Losing Friends To Parenthood: The Stark Reality Of Going Child-Free

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parents holding baby

Many a young parent has oft lamented the disruption small humans bring to a formerly free and easy social life with some regarding it as the loneliest period of their lives.

As a childless 43-year-old, I will likely never relate to parenthood. Slowly losing friends to it, however, has made me an expert on the loneliness front.

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It starts sweetly enough. The first of your circle announces a pregnancy and along with the novelty, it’s genuinely exciting. Despite any reservations one might have about breeding, the thought that someone you’ve known forever is creating another human in their image is quite remarkable.

Initially, you partake in the baby showers and first birthdays and even regard their creation as the cutest thing you ever did see. Perhaps you also lend a hand or shoulder to cry on while your friend navigates the overwhelming pressures and exhaustion they could never have anticipated.

To that end, you’re completely understanding when plans start getting canceled and catch-ups aren’t doable. Besides, with an already full plate, they don’t need you pestering them too, right?

However, as the months turn to years and more and more friends fall into the parent trap, you’re lucky if you see them once or twice a year, and even then it’s probably at a playground for 75 minutes with an interruption every 38 seconds.

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So, as they gravitate to other folks with kids, you gravitate to your remaining childless friends, until they too start reproducing, despite swearing they never would. Before you know it, there’s barely anyone left.

The years have mounted since my social world imploded, and as someone without a partner, life alone on the couch each evening is standard. I guess it makes sense that without your own little family, the older you get, the lonelier life becomes.

One minute you’re young and carefree, the next, you’re not so young and you’ve been left behind. I’m certainly not old but I am at that age where my few other childless friends and I struggle to muster the energy to leave the house for regular catch-ups.

I suppose one silver lining for me has been utilizing the increased solo time to work on myself.

I’ve meditated, cried, journaled, and read books to help process an abundance of past trauma — something I imagine most parents would struggle to find time and energy for.

Yet, while in the past I might have pitied those who kept popping out kids, bogged down in tears, tiredness and turd, I now envy them with their own little world of people, even if they may yearn for some of the peace and solitude I have in abundance.

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So, please don’t misunderstand me. I’m not blaming my child-rearing friends for my predicament.

It’s not their fault I went a different way. And it’s not that I even truly want my own kids, either.

I don’t think I was ever cut out for parenthood. I just wish the addition of children for others wasn’t so often at the expense of my friendship.

Ross Larkin is a journalist and opinion writer with a focus on mental health, sexuality, and the human condition. Contact him at

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.