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Friendship and retirement planning

November 8, 2012 | By | 9 Replies Continue Reading
It’s never too soon to plan for the friendships you’ll enjoy in retirement


Hi Irene,

I am a professional in my early sixties and plan to retire in three years when I am 65 years old. I am married to a very good man, have a grown up beautiful daughter yet I find myself feeling very lonely at times.

I have spent most of my adult life pursuing education to a Masters standard and currently am a manager within the health service.  I work full time, and at this age I realize I have committed my life to education and work to the detriment of socializing, making genuine friendships, and developing a hobby.

As both my hubby and I don’t drink, we tend just to return home after having meals out. I live in a small city and just don’t know where to turn to create an environment where I will meet like-minded people with a view to developing friendships during my retirement.


Best, Maggie


Hi Maggie,

It’s great to be thinking ahead towards your retirement as you are. When women are immersed in midlife balancing work, family and caregiving responsibilities, they often have less time and need for friendships and don’t think about the future. Later on, even those with good marriages and adult children suddenly realize they need close, supportive friendships beyond the ones they have with their families. Planning ahead makes very good sense.

When a person spends a good portion of her time at work, the workplace often becomes an important source of friendships. Before you retire, do you recognize any prospects for friendships that can be continued once you leave your workplace?

Also, it is never too late to pursue the interests and the hobbies you didn’t have time for before. Getting involved in something you feel passionate about holds the greatest promise for finding kindred spirits. Volunteer, join a group, take a course—perhaps, there is something you’ve been holding off on that you can start doing now.

Once you retire, it’s important to get out of the house and add some structure to your life since you are so used to having such busy days. Lastly, don’t fall prey to the myth that everyone already has their friends. Many people are in the same situation as you, and would welcome a warm smile, hello, compliment or invitation to chat that says, “Let’s be friends.”

I hope this sets your mind at ease and that you are looking forward to the new opportunities you’ll find in your retirement.

My best,  Irene

Read relevant articles I’ve written for the NBC Universal website Life Goes Strong:

Read these prior posts on The Friendship Blog:

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Category: Friendship and aging, HAVING NO FRIENDS

Comments (9)

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  1. Carol says:

    Haven’t been contributing for awhile, but still interested in what’s happening on the blog. Since I am about to turn 76, thought I would make a comment about how I sustain interest in life and those in and out of my life. I have a picture of my 5th grade classroom and spend a little time each day thinking about who I was all those years ago. It was the time of integration with black kids, one of the very “hot” subjects of today. I think back to how my family was reacting to “Selma,” and how threatened our all white neighbors felt at the time. My heart goes out to all the kids in the photo who, like me, were simply trying to grow up and find out who they were. Was there anyone in the picture of 21 kids that I would have called friend? We were classmates and free to be friends or not. The word didn’t have the power it has today. We all treated each other with respect and when one of the members jumped off a rock into a stone quarry and broke his neck, we all with the guidance of our teacher helped him to continue on in school. We visited him at home, took him his homework, and he could talk with us over a electronic hook-up to the classroom. He didn’t live very long, but he died knowing he had 21 friends who cared a great deal about him. Now as my aging body tells me life is short, things change and loss whether it’s family or someone you thought you would be friends with for the rest of your life, is necessary to embrace. My entire family of 10 members have all died. I am the lone survivor now. However, I have always been on my own, leaving home at the age of 17. Yes, I went back to see if this group of people I was part of had become the kind of human beings I wanted to spend my days with and found them not to represent growth to me. My almost 76 years has been full of challenge. I have hurt others and they me while trying to be friends. I see I was willing to find out what the definition of friend really meant to me. I now understand that human beings can either chose growth or security because you can’t have both. The only way I personally have discovered to deal with losses in life is to first be your own best friend. I feel less inadequate if a person who is labeled friend of even best friend, abandons me. I believe this awareness sustains my “long-time friend” and I as we move along in our lives. She labels me an “enigma,” as I tell her I have still so much “stuff” inside me that needs to bloom. She tells me that she lives in her head and is very happy there. So you see we are different in many ways. She is married, I am not. The feeling I most have for her is that I respect her. Interactions with others will always be temporary. This does not mean that I walk around with my eyes down instead of looking up to meet others. No, in fact I interact with perfect strangers and believe they are as delighted with our brief interactions as I am. These are what I call moments of joy. And as we know joy is one of those gifts that make the heart rejoice because its still pumping! I recently got one of those little pieces of wisdom out of a Chinese cookie. It said, “You will find your solution where you least expect it.” I am surprised at the person I am becoming, less fearful of not pleasing others by who I am. At almost 76, I see the real me is excited as to what’s ahead. It’s not about $$, which I have little of, but it is about knowing oneself. Everything in life is fodder for growth;the good and the not-so-good. When we are friends with others, they have a right to change their minds and so do we. I have a person in my life whom I call “best friend.” It is me!

    • What a lovely thoughtful post, carol. What particularly resonated with me was your recollection of the poor kid who broke his neck and how everyone rallied around him. In highschool one of our friends developed a brain tumor and died rather suddenly, and we were all devastated. We even put together a collection for his family, all our own money. It was probably a pathetically small amount, we just didn’t know what else to do. The other thing you said was choosing either growth or security. So true. Like choosing either love or fear. I also find moments of joy in the brief, unexpected and oftentimes anonymous encounters i experience often. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • Irene says:

      Thanks for such a beautiful, wise and heartfelt post, Carol!

  2. Diandra says:

    At 53, I have almost given up trying to find friends. Although, I’m friendly and generous, I can’t for the life of me, find any women around my age who will give me the time of day since many are just too busy, in a hurry, and can’t spare the time. A lot of women are also very competitive with other women too, so again, if you don’t measure up to their “standards”, they seem to reject you outright, even though you are pleasant to be around. I really think that the United States is becoming a very difficult and depressing place to live. Everybody here seems to be chasing stuff these days, instead of enjoying real experiences with other people! I have joined groups and was shocked by how rude people can be to each other, especially when we are supposed to be there to have fun! It’s been very discouraging.

  3. Eller says:

    I’m 55 yrs old, and have recently decided to stop being friends with the only 2 friends I’ve been close to for the past 20 yrs. Why? One reason is that both have moved to other cities. One of the former friends is constantly “too busy” to communicate with me, hence the relationship has become one-sided. The other former friend is disabled and hooked on a deadly cocktail of prescription meds and alcohol (the last time we spoke on the phone, she talked about all sorts of crude and bizarre subjects). I’ve got a chronic illness of my own to contend with (Type 1 diabetes), and the onset of various complications associated with it (I am unable to work). I just don’t want to have anything to do with these two people anymore, nor do I want to make any new friends for the future (I just don’t have the interest or emotional energy for it). I don’t have or want a social life, or to participate in any hobbies. I am married to a wonderful man and have a teenage son from my second marriage, so they are all the relationships / stimulation I need. No, I don’t feel lonely, depressed, or deprived. This is the way I want to live. I don’t need friends–they’re overrated.

    • Lauren says:

      Hi Eller,
      I understand this completely. There is so much media hype about the “wonderful benefits of friends”, and how they can even increase your life expectancy! I read an article which said that having friends can increase your life expectancy by “5.25 years”!! Where on earth do they get these figures from!!! I have let go of a few friends who I am sure would no doubt DECREASE my life expectancy, if I let them continue with their unacceptable behaviour to me. I see also that a number of people are introverts, and manage just fine without friends. So many people have issues, envy, mental illnesses (albeit well hidden in the beginning)and/or other “mean-girl” personality traits. Who needs that. I have my family , my pets, and acquaintances and other people that I chat with. The others are just landscape in our lives. There is an interesting book called Quiet, The Power of Introverts. It is very good reading.

  4. Great reply! Janice, thanks for adding your thoughts. Irene

  5. Janice says:

    Hi, Maggie – As a contemporary of yours I feel for your dilemma. Making connections outside of your marriage is important for women, and I’m glad that you’re seeking to make this a priority in your life now.

    Perhaps you should just open yourself up to any possibility right now and get your feet wet in making connections with people. If you’re not already, become a friendly person. I did. I just forced myself to talk to everyone and now at 65, it just comes naturally to me as I am also very curious about people. You’d be amazed at the things that come up in a casual conversation which lead you to the very types of connections you’re seeking to make.

    If you like to read, join your library and volunteer or participate in the book club; and/or join one outside the library. See what groups exist on meetup.com if you’re comfortable on a computer. You’d be amazed at the things people “meetup” for and it speaks to the need people have to make connections. You’re not the only one for sure.

    Good luck. It’s a fun adventure meeting new people.

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