Research suggests that, just as everyone warned me, new parents commonly experience estrangement from their friends. The charity Action for Children, as part of broader research into loneliness, surveyed 2,000 parents. It found that the majority (68 percent) felt “cut off” from friends, colleagues, and family after the birth of a child. Common reasons for this feeling of isolation included lack of money and the inability to leave the house when caring for small children.
In another study, researchers from the Netherlands found that “the strength of friendships typically decreases after people become parents.” This period of weaker attachment is attributed to exhaustion and tight budgets when children are younger; it bottoms out when children are at the age of 3 and require sustained supervision. Women tend to regain contact with their friends after the child turns 5, whereas men are more likely to remain distant from their former friendships, even after the child turns 19.