Social Menopause: Have You Gone Through “The Change” Yet?

Maybe, if the things you used to deem fun now just make you tired.

10.05.16
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It came a bit sooner than expected but the change is here; I am going through late-twenties social menopause. My doctor, who asked me to please stop bypassing the receptionist by booking appointments online under different profiles and to instead see a therapist, confirmed my suspicions.

Symptoms include the following:

– Hot flashes at bars that require me to take my jacket off 100 times and render me unsure of what to do with it when it is off

– Being unable to hear at very trendy restaurants

Waking up early out of nowhere and therefore needing to be in bed by 12 a.m. at the latest or else I turn into a walnut

– Pain (orthopedic and back-focused, likely due to high heels)

– Irritability, anxiety and dry skin (the latter may just be weather-related)

–  The realization that the things you used to deem fun (partying, pre-gaming, attending after-hours, meeting new people, coming home late, staying up to watch sunsets just because you could) now just make you tired

It’s all a part of growing up, of letting the creaky panels of wood that make up your old house expand, shrink back and settle into place. That which fueled your younger self lit a fire under your ass for a reason: you had to get out there, make friends, date everyone, be stupid, drink too much and have that in-your-twenties experience — or so you thought, or so you were told, or whatever your reasoning, you did it, and now?

Now it’s okay if you no longer want to. Late-twenties social menopause opens up space for new ventures. Maybe we’ll finally learn to cook. Maybe we’ll actually start saving. All I want to do as of the past few months — and finally it’s an itch I can no longer ignore — is turn my apartment into a home. Ground myself without feeling grounded. It’s not the feeling of “adult” that I’m craving so much as it is feeling like a human. Because didn’t twenty-three-through-seven feel a bit like a rough round of drunk ice skating?

A great idea at the time, but the next morning…

What’s tricky is when you begin to experience the change before anyone else in your social group. Not everyone understands. You get called “lame” quite often. I recently had two different guys who I used to have *things* with calculate that I am now fun about 75% of the time.

They are not wrong. I anticipate that number will shrink, too. My body is conserving energy.

Late-twenties social menopause can be isolating because it forces you to isolate yourself. You go out, but come home early. (I give the same reason every time, but the curfew keeps moving up: “Nothing good happens after 2 — 1 — 12…11?” Your friends are out, still galavanting, and what you want is for them to come home, too. “Let’s have a nice quiet dinner party,” you want to shout. “Let’s stay in, drink wine, play charades and be in bed by ten!”

We are still so young, they remind me.

I’m just not sure this is about age.

What it has done is reignited friendships with those who went through social menopause years before I did. Friends who, for some time now, have touted the benefits of calming down. Who explained that you don’t waste the city by staying in. (You go outside during the day, don’t you? Try new cafes? Walk for dessert after dinner?)

Maybe they were on to something.

Illustration by Charlotte Trounce; follow her on Instagram @charlottetrounce.

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