Recently I wrote about focusing on friendship to build stronger relationship connections in this next stage of life. With the loss of so many of my connections post-working, I’ve had to re-think what does friendship really mean.
When I retired, I lost a significant portion of people I considered to be friends. These friends were really convenience friends are based on shared proximity. In my case the shared proximity was work and our connection was work-based. Without work, there wasn’t really any shared, common element to connect us and over the past 2 years, those friends have slowly drifted away.
I then thought friends were all about the soul-enhancing relationships. The be-there-for-you-at-2AM people, the ones you talked with daily, the “sisters by choice”, the ones who made you a better version of yourself. It took me awhile to acknowledge that this is “THE best friend” – the true BFF. And my singular BFF is my husband.
Then I thought – what about just “good friends” – the ones you share affinity and affection. The ones you can be yourself with, who know you deeply – whether you connect weekly or monthly. These are the friends who show up to celebrate things – the kids’ graduations, the kids’ weddings, the big birthdays. The friends who support you – for the relative’s funerals, the hospital stays. And I had to realize that it’s OK if sometimes that support needs to be requested or is virtual. These friends tell you to “go for it”, whatever it may be – the beginners yoga class, the trip to Africa, or the writing of the book. They ask about the plans, listen to the details of the activity, encourage you when things get tough. When I think about friendship this way, I have many folks that fit this definition!
What about the “casual friends”? The folks you meet for lunch/dinner once a month, the people you network with for gig opportunities, go with to yoga or zumba, or who like/comment about your posts on FB. They help round out your life and shouldn’t be discounted as they are. And perhaps nurturing some of these relationships could result in more good friends.
So looking at friendship though this new lens I still realized… I need more friends in my life! I need more people to connect with and to create that support network so crucial in the retirement life stage.
My current reality is many of my good friends are still working. And have kids, spouses, and close extended families. So very often, getting something scheduled can take awhile. And on more than one occasion recently, I could find no good friend to do something with me that I wanted to do. I’m not a solo adventurer so the opportunity passed. (Perhaps solo-adventuring is a skill I need to develop?)
Another reality I’ve noticed is with 90% of my friends (both good ones and casual ones), I am the one initiating the connection. Very few reach out to connect with me. I’d love to have some reciprocating invitations! I’m not sure how to foster that; obviously role modeling the behavior hasn’t worked.
So as I move into 2017, as part of my new years resolutions, I’m focusing first on continuing to intentionally reach out to my good friends to connect – acknowledging and nurturing those relationships. And I’m exploring more regularly occurring circumstances (in areas of interest) to meet new people that could potentially become good friends – to tap into for different activities (so I don’t need to develop those solo adventure skills) and provide that support network in life.
And if anyone has suggestions on the challenge of invitation reciprocity, please share!
What does friendship mean to you as you move into retirement?
Picture Credit: Pixabay