• Few or No Friends

50 and no…

Published: December 12, 2013 | By | 33 Replies Continue Reading
A woman googles “50 and no…”  to search for answers to her loneliness.

QUESTION

Dear Dr. Levine,

I came across your website after I googled “50 and no…” That’s when Google completed my inquiry with the word “friends.” I’ve read quite a few posts now and see I am not alone in my pain.

One of your posts had a sort of checklist of possible reasons for unsuccessful friendships and little ol’ me must have agreed with 90% of them (less ones with physical or mental disabilities). Could be my insecurity about myself that I did agree with them all, but now I feel like a lost cause.

I’m 56. I am not an only child, but I came from a dysfunctional set of parents. I have grappled with my inability to fit in since I was a kid, from school counseling through therapy in my twenties to the present during my divorce. I’ve sought help everywhere I could: church and a life coach because I was so unhappy in my marriage with my reclusive and unaffectionate husband. I pushed myself out of my “bad” spot and MADE myself get involved with my son’s school, my union, city projects…you name it, so I could feel like a part of something, to fit in and hopefully, to make some friends.

But I must miss doing certain things along the way. Maybe I don’t have the necessary social skills to make good friends because nobody calls me afterwards. I’m not invited anywhere. The holidays come and go and I feel lonelier with each passing.

I’m talented and funny. My cooking is to die for. I’m honest and loving and I work hard at my job. My house is beautiful and I have great animals. My son is wonderful. I should have everything to be grateful for but I’m so alone.

Ceil

ANSWER

Hi Ceil,

In our 50s, we have more time to reflect on our lives, both past and present, especially after a major life event like a divorce. Even if your husband was cold and distant, he was still a warm body in your home. It’s natural that you would feel a void after living with someone for so many years, and that you would be searching for new connections to fill the space, both physically and emotionally.

Although your life isn’t perfect, you realize you are fortunate in so many respects: You have a wonderful son, beautiful home, fulfilling job and a number of talents that make you feel proud of yourself.

Yes, making new friends always requires a push, one that you have made successfully in the past and one that you need to continue (and perhaps accelerate) now. It may be that your prior involvements (with school, your union and your city) aren’t the right ones for you now.

  • Is there some way you can join groups based on your passions (e.g. cooking, decorating)? Meetup.com, for example, offers groups based on almost any interest organized by zip code.
  • Is there a relationship with someone at work worth pursuing that might deepen into a friendship?
  • Is there someone else who is single or divorced that you might want to get together with for a movie or dinner on a regular basis?
  • Are you interested in developing friendships with men (perhaps, through an online dating service or something like Blendabout.com, which brings people together around shared meals)?

One caution: Since you are lonely, your impulse might be to cling to a new friend or even to your son. Try to temper that impulse and go slowly. Don’t come across as being too needy or desperate. Friendships need to be nurtured and it can take time to find the right person to befriend. It starts off with conversations, sharing a piece of yourself, etc.

Loneliness, which is often exacerbated during the period between Thanksgiving and the New Year, is a sign that you are ready to seek out new people and connections.

Wishing you the best and hope this is a little bit helpful.

Warm regards, Irene

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Category: Coping with loneliness

Comments (33)

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  1. Suzan says:

    Ceil you wrote that “Maybe I don’t have the necessary social skills to make good friends because nobody calls me afterwards. I’m not invited anywhere.” I think this is a good question and am wondering if you’re thinking about a particular skill that you might not have. Coming from a dysfunction family can make it harder to make friends. You probably didn’t get a whole lot of validation or got to know how others saw you and how you came across because the adults in your life didn’t give you that. This can make you feel insecure. We learn who we are by this feedback. If that was missing, then there is a way to still get that. Feedback like that can be invaluable but it also depends on the person who gives it. You don’t want to depend on one person’s opinion of you. Do you know someone who truly likes you who you can ask? Maybe someone you know that you see as someone with good social skills or a lot of friends. I got invaluable feedback from a counselor who likes me and am someone who didn’t get that when I grew up. You say you don’t get invited. Are other people getting together in the groups you know? Have they all been old buddies? This is harder to break into. I’m part of a group where most members have know each other for 20+ years.
    They’ve known me for about 3 years. I got one invite in all these 3 years. Friendships are also habits so if people have this habit for 20 years it takes some adjusting and effort on their part to let a new person in. Even though you might be the funnest person. Is there someone you really like, have the feeling it’s mutual and who seems approachable who you can invite for coffee, a walk, something low key?

  2. Carol says:

    Carol here, good morning everyone. I had a great day yesterday as I invited a woman with whom I worked at my last school site. We connected and knew we liked each other as we had connections on a daily basis. My last year in education was a hard one because the site principal was not really there for staff. Most felt as I did, we deserve more support and pats on the back. This woman worked directly for the principal. I did not want to complicate her life by sharing how I felt about her boss. However, we continued to support each other as mutual staff. She had told me she had known of my work in the district and respected me a great deal. So we slowly grew into a possible friendship.

    I invited her to my place for lunch and a hike yesterday, Memorial Day as she was off work. Oh my goodness did we connect. She is having big time trouble with her 25 year old daughter who doesn’t want to grow-up. And now that she has raised 5 kids, she just wants to enjoy her relationship with her husband and go camping together without the kids. I just listened to her and empathized with her situation. I told her I was relieved not have had children of my own even though I worked with them all my life, as it has to be the hardest job on the planet. We talked easily and took a hike in a wonderful tree filled park nearby. She shared with me so much about her history growing up in California and I mine in Indiana. It was just a wonderful day with a new growing friendship. This morning I received an email from her. In part, it said, “I can’t wait for our next time together.”

    We all need confirmation that we are worth knowing and worth caring about. At 75 and not knowing when health issues worsen or life gets overwhelming for me, my best friend will be there for me as I have no family. The two of them know each other as my best friend still works at the school. She said she understood my circumstances and asked if it would be o.k. to help my best friend if she needs extra help. I guess the thing I worry about most is a stroke. I am so independent and I can’t imagine not being able to take care of myself. I asked her if she understood how much I want to be in control of my life. She said, “I hear that and i don’t have a problem letting you be who you are; it’s why I would like to build a healthy friendship with you.

    So I thought I would share an uplifting story about building friendships. And!…who knows where it will go, but I will always remember this part that, right now, is so sweet and lovely.

    Thanks for listening, Carol

    • Friend says:

      How wonderful! Thank you for sharing. I find your energy and enthusiasm for life inspiring. I hope you’ll continue to share your friendship experiences on this blog.

      • Carol says:

        Thank you. Let me share that it’s been quite a journey and difficult work for me. I only now beginning to put everything together so I can see how fortunate I am to be alive and still able to journey on. I so often lost hope that I mattered to anyone. However, what I learned was most important was that I mattered to myself. In many ways, my anger which I always tried to hide, helped me the most. Once I learned how powerful it was and to use it appropriately in my life, I felt less vulnerable to everyone’s view of me or their attempts to make me be someone other than myself. It is why I keep saying, I am my own best friend and now I know I will always be there for myself,no matter what!

        I wish you the best in finding that power in you as well; if you already haven’t. Keep going….Carol

  3. Friend says:

    The posts of Carol, Anni, and Sienna made a lot of sense to me. (Thank you.) When I look back at the relationship I had for many years with a toxic friend, I wonder who I would be today if I had channeled all the resources I poured into the relationship into myself. The image of “the poor little girl” being taken advantage of her good will still haunts me. I could not even imagine treating an enemy the way my former friend treated me at times. When I finally decided to end the friendship, I felt as if I were a bird freed from its cage. It’s been a couple of years, and I still feel angry at myself for holding on to the friendship for so long. As Carol, Anni, and Sienna have suggested, if we spent more time and energy taking care of our inner selves, of being our own best friend, we would be stronger and would not be as needy. While it’s true we need human interaction and companionship, we can’t “force” someone to be our friend. And sometimes the friends we have do not meet our friendship needs the way we would like them to, as Carol mentioned. In the course of cultivating our own abilities or interests, we would hopefully meet people who would appreciate us for who we are.

    • Robin says:

      The entire point of this entry is to help a 50 year old woman who’s been in forced solitude for far too long.
      I am quite befuddled as to how telling someone who’s already spent decades cultivating herself due to a lack of friendships that she should spend even more time alone is supposed to help.

      But then, you’ve already established that you can’t decipher what she’s saying and understand where she’s at right now.
      Pffft..

  4. Carol says:

    I think I shared recently I have moved back to a little town I lived in over 30 years ago. The reason being it is in the hills covered with beautiful trees and many wonderful creatures around. The ocean is about 15 minutes away and I can visit when I want as I am retired. The neighborhood is made up of about 12 dwellings with people who have been here a long time and others are new, like me. I am a walker and try to get out a couple times a day to walk the area for exercise when I don’t want to drive. I actually know some who live here from all those years ago. So we have chatted and made contact. However, I am noticing how I feel about making the effort to renew old friendships or even make new ones with others here. To be honest, I just don’t have the interest or more importantly, the energy to engage in friendship building right now.It can be a stressful journey to even begin.

    I like the idea of being friendly, introducing myself and being interested in who the other person is, but my heart is just not in making the effort it takes to make “new” friends here. I have a best friend but we don’t interact daily. She is the person in my life who is there for me if I should need help or have a need to talk over a problem I am having. I am that person to her as well. She is a person who is online and has many “friends” on the various sites. I feel no need to access those venues for friendships. I guess I am more interested in learning more about being my own “best friend” now.

    I believe being 75 in a month, opens up a whole new way of living for me.
    And to my surprise I am enjoying finding out where it is I want my life to go now. One of the biggest surprises is my focusing in on learning about things I never quite got into previously. I was often judgmental about things when I was younger and my values were so framed by certain aspects of my family values, then I wouldn’t allow myself to be interested in learning about others or the events of the times. I wouldn’t give myself permission to peek behind the curtain of the unknowns. I remember back to being in school and now wonder what was going on in the world around me. Some families talked at the dinner table about the events of the day; my family did not. Therefore, it was much harder for me to believe anything existed except my little world in my little town.

    So now I want to spend time reading and viewing cultures I once judged, to see who those people were and the lives they lived. There is a site called Open Culture which is filled with information about the past. I am so enjoying learning new things about past history. It’s as if I want to retrieve a history of our world I would not give myself permission to know about. I think some worry about aging and what will they do with all their time. In particular to this blog. what will they do without a partner, a husband, a wife, children or a best friend to see them through. Remember a saying popularized by the Rolling Stones that we seldom get what we want, but often get what we need? I feel this saying strikes at the heart of our search for a way out of being lonely, having no friends, having one more bitter disagreement with someone we fear losing in our life. Maybe the answer lies in knowing these fears are our challenge to keep searching to know what we need to make a friend of oneself first, then go from there to find the kind of friend we truly desire.

    Thanks, Carol

    • Carol 2 :-) says:

      Hi,
      I think I’m exactly like you carol. Now I
      Really want to be your best friend. The
      things you share seems to me like you
      have stolen all my life event 🙂 specially
      about friendship and desires …

      Thanks Carol 2

  5. Anni says:

    There do seem to be difficulties and circumstances in one’s past and present that hinder the ability to make or find friends. People
    Also seem to want desperately what is so difficult to attain. How about forgetting about it? Reading Ceil’s reply made me think of this one. Perhaps some people are meant to expand upon their solitude …. Offering to the world by creative means a way to heal or a way to enjoy life alone. There are so many ways to express oneself through artistic measures and these can be very satisfying. Chatting with people is always possible out there in the world. …… Malls, supermarkets, coffee shops…… Just look at someone who is there alone and say something about a small topic( “the roads are a little icy today”) I have never had someone not reply. Many will carry on a conversation. This certainly helps with loneliness.

    • Robin says:

      Are you actually suggesting she go through life without human companionship or friends? That she should simlply disregard her loneliness and simply “forget about it”?!
      HEARTLESS, INVALIDATING!
      Talk about the absolute worst thing to say! That’s like FORCED sentence to solitary confinement!
      And she’s supposed to ease her feelings with small talk at the check-out line at the grocery store??? How about a recepie for pushing someone already desperate towards suicide!

      • Anni says:

        Absolutely not. Thinking about not having friends too much could make someone even unhappier. I will rephrase/reword. Start with small talk in various places you go. Try to find things you can do that will make you happy. If it’s been such a long time without friends, don’t focus on that fact so much. For now, focus on all that you do have in your life. Being happy is a priority! If a person had everything taken away from them, they could look up at a star in the sky or a pink and purple cloud and realize with happiness that God is with them.

      • Sienna says:

        Robin,

        I never read Anni’s post as heartless or invalidating at all. Quite the contrary. I understood her message as a suggestion for self-exploration, self-development and to perhaps do this through artistic expression.

        Journaling is one example of self-expression that therapists suggest their clients do. It’s healing, offers insight into the writer’s psyche, and can be very creative. Painting, gardening, and dancing are other forms of expression that can help people focus on nurturing their own souls instead of trying to find satisfaction through others. Sometimes, other people just cannot or will not meet our needs. We need to look inward to help ourselves find some peace, some way to fill our lives with tasks and hobbies that fulfill our souls.

        And as far as Anni’s comments go about reaching out to people in malls and at the grocery store, it makes enormous sense. Small encounters can change our entire outlook for the day. Just to have someone to talk too, reach a common ground with for a few minutes can be extremely uplifting! Research shows that humans need ten daily encounters such as these to help us feel validated. Don’t you find that going out in the community and talking to almost anyone makes you feel better? It happens to me every day. I don’t always have to have a best friend by my side to enjoy my life. We all could do better if we looked inwards more to find out how we can nurture ourselves instead of trying to get others to do it for us.

        I think your response to Anni was too harsh. Capitalized lettering is equivalent to yelling. There is no need for that here on a Friendship blog.

        • Robin says:

          How many decades is she supposed to pretend that frienships aren’t important? How many decades does she distract herself from social exclusion?
          It’s quite sad to rely on 10-15 second encounters with strangers because that’s all you have. That’s the only contact other people will tolerate from you. They’ll only deal with you if it’s impersonal, without commitment or depth.
          Anyone can live for decades on fast food, but it’s hardly nourishing.

          And she’s not talking about not having a best friend, she’s talking about not having any friends at all—there’s a huge difference.
          Brief interactions are no replacement for real relationships; but you all seem to expect her to do that, indefinitely.

          • anonymous says:

            I can relate to that I have no friend’s at the moment I have children and grandkids but no real friends I had a best friend but she isngone all holy I had tickets to a benifet dance , told her a month ago and at the last minute she told me she was going to a prayer thing that goes on for 5 hours because we are now 55 + we should be praying more I then realised I didn’t have any other friends to ask I am all for a few prayers and mass dont get me wrong im healthy and so is she im not ready to give up yet having some fun reason I’ve always hung with her is we both dont drink and both love to dance ..Ann

      • Jane says:

        I agree with Robin – suggesting that someone just “forget about it” is invalidating, to say the least! It is also incredibly ignorant of the pain and reality.

        I also think the comment “Perhaps some people are meant to expand upon their solitude …. Offering to the world by creative means a way to heal or a way to enjoy life alone” is disgustingly patronizing. You go ahead & find beauty in your own anguish if you want, Anni, but please don’t impose this kind of meaningless “help” on someone undeserving of such vacuous statements!

        As for the suggestion to chat with strangers – how oblivious of reality is Anni? Many people are wary of strangers striking up a conversation with them. Getting snubbed by strangers will only make a person feel worse. And even if a few strangers do offer a friendly response, depending on the kindness of strangers does not make-up for a satisfying life.

      • Marie says:

        I agree. Unless you have isolated by people just walking by and only acknowledge for what you can do for them? I know the feeling

      • Aimee Lauren says:

        Robin
        you are very compasonite!!
        when i read the one post of someonehaving to
        ..get out of a toxic friendship….i was ready to bail from the
        website but i decided to read more comments.
        having no friends is one of the worst feelings to deal with while dealing with an emotionally abusive alcoholic husband.
        now i will say i have no clue how to make friends
        seems if i try they run …and it is because i appear desperate and want to unload my drama. sad to not have no friends but but far worse no family…. has nothing to do with me my husband is not here for
        i am bipolar but stable on meds but he is plain evil
        i miss my old self before we married 20 yrs ago
        i used to be happy free spirit and opionated and assertive
        now i sit and do nothing all day. just at my lowest point and tryin to
        get my life in order so i can leave here and take care of myself.
        for ppl that have friends maybe they dont understand those of us craving human contact and companionship.
        it is the worst feeling in the world to have no one
        to even want anyone to know it is just plain humalating!!!!my husband
        told me he can treat me however he wants and he does!!
        well hank everyone who reads this
        not throwing myself a pity party…it was so hard for me to share this
        !!!

        • downer debbie says:

          Aimee Lauren,

          we are both finding ourselves in the same position for different reasons. I was single and carefree. having finally finished my masters degree and attaining a decent teaching position, I got the call 10 years and 2 weeks later.I left my things 2000 miles away and went to a southern state to take care of ailing relatives. i have been here for 3.5 years. In the time I have been here, almost every ‘friend’ I had bailed due to my feelings of desperation and needing to unload my drama. People got sick of hearing from me and the fact that my life was “one long emergency”.I went from being single and enjoying my time laughing and teaching, to managing the health and welfare of 4 relatives who are less than compliant and mentally ill. I often need to voice my loneliness, issues with aging, etc. and there is no one left. Everyone had flown the coop. The docs were giving me chill pills and almost killed me by forcing me to try psych meds.I got off them. then they gave me my xanax back, and now they will not prescribe anything and I have no one who cares, yet have an even shorter leash.And they wonder why people like me snap? or even why I drain people? why cant I be like others and have fun? I went from being happy and outgoing, opinionated, assertive and enjoyed life and now feel downtrodden,worn down and terminally sad and haggard. How do you ‘get a hobby’ with a bunch of mentally ill relatives in your charge? I am sick of being told to get help when there are no other relatives to help, and I have no hobbies- am I supposed to just ‘come up with something? I know those are great ideas, I am just drawing blanks on both. So, for those of you that dont understand, us “emotional drainers” dont intend to drain others even though it may come across as deliberate. we have unmet needs that no one is addressing. Is that a friends job? It takes a village, ive been told.
          This pushes us further and further from others into our vacuous holes. So the next time you meet someone needy, remember the tables could be turned someday.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I’m going through this blog and I see that Irene has carved out one heck of a NETWORK of people who help and support one another! This is not just a blog, it is a network! One reason I’m in pain about the bitter break-up between D. and myself is that she told me that the website she had set up for me would have a HUGE network (like this one Irene has!). Now that is not going to happen, as D. blocked my access to my site and told me that “you are not an advocate” and that “you have nothing to offer”! Those words still haunt me.

  7. Sanda says:

    Ceil:
    I second the comment from Amy, about taking new friendships slowly and giving them a chance to evolve naturally. As she said, the most successful friendships are those that are built over time, with a lot of shared experiences and trust. You can’t accomplish that overnight — though it can be hard to patient when you are in need of good company.

    It also helps to have a variety of good friends, so that you are not relying on just one “best friend” to fill all of your friendship needs.

    Growing up an only child, I learned how to make friends easily, since I had no siblings. I learned early on that I can’t rely on one person to be my best friend — and that I can enjoy different aspects of different people. Every year, I try to make a point of meeting new people, and sometimes they grow into stronger friendships. Then again, some of them don’t — but I’ve learned something new and interesting about other people in the process.

    When you express genuine interest in others — and let them know you enjoy their company — you’re on your way to growing new friendships. Good luck, and keep counting your blessings!

  8. carol says:

    Merry, You are working hard on your healing. And most importantly I feel you are zeroing in on how you want to approach friendships and any relationship for that matter. I think you are very intelligent to do this work of healing. There is so much inside us that we have to dig to understand. Then there’s all the forgiveness we have to give ourselves as well. You are worthy just as you are and deserve the kind of friend you want. I love reading the stories of so-called famous people who have lived a very long time. For me right now what is prevalent is a quote by Queen Elizabeth, “Grief is the price we pay for love.” Losing anyone is very difficult. However, losing yourself is breaks your heart. So hang on and find her. Carol

  9. Anonymous says:

    I am suffering the loss of a very close Internet friendship and I have been coping by looking up articles about lost friendships. I had, over a week ago, sent Irene a personal account of the bitter experience, and posted on it on the forum, and hope to get a personal reply of some kind. Like you and so many others here. I’m still hurting as I thought that D. was the first one who really “got” me and my concerns about maybe being on the Autism Spectrum. I have had trouble making and keeping friends all my life and when I had felt hurt by D., I would keep it to myself as she rarely admitted when she was wrong. But several weeks ago, D. had begun taking a real interest in a woman named M., who has major living arrangement issues. I had introduced M. to D. via Facebook and had shown nothing but love and support to M. via Facebook posts and comments as well as trying to spread the story about M.’s needs. However, to make a long story short, M. decided that I was not worthy of trust and built a very close friendship with D. D., who had been relating closely with me via Skype, had stayed off Skype one week and I felt hurt and neglected. I shared that with D. one night and she shamed me for not showing M. support that week. The following Friday night, D. showed up on Facebook Chat and I shared my feelings with her. She took it all the wrong way, accusing me of acting like a jealous, selfish child. When I tried to share more of why I felt left out, D. was not interested in my feelings. She told me to apologize to her. I did not as I did not see what I had done wrong. From that point on, the chat got hostile and I ended it. The following Saturday, I found that M. had blocked me and that D. had unfriended me, on Facebook. I also saw that D. had banned me from a secret Facebook group and locked me out of my website, which she had bought the custom domain for. I tried to patch things up with D. by sending a letter, all to no avail. She showed up on Skype over two weeks ago, and while the Skype chat began nicely enough, it got so ugly! D., an adult survivor of severe childhood abuse, took a polite comment I made, referencing her bio “parents” as she always did, by accusing me of “triggering” her. I kept assuring her that I was so sorry to retraumatize her and that it was totally unintentional on my part. D. ignored my apologies and explanations and filled my Skype page with bitter accusations that hit me as attacks on me as a human being. My Mom and husband hate D. because, earlier this year, she had called my local cops for a wellness check on a family member, who D. suspected was being abused because of a statement the family member made “in jest.” In our very last Skype chat, D. referred to that and accused me of “refusing to help myself,” and that I “had nothing to offer.” She also threatened to “wipe me out in cyberspace, as much as possible, so I can do no harm”! All this, from a person who had once praised me highly for my huge heart, my advocacy, my hard work and my integrity. Not only that, but she has also persuaded another close contact of hers to unfriended me on Facebook! I still keep my Skype open, hoping that D. and I can work it out. But she never shows up now, and I suspect that while I’m hurting, she may be hurting but not because of me but because of what she thought I said. D. has other friends, including long-term friends, and meets new people a lot. I do not have that and so her unilateral act of dumping me (which she denies that she’s done!) is devastating. I see that I’m far from alone here, but I would feel even better if I could get some personal replies. I sent Irene a note about this, but she’s so popular and in-demand that I know that I may not get a personal reply.

    • Sienna says:

      Sorry, but D. doesn’t sound like much of a friend at all. Many descriptive words come to mind, but friend, is not one of them.

      You say she is a close internet friend. Does this mean you don’t know her in person?

      I’m so sorry you have suffered so much from the hands of someone, who doesn’t seem to understand you at all or cares how you feel. I wish I could help you but just remember that you are not in the wrong here. People often misinterpret others’ motives and I think that on the internet there is much more room for this type of error.

      I’m sure you’ll here from Irene. Forget about D. and try to think about yourself; be kind to the caring and loving person you are. 🙂

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you, Sienna. D. and I knew each other through Facebook, Skype, and phone conversations. She also closely followed my BlogSpot. We have had video chats also. Because of unhealthy family dynamics and because I don’t drive, friendships are a challenge. My hubby has many good qualities but he’s done stuff that has affected my ability to contribute to my community and to volunteer in virtually any capacity. I can’t share any more beside that. I am still awaiting the complete results of my Autism Spectrum assessment. I have two blogs, one much more established, and I hope that I can bless and help others the way Irene is doing with hers.

  10. Amy says:

    This piece of advice from Irene is spot on: One caution: Since you are lonely, your impulse might be to cling to a new friend or even to your son. Try to temper that impulse and go slowly. Don’t come across as being too needy or desperate. Friendships need to be nurtured and it can take time to find the right person to befriend. It starts off with conversations, sharing a piece of yourself, etc. –

    All of the horrible choosing-the-wrong-friend decisions I’ve made have come from loneliness and compromising who I’d normally choose to spend time with out of feeling alone. My successful friendships started slowly, as acquaintances, and developed over months and years. I’ve learned to open my heart incrementally, and to reveal myself at that same slow pace. This helps me screen out potential troublesome people and make smart decisions.

    You’ve done a great job putting yourself outside your comfort zone joining groups. Keep doing that. Ask people if they want to go for coffee after a meeting and keep your expectations at having a nice time, rather than potential friendships. If you and the other person click, you can say something generic like, “We should do this again.” and see how she responds.

    People our age are busy, often sandwiched between kids and aging parents, so making new friends might not be top on their priorities right now, but lots of people have time for a cup of coffee which can turn into more. The holidays are particularly busy for people, often with activities that are more obligations than fun, so don’t assume people don’t want to be your friend if they’re unavailable. If this is a persistent pattern, and you really believe there’s something about your actions/behavior/demeanor that is interfering with making and keeping friends, counseling can be a wonderful resource to help identify and change patterns you may not even be aware of.

    Good luck.

  11. carol says:

    Hi Ceil, I hear how much you are hurting. For me at 75 I only remember being 50. The 25 years in between those two ages were filled with so much learning about other human beings I was surrounded by. When I think of the ones who I would have called “real” friends, they were few and far between. As I think back to my childhood, I had the same pattern and I always worried I not liked or cared about. Because I now understand more about the little girl I was, I understand how “abandoned” I was. So between 50 and 75 I was learning how I am and how I got to be me. Whatever caused others to want to be my friend was also based on who they were. Gaining friends and losing friends is such a big part of our lives. Now, the friend I want to know and care for is me. What I understand at 75 is life is filled with ambivalence, anxiety and ambiguity. So we spend our younger years trying to “fix” ourselves or others. I like Mary Oliver’s (wonderful and wise poet) suggestion, in part: “When its over, I want to say, all my life I was a bride married to amazement. I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms….I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” So now I have a mixture of feelings about friendships. I have found some new ones as I hike trials and see a fox near a tree ahead of me. And the best times for me now are when I am alone and can feel how far I have come in accepting who I am right now today. If I wait for a “friend” to be there for me, it may not happen or not the way I truly want and need. It sometimes seems impossible that 25 years have passed. However, when I look back and see who I was in those years, I want to be there for her all the times she was lonely and felt she could not comfort herself and waited for someone else to come to take care of her loneliness. We are all different, thank goodness! What I now know about myself is I love my alone time and the silence doesn’t scare me anymore because my brain is clear to hear my soul’s messages. I do have a best friend today, but she is such a surprise because we are so different. I am single, she is married and has been for over 38 years. I could not stand living her life and she says she couldn’t live mine. It’s all good because we learn from each other. I know this friend will be there when I am done with living. I am a cancer survivor and for that reason and others, I don’t have the “sureness” I used to have about living forever. Maybe it will help you to take yourself for a hike and figure out what kind of friend you need and want in your life. It took me close to 70 years to figure it out…it’s me. Good luck on your journey.

    Carol

    • Sienna says:

      Wow, Carol, that was beautiful! Thanks so much for writing this narrative. Very poetic! Your voice is unique here, as you’re one of the few, who expresses satisfaction in being alone. If only we could all step back a bit, like you, and appreciate ourselves a bit more, we would all benefit. 🙂

      • carol says:

        Sienna, Thank you for your support. Sometimes getting to know Carol is very challenging and lots of people who know me would share the same comment. When I stopped taking care of everyone else, then I had a lot for time to take care of Carol. The little girl who lives in my heart…jumped for joy and immediately wanted to go to the ocean which is only 15 minutes from my home. I am originally from Indiana and dreamed of living near the ocean one day. Through many changes in my life, I finally arrived.

        Take care, Carol

    • Tammy says:

      I can see why anyone would want to be your friend. You sound wonderful! Tammy

  12. Merry says:

    Ceil:
    I’m 55 and could have written the same post. The 7th of a family of 8 kids, my childhood years were wrought with drug abusing siblings, sexual abuse, neglect, dysfunction, and a touch of maternal narcissism. I struggled to make sense of my surroundings and made a pact that I would never have a house of horror for my own children. Married after becoming pregnant at 19, my life became a repair shop of the things that went wrong in my childhood. But I had developed a stand off approach to friendship that remains to this day. As I explained to my therapist, I’m engaging and polite, but rarely does anyone get past my wall of insecurities. And if you try, I pull back and disengage. And at my age, it’s a sad dichotomy of wishing for close friendships with other women and knowing with my ironclad exterior, I would always feel like the only saw the sad, neglected, unkept, pathetic little girl who spend so much of her childhood hiding…..so, I enjoy my solitude to the best of my ability, plan on doing volunteer work when job demands subside, write, learn, try to heal the hurt–still, and hope, one day, I’ll feel worth of a close friend.

    • Carol says:

      Hi Ceil, Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. While you are waiting to find that “best friend,” be the best friend to yourself that you would be to another. If I meet someone and feel it might be worth my time to get to know them better, I don’t wait for a call from them. I most likely would call them if I had gotten their number or email, the I would simply ask if they are interested in talking about being friends. Nothing to loose as long as you know who you are and don’t make yourself unworthy in any way. As I have said before on this blog, it’s no small thing to survive. Good days, bad day, but so far one more day to wake up to and spend it as I please. You have to be daring to go for what you want in your life.

      I wish you the courage to keep going. Carol

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