This past Tuesday I went to a regular bi-monthly get together with a group of women. We had our regular discussion and visit, and exchanged small gifts. Then on the spur of the moment, we decided to meet for dinner on Thursday, with the hostess providing the mail meal and the rest of us providing a dish. On Wednesday, I went to a luncheon at the home of a quilting friend, where we also exchanged small gifts and had a lovely visit. Tomorrow, I will go with a dining group that frequents different restaurants to a restaurant in downtown Dallas.
I tell you all of this, not to share that I have a social life, per se. I share this to show that it’s possible to make new connections, with new people in retirement. This is true even if you are a single person, have little money, or know not a soul where you live. I’m a perfect example of this. When I moved to Dallas, the only people I knew were my in-laws. While I love them and they have been supportive of the children and me, post widowhood, they were not a source of a lot of social interaction. I moved far away from home, without a spouse and without friends. I had not a great deal of money to expend on social activities, was not necessarily the life of the party, and was not used to living life as a single person. I’m still adjusting to all of these things, some more easily than others.
While not every retiree is like me, many have similar issues. Many folks find that most of their social lives revolved around work or the work of a spouse. Without those connections they feel lost. Sometimes on spouse is still working and the other is home during the day. Sometimes both are retired, and have not gotten into a rhythm, and/or realize that even with a spouse, they need outside stimulation. I’m sure this would have been true of my relationship if it still existed. Sometimes people find themselves newly single and are unsure how to meet people or deal with the situation.
In process of adjustment, I found a few things to be true when expanding my social horizons and making new connections:
Most of my connections were made through various interests I had, or interests that I wanted to develop in retirement. Because I was a quilter, I kept my eye out for a local quilting group and found one. Checking through your local paper or city magazine will probably present you with many opportunities of like minded people. Because I was a quilter, I found a quilting group. Because I was involved in a church before, I found a church I liked. Through this church, I found my small group of women, a book group, and other social activities.
Singles don’t have to associate only with singles, or women with women for that matter. My quilting group is a woman's group because of the hobby, but I also have friends who golf, or hike and who do so in mixed groups.
Give your new friends and connections a chance. The first time I went to my large quilt group (the mother organization, if you will); I met a few people and listened to a lecture, and got invited back at the end. My dining group chose many places that I was not interested in, and dates that I was not available, before my first get together. And the first Sunday at church, I shook a few hands. But by coming back regularly, I met more people, got invited to events and invited to volunteer and became part of the group.
It’s not necessary to have a lot of money to have a social life. While some hobbies can have some costs, being social is not of necessity costly. For every French restaurant my dining group goes to, there are ten ethnic restaurants and quite a few at home food tastings. Most events at my church are group dinners. And my small, weekly group meets at someone’s home each week, with the host providing lunch. Time spent with friends is what is important, after all.
Lastly, being alone part of the time is not a terrible thing. While we all need connections and friendships outside of our home, we have to find a happy medium that works for us. In my case that involves a get together during the day, two in the evening going to church. For me this is a happy medium. Others may need more alone time, more together time….it depends on you. I still experience lonliness, but that's based on widowhood, not on the fear of being alone. For every visit with friends I get equal enjoyment from creating at home or simply reading with my pup beside me.
How are you making new connections in retirement?