Friday, December 17, 2010

Living Richly in Retirment-Making New Connections

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?


  1. Excellent post, Barb.

    As a guy I do struggle at times developing friendships. I have a few close friends, though a male close friend is probably quite different from a female close friend. We don't get together except during various church meetings or an occasional dinner out with our wives.

    Like you church and a hobby have given me my main contacts. I need lots of alone time, though sometimes I wish I had more interaction with people.

  2. Yes Excellent post. . . I have seen what

    Bob said there about Men. My husband is not very social but recently he found a friend and I actually like the guys wife so we are seeing them socially and have lots of fun with them.

    Church is where I meet most of my friends and we mostly do church things but have some outside interest. I do know more than a few widows and they all sound like you. They all have more of a social life than I do. LOL Because my attention is mostly directed to my husband, and right now, looking for a job.

    Anyway thanks for the post I really enjoy reading what you have to say and I always pop over to see what Bob's blog is up to as well after I check in here.

  3. Congratulations on developing several social groups. When we moved to the Dallas area shortly after 9/11, I found it more difficult to make friends than I had previously, even in Houston, so I applaud you and the efforts you've made.

    When my husband retired in 2007, we purposely chose a small town in which to live, since I work from home and can work anywhere. We attended meetings of a newly formed Newcomers Group and found fast friends, many of them retirees like my husband. Some of us will go to one couple's house for New Year's Eve, to have a Wii competition, sharing food we'll all bring, as some of us have to be frugal and some don't. I have met people through my violin lessons (I'm a student, not a teacher) and participation in the local community orchestra. My participation in the orchestra offers the opportunity to meet people of all ages as most are younger than my almost-61 years. My husband took up archery, as did another guy in the Newcomer's Group, and they and several other guys frequently meet for breakfast or lunch or kayaking down the Colorado or mountain biking on nearby trails. While archery can be an expensive sport, the others aren't. Since we own the kayaks and mountain bikes, the cost is only that of a season's pass to local parks.

  4. this post is very usefull thx!


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