• Few or No Friends

Friendship and Aging: Is Losing Interest In Friends An Aging Thing?

Published: August 30, 2021 | By | 55 Replies Continue Reading

There is no direct correlation between friendship and aging  At different times in our lives, friends may seem more or less important to us, irrespective of age.

QUESTION

Hi Irene,

I’m 67, married 46 years to my ‘best friend’ — we’ve always communicated well and have a lot of fun. We’re both retired; he is doing some research he never had time for when he worked. I do a little writing, reading, puttering around the garden, etc.

We have some casual friends we see occasionally, but neither of us is a joiner nor do we care much anymore about ‘getting out’ with other couples or entertaining. Until recently, I’ve always had at least one good friend (sometimes more) “outside the home” whom I could meet for coffee or lunch and a chat.

I sometimes think I would still like somebody like that in my life. However, over the last few years, I’ve gradually let all my close friendships go. I’ve just gotten tired of everybody. It feels like close friendships are more trouble than they’re worth.

One friend was someone who gradually seemed to be happy only when she could impart her superior knowledge; whenever I actually knew something about a subject, she lost interest. Another friend liked to tell me what to do and began to start arguments over the least thing.

Another friend has a chronic illness and whines and complains about everything all the time. I have tried for a long time to be a good friend to her, but finally, I just couldn’t stand listening to all of that.

I did have a good male friend (platonic; he was married also) who passed on a few years ago. I do miss him. Our friendship did not have the problems that female friendships so often (not always) seem to have.

Each of my women friends has — or had — good qualities, but ultimately, the positive didn’t outweigh the negative. Is my laziness in trying to make new (better, more compatible) friends an aging thing?

I’m pretty content with my life. I get out to run errands, etc., enjoy chatting with shopkeepers (we live in a small town), saying ‘Hi’ to neighbors, reading occasionally to my daughter-in-law’s mother (who is sight-impaired), and babysitting the grands one day/week. But that’s it.

It seems like something is missing. I would like to meet a good friend for coffee. But I no longer have a good friend and feel like I don’t have the energy or interest in trying to find one, only to have to deal with yet another overwrought female friendship.

Signed, Inertia 🙂

ANSWER

Hi Inertia,

You are very lucky to still consider your husband your best friend after all these years.

Yes, as we age, it seems that friends often go their separate ways for a variety of reasons, including health issues. But friendship and aging are not mutually exclusive. It’s never too late to make new friends.

You “let go” of some friendships after deciding that they were more trouble than they were worth. This seems reasonable and happens from time to time. Friends should enhance our lives, not detract from them.

You are fortunate, too, because it sounds like your life is full and you are enjoying yourself.

Yet, clearly, you have reached a stage where you feel like you are missing a girlfriend. Since you feel this desire, you have to start somewhere. Why not ask one of your casual friends to go for coffee or one of your neighbors that you like to go for a walk?

I don’t believe your reluctance stems from laziness. Rather, it sounds like you have given up on female friendships, deciding that nothing will come of any efforts you make. Instead, why not give yourself and one of these casual friends a chance? I suspect that you are also wiser at choosing friends than you were in the past.

You may be surprised at the outcome of your efforts. One or more of these relationships with acquaintances might deepen. And worse comes to worst, you can keep these acquaintances at the same superficial level.

Hope this helps.

Best, Irene

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Category: HAVING NO FRIENDS, Making friends at 60

Comments (55)

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  1. Madeline says:

    This question echoes my feelings lately. Although I am much younger than the writer/questioner, in my early 50s, I find trying to make new friendships with other women annoying. First, they ask all kinds of personal questions and want to know everything about me from the get-go. Questions, questions, and more questions! They tell me about their great (supposedly….I wonder, since they have a need to bring it up….) sex lives when I’m not interested in their sex lives with their new boyfriend or third husband and haven’t asked. They expect me to do favors for them too frequently. It’s “all or nothing” and they want to become close really fast, and it it’s not “all” for me, they stop returning my calls (and, frankly, I’m relieved when they do stop). I recently passed off a woman because I had dinner with her on one night, and the next night she invited me to dinner and a movie with another friend of hers and I turned her down, and she felt rejected. All this is too much drama for me. I’ve also been in situations where I’ve made a friend and things are going along fine, and then they introduce me to another female friend of theirs, and then the friendship with me goes south after that – and I am SURE it has something to do with the other friend of theirs being jealous and bad-mouthing me after they meet me because they’re afraid I’ll take their friend away. So much insecurity and Drama – I don’t need it! I’m in a field where I have some celebrities as clients, and they want me to name names – and I don’t want to, because these well known people value and have a right to their anonymity; and, when I do that, I’m accused of not “sharing.” And, when I do share, if we have a disagreement, suddenly everything I’ve “shared” is out in the open and becomes attack points on me for these women. It’s not enough for us to just go our own ways – they have to punish other women for an indefinite period of time after the disagreement has occurred. The degree of emotional immaturity is epidemic. No wonder this woman is tired of the effort required to maintain relationships with other women! I am sick of female friendships, with the exception of the long time female friends I still have. I can understand why this woman misses her male friend who passed away. Women are too difficult and, I agree, not worth the trouble. I would rather be by myself with a good book, or with my best friend, my husband of over 20 years, and my two adorable dogs. I can do everything by myself that I can do with another female, and I enjoy it more and don’t need to keep up a stream of conversation where I’m being hunted for personal information that they can use against me later. Women are their own worst enemies.

  2. Dolly says:

    Nita, you sound just like me! As I read through what you wrote, I found myself nodding continually, saying ‘yes, absolutely, spot on’ all the way to the end! It really was as if you were describing many of my own experiences, particularly in your second paragraph. Not much more to add really, but isn’t it great to know there are others who feel the same way?

  3. Nita says:

    Thank you for your suggestion of listening to Susan Cain. A lot of what she said resonated with me to the point where I began to wonder if I was actually an introvert disguised as an extrovert? Sounds odd, I know, but as she was talking about herself, I saw myself. I grew up quietly and with my nose in books all the time. I spent a lot of time by myself and was very comfortable in my own skin, particularly when alone. I have, however, ALWAYS enjoyed having at least a single one on one relationship where I could tap into my social side. When I grew up and went out into the world, I met my husband and got married. The first thing I noticed with my marriage was the happiness I felt moving out of a house full of young women. The quiet in my own home was a balm to my heart. I liked my friends, I just couldn’t stand the complications that came with so many female relationships.

    Fast forward through the years and I have joined different clubs and organizations.I have been invited to,be part of different circles of women. I think my persona of friendliness upon visiting with people is read as that of an extrovert because I enjoy talking and laughing with a girlfriend. Interestingly, as much as I enjoyed this social stimulation, after a fashion I would have the desire to,go back to my nest and “plug in” meaning to rest and regroup. I am NOT a loner and would not do,well without anyone in my life. However, my need of other people is usually limited to a very few. Right now, my husband fills my need for companionship because we are very close and similar in our likes and dislikes. At the same time, my occasional desire for female conversation is well fed with one or two lunches a month.

    I guess what I am trying to say is that the Susan Cain talk about introverts really made me rethink how I even see myself. Our society does encourage the grouping of people and doesn’t honor silence and quiet, which makes me wonder if I have, on an unconscious level, been untrue to myself? Maybe this is why I feel so stressed sometimes when in a large group. I never feel stressed with a conversation with one other person unless that person turns out to be a controlling presence.

    I am going to,buy her book after watching her Ted talk. Is it possible that I have finally found permission to be ME at the late age of 66? ???? All I know is that I am very content with my life as it is right now. Even when it comes to friendships, I would say that less is, indeed, more! I love and enjoy friends…I just don’t need a whole gaggle of girls in my life. Rarely is there a pecking order or peacock syndrome with two…it would be too obvious!

    Thanks for the tip

    • Nita says:

      Oh, and let me add that every single group,activity or club I joined, I ultimately quit because I wasn’t comfortable dealing with the small talk that came from these gatherings. It got old in a hurry.

      By the way, I am writing on my iPad and for some unknown reason, commas are inserted at random unnecessary spots and not by me. I have no idea why this iPad functions like this, and my mistake was I didn’t take the time to read my post before submitting it. My apologies.
      Nita

  4. Dolly says:

    Good to see some new posts on this thread. Nita, you summed up so well what’s always bothered me about socializing in groups, even more so now that I’m older and wiser (ha!). Your comments about a ‘peacock syndrome’ and a ‘pecking order’ were spot on, and brought a smile to my face. Although I do sometimes feel the lack of a local pal I can ring up and be spontaneous with, I’m finally learning to be a good friend to myself, and it’s so liberating. I agree with the person here who wrote about it being more difficult to be ‘like us’ in these days of social media etc, where you feel somehow inferior if you haven’t got 500 ‘friends’.. I couldn’t agree more – it must be hard to be a youngster with more introvert tendencies in this day and age. Has anybody read “Quiet” by Susan Cain, by the way? (There’s also a talk on youtube). Fascinating stuff, and very encouraging!

  5. Jeff says:

    In the absence of the required unsubscribe functionality, I’m writing to be removed from this non-inclusive distribution.

    Thank you!

    • Irene says:

      Sorry for any inconvenience, Jeff, but any time you post a comment (like the one I’m responding to), you are given an email message with two links.

      1) See all comments on this post here:

      2) To manage your subscriptions or to block all notifications from this site, click the link below:

      If you follow the second link, you can remove yourself from any notifications. Hope this is helpful.

  6. Nita says:

    Dear Inertia,
    This is a very late reply to your first post and by now you have probably found that lady friend you wanted to meet and have a cup of coffee with.

    I am 66 and half way to 67. I have had many similar thoughts to you pertaining to life and friends.

    I have always had friends, but mine usually are one on one relationships. I have done the group type socializing and find I like it less and less every time I do. I believe that there is a lot of competition among women and a lot of posturing that I used to dub “the peacock syndrome”. It seems to me that along with every group of women comes a pecking order.

    All my life I have been very independent about who I call my friends. I’ve always enjoyed having one or two that I can have coffee, lunch, along with a nice chat.

    I have been married to my best friend for almost 43 years. We are both retired and ironically he and I just had a discussion about friendships tonight. We are very compatible and enjoy our life together very much. Occasionally, I will find myself wondering if something is wrong with me for not living like so many other women do in their frenzy of social activities. It all feels like a repeat of high school, right down to who it the most popular, and who is part of the in crowd!

    Aging has a lot to do with my change of heart, only in the way I have come to accept my nature on things. I am happiest at home. I am happiest with my husband. I DO love an occasional lunch with a friend, but find my tolerance of friends who take more than they give to be much less than any other time in my life. The rule for me is this. If I arrive at our meeting in a much better mood than I leave it, then I rethink the friendship.

    I agree with the person who said that we really do undervalue alone time. Alone time is usually when we are most at peace, when we are most creative, or when one has time to process life in general.

    My husband and I came to a southern city from a northern small town. I was like a gift to be able to come into the hustle and bustle of a large city, albeit on the fringe. We love our life here. But, nothing is perfect because our only grandchildren are in the north where we came from. We do have two children down here, and while we have a very close relationship with all of them, they are all busy living their lives.

    Not much to add. I just enjoyed reading your thoughts. If we lived in the same area, I would definitely want to meet you for lunch to just talk and philosophize! 🙂

    • Inertia says:

      Hi Nita — I had to pinch myself to make sure I hadn’t forgotten writing what you wrote — your thoughts and experience are so exactly like mine! I’m from the north also and now live in the south. You don’t happen to be near Raleigh, do you? (not that it is a very large town, but just a wild shot…) No, I have not found anyone to have coffee with and I seem content with that. Athough.., if we did live near I would want to meet you for a cuppa 🙂

    • Irene says:

      Hi Nita,

      Just to remind everyone here that no exchanges of personal information or email addresses is permitted on this site to discourage both spammers and people who might take advantage of others.

      If you do want to connect in real life, you will need to do so on sites specifically set up for that purpose. Also, I have set up a private group on Facebook (limited to women only) who can exchange information there: https://www.thefriendshipblog.com/something-new-check-out-friendship-blog-connection-facebook/

      Best, Irene

  7. abby says:

    well, the topic really makes it an interesting read and gives away some food for thought. what i find absurd about the friendships really is not them but us – the way we are. i believe we humans are born to ridicule and not stomach our findings. i am known to be a secret keeper and maybe owing to that i come across as some one who is dull and doesn’t gossip. well i wish i could but i can’t. after all how much you can talk about environment and headlines. when you sit with a friend, you get down to bitch, ridicule yourself and in relation to that others. you divulge their secrets and them in general which is not good. i know my friends who share secrets about their husbands with me also ridicule me at my back to the very same husbands. like was i pressing my friend to start a business in association with me; now lately her husband (whom she often bitches about to me) told me in utter confidentiality that she tells him very often how i am infuriating her by pestering and about many other such attributes of mine. how bizarre. this happens. you gossip with some one and then become fodder for their gossip when you turn your back and the friendships continue. we all own multi faces in front of each other. your father in whom you are confiding might be telling things to your mom about how much you have disappointed him simply by judging you on the basis of what being is shared with him.

    however, life can be fun if you take this in stride and as eternal truth like demise itself. i bitch/ridicule/gossip and therefore i am kinds truths. that’s the fact of human nature. you can be most entertaining person on earth, some body to whom the world throngs simply if you tell a about b and b about a and c about a and b and so on. add 10% of some genuine feeling about what so ever over a glass of a drink and then there is looking back. there are no true or permanent friendships for that matter. if you depend on one friend for too long, they themselves will see you as weak, will ridicule you in front of their close ones and will take you for granted. rest as i said, if you take every person as your friend and share gossip, fun and simply stay lighthearted about the concept of friendship then you can have utmost fun and maybe do some great stuff together whether it is about changing the world or trip to himalayas or even some thing sinister, whatever pleases you for that matter.

    the problem hence simply is how to be that light hearted and easy going.

    tell me if i am wrong.

    bests,

    abby.

    • malia says:

      abby…your response is on the money. truly. light hearted and easy going — my new mantra.

      why do friendships have to hold so much value in our lives yet seems we’ll be better off without? aaahh…

  8. Zena says:

    I just had another exhausting visit with a mean spirited gossip that one-ups everyone and everything. I used to chum with most of this crowd but they are not to be trusted. I try to psych myself before I meet up with her but it is the same each time. They are also church-going and it is odd that these types of women seem almost to be the worst when it comes to keep confidences. I wonder if that is why they are always at church because of their guilt? I work with 100+ women from all age demographics and after a day at the office having to socialize with more cliques, I truly value my solitude. Great posts everyone!

  9. Carla says:

    I’m fed up with many of my friends / family too, and this year has seen something of a “friend” cull.Several are very requiring and snobbish irrespective of their financial status, expecting everyone to do everything for them without lifting a finger to return the favour or provide some input of their own. Some have stated they have no interest in anyone else or what they bring to the table – they are only interested in themselves! (well I guess they are honest – then they complain when nobody wants to be friends with them, and if one or two people are, then they suddenly go about bragging how much they are “in demand”!!)
    I don’t have many female friends, but men can be just as potty and jealous. I prefer to keep away from all the random clouds of fury!

  10. Kiki says:

    Inertia,

    I don’t see anything wrong with the way you live. Are we so disconnected from ourselves that we don’t understand personal peace? It seems the more evolved someone is in the happiness zone of their life creates less of the need for outside distractions. What is wrong with that? Nothing. It sounds like you are content in being alone with your thoughts. I consider that the greatest way to enjoy life.

  11. Karoline says:

    I feel for the friend that is going through the slump of a failed relationship and you are at a place that she wishes she were in. I also have watched my friends one by one go into marriage and families and I try not to be the woe is me but it really is a difficult path to be the last single standing. I hope you do not write your friend off entirely because us singles still need to feel valued and a part of your lives. I have found some of my former single friends can be the biggest ‘smug-marrieds’ and seem to have entirely forgotten what it was like to be alone. Human nature never ceases to astound me. One friend in particular can be down-right scathing and says hurtful sarcastic comments about ‘not being able to find a man’. I wonder if he is not as happy in his marriage?

  12. Sparky says:

    Hi all, I thought this was really appropriate to post, it touched my heart and my eyes filled with tears. It kind of sounds like us.
    I guess it is important to never judge anyone for what we cannot see.
    Sparky

    WE DON’T HAVE LOTS & LOTS FRIENDS… JUST GOOD FRIENDS.

    A farmer had some puppies he needed to sell. He painted a sign advertising the 4 pups and set about nailing it to a post on the edge of his yard. As he was driving the last nail into the post, he felt a tug on his overalls.

    He looked down into the eyes of a little boy.

    “Mister,” he said, “I want to buy one of your puppies.”

    “Well,” said the farmer, as he rubbed the sweat off the back of his neck, “These puppies come from fine parents and cost a good deal of money.”

    The boy dropped his head for moment.Then reaching deep into his pocket, he pulled out a handful of change and held it up to the farmer.

    “I’ve got thirty-nine cents. Is that enough to take a look?”

    “Sure,” said the farmer. And with that he let out a whistle. “Here, Dolly!” he called.

    Out from the doghouse and down the ramp ran Dolly followed by four little balls of fur.

    The little boy pressed his face against the chain link fence. His eyes danced with delight. As the dogs made their way to the fence, the little boy noticed something else stirring inside the doghouse.

    Slowly another little ball appeared, this one noticeably smaller. Down the ramp it slid.Then in a somewhat awkward manner, the little pup began hobbling toward the others, doing its best to catch up…

    “I want that one,” the little boy said, pointing to the runt. The farmer knelt down at the boy’s side and said, “Son, you don’t want that puppy. He will never be able to run and play with you like these other dogs would.”

    With that, the little boy stepped back from the fence, reached down, and began rolling up one leg of his trousers. In doing so, he revealed a steel brace running down both sides of his leg attaching itself to a specially made shoe.

    Looking back up at the farmer, he said, “You see sir, I don’t run too well myself, and he will need someone who understands.”

    With tears in his eyes, the farmer reached down and picked up the little pup.

    Holding it carefully, he handed it to the little boy.

    “How much?” asked the little boy… “No charge,” answered the farmer, “There’s no charge for love.”

  13. Merry says:

    Hello ladies: I too come from the school of “if it’s not interesting, I’d rather be alone… “. . But I’ve always blamed it on my family of origin and it’s dysfunctional behavior that left me handling a lot of heavy issues as a little girl. And so that’s when I’m most comfortable: alone, puttzing around the house, thinking, reading, writing, gardening. Also married to my best friend for 34 years with four grown children, I find I’m also pulling away from what you could call toxic relationships with women. But that little voice in me keeps saying ” you’re not normal, you’re not healthy, something’s wrong with you…..” Yet, here I’m reading that it isn’t so unusually! And it makes me smile! I have friends and occassionally get together and do girl things: lunch, walks, shop. But I start feeling stressed when it goes on too often and just wanna be alone. I want to say thank you to you all as you unintentionally have made a 54 year woman feel a lot better about herself. Interesting enough, I too am drawn to older people who have so much wisdom and straight forwardness without the baggage of fitting in. Gotta love that! And I’m also looking into volunteering as I find I’m most comfortable when I’m helping people without strings attached. I just had a month of company (family) off and on and this week is my first time I’m alone in the house and my husband said I’m almost giddy! I was the premiere hostess but once the door shut for,the last time, I was dancing around the house. That pretty much describes an introvert, which may be what we all are, and it’s just reemerging as we get older and realize we don’t need people around us who drag us down….

    • Lauren says:

      HI Merry,
      You made such good points. I read that a study done by NBC s Today and SELF magazine revealed that 83% of women admitted to remaining in contact with a frememy OR toxic friend because the thought of breaking away from them was too stressful to deal with.
      Another study conducted by Brigham University, Utah of 300,000 women revealed that staying in toxic relationships with so called friends, is as harmful to the health as smoking and obesity. More proof that some people who are toxic friends, really drag others down.

    • Intovertchick says:

      You are just like me! I am jealous though because I am single and no children so enjoying this solitude can be a little much because I do crave intimacy. I am so thankful that more books, blogs and information is out there for us Introverts to validate that we are okay just the way we are. We had the Myers-Briggs at a seminar I went to and it really made me feel good to know that employers are also taking this into consideration for a healthier work environment. I have done a lot of research since and you can be alone yet not lonely. Enjoying our own company is a blessing. My widowed mother has never adjusted coming from a large family with multiple siblings she never learned to be by herself. She worries about me when I am older but I assure her that I probably will just get a dog since I sincerely do value my solitude. Great to have these blogs to share our feelings and experiences. I hope young people with these traits will learn their personality is just fine since it is even more difficult with the social networking that promotes popularity in groups and can make us types feel lesser – glad I grew up in the generation that I did being a boomer.

  14. Dolly says:

    Wow, what an interesting and thoughtful discussion! You all have something worthwhile to say, and sound like the kind of women I wish I could meet! I am in a similar position, living in a small provincial (boring) town, which is also very affluent (we are not): moved here when our son was small. I am by nature quite shy, a bit of an introvert, but I am not a recluse and do want to make friends. It took me a while to recognise that, for whatever reason, my face just didn’t ‘fit’ despite my best efforts to join in at mother & baby groups, nursery, school, etc. Eventually I made ‘friends’ but nearly all have fallen by the wayside as I have begun to mature and understand that sometimes it’s better to be on your own than hanging out with unsatisfying friendships and people who drain you (this wisdom I picked up from a 12 year-old friend of my son’s!). Like some of you, I have experienced the ‘complainer’, the ‘user’, the ‘know it all’, the ’emotional blackmailer’ and their cohorts. At the age of 55, I realised I’ve just had enough! I do have 3 or 4 very close friends from years past, but they all live at least 2 hours drive/train ride away, and we’re all busy and don’t see each other that often. I would like to have one or two friends who lived locally and I could see more regularly, but something about the way I am seems to only attract the various ‘users’ of this world. So for now, I’m happy at home (always plenty to do) with my husband & son, and meet with my good friends & family whenever we can. I guess I am friendly but not very ‘social’ & can’t see the value in pointless socialising; I’ve never been much of a joiner of things. Having said that, one thing which has recently made a difference; since I lost my job 3 years ago, I’ve begun volunteering with a local charity. I’m loving it, and when I go there I meet a very different type of person to those I’ve come across up to now. They are much more my sort of people, and I don’t feel quite so cut off from the human race as I did. Getting a dog has also helped! I’m meeting new people on my daily walks; only this time I hope I’ve learned from past mistakes and won’t enter too quickly into ‘instant’ friendships. I may be a little bit lonely at times, but I am a lot happier and calmer in myself since some of this wisdom began to finally filter through. Reading all your comments has really helped me, and now I don’t feel quite so abnormal as I did before. Thanks so much for your insights, and best wishes to all of you!

    • inertia says:

      Dolly, your description of yourself describes me to a tee! Your having found some compatible people at your volunteer activity gives me hope as I plan to do something similar in the Fall. I agree it’s comforting to read everyone’s posts — lots of people like us ‘out there’ I suspect…

      • Dolly says:

        Inertia, thanks for your reply. I’ve been re-reading your comments, and thinking a lot about what you and others have written. I do think that if you are a little solitary and enjoy pottering about at home (as I do), many people simple don’t get it, and see enjoying/needing one’s own space as being unfriendly, as if lack of interest in socialising ‘at all costs’ or ‘going out with the girls’ is being somehow superior, or uninterested in being sociable at all. This just isn’t the case! I would hate anyone to think I’m like that, but it’s hard to explain and most people don’t understand. I guess that means you would never be on the same wavelength anyway. But if you do find a kindred spirit, it’s brilliant, and when that happens I don’t think age matters too much. I’m discovering one of the nice things about getting older is that I’m learning not to worry so much about what others might think, and instead be true to myself and listen to my own instincts.
        Your comment about living in a small town where there are ‘slim pickings’ also struck a chord with me, and is definitely part of my problem! I grew up in a big city and never had trouble finding friends, and no-one cares what you do or don’t do. It’s a different story in a small town with a smaller pool of available people, and so if you don’t quite fit with the prevailing ethos, it’s more noticeable. But then, that’s just a case of unfortunate circumstances, I think. You may be in ‘The Land that Time Forgot’ – I think I’m surrounded by the Stepford Wives!! Joking apart, I do know exactly where you’re coming from with that one.
        I’m glad you’re thinking of doing a volunteer activity, as it has certainly helped in my case, even if the new acquaintances never go beyond the superficial stage. You are right that you do need to be interested in the activity in the first place, otherwise your heart won’t be in it. If it’s something that appeals to you, you’ll also be more likely to meet like-minded souls, or at least those who share a similar interest. I’m also learning to approach it in a more laid-back way, and enjoy it for what it is, and not expect to make ‘bosom buddies’, as I know I have done in the past. If it evolves into something more that’s fine, but if not, that’s fine too. Anyway, best of luck with that.
        It also sounds as if you have a very full and rewarding family life, which no doubt occupies a lot of your time. In that you are very fortunate. I heard a wonderful saying recently, I think it’s a Portuguese proverb, and it goes something like: There’s only room for a handful of close people in your life; the rest are merely ‘landscape’. It makes sense to me, but probably would read as nonsense to a Social Butterfly!
        There is so much more food for thought in this discussion, but I don’t want to waffle on. I am sorry about the loss of your friend. I know as I get older that it will happen at some stage, and I can’t begin to imagine how that will feel. My few close friends are each from different ‘phases’ of my life (junior school, college, flatmate, etc) and if one of them went from my life, I would no longer have that person to share certain things with. So I do sympathise with you about that. Take heart though. At the age of 68 my mum met a woman by chance, through a casual acquaintance, who became one of her dearest friends in her later years. So, you never know…
        Reading over this, it all sounds a bit incoherent, but I’ve been jotting down random thoughts as they occur to me. You are right, I think there are lots of us ‘out there’, and it is a comfort even though it doesn’t change our immediate situations. I’m re-reading this thread at regular intervals, and it’s been so helpful to me. We are not alone!

  15. Lauren says:

    Hi everyone, This is a great website. I have been thinking lately that maybe all of theories about beautiful friendships, all of TV shows about “wonderful friendships”, and so on, are really just a fantasy. I notice that in reality, few people have any of these “wonderful friendships”. Instead they have acquaintances, family members, cousins, aunts, Facebook “friends, workmates; and that’s about it.
    One really straightforward, down to earth workmate said to me recently that what with work obligations, overtime , spending time with her kids, her husband, her cousins, cleaning house etc., she has no time or energy left for friends like she did when she was in high school and college. She says, that’s life. Things change. It’s that simple.
    Just be happy to be in your life, enjoy good health, and chat to people at work, in stores, in different places, volunteer if you really want to do so. Don’t get too hung up on the “myth of beautiful, everlasting friendships”. Mostly, I see that it’s just that …a myth, especially a media created myth. So don’t get caught in that trap, of chasing rainbows, or trying to catch a moonbeam. Just live you life and enjoy nature, enjoy good health, enjoy reading etc. etc.
    At work, I hear some people talk about the awful things that their friends do to them… arranging to meet at a downtown restaurant and then not even showing up, and their cell phone is shut off; flaking out at the last minute; when the friend is sick with cancer, haughtily telling her that THEY never get sick, as THEY always think positively!! I’ve heard some horror stories of what friends do to each other. So sad.
    So don’t get caught up in the myth of what you “should” be; instead just do your own thing and be happy to chat casually to workmates, to store clerks , to do volunteer work, if you want. Don’t be to hard on yourself. There is an old saying that it’s better to be alone than to be in bad company.
    Also, maybe it is that a number of people are really introverts who should just honestly enjoy their own company, and stop falling prey to all of the media hype that “friends are so important”. Maybe not in all cases. Sometimes it’s better to be your own best friend.

    • inertia says:

      All good advice, Lauren. Yes, I’ve experienced the kinds of “friendships” you describe and when I worked and had a very active lifestyle, I was not only content with “alone” time (when I could get it), but I craved it. Now that I am retired, it’s a different story. The only person I see 24/7 is my husband. We have a great relationship and we each have things we do so we are not together all the time. But I would like a friend or two just to ‘get out of the house’ and have coffee and a chat. Where we lived before we moved to this little town, I had three good friends like that. So far, haven’t found anybody like that in the town where we’ve retired.But I haven’t given up yet. Extraordinary, wonderful friendships do exist: I have had two friends like that, one a woman, one a man; both have died, something that too often happens in my age group.

      • Irene says:

        Hi Inertia,

        Thought you might related to this prior post I wrote about the need for “spontaneous friends.”

        Best, Irene

        • inertia says:

          Thanks for bringing this thread to my attention, Irene. That is an interesting concept: ‘spontaneous friends.’ I read the thread and will think about posting there as some aspects of what commentators are discussing there apply to my situation Thanks again, for all that you do!

    • Anne B says:

      “All these wonderful friendships are just a fantasy…” Most insightful comment I have read on this site!

      For years I thought there was something wrong with me because I didn’t have those idealized sit-com friendships. I bought into the media myth that not only must women have Carrie Bradshaw’s perfect figure, but we must also have equally perfect girlfriends that get together for cosmopolitans every-other night. Those relationships are as contrived as the Photoshopped models in magazines!

      What a revelation! I don’t even like cosmopolitans…

  16. Janice says:

    So glad to know that not all women love the company of women. I’m very much and always have been more comfortable in the company of a generously spirited man who likes women.

    I’m more attracted to their conversation and decision making process, etc. I always thought this was because I worked in businesses with mostly men and just got used to it, but maybe it’s more that I preferred it to begin with.

    As far as aging and friendship is concerned, I think there are real challenges as one gets older to making new friends. The available pool is smaller, you’re more set in your ways as are your contemporaries, and people do get “old” in their thinking. Not all, but a lot. That can happen at a very young age, too.

    I had an elderly neighbor who was in her high 80’s who had every disease known to man, but nothing that left her debilitated in any permanent way. She became and still is (although she has passed away) my role model for aging well. Every day she got dressed. She was up for anything, and liked nothing better than a good argument and going out. Miss her to pieces. She knew what was going on, read, had opinions that were informed. I think what helped her a LOT was that she never lost her hearing.

    And here she was right across the street from me. I would have dismissed her as just a cute old lady if she hadn’t been so friendly and to my credit, I am very open to seeing the interesting and fun in people.

    It also sounds like “inertia” you are an introvert who would have problems with what you perceive as “difficult” people. I am the same. The social aspect of friendship has never been enough to keep me in the company of someone whom I find annoying or overly difficult. that’s okay, it’s just how we roll. Other friends of mine would rather not be alone and will put up with all kinds of negativity, etc. Not me. And I’m single (for many years) so it’s not like I have built-in company at home.

    At any rate, I do think one’s true purpose in life is to have fun; you just have to find the people with whom that might be possible for you and have a go at it.

    Thanks for an honest post and discussion on the subject.

    • inertia says:

      Janice, Thanks for your interesting post. Some food for thought — new ideas I hadn’t considered. First, about friendships with men: I find that men friends are very supportive of my endeavors whereas women friends (the ones my age at least) too often bring an element of competitiveness into the relationship. Men who have women for friends value the perspective women bring to their lives and that is a positive influence from the get go that friendships with women don’t afford.

      Your saying that the social aspect of friendship has never been enough to keep you in the company of someone you find annoying or difficult. You have put succinctly what I’ve felt all my life: the social aspect of friendship has never been enough for me, period! It does seem to be enough for most women I know. I always have to have something more. An intellectual compatibility…common values…something intangible I really can’t put into words, but I know it when I see it. I also know it’s rare enough that finding it is not always easy.

      Your elderly friend puts me in mind of my elderly friend. We met when I was in my 40s and she was approaching 80. She was a wonderful, interesting (and interested), bright individual who lived to be 102. She lived in a retirement home and I would meet here there for lunch after which we’d go to the movies. She was a particular fan of Woody Allen and so am I 🙂 She was lots of fun — a great role model for ageing gracefully.

      To your saying that one’s purpose in life is to have fun, I’m not yet sure what I think. I would like to have a high purpose, but mostly I’m just trying to get through it to the best of my ability.

      • Janice says:

        Fun can have a high purpose but it doesn’t have to. It could be just a string of behaviors one practices that in the aggregate gives them a rich and satisfying (fun) life.

        Like you putting a high bar on friendships. As if, if it’s going to be worth the time and trouble, it better be fun for you as you define fun.

        So having fun is so important to you that you’ve become extremely discerning about your friendships, for instance. See, it IS all about fun, we just don’t call it that, but I do.

        Hope this makes sense. But do keep those guy friends in mind.

        • inertia says:

          Absolutely makes sense when you put it like that! I’m still hopeful of some new friendships in my future although the town where we’ve retired (by choice, wanted to be near the family) has turned out to be probably the most boring place I’ve ever lived with the ‘slimmest pickins’ I’ve ever seen. It’s a friendly southern town, but feels like a throwback to the 1950s. I call it ‘The Land That Time Forgot.’ Makes it sound like I’m a snob, but no: just a straight-talking, Midwesterner. Hard for me to relate to people here who are very mannerly and somewhat surfacey. I’ve found it harder than usual to meet compatible people, men or women.

          • Janice says:

            Although I have not lived in any other area of the country save the one in which I was born (NE), I’ve heard from other people who’ve transplanted (my daughter among them) that the “culture” of another area can be very difficult to break into. Being from NY is a very specific culture, and when my daughter, who’s lived all over the country, finally settled in Colorado, found that she didn’t “get” people and they didn’t “get” her. I noticed that when she came home for visits, relatives she originally didn’t like, she was laughing and relating to, saying things like, “oh, it feels so good that someone gets me.” Really? You used to hate her! I laughed, but understood what she meant. Funny how things (and people) change when one’s circumstances change.

            It took my daughter, who’s young (compared to us) and working and married and has a new house and was otherwise in a really good place in her life, a long time to change that for herself, but she did.

            She started doing direct sales P/T and although she was already working at a good job, she was determined to have some success at it, so she really applied herself and through that, met a bunch of people and lo and behold, there were some people she could relate with. And her job functions have changed at her full-time work so that she’s doing more outside marketing so now she’s also becoming invested in the community. All this from someone who would call home crying that she had no friends not that long ago.

            I mention this only to give you some hope that with time you’ll figure out what to do to make things better for yourself. It may require a little bending on your part and/or finding a whole other group of people somewhere, somehow.

            Note to self: don’t move. LOL…

    • Jeff says:

      Thanks, Janice! While I relate to many of the comments here, I notice an overwhelming number of women. I’m a man and I’ve always been more comfortable having female friends. I’m hetero and not into sports, hunting or fast cars (anymore), so don’t fit the ‘man’s man’ profile. I’ve found it difficult to bond with men and have had more female friends at all phases of my life, so your comment rings true to me. I have lost friendships because I get along better with the wife than the husband.

      I was married for 25 years and am now in a committed relationship with a wonderful woman that I truly expect to last the rest of our days.

      What I’ve found in my near-retirement days is that many women have had enough bad experiences with men that they are very difficult to engage in casual conversation. I believe that at least on some level, people have become more transparent online and less in person. There is safety in hiding behind your keyboard.

      Any thoughts on overcoming the stereotype?

      Jeff

      • Janice says:

        Hi, Jeff – So nice to hear from the opposite sex!! I know, being attracted to the opposite sex for friendship is a whole can of danger. I, too, have lost friendships because of it, and fail to understand why I understand the need for female bonding and accept it, why females, the ultimate bonders, don’t understand that my bonding needs just don’t always involve other women. I guess it’s just a taboo that’s hard to break.

        I think there are a log of men like you, but not all are “out.” As an older woman, I’ve had friendships with men my age who, while enjoying the friendship, were never really sure or comfortable that it wasn’t sexual in nature, because that’s how they were raised to think. I think younger people have that figured out better.

        Additionally, I think today people are more polarized and therefore more closed off emotionally and culturally than they used to be. The internet has given people a way to express themselves to others that makes them feel connected, when in fact, real person to person connections outside the family or community are becoming more difficult. At least this is my experience.

        What I find is people seem to want more superficial relationships generally. Whether that’s a function of society or just that most people at my age have formed their bonds and just aren’t interested in forming new ones. This I find a little impractical as at our age, friends die off, and the more friends you have, the less lonely life will be. I hear loneliness and depression are very prevalent in seniors and I can understand why. So why not be more friendly? But maybe that’s just me and I have to accept being superficial. Hate that.

      • Janice says:

        Jeff – I did forget to add that I don’t know how one breaks the stereotype you mentioned. It’s tough. I’m not sure women have had bad experiences with men and are leery because of that, or are just leery in general. I suspect it’s the latter.

        As a friendly person myself and one who seems to attract people fairly easily, I find that my better relationships were ones forged at work or in work-like atmospheres, where you were with people day to day, got to know and trust them. I’m not sure it’s so easy, although I hear it happens, to just bump into someone at a Starbucks and become fast friends.

        And besides, how do you get people to be more into you than their cellphones except at work or in some activity like that? I’m being facetious, but only a litle. Geez, what IS it with people and their cellphones? I’m a bit of a geek myself, love technology, have the toys, but when I’m out, the phone is off. Who cares who is calling me? It’s what’s going on in front of me that I’m interested in.

  17. kelly says:

    hi inertia-
    i feel like you tore a page ( a book ) out of my life–now i finally feel normal since reading your post–i have one sister ( your age–i’m older )who insists i “need to get out with the girls”–I DON’T LIKE “THE GIRLS” anymore–i’d rather be home and be myself than putting on a happy face over lunch with them or even my sis–we have nothing in common. i lost my husband after 50 years and he became my best friend ( not the gossiper the girls are ) i really have no time for these people. i hope you have your husband for many more years to come – life does change a whole lot after death, however, that is not what changed me about “going out”–i/we stopped many years ago because of the reasons you say and then some–stick to your guns!!!!!!!!

    • Inertia says:

      kelly, I’m sorry for your loss of your husband. I know I may well face this someday, cannot imagine how it will be. I do enjoy my own company and like you and your husband, my husband and I are best friends, but would still sometimes love to have a compatible friend I could call on the spur of the moment or vice versa with a “Want to meet at xx for coffee?” I’ve always had a friend like that in my life, but in the last 5-6 years, no. Also, when I look back, many of those “friends” were takers, or hostile in some way and to keep the ‘friendship’ I found myself appeasing them or giving so much I’d come home drained rather than energized. It’s taken me a lifetime to realize I’d rather be home with myself than put up with any more of that. Most people I meet seem satisfied just being with people working on projects or being in clubs. Me? That’s worse than nothing — I just don’t enjoy that kind of activity with a lot of people. I just like to sit around with one compatible, trustworthy friend and chat for an hour or two every couple of weeks. It seems to clear the cobwebs out of my head and it is enough of ‘getting out’ for me. I never have enjoyed being with ‘the girls.’ And life is too short (I now am realizing more and more!) to waste on incompatible, unsupportive, to say nothing to toxic people.)

  18. Cizinka says:

    Hello Inertia,

    I understand your complaints perfectly, from your healthy and fulfilling relationship with your husband, to the often “overwrought” female friendships that drain you to the less stressful energy to be enjoyed in platonic male friendships, and I am only 32! In fact, I have been feeling this way for about 3 or 4 years.

    I married a few years ago and just had my first baby. I have a lovely husband, a non-stressful job, which provides me with an amusing universe outside the home, peaceful little routines that I enjoy doing with my husband or alone. I am very close to my parents, and I enjoy my husband’s family, whom I see less. I am looking forward to developing family routines with our new baby.

    But sometimes, I think, “why don’t i develop some friendships? why am i satisfied without this? why do i find most (women) friends competitive, boring, overwrought? Am I intolerant? Why am i satisfied just taking a walk with my husband in the park and then making dinner together? Why is the park my favorite place to be? Where’s our lively 30-something social life? Why do I think about missing my opportunity to do online yoga when I spend an afternoon ‘out of the house’, (as you so aptly put it). I must be messed up.” I have a couple close friends who live far away (and who sometimes irritate me – and I irritate them), some acquaintance-friends, who irritate me even more and some colleagues whom I enjoy immensely because our relationship seems easygoing and non-intrusive because it has clear boundaries.

    And I am not 67. So no, I don’t necessarily think it’s an aging thing, unless it might be a maturing thing. I wonder sometimes if I was always a closet introvert and I am now discovering myself. And I wonder if some of the normal disappointments I’ve gone through have made me wary of female friendships. I can imagine being really annoyed by the time I get to 67 if I am already like this.

    I also wonder if something is wrong with me. Should I remedy this?

    Upon reading your comment, I instinctively thought, “nothing’s wrong with her. why does she need to go have coffee with someone? enjoy what you have.”

    Or, alternatively, what about male friends? I routinely reflect on how I would enjoy having some platonic male friendships. There’s something less competitive, less demanding, and more fun about platonic male friendships – and yes platonic friendship between heterosexual men and women is more than possible, it’s very fulfilling.

    Take care.
    E

    • Inertia says:

      Cizinka: wow! A kindred spirit 🙂 Everything you say rings true for me. I had friends, growing up, but never really close friends (with whom you’d share anything very personal). My husband was actually the first person I felt close to like that. Once I met him (in college) I was completely satisfied and didn’t think there was anything wrong with me, not having or wanting other close friends. But then…four years after we married (3 years after we met), we moved far away from our families. I had a new baby and my husband was working long hours. We eventually moved three more times, had another child and always I would have to pick up and start over, making friends. I really needed friends during those years and always managed to find compatible, close friendships. That was the pattern of my life until we retired. Now, it feels like we are back in the first years when we were dating and first married, when I was satisfied with having just him as a friend. I have been wondering ‘what’s wrong with me’ because I don’t care if I have friends or not anymore. But I keep thinking I ‘should.’ I realize the only reason I really want close friends is insurance for the future…at my age, I think of what it would be like to someday maybe be a widow and I think, then, I will need friends again. But…I realize wherever I’ve been in whatever circumstances, if I have needed friends, they have been there. So…this is pretty amazing to me because I’ve just figured all this out now. Reading what you’ve written has helped me to do that — thanks so much! (p.s. I know I sound very self-centered and selfish, thinking only of what friendships mean to me and not what I can do for other people, but anyway, so bet it 😆 At my age, I feel I’ve earned doing what I want to for a change.)

      • Cizinka says:

        glad i could relate and you don’t feel insane. because i felt a bit less insane when i read your email.

        the situation isn’t due to your age but the challenges are different because of our ages. I say go for activity-based relationships and favor platonic male friendships.

        my mother is quite social and my father is not. and they have a “homebody” exclusivity to their relationship, just like we do with our husbands. your relationship as you described it sounds very much like theirs, and theirs is the relationship on which i have unconsciously modeled mine. (my husband’s parents are also homebodies.) my mother needs an outside social life so she participates in a Unitarian Church, which she very much enjoys and which keeps her very, very busy. she does fundraising for the symphony and pilates…so she gets out but her friends, except one woman, are ACTIVITY-based. my father is semi-retired and he gardens and reads. he doesn’t need people, outside of family, at all.

        when i started complaining about feeling drained, and pressured to go out when i didn’t want to, my dad said that after you marry or have a family, outside friendships become “activity-based, ie “this is my church friend, this is my watching-sports friend and never the twain shall meet…”

        so the purpose behind finding some kind of volunteer opportunity is not simply altruism… it provides you with colleagues and/or activity-based friendships, not “have-coffee-and-confide-in-each-other” friendships, which frankly, take up a lot of time and which you might not particularly need or want.

        male friendships seem particularly impervious to the “have-coffee-and-unburden-ourselves” thing. men seem to have naturally activity-based relationships. i’ve shared apartments with men, and there was considerably less handwringing and it was so much less competitive.

        it has also been my experience that friendships with men are much more honest and less sensitive. if they discuss a problem, then they really want your viewpoint on it. he’s not fishing for support – he wants to know what you think.

        my husband and i have one couple friend. my husband plays chess and pool with V’s husband. they eat pizza and talk about work, if they talk. there’s a lot of silent communing. V and i always end up frantically discussing our parents’ marriage, her parents’ divorce, chid rearing, all this personal stuff… and it’s just too much for me sometimes. i am not that 21 year old who wanted to analyze everything!

        one thing i wrestle with in my friendships is a general refusal to grow up, which i’m pretty sure that you don’t encounter. when i married at 28, a lot of my urban, liberal arts educated friends said “wow.” the vast majority are not in stable careers or relationships, and they persist in.

        for instance, i just told one friend that he really couldn’t come stay with us in may as he had asked. we had our baby at the end of march! my parents were with us for a month and he wanted to come right after because he’s seeing a girl who lives in our city! i explained that we had a very new baby in the house and we hadn’t been alone as a little family very long. he accepted it, but i know he’s humoring me and doesn’t really GET IT. which is infuriating — we’re all in our 30s!!

        just for once, i would like to get to know uncool people who happily make career and family comittments, like in the dreaded 1950s. the days of people sleeping on our living room floor are over!!!! i am hoping being parents will put us into contact with a new group of mature adults with whom we can have activity-based relationships.

        this interview on NPR pretty much describe my generation.
        lhttp://www.npr.org/2013/05/14/183648078/gerwig-baumbach-poke-at-post-college-pangs

        i hope this is coherent and not to rambling. take care.

      • cizinka says:

        One more thing. And I am about to type something really inflammatory and many people would disagree with me … I believe that people have obligations to their family (provided that these family relationships are healthy). But friendship is a pleasure, one of the greatest pleasures that you can have! Relating to people is very important. But the moment it stops being a pleasure, and starts to be a chore or an obligation then it’s no longer a true friendship. I think it’s very dangerous to confuse friendship and charity. Which is why confident people are generally sought after as friends, and people radiate toward them. A friend is not a social worker. People may really feel offended by saying that friendship is exclusively about pleasure, and not responsibility. But I think that reflects a kind of Puritan refusal to acknowledge the importance of PLEASURE in people’s lives, which already have a lot of stress and responsibility. it’s not selfish to be happy and it is disfunctional to be self-destructive and pursue situations and relationships which stress you out.

        • Inertia says:

          Your insights are amazing and very helpful. We are both experiencing a change in our life situation: You now with a new baby naturally want to focus on your family; and I, having moved to a new community, husband newly retired, and my best friend (the platonic male) just died. It all happened at once and I didn’t expect that. I thought we’d move and that my husband would go on working for a couple more years at least and that I’d continue the daily emails with my friend and be able to meet him, as always, every month or so for breakfast as we used to do. I pictured a really smooth transition as we relocated to this new town, which is more rural than I’m used to. My friend also had moved from a city to a rural area and he had a great sense of humor about it — it would’ve been so easy to be able to talk to him about all the differences this lifestyle brings. But anyway, that didn’t happen and it all kind of threw me for a loop. I know more people here on a casual basis who are really nice than I ever did where we lived before and that part is good. And although I watched my mother give more to her friends than it seemed she got in return and she taught me to do the same, I was never very good at it and didn’t feel it was ‘me’ but felt it *should* be ‘me.’ I used to castigate myself all the time for wanting *pleasureable* friendships without a lot of baggage. No more! I agree with you 100% about that. Having spent a lifetime adhering to schedules, I’m not too keen on getting involved with activities that require me to be a certain place at a certain time anymore. Wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always had an interesting, “available” friend who would like to meet for coffee occasionally, but don’t really know anyone like that here now. I did have a friend like that when we first moved here, but that friendship deteriorated rather quickly. We held opposite political views and although I never brought it up, she began bringing it up and needling me with it, criticizing my views. I put up with it for too long as she was the only person I knew who was “available.” I can see why that might be 😆 Who else would have her? Right now I would still like a nice friend who likes to get out occasionally for a spontaneous coffee. Perhaps I will find one yet… (p.s. I like hearing about your life as you are the age of my children — a little younger than they are, actually — and they might never tell me how they are feeling about their lives and you help me to understand their situations a lot better. The older one is married with a 6 year old and a 2 year old; the younger one is not married, yet, but would like to be.

          • Cizinka says:

            My mother has a saintly quality too sometimes. That’s why I named my daughter for her. So that my daughter will grow up to be kind, and not complicated and impatient, as I am sometimes. That said however, I do know that my mother has a “homebody” relationship with my father and her relationships outside the home never intervene in the home. My dad doesn’t participate in her unitarian activities etc. She and my father don’t go on vacations separately. Neither “fishing trips” nor “girls nights.” My husband and i are similar in this respect – as it seems are you and your husband. I look forward to weekends so we can do even boring stuff together all day long, 2 days in a row. I have no desire to hit the town with the girls or anything. Far as I am concerned I was single, and living abroad for a long time, more than half my 20s and i really got my share of that and i am enjoying the new phases life brings — the coupleness was lovely and now the family life, is nice, especially since the baby is a nice, calm one. I have a kind if dilemna because for some reason many of the people I meet are single women, and I just don’t really want to go out on Friday night without my husband, and I don’t feel much in common with these women. There! I said it! I have carved my place in the world… and i think about children, and my job opportunities and our activities as a family and I am hoping as my daughter ages that i will make connections with her classmates parents who will be similar to us. And then there is the other dilemna that some of my friends are going through a sort of 20s-30s early life crisis and don’t know what to do with themselves.

            Skyping with my college roommate the other day was awkward because she is newly single, for the 2nd time, worried about when she’ll meet someone to have children with as her 30s creep by, she has given notice for her difficult time consuming, low paid artisan job that she now finds to be a dead end and will probably have to move home for a while… I tried to insist on the women I know who have babies at 40, but as i mentioned before, friends can’t “help” — people have to help themselves – and she was clearly feeling way down and didn’t feel like comforted by me and there I was on skype holding this bouncing new baby and my husband got home and said hello and kissed the baby and I’m on maternity leave… And she seemed annoyed by my positivity about the baby, who doesn’t scream all night. (sorry! i won’t lie and say otherwise. my husband and i are happy and not chronically underslept.) I felt badly and I want her very much to have the stability that i have, though i don’t think she sought it the way I did. I want to relate happily to happy people because in friendships it’s awkward when one side feels so uneven. in absence of that, I guess I’ll just read and hang out with baby.

        • Anon says:

          Cizinka,
          Wow this post is so well put and made me think. In a very good way. Friendships should be about pleasure, I have come to agree with you after thinking a lot about female friendships. What I would like to add to this, that I have observed, is that at first I sought friends who had lots of problems because I could relate to them. Well that did not work because as you say, friends are not social workers. Then I thought that people who do not talk on and on about their problems would be more likely to be good friends. But someone on the other end of the continuum from “chronic complainer” is so closed off they cannot seem to let go and relax and laugh, so where is the fun? So it all comes down to pleasure at the end of the day which you have summarized so well here.

          If you are not having fun with the person, are they are friend?

          And I love that you cite the puritanical beliefs as a reason why we’ve lost sight of the need for pleasure. I agree.

          If someone wants to test this theory, try having a friendship with someone you don’t have fun with. The good times won’t be, there just wont be any, and in bad times this person won’t know how your spirits are lifted because it is in having fun together that we learn what will work on days the person needs a lift, reciprocally of course. What is your take on that?

          • Cizinka says:

            Hello Anon,

            Glad I didn’t cause offense. I think even the happiest people’s lives are complicated and I think that happy people naturally shy away from “complicated” people. It’s a protective mechanism. Even if you do think friends serve a helping role, for the sake of argument, the bottom line is, you can’t change people – this is what all the songs, poetry etc are about. People change themselves. So the role of a friend is to make people feel good about who they are at that moment, not to solve their problems, change them and improve them, and if you feel the person sorely needs that then you surely would not be the best friend for them. Did i stray from my point? oh well, throwin’ this out there…

  19. Zoe says:

    You sound like a very interesting and helpful person. I think you shouls seriously considering volunteering. After losing my job a few years ago, I started volunteering. I discovered many wonderful caring considerate people there.. but if you are not wanting the maintence of close friendships, the volunteering enviroment naturally lends a feeling of co-workers..

    • Inertia says:

      Zoe, thanks for your post. I feel like I’m interesting to myself, but not sure how helpful I am. I just feel like, at this point, I want to do what I really want to do (which doesn’t seem to be much!) We moved to this town 7 years ago to be near our kids (and grands)and for a time we ran a community service blog, gratis, just for something interesting to do, but I lost interest after 2 years and after 3 years, we finally closed it. I don’t seem to have much ambition for doing things unless I’m passionately interested to begin with, and then after a short time I lose interest. My husband says I am a ‘been there done that’ kind of person. When our younger son heard this, he said, “I take it as a personal compliment to myself that you had a second child.” 😆 Actually, I guess it would’ve been a compliment to his older brother! Thanks again, for your post. I really admire people who give of themselves and their time volunteering. My mother did that and I often wish I were like her, but alas, I’m rather solitary.

  20. Inertia says:

    Irene and Anon: Thank you both for your responses. Irene, you are right, that I have given up before I’ve begun this time around; but I do miss having a good friend and both of you have suggested ways that work, as I know from past experience. Anon, thanks for your good common-sense approach — there are positive people I’ve met casually. I just need to reach out. Although I’m not too keen on clubs, I did see some people I know at the library last week who were getting ready for a booksale. That is definitely something I would enjoy helping with. Thanks so much for your supportive input. I needed to hear it from somebody outside myself 🙂

  21. Anon says:

    Hi Inertia,

    It sounds like you want friendships that give you energy not sap your energy. I think with some effort you could meet other women who are compatible with you. I have started some new friendships recently and one is with someone much older than me. We talk about shared interests and go for coffee and walks etc… We both have health issues but we talk about things to do to take good care of our bodies, very different from complaining.

    It does take effort to make new friends at any age but it is worth it. I’ve worked on getting to know more people lately in order to make more friends and I have had to put up with “the know it all” and “the complainer” in the process. However I have also met people who are caring, supportive and funny. They are the ones I am going to pursue more coffee dates with. It is worth the effort to go out there and have some dates with different women and see how it goes.

    Also joining clubs really does work. But if you are joining them in part to make new friends you have to be more forward than I was used to. At least that is my experience. You have to be willing to ask people to go for coffee afterwards because most women do not make the first move even if they are happy to go for lunch with someone new.

    If I were in a small town, I would think about the people around who seem to have a positive attitude about life and approach them to go for a walk or coffee.

    Good luck!

    • Brenda says:

      I sometimes feel as if there is something wrong with me. I am a 62year old woman. I am married to a man I consider my best friend. I have three children, five grandchildren who I see quite regularly. My girls tell me it is not normal to have no friends. I don’t have them and don’t want them. I still work part time at a store. I talk to people there. I have a friend who lives about 4 hours away. She visits me here about twice a year. I seldom go there. She basically told me the other day that this friendship is a one way street. I do nothing to keep it going. She is right. I like her well enough but I have no interest in visiting her. She is more than welcome here and I always enjoy the visit. Lots of drama though. I really have not had a lot of friends since I was in my early twenties. And see no need for them. Its a lot of work and frankly, I am too lazy to put the effort in. My hubby works away quite a bit and I am used to my solitude. I have internet friends through a game I play. And actually went to visit one of them two years ago. I enjoy being alone. Is there a problem here?

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