was clear.
Breaking Up with a Friend
Jackie: So have you ever broken up with a friend?
Nina: I have. I can think of two in adult life. They were mom friends who we traveled with and their kids were friends with our kids. One of the breakups was really around my divorce, I think that’s not uncommon, we had been couple friends. And I think when I was, in my social circle, one of the first to get divorced, my oldest was 12 and I was like 37. So I think that’s like a little young, a lot of the divorces started to happen a little older and I think it’s really destabilizing for the people in your social life. It makes them wonder, they don’t want to really deal with you being the new single mom who’s out dating. It’s just all threatening in a lot of ways. I felt very unsupported and she was super angry at me and it was ugly. She had been one of my closest friends.
I had one a little earlier than that, that was a different kind of breakup. I’d say it was more around judgment around our kids. I felt like she had a lot of judgment around those parenting dilemmas moms get into, judging at times what you allow them to do, or girls and what they can wear. I felt like there was a lot of that with our girls. There was kind of weird competition stuff. I’m sure from her perspective, I think she also felt like I was doing that to her. It goes both ways, right? These were both friendships that just reached places where we were just not being good to each other and it just seemed like we should just move on. And in both cases, I will say now that I’m in my fifties, I’m cordial with both these women. It’s awful to burn bridges. I don’t want ugliness in my life. So they were both sad endings, but it’s fine ’cause some relationships are not meant to last forever.
Before recording this episode, Nina and I both listened to a podcast called Speaking of Psychology, an episode entitled Why is it so hard for adults to make friends? In the episode, psychologist and friendship expert, Dr. Marisa Franco shared several facts on friendship:
- Loneliness is as toxic for our bodies as 15 cigarettes a day.
- Our social connection actually matters more than our diet and exercise.
- And the two key ingredients for creating organic friendships; continuous unplanned interaction and a shared vulnerability.
- Dr. Franco also recommends initiating friendship by putting ourselves out there.
Jackie: Do you think it’s hard for adults to make friends?
Nina: I do think it’s hard to make new friends. Kind of like online dating, it requires curiosity and a willingness to be really open. And sometimes, as people get older, there’s a kind of way in which we shut down that we should work on. I think it’s really important to be curious and be open. One of my favorite things I’m always reminding my kids is like, you just don’t know what’s around the corner. None of us do. You don’t know if you say yes to something what that might lead to. I think the more we say yes, the better.
Jackie: I tell my kids the same thing; new ideas and experiences and passions don’t show up at your door and ring the doorbell. And so you do have to say yes. Oftentimes, I’m in my pajamas by 6:30 or 7 o’clock every night, so if you’re going to invite me somewhere, can you make it brunch or at least early evening? There’s no chance in hell I’m going to something at nine o’clock, it’s not happening.
Making New Friends
Jackie: At 50, I don’t really seek out a lot of new friendships. And at the same time, I really value when I meet someone new. It’s kind of the ideal spot, right? I’m not necessarily “looking” for new friendships and at the same time, I’m so open to finding them.
Nina: Yeah. I struggle with it because I meet so many women in the community that I really like. And that question of like how much room do I have for new relationships.And yet also, I love it when I meet someone. I find people’s stories so fascinating. I learn so much from new relationships I make. So I guess I’ve gotten kind of comfortable with this idea of like fluidity and space. And I really can accommodate a lot of connection in my life.
Jackie: One of the things for me is finding activities that I’ve always wanted to do, and then finding other women who might be interested in trying those.
Nina: Oh my God. Wait, Jackie, did you say that on purpose? Because that is literally how I use Revel. It’s what I tell people all the time. Even though I work there, I genuinely use it for that. So like this winter, I really want to roller skate and ice skate more in general, I bought fabulous new, rainbow colored roller skates. They’re awesome. And so every week to 10 days this winter, I’ve been creating an ice skating event on Revel where I say I’ll be at Prospect Park from 7pm-8pm on this day — join me. And women show up and skate together. If I didn’t create the event, I would never go. I’d be like, oh, I’m working or I’m having dinner with my boyfriend, but because it’s there on my schedule and I’ve committed and other women are going to show up, it forces me to go.
Say you want to have conversation about something deadly boring like long-term care insurance or planning your daughter’s wedding, and maybe you want to meet some new people to talk about these things with on Revel. Pick a cute picture and create an event and be like, come join me to have these conversations. And women will show up; and they’re interesting and smart.
Jackie: Don’t expect people in your life, your current friends, to want to do all those things. They think it’s lovely that you’re planning a wedding for your daughter, and at the same time are not really interested in discussing it every time you talk, or they’re not necessarily interested in discussing long-term health care or, estate planning…
Nina: Or maybe you’re getting divorced and like no one else in your life is getting divorced right now, and you actually need to find some friends who are in that same space.
Jackie: I love that it’s sort of like Meetup and Facebook groups together. You can find people in your area. When I first logged on like a few months ago, I found all these people in my own community. These are women who are genuinely interested in making connections and attending and hosting events together — it’s a totally different vibe.
Every day, there are incredible online and in person events created by members, maybe even in your own community. Book groups, writing circles, hikes, yoga, and so much more.
Events scheduled on Revel this weekend include oganizing photos, divorce support, speaking in French, local walks on the beach, decluttering, bouquet arranging, chair yoga and it goes on and on! There’s something for everyone – there’s something for you!
Create your own event
Have you always wanted to try a class but can’t find anyone to go? Create an event on Revel!
Do you have a hobby or passion and want to share it with others? Create an event on Revel!
Do you have an expertise that other women might benefit from? Create an event on Revel!
Now for the big news…
There’s a brand spankin’ new Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide group on Revel! This is where I hope to create an even deeper connection with women like you. It’s a safe space to discuss all the topics, challenges, issues, wins that we face as grown-ass women.
I will be hosting regular online events on Revel! From the upcoming “pod club,” like a bookclub but for those who listen to The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide, we’ll dive into GAWG episodes and share ideas, opinions and support for one another.
I will also be hosting IN PERSON events here in sunny So-Cal. I would love for you to be there! I’ll be sharing more info on Revel.
You’ll have a chance to Ask a Grown-Ass Woman This live call in show, co-hosted with Revel’s Nina Lorez Collins, is sure to be a community favorite! Our premiere date will be announced soon! Where? On Revel, of course!
How to join The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide on Revel
- Go to HelloRevel.com and click on JOIN!
- Be sure to select The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide when asked how did you find out about Revel!
- Join our Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide group!
- Explore the other groups Revel has to offer and feel free to join them too. Or you can just be a member of our group. Whatever floats your boat!
- Check out all the virtual and in-person events you can participate in! Really inspiring and exciting!
Mentioned in this episode:
- Speaking of Psychology: Why is it so hard for adults to make friends?
- Friendship Poll in TGAWG group
- Convo about making friends in TGAWG group
- Golden Girls VS SATC ladies
- Join The Grown-Ass Woman’s Guide on Revel!