Retirement & New Relationships

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

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20 thoughts on “Retirement & New Relationships

  1. I have to agree with Donna (I often do 🙂 ), it sounds like you are doing a wonderful job establishing your post-work tribe. I would like to do a few of the things you listed – coffee-chats and foodie clubs sound great – and hopefully I can light a fire under my retired rear end and actually do that 🙂 . Inertia is a powerful force.

    Try not to worry so much about always being the one to set things up… the world needs more initiators. If your friends continue to accept your invitations, you can be sure that they are grateful for your efforts. Next time you get together, you might suggest another member of that group takes the lead… then be ready to step in if they drop the ball.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. One of the reasons I blog (there are many) is to get the validation I miss from work. So thanks for making me feel better about this aspect of retirement!

      Keeping up the planning can get tedious, so I like your “an initiator” label. And they are grateful, which is why I keep doing it. Besides the fact I enjoy the activities myself!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, Pat, we’re taking this kindred spirits thing into woo woo territory. Are we kindred spirits or twins? Every post you’re writing is the perfect descriptor of what I’m dealing with/feeling at the exact same time as you.
    I don’t have any solutions yet, but so appreciate not feeling alone and reading your and other commenters’ thoughts about how to build these new connections.

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    1. One of the reasons I blog is to not feel alone on the journey! As I mentioned, few of my IRL friends are retired, so often they just cannot relate to what I’m going through. I love that you think we’re kindred spirits! I look forward to sharing more commonalities with you as we both walk this journey forward!

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  3. Since I still work part time as a university lecturer, I have colleagues and students with whom to interact. I found, this summer in particular, I spent a lot of time alone, except for interacting with my online blogging buddies. If I didn’t teach I would definitely have to resort to some of your excellent relationship building tactics! I enjoyed this Pat and it’s a bit of a wake-up call for me!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I agree with Donna – it sounds like you have cultivated a nice little tribe. All of your ideas have been good ones and even though the classes you took didn’t result in any meaningful relationship, I’m pretty sure the skills acquired were worth the effort.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joanne, I really enjoyed the classes, since I took them in areas of interest. Connections would have been a bonus. It’s always interesting to hear other POV… like you commenting I have a nice little tribe forming. Maybe I need to switch-up my thinking about the status of tribe formation!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. You have done a lot to cultivate relationships in retirement. I really haven’t done anything like that. I guess I have not felt the need to do so. I have a group of guys with whom I play golf and we see each other every week from mid-March to early November and then we meet for breakfast once a month in the off months. We also have a group of four couples who meet monthly for dinner, either at a restaurant or in each other’s homes. I also sing in a choir (St. Michael), so I get to see and interact with those people once a week at practice and then at Mass from September through May. These relationships all existed for years before I retired though, so I have not really formed any new long-term relationships since retirement. I have joined a wine-tasting group that consists mostly of industry professionals, but they are primarily very young and probably would not be good candidates for personal friendship given the age difference.

    I will say that I have given this situation some thought however. My wife is my best friend which is a wonderful day-to-day relationship, but I really don’t have a male “best friend” and never have. I had a good friend in high school and we are still connected, but his interests and mine don’t overlap at all as adults. I never really made any lifelong friends in college and only one from grad school (who is part of the monthly dinner group). At work, I did meet and interact with LOTS of folks over 30 years, but while I liked many of them, I never made any long-term friendships that survived retirement. Maybe that’s just a guy thing. Ha ha. I also belong to a community of home coffee roasters on the web, but that does not involve any personal interactions.

    I have thought that it would be really nice to have a good male friend who shares my values and interests, but I’m not sure how I would go about finding such a person. I have looked at a couple of websites that purport to connect people with similar interests, but I am unsure if I want to try that or not. I guess I’m not desperate, so I’ll think about it some more before I actually do anything.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Bob, I’ve always believed I had more of a “guy” approach to life and relationships – maybe because of being an engineer or maybe it’s just my personality. So this has been a very new area of skill building for me. Having studied a lot about longevity and retirement (Ah, the geeky researcher in me), connections repeatedly is a big deal… as are healthy living, mental stimulation, and positive outlook on life. But connections requires interpersonal skills I didn’t really (don’t?) have.

      That said, I worry a lot about my husband, who fits a similar profile to you, if not even more disconnected to others. While I have actively tried to create connections, I am his main one. I worry what would happen if I was not here?

      So… 1) don’t wait till you’re desperate. Someone commented on FB that friendships take 2-3 years to really build into the level of support you’d need if you need friends support, and 2) Jackie is probably worried about you already, like I am of my husband! Lessen her stress a bit.
      Cheers!

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  6. This is definitely a timely post for me, Pat. I’ve been reflecting lately on how my career relationships have taken the same path that my earlier college ones made. That is, we had very intense interactions for a number of years straight, but when it came to an end so did the relationships. I’m in contact with very few outside of those silly “likes” on Facebook. But I do like your diverse new friendships you are forming. If I can avoid the “Cranky Old Guys at Dunkin’ Donuts” grouping, I know I’ll have succeeded. 🙂 Thanks for the inspiration! – Marty

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    1. Marty – you made my day! I love when I can inspire others…it’s actually one of the things I miss about the work-place. I was lucky enough to mentor many younger folks and they often were inspired by me. Have not found that same thing post work-life (yet). Pat

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Hi Pat – This is the first time I have read your blog and I am glad a did. I am also an introvert and most times i am fine with that. However, sometimes I just want a good intellectual conversation with someone! I really like your points that you have laid out in in your blog and would like to steal some of your ideas. Cheers!

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    1. “Steal and reapply” was something I taught my team while working. It’s the best form of flattery!! (Why re-invent the wheel?) And let me know what works. Because when you reapply, you’ll modify and possibly give me back new ways to explore this area.

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  8. Hi Pat,
    Lot’s of good points! Most conversations at work centered around current work projects, with the occasional personal conversation thrown in. That seemed to easily facilitate finding folks I wanted to get to know more, to make a connection with. But always for me, this centered around work. I’m also an introvert, and find that work-related projects made me feel less-so! I’m not so confident when meeting new folks to talk about general life-related topics! I recently volunteered to keep membership spreadsheets for a local non-profit. I found that not only did I enjoy the spreadsheet-work, but there was a whole side of me that was able to come alive while talking with other volunteers about how we wanted to make changes. It felt like a work project. I felt comfortable!
    Thanks for your blog. Keep up the good work. This retirement thing is hard sometimes. You’re doing great!

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    1. Deanna – thanks for the encouragement. Yes, retirement is “hard work” sometimes. Some days I feel like “I’ve got this” and others like I’m still a beginner. I’m actually taking on a non-profit project in January (new fiscal)… will see if I enjoy it. Last one I joined I didn’t enjoy. But, I keep trying on things… that’s the hard work sometimes.

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  9. Hi, Pat – It sounds like you definitely have a ‘post-work village’ actively developing, My guess is that you currently have more of a ‘tribe’ than you realize. With other people now taking the initiative to arrange some events — it sounds like your social world will continue to develop and strengthen. I look forward to reading more as this unfolds!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I am often my own worst critic. [Hubby says my expectations are often too high.] And yes, I am grateful for the folks who invite me… and I’ve expressed appreciation to them. Positive feedback will hopefully make them continue… I know it does for me! I like the phrase “continue to strengthen” … will probably steal it for my next action plan.

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