Single mother-of-two Victoria Hubbard found herself at the end of a 20-year relationship with "little to no" friends and a craving for social connection.
Unsure where to go or how to make friends, she stumbled upon a social media page titled Your Butterfly Chapter discussing a friendship mixer in Sydney.
"My situation made me more unique, as I found that I don't exactly fit in with people my own age, circumstances and mindset," Hubbard, 46, said.
"The opportunity to meet new people to develop friendships proved to be difficult and quite limited.
"I was quite intrigued and thought what a wonderful idea and opportunity for people to meet."
Although the events are aimed at women younger than Hubbard, founder Sophia Kim invited her to multiple events.
Eventually, she accepted an invite to a Halloween mixer.
"I have developed lovely friendships with some of the girls, two in particular," she said.
"They even came out to celebrate my birthday dancing the night away and it was just yesterday we caught up for lunch and drinks."
Lifelong Sydneysider, financial analyst and influencer Lisa Dai, 27, also stumbled upon the page.
"I just thought it was a really good opportunity to meet people, it sounded really exciting I thought I would give it a shot," she told 9news.com.au.
"I was born and raised in Sydney, it's not that I feel like I don't have friends, I feel like Sydney is very cliquey and I thought it would be a good opportunity to meet new people.
"I've become closer friends with a girl I met at the first mixer, we've gone to yoga together, pilates, dinner, bar hopping, double dates, the whole shebang."
Both Hubbard and Dai have attended multiple events hosted by Your Butterfly Chapter.
'I know what it's like to feel lonely'
Kim, the founder of Your Butterfly Chapter, relocated to Sydney right before the COVID-19 pandemic broke out to expand her swimwear brand Siempre Golden.
She spent her first years in Sydney alone in lockdown, sparking the idea to hold friendship mixers once she got out.
Kim held her first mixer after a video she posted to her TikTok page went viral.
She said the positive and overwhelming reaction blew her away.
"I wanted to provide a safe space for women to be able to meet each other, make new connections and new friendships," she told 9news.com.au.
"I know what it feels like to be lonely."
The first-ever mixer Kim hosted had 55 women in attendance.
Since then, Kim has connected hundreds of women of all ages, 90 per cent of whom were born and raised in Sydney, she said.
"There are women that show up that are married, single, whatever, they just want to come and have a good time and make new girlfriends," she said.
"In this digital age, we connect with people digitally but we aren't actually socialising with people in reality.
"In high school and university you have opportunities to make friends, but as an adult, you don't have those opportunities, you don't really go out of your way to make friends as an adult.
"I think that it helps combat loneliness when you feel like you connect with someone."
Is loneliness on the rise?
Loneliness is a normal part of the human experience, however, chronic loneliness can lead to significant mental health concerns, researcher and Associate Professor Melody Ding from Sydney University's Faculty of Medicine and Health said.
"Chronic loneliness is the sense of feeling a lack of belonging for a long period of time, there is a separation between the social relationship you want to have and the social relationship you have in reality," she said.
"Loneliness is a stressor, repeated stressors will cause mental health issues.
"It has been linked with various mental health outcomes like anxiety and depression."
Data from before the pandemic shows that loneliness was not on the rise before the COVID-19 lockdowns hit, despite previous reporting from multiple news outlets that it was, Ding said.
However, people have become more socially isolated during and following the pandemic, with updated data expected soon.
"Specifically, younger people were reporting higher levels of loneliness than previously documented," Ding said.
Is loneliness a gendered issue?
Men are less likely to report feelings of loneliness, even though they most likely would experience the same levels of loneliness and social isolation as women, Ding said.
"Men are just more reluctant to admit that they are lonely, even though the quality of their relationship is not good enough," she said.
Your Butterfly Chapter has hosted mixed-gender events but will continue to focus on women-only mixers.
The one-year anniversary of Your Butterfly Chapter is coming up in October.
A 100-person mixer will be held in celebration at Bellevue Cottage by Antoine in Glebe.
Tickets are still available.