The Friendship Doctor

Send in your friendship questions and quandaries and get expert answers and solutions

A Different Kind of Retirement Planning

It’s never too soon to plan for the friendships you’ll enjoy in retirement.

Question:

Hi Irene,

I am a professional in my early sixties and plan to retire in three years when I am 65 years old. I am married to a very good man, have a grown up beautiful daughter, yet I find myself feeling very lonely at times.

I have spent most of my adult life pursuing education to a master's standard and currently am a manager within the health service. I work full time, and at this age I realize I have committed my life to education and work to the detriment of socializing, making genuine friendships, and developing a hobby.

As both my hubby and I don’t drink, we tend just to return home after having meals out. I live in a small city and just don’t know where to turn to create an environment where I will meet like-minded people with a view to developing friendships during my retirement.

Help.

Best, Maggie

Answer:

Hi Maggie,

It’s great to be thinking ahead toward your retirement as you are. When women are immersed in midlife balancing work, family and caregiving responsibilities, they often have less time and need for friendships and don’t think about the future. Later on, even those with good marriages and adult children suddenly realize they need close, supportive friendships beyond the ones they have with their families. Planning ahead makes very good sense.

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When a person spends a good portion of her time at work, the workplace often becomes an important source of friendships. Before you retire, do you recognize any prospects for friendships that can be continued once you leave your workplace?

Also, it is never too late to pursue the interests and the hobbies you didn’t have time for before. Getting involved in something you feel passionate about holds the greatest promise for finding kindred spirits. Volunteer, join a group, take a course—perhaps there is something you’ve been holding off on that you can start doing now.

Once you retire, it’s important to get out of the house and add some structure to your life since you are so used to having such busy days. Lastly, don’t fall prey to the myth that everyone already has their friends. Many people are in the same situation as you, and would welcome a warm smile, hello, compliment or invitation to chat that says, “Let’s be friends.”

I hope this sets your mind at ease and that you are looking forward to the new opportunities you’ll find in your retirement.

My best, Irene

Read relevant articles I’ve written for the NBC Universal website Life Goes Strong:

Read these prior posts on The Friendship Blog:

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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