Journal / Inspiration

The science behind the desire to find your tribe in midlife

3 May, 2024

We’re learning more and more about the impact of loneliness. Research has shown it can have a significant impact on our long-term health. As important to note is that the body’s response to feeling lonely is biochemical; we’re likely to have increased inflammation which, in turn, acts as a trigger for illness and disease.

3 May, 2024

But although menopause can make us feel isolated and perhaps lead to a drawing away from social situations as we navigate the emotional rollercoaster it can bring, finding our tribe in midlife often isn’t about filling a hole of unwanted solitude.

Often, it’s about recognising that this transition makes us seek out something new. And that could be biochemical too.


Our hormones are tuned to respond positively to time spent with people we love; we release dopamine and norepinephrine, which in turn give us energy and a greater sense of joy. Interestingly, the more time we spend socially, the more likely we are to want more of that feeling. Our bodies know it is good for us. At different levels, we all benefit from being sociable.


Research has shown that menopause can lead to an increased sense of purpose, a desire to connect with things on a deeper level - both through the work we do and the way we spend our time; this can mean seeking out new communities that share our point of view. This propulsion forward to find people who share new passions is also the best way to fast-track new friendships.


Finally, menopause itself could be related to community: In March the New York Times reported on a new piece of research exploring why only 5 species of whales experience menopause. The research is limited (it turns out it’s difficult to track whale movements efficiently across vast expanses of water!).

But what is fascinating is that they assert that the species that do go through menopause appear to interact in a specific way with their community. Behaviourally, the pod stays together generationally for much longer. And it is this connection, this intergenerational dependency that appears to link the species.

So, does that mean that our own transitions to Part 2 are because our bodies and minds have something very important to bring to community, society and how the world turns? I believe it to be true.

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