A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups
A stylist’s guide to chic beach cover-ups

Sinead Keenan

The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide
The IMAGE Father’s Day Gift Guide

Holly O'Neill

Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food
Modern food and wellness expert Aisling Larkin on her life in food

Sarah Gill

Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy
Women in Sport: Para-cyclist Richael Timothy

Sarah Gill

The Irish fashion design graduates to watch
The Irish fashion design graduates to watch

Ruth O'Connor

New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week
New Bridgerton episodes and Inside Out 2 – what to watch this week

Sarah Finnan

WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024
WIN four tickets to Taste of Dublin 2024

IMAGE

This dreamy East Cork period home is on the market for €775,000
This dreamy East Cork period home is on the market for €775,000

Megan Burns

Five fashion stylists on their go-to denim
Five fashion stylists on their go-to denim

Sarah Gill

‘I realised I’d been packing my husband’s suitcase as he holidayed with his mistress’
‘I realised I’d been packing my husband’s suitcase as he holidayed with his mistress’

Amanda Cassidy

Image / Self / Advice

How to navigate your friendships when your priorities change


By Niamh Ennis
27th May 2024
How to navigate your friendships when your priorities change

If the allure of partying has diminished but it was the glue behind your friendships, Transformation Coach and business mentor Niamh Ennis shares how to navigate your friendships in line with your priorities.

Last week, a close friend threw a party to mark her milestone ‘roundy’ birthday. As you would expect befitting the occasion, representatives of her past decades were invited to join her. This particular friend has quite a unique gift of not just attracting friends into her life, but successfully and effortlessly maintaining and nurturing those friendships. It was no surprise then that so many of us turned out in force to celebrate her. It was such a delicious occasion and I loved every minute of it, because I love her. But these days, that’s not always the case. To give context, there was a time in my life when I totally thrived on the energy and excitement of such large parties, eagerly anticipating the buzz of a crowded room filled with laughter, music, and the liveliest of conversations. But over time, I’ll be honest, my enthusiasm has waned.

It’s quite possible that this is an age thing but I’ve grown to really dislike the noise and awkwardness that often accompany large gatherings. Instead of feeling energised, I now find myself overwhelmed by the sensory overload. This shift has led me to seek more meaningful and subdued forms of socialising, where connections are deeper and the environment is calmer. I know that I’m not alone in this, but until recently I found myself hiding this fact and making excuses, rather than declaring ‘no thanks, this isn’t for me’.

As I’ve matured (which let’s face it is a nicer phrase than got older) , the allure of parties has significantly diminished. What honestly once felt like thrilling opportunities to meet new people now often seems overwhelming and unappealing. The gatherings that used to energise me now only serve to exhaust and deplete me.

Did I love those parties in my twenties and thirties because I was fuelled by gin or did the gin fuel my love of these parties? I’m in no doubt that these shifts are strongly connected to the changes I’ve made in my relationship to alcohol, yet I often sit and wonder about the chicken and egg aspect of it all. Which came first?
I guess I’ll never really know now, but what I’m absolutely sure of is that I’m in love with that feeling, the morning after, when I wake up with a fresh head and I’ve spent some quality time the previous evening chatting with a friend. That’s heaven for me right now.

My priorities have really shifted towards preferring quieter, more intimate gatherings where conversations are meaningful and the atmosphere is relaxed. This is what makes me happiest now and it has reshaped how I view socialising, steering me towards people and places where I can connect genuinely and leave feeling refreshed rather than depleted.

I’ve come to value quality over quantity in all my social interactions, seeking spaces where conversations can go beyond the surface level and foster genuine connections. While I never thought I’d want this, I most definitely never thought I’d feel brave enough to speak about it to the point that it now feels like a non-negotiable for me.

Why you might not want to admit this
Feeling afraid to admit you don’t like partying anymore is completely natural, and there are several reasons why this might be the case.

  • You worry about being judged or not fitting in with your social circle.
  • If your friends or peers still enjoy partying, you may feel pressure to conform.
  • Partying is often described as a key trait of being fun and this makes it harder to admit you’ve moved on from it.
  • If partying was once a big part of your identity, admitting you no longer enjoy it can feel like losing a part of yourself.
  • You might be concerned that admitting you don’t like partying will affect your relationships, especially if your friends still enjoy it.

We all naturally seek acceptance and belonging. Changing your social habits can make you feel like you’re stepping out of the friendships norms and that can feel really challenging.

Tips to ensure that you too are choosing to honour your own desires and preferences
Curate Your Social Calendar: Focus on the events that fully align with your current interests and values. What is it you like to do and how can you do more of it? Who do you like to spend time with? Who’s company lights you up? Find your people and spend more time with them!

Set Boundaries: On those occasions when you do need to compromise and attend events that might not totally excite you, remember that it’s okay to leave early, you don’t need to be the last one standing! The important thing can often be that you’re ‘seen’ to make the effort; the length of time you spend there will not be remembered as much as the fact that you turned up!

Seek Balance: For me this is key. Be very careful not to become anti-social. It can happen all too easily. It’s necessary that you continue to connect with people; in fact, it’s really good for you. Combine large events with smaller, more intimate gatherings to see which you prefer and always think through your exit strategy in advance to help avoid finding yourself in a stressful situation.

No pressure

I used to feel pressured to attend every social event, fearing I’d miss out or disappoint friends. When I started being more honest, I found that many of my friends felt the same way but were also scared to admit it. Start with your close friendships first. Share your feelings openly and honestly. You might discover that they actually understand and support how you’re feeling.

Suggest alternative activities that you enjoy, such as going for a walk with your dogs, or coffee dates or any outdoor pursuit. This will show them that you still value spending time with your friends, just in different ways.

And deep down you already know that if friends reject you because you no longer want to party till dawn, it might speak to something being amiss in those friendships. Navigating the move away from partying shouldn’t mean losing your friends; it simply means embracing new ways to connect that align with this brave, authentic person you are becoming.

Niamh Ennis is a leading Transformation Coach and business mentor who through her private practice, programmes, workshops, and podcast has helped thousands of women to find clarity and confidence to create a life and business that they love. She’s an accredited Leadership & Executive Coach and Lead Coach in  The IMAGE Business Club. You’ll find Niamh on Instagram @1niamhennis or niamhennis.com.

Illustration by Laura Kenny.