Following my last post on finding a new herd, I thought I’d look back on one of the biggest changes I’ve experienced in my transition into retirement – relationship connections. Even 3 years into retirement this continues to be a personal challenge.
While I was working, I interacted with a lot of people every day. For an introvert, that could sometimes be draining. Yet, those daily interactions, even if just the casual conversations about what is happening in your life – from an update on my kitchen re-do to vacation plans to a family/personal challenge – all provided me with moments that validated me, grounded me, made me feel like I was not alone.
Daily work interactions provided people who listened to my issues and stories. I might get some advice, some commiseration, some empathy, or just an acknowledgement that I was a real person dealing with real life. And I provided it to others. Work was my tribe, my herd, my village!
I miss those daily connections, those grounding and validating moments. When I stopped working, they completely disappeared. I went from lots of connections/ relationships to almost none. Being a workaholic, I didn’t have many non-work-related friends. I had to consciously work to create moments of connection, to establish (re-establish) and build relationships.
So how is my relationship development going three years into retirement? Alas, it is only so-so.
Of course, there is hubby, my best friend. In retirement, we are spending more time together. We are still working though the time together/time apart dynamic. And yes, he validates me, but he’s often living the issues and stories and certainly doesn’t want to hear about them!
Creating more diverse moments of connection took conscious planning and action.
- There is my Quarterly Coffee-Chat plan. I put 2-4 people’s names on my calendar every quarter to set up a coffee date. I am hoping at some point I become the recipient of someone else’s coffee-chat plan as well, but for now, this creates a couple of connection moments a month.
- There are my Women-Who-Walk friends. From monthly to weekly, weather dependent, we walk and chat. Combining connection and physical activity – a two for one.
- I’ve created and continue a Mid-week Foodie Club (mostly retirees) that meets up monthly for a nice dinner and stimulating conversation. Yes, food is one of my interests, so this fits my life vision.
- There are our Dine-Out-Couples who I connect with quarterly to set up dinner double dates. I’m very happy that a couple of them are starting to call us to set things up, so I’m not always the planner!
- There is my blogging community – from those I read and comment, and those who read me and comment. A new set of virtual friends who provide inspiration and encouragement.
- I have my (Florida) yoga buddy and my Zumba pals. A couple of Meet-for-Wine & Whine girlfriends. My long-distance write/talk pal who’s known me for years.
Some attempts to create more relationships have not been successful. Joining a philanthropic group left me with a third-wheel feeling as everyone else joined up as existing friends. A local yoga studio is more a come, do it and leave; it was 4 months of regular attendance before one instructor even asked for my name. Classes (pottery, cooking, writing, life coaching) so far have not resulted in any longer term connections.
But I’m not giving up. I recently came across an apparently old phrase: ‘friends for a season, friends for a reason, friends for life’. I will continue to consciously create opportunities to create friends in all three areas. Some comments on my last blog about the herd have inspired me to try come new things.
I’m hoping at some point to “have a village” – not work dependent, but part of my life.
What have you done to create more connections/relationships in your retirement life?
Picture Credit: Tim Doyle, “Family Portrait”, Africa 2017