I’ve been thinking a lot about friends this week. Ever since I read an article on friendship in Haley Nahman’s Maybe Baby newsletter. About what guest writer Mallory Rice calls her “friends recession.”
In her post, Rice talks about the so-called “social recession” defined in this 2020 article in The Atlantic where two doctors discuss loneliness and the pandemic. These two experts believe that the “social recession” they say was initially precipitated by technology and social media was exacerbated by the enforced isolation of the pandemic. Rice goes on to relate the story of her own “sort of imposed social recession,” when she moved from New York to Montana. And how she coped living in a new place when her friends and family lived elsewhere.
So I’ve been thinking about friendship, and about my friends. And how over the years, as one moves from one place to another, from one job to another, or from one phase of life to another, one’s pool of friends changes and morphs. Friends come and go, some stay for a while, some stay for a very long time. And some morph from one thing into another. Is this a “social recession?” A “friends recession”? Well, I guess that depends.
I’ve been really lucky in my life to have made and kept close a few good friends for a very long time. I’ve written before about my old friend Debbie. That’s us above ages 13, 25, 50, and 65. Debbie and I met in grade one, graduated high school together, and shared an apartment for several years in Fredericton and again in Ottawa. Debbie left Ottawa back in the eighties, but we’ve never lost touch, and never lost our sense of the other as a true kindred spirit. And now that she and her husband have moved back to Fredericton, we see each other more than we have in years.
Similarly my old friend Colleen. That’s us below in 1969 and 2016 (I think.) Colleen and I haven’t known each other as long as Debbie and I have. We only met in grade two. Ha. And we don’t see each other as much as we’d like. But I know if I were in trouble, just like in the Carole King song, I’d only have to call and she’d be there. I know that because I have, and she was. I think I told you in a previous post about that hilarious, and slightly precarious, drive from Ottawa home to New Brunswick back in 1983, in Colleen’s old car with most of my worldly goods crammed into the backseat.
Sometimes friends that we assume have moved out of our lives forever move right back in again. That’s me, below, and a group of girls I went through elementary school with, and for the most part never saw after high school. Until our 40th high school reunion in 2014, where a few of us decided to plan another reunion, a smaller one for the kids we went to school with from grade one through nine. Oh my goodness. That was a wonderful night.
And now a few of us still see each other thanks to my friend Edie. That’s her in the black and white sweater, below. Edie sends out emails to all of us and plans regular meet-ups for coffee. Of course I’m only able to attend when I’m home. But what a hoot we had in December when I was in Fredericton. The most hilarious topic of conversation being an old friend who shall remain nameless, but about whom Debbie and I had a big stash of stories. And about our respective mums. Also hilarious. It’s amazing how the stress one feels when caring for an elderly parent melts into hilarity when the experience is shared by your friends.
But you know, as lucky as I am to have so many good friends from my youth, sadly (for me) most of them still live in New Brunswick. And I don’t. So I’ve also been thinking of that this week. And how retirement changed my pool of friends. And, for a time, forced me into a sort of social recession. A “friends recession” as Mallory Rice calls it.
Now that I’m retired I can more easily travel down east and see my old friends. Now I can. But back in January of 2013, when I first retired, that was not the case. And the “friends recession” precipitated by my retirement and exacerbated by Hubby’s illness that winter ten years ago made me quite lonely for a while.
Many of my friends at the time were still working. So I lost the casual, daily interactions with colleagues who were friends. And also with colleagues who weren’t friends but with whom I enjoyed working, planning, joking, venting, problem-solving. Whatever. Of course I still saw my friends from work outside of work for dinners or planned events. But I lost all the other stuff. The daily banter. The light-hearted teasing. The chorus of cheers when I entered the teacher workroom one frosty morning after sliding, knees bent and arms (laden with a bag of marking and my lunch) outstretched for balance, down the ice-covered hill from the parking lot to the door of the school without falling and in full view of my colleagues through the workroom window. That memory still makes me smile.
For quite a while after I retired I cast about for something to fill the gap left by, what seemed to me to be, a catastrophic friends recession.
Of course it wasn’t in retrospect that catastrophic. Part of my loneliness was because it was such a stressful time. Hubby was suddenly and unexpectedly ill and needed a heart operation. And other than phone calls with my sister, it felt as if I really had no one to talk to about him, no one on whom I could unload my worry and fear.
My working friends were, well, working. And busy. And my older friends who had been retired for some time were all busy with their own lives. My assumption of waltzing into their already organized retirement activities came to naught. I had to craft my own retired life and not count on piggy-backing on theirs.
So that’s what I did.
Once Hubby was over the worst, I began to do what I had always done when I was working. I organized the “girls” from work for nights out, planned restaurant meet-ups, invited my work friends to my house for potluck, just like I used to do when I was still working. Except this was no department meeting. I expanded my list to include my favourite people from other departments. And favourite people who had moved to other schools. I decided that I was not going to let these people disappear from my life.
I contacted a couple of people from my school who had retired shortly before me and shortly after. We began to meet for coffee. Then we started skating once a week. In the spring this morphed into a walking group. This group is still going although the faces have changed. We lost two ladies who became too busy. And gained my friend Marina who retired a couple of years after me. And then Linsey, with whom Marina and I chatted at a retired teachers’ breakfast one day and invited along on our walk.
Now Marina and Linsey and I are veteran walkers-together. We have hoofed it through snow, and heat, and through the entire pandemic in our masks. Sometimes we decamp to a coffee shop afterwards. Sometimes we go for lunch. And one week during lockdown we brought a winter picnic and had our coffee and treats at a snow-covered picnic table.
And here’s the really cool thing. These two women have become valued friends to me. Marina and I have been friends for a long time. But our friendship is much stronger now than it was when we were working together. And we are both glad to count Linsey, with whom we worked for years, as a friend. Our relationships have morphed. And isn’t that a wonderful thing?
Recently we’ve added a new friend. Karen worked with us as well and retired a couple of years ago. Once our colleague, a person with whom we were friendly, but not necessarily friends, is now a friend. I love that.
So, what’s my point? Well, I have several.
The first is that we should all be cognizant of the possibility of an unexpected friends recession in our lives. I was not ready for the loneliness that retirement precipitated. As much as I thought I was ready for retirement, I wasn’t ready for that. And sitting at home feeling sorry for myself because all my friends had seemingly forgotten me got me nowhere. Well, nowhere that I wanted to be. So I took the initiative. I was the one who reached out. And I am so, so glad I did.
And the second point is that retirement might close a few doors with respect to friendship, but it opens a plethora of other doors. Old acquaintances can morph into friends. Old friends might reappear because you both have more time in your lives. You might meet entirely new friends. You never know.
And finally, with regards to all the experts who say that technology and social media can create social recession… I say… bah humbug.
I’m not talking about teenagers and young adults whose over-use of social media can have devastating effects on them. I know how difficult it can be to try to teach young people to safely navigate the online world. I’m talking here about older adults, old people, retired people… like us. Social media can be a boon to us.
Think of all the people who comment on this blog or on other blogs. I know we don’t necessarily know each other in real life. But we can still have wonderful conversations. And during the pandemic that helped us a lot. Reaching out to share our experiences, to express fellow feeling, or to support those who are in pain… that’s amazing. Of course online friends can’t take the place of real life friends and family. But it’s not nothing. If you’ll pardon the double negative.
Especially when you finally get to meet those online friends in real life.
So yeah, over the course of our lives friends come and go. We meet people, we become friends, and they become part of our lives. Sometimes they stick around, and sometimes they move on and others take their place. And I guess it depends on us whether or not this ebb and flow of friendships over time becomes a friends recession. I guess if friendship is important to us we should be willing to reach out to save old friendships or to make new ones.
So tell me my much valued online friends, do you think you’re in a social recession? A friends recession?
65 thoughts on “Are You in a “Friends Recession”?”
I don’t think so. And I think the point that you make is that you have to make an effort to stay in touch, because everyone’s lives are complicated and often difficult. Sometimes you lose touch and then, like magic, people reappear, the friendship better than before. Others, the friendship alters and loses intensity but is still there like a magic nugget. I am often the one who gets in touch and organises things, but not always. Last year was a particularly busy time, friends-wise, and I got together with all different friends from different phases of our lives. Today, younger friends are coming to lunch with their children (must bustle off soon to switch the oven on), last week it was a noisy gathering of friends from the village who I have known for almost 30 years. All grist to the friendship mill. And I believe that messaging and email have really helped us all to keep in touch, rather than dilute things. Nattering daily via the social medias has become my go-to. And now…that chicken won’t stuff itself!
I remember your saying that you had a few friend meet-ups scheduled. The short trip to Montreal I took in October with two friends was sooo wonderful. I hope to plan another one this year.
Friends Recession, that’s something to think about. For many years I thought I was supposed to have a lot of friends, be apart of and attend a lot social outings. Only to come home and feel mentally exhausted. Now I realize that a couple of very good friends and an abundance of enjoyable acquaintances is enough. During quarantine time was the perfect way to socialize for me. I would walk our dogs meet and chat with other neighbors walking their dogs-all at a distance. Then go home and do my own thing. The amount of your friends really depends on your personality. Some people I know have a whole big group of friends. I know people who don’t even go to the grocery store by themselves. It’s what you feel comfortable with. My social hour is still walking my dogs and catching up with neighbors. And book club.
I really value that kind of easy, impromptu interaction with people. I don’t have a dog to walk but I love to chat with people in stores and cafes. I come home quite sustained by social interaction and ready to curl up with my book again. 🙂
To add on, many years ago the priest, who was also a retired psychologist at the school where I taught gave us the Meyer’s Brigg personality test if we wanted to take it. While there’s lots of debate over its validity it did help me understand me. I tested as an INFJ. When I read the description of this personality I cried. Then I read the book “Quiet” by Susan Cain and both the test and this book gave me permission and helped me to just be me and accept my personality quirks.
Robyn, I could relate to your post. I am considered an MB INFP. We can debate the validity of the assessment, but I’ve always felt the description fit pretty closely. I too have a few deep friendships, and am very social in small doses with acquaintances. When I was younger I always felt that I was deficient in some way because I often wanted to turn down invitations to socialize in large groups. With age, we grow to accept ourselves.
I watched an interview on Sunday Morning with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Sally Fields, and Rita Moreno. In the interview Jane Fonda talked about making friends after 60 and said one needs to be intentional. Her advise is if you meet someone you think would make a good friend, reach out. Contact the person and say, “I am intentionally wanting to be your friend.” I did that six months ago and now I have a wonderful new friend that I adore.
I love this advice. This is great advice at any age.
That is such good advice, I think Sarah. It feels not entirely natural but making friends intentionally is a good thing to do.
Here at the Lake in Barry’s Bay, I have a wonderful walking group. These ladies have been my friends for 25 years. Now, my husband and I are making a huge life change and moving, in July, to a new seniors’ apartment in Ottawa (Hi Sue!). There, we hope to make new friends. I think that it is very possible to do this, even at 80 and 82. Life presents circumstances where huge changes are inevitable. But there are all kinds of new opportunities in a new and different situation and ,in this case, a complete change in lifestyle. Now to ‘downsizing’ – the second time we’ve done it!
I think as we age taking advantage of social opportunities when they are presented is a good plan. If you see me out and about when you move to Ottawa be sure to say hello. 🙂
Friendship, and how the pandemic has changed the way in which close friends now chose to interact with me, has been a topic that I have spent some time considering recently. It seems I have a few friends who have never got over the safety and certainty of isolation. It is very difficult to pry them out of their familiar little cocoons to do anything adventurous. Always seemingly happy to see me, I must be the one to suggest and organize any social events for us, and those events usually end up being a vist at their homes. I find that is gettng tiresome. Another very close friend has unexpectedly, completely cut ties with me. That has been deeply hurtful, and I miss that friendship terribly. However, our narratives on the subject differ, and you can’t flog a dead horse, as the old saying goes.
On a much brighter note, because I can’t rely on familiar friends in the same way as I once did, I have explored new activites and made new friends. These friendships are different in that we don’t share mutual past experiences, but we do enjoy learning about each other and becoming closer through shared chats over coffee, or through volunteer work or other activities. Those people help form my life as I move forward.
In terms of Social Media, I enjoy the chats I have with friends from elementary and high school, and with family across the globe. As much as I dispair the negative aspects of the platforms, I am too far away geographically to maintain contact in any other way. It was a blessing during the time we were shut away.
So, I feel I need to continue to be open to meeting new people and turing acquaintances into friends.
And Sue, I am sure if you were closer, I would enjoy exploring a real life friendship with you. For now, I so enjoy our Sunday morning virtual chats.
Ah yes, I have felt that pain of losing a good friend too in recent years. At least I thought she was a good friend. It was hard for me at first because I’m sometimes like a big puppy… I think everyone should adore me. Ha. And I just had to face the fact that to some people I am just plain annoying.
Hello Sue, I’ve been following you from for a while and find myself looking forward to reading your posts while having my afternoon rest after Sunday lunch.
I’m British but married an Italian and taught English in a secondary school here in Ferrara, Italy for over 40 years.
How many of the things you write about retirement and friendship strike home!
How I miss the chat and lighthearted banter in the staffroom! And I agree you have to reach out to keep friendships alive.
Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts with us. I so enjoy it!
Oh… how I miss that staff room banter. The shared experience, the jokes, the sarcasm. I think partly it’s the easy banter with male colleagues I miss most. Not many of my female colleagues were as funny and as acerbic as the guys. Hubby says it’s the same with him. He misses the banter in the hockey locker room with guys who’ve all known each other for decades. I’m not talking of off-colour jokes or anything inappropriate in a work environment. Just the quips and comments that made the day so much more fun.
Another thoughtful post.
A chance meeting in a restaurant a few years ago reconnected me with a high school friend. Starting during the pandemic, she organized quarterly zoom calls with some of the “girls” from our high school friends group. And this in turn, has led to a couple of in-person lunches and made me want to attend our 50th reunion last fall.
As to work friends, I have found that I have mostly maintained one, sometimes more, work friendship from each of my places of employment over the years. Unlike you, I am generally not the “organizer” for the larger gatherings. In the fall, the women from my last job met for lunch and for the first time, there were more retirees than currently employed!
I don’t think I am in a friend recession; I have just the right amount.
I’ve had a similar experience in keeping a few good friends from each school in which I taught. It’s sometimes unexpected which ones remain close, isn’t it?
I think your basic character has a terrific effect on your friendships . I know extroverts who make friends very easily , have a life full of friends but they often come & go . I know people who have little in common with their partners & rely on friendships more . I know a few people who seem to manage without lots of friends & actually prefer a quiet , self sufficient life . I would find dozens of close friends quite hard work & prefer my small circle of good friends . I think I’m an introvert who can be extrovert in the right company ??
There are points in your life when friendships can be tricky . When friends were having babies they were in a different world & a few drifted off but others were glad to have non baby conversations . Now grandchildren are arriving it’s even more tricky . Not that they don’t want to give me their time but they are so tired helping with childcare , running after toddlers two or three days a week that they don’t have a scrap of energy to spare .
Plus you have to accept the effects of illness . Some friends can not get out & about the same whilst others who lunched now meet for coffee , as older poorly husbands need them more . I’m not complaining & don’t feel badly done to . It’s just how life happens .
I read an article recently saying we need passerby friends too . We should have a few words with other dog walkers , shop assistants , waiters , bus passengers , anyone that you bump into really – fellow humans ( & dogs ! ) I’m a firm believer in that . Not everyone is responsive but most are & we have made some real friends on our dog walks .
You’ve prompted me to gather my old workmates together again for our monthly meet up & an old friend is visiting us next week . We met as teenagers . As you say , more effort is needed now .
PS Max often asks “ What’s your Canadian friend got to say this week ? “ – That’s you , my Canadian friend .
I have been amazed at how much I have enjoyed the “self sufficient life” as you put it. I was always so gregarious at work. And although it may have sounded otherwise in my post I have also a handful of people who I see regularly now. My childhood and school friends all live far away. And I agree about the passerby friends… I love to chat with all and sundry when I’m out shopping… and then come home to a good read by the fire. P.S. I wondered if you groaned when you saw that I used that photo of us in the post. 🙂
Hubby and I have a small group of retired friends that we have dinner with every Friday, play golf with when the weather is good, and travel with throughout the year. Although we’ve known these folks for years and taught with some, our friendships have definitely become deeper since retirement. I’ve also found that we’ve drifted away from a few people who were very close friends during our teaching years. Apparently the only things we had in common were school and our students!
My Hubby and I have few couple friends. I’ve always gone my own way, friend-wise.
This is an important and interesting topic. I’m glad you raised it!
I’ve always had a few very close friends and never really been the organizer or enjoyed having meetups with large groups. I’ve moved around a great deal – four countries, west coast and back east. We moved multiple times when I was in school and so I wasn’t able to maintain an early friends group. I had two best girlfriends who moved to different countries after high school.
That said, I remain close friends with at least a few of my university friends. During the pandemic, one of them, who lives less than a kilometre away, was more comfortable going into stores than I was and so he often brought me treats and groceries. I’ve always been so lucky to have him as a friend, as he’s more of a brother than a friend. Likewise, a younger friend and his wife would drop by and chat with me outside.
I think your point about staying in touch with friends and making effort is an important one. I have one friend out in Vancouver, whom I see rarely, but when I am able to get to the west coast we always meet for lunch and to hang out with her daughter and it is as if no time has passed.
One big difference between my friends circle and yours is that I’ve always, as an adult, had more men friends than women friends, and men operate a little bit differently. It’s partly because there were few women in my class (math and economics) when I was at university and in grad school, and even now, in the niche I work in, my colleagues are mostly men. A big challenge for me over the years has been that when these men marry their wives are often uncomfortable with us continuing to hang out. I did go to a concert with a male friend the other night, but he was seated in a different area of the audience than I was! This wasn’t because of a wife, but rather because he was slow to buy his ticket. I’ve always been supremely independent, so I never think twice about just going somewhere I want to go, by myself, and if someone else makes up their mind to join, fine too.
I can see that working with mostly men could be problematic when trying to maintain work friendships outside of work. While I was reading and replying to earlier comments I had an epiphany. I realized that what I miss most about work banter is the mix of male and female colleagues. And Hubby commented that at hockey parties when we meet up with all his hockey buddies and their wives, I always really enjoy, and take part in, the banter he has with his old buddies.
Yes! I love the banter of both women and men. I can see how you would miss that mixture from your working days. I have some lovely female colleagues, too, who work a little bit removed from where I do, but it’s nice to have both. I do sometimes hang out with couples, but given that my partner lives far away I tend to not do the third wheel thing very often (not their choice – more mine; I should probably say “yes” more often). Yet another interesting post, written in an interesting way, and that encourages thinking about one’s situation!
This was another great post and as usual I saw myself in some of the comments.
I identify most with Robyn. I have had to force myself to make friends over the years. It has paid off. I have a weekly coffee group with five of us that worked together. I have an old close friend who I speak to on the phone often and text but she is hesitant to meet anyone including her own family in for fear of the virus. I feel sad for her but she seems content. People with mobility issues and like you mentioned, household members who need care are in a much more difficult position.
When I retired I found myself feeling very closed in and useless so I made myself stick my neck out and took on some volunteer work which was very rewarding and I think an important way of reaching out. After a heart attack I couldn’t continue and I miss it. I also read about Jane Fonda going out of her way to find friends. I loved reading about her pursuit of Sally Field! Jane Fonda echoed your sentiment that we have to make it happen. It’s really hard for us shy people but it’s so worth it. Thanks Sue. another sue
I also think that those of us who felt lonely at retirement should try to reach out to newly retired friends and acquaintances. For their sake as much as our own.
I have definitely been in a Social Recession during my post-retirement years, which has been compounded by a move from a small island community to an urban neighbourhood where populations density is much higher and there are fewer opportunities to meet neighbours casually. Social efforts and patience were finally bearing fruit when the lockdowns hit and froze most of those nascent friendships on the vine. Zoom was a boon in many ways, but friends “met” in Italian class online don’t easily lead to coffee or walks together IRL (in fact, I’ve twice met for a meal with one of my Zoom Italian friends, but she lives an hour’s drive away, and I’d love a few friends closer by as well). I’m very grateful to my friends from my old life and luckily manage to see them regularly enough to sustain our relationships, but still working to build a few more connections here in the city. Surprisingly (to me, at least) I’m finding that easier to do with women in their 40s or 50s than with my peers. Currently plotting ways to connect with a wider circle of women in my own vicinity — if I can do it on my blog, how can I bring it home? 😉
I was going to add at the end of my post… but didn’t want to blither on too long… that many of my friends now are much younger than me. I don’t see them that often because most of them are busy with work and kids… but I am determined not to lose touch with them.
Though I hadn’t really identified it as such until I read your post, I think I am in a bit of a friends recession. Over the past few years, and especially during pandemic restrictions, my closest group of friends seems to have drifted apart. Amongst the four of us, I’m the only retired one, being a bit older than the others. Two are still working and one has moved some distance away. We do still chat online and occasionally plan an evening together via Zoom, but it’s definitely not the same as being together. I have plenty of other acquaintances, of course, but I probably need to be more proactive and reach out more. As an introvert, it’s easy to hibernate, but probably not the best thing to do. I do appreciate social media for the contact that it gives me with so many interesting people in diverse places, but as you say, it can’t totally take the place of in-person friendships.
It’s odd how things have not resumed in the same way after the pandemic, isn’t it? I appreciate social media too… but I am done with Zoom! 🙂
Another post that hits close to home! I’m the ‘baby’ of my closest friend group, and retired several years after they did. I expected to jump right in but they all had their own routines and new activities. Thankfully, my higher power put a few new people in my path to become friends with. What I really miss now are my young colleagues with families and responsibilities that make it difficult to meet after work hours. We make do with monthly lunches together.
Same here, Pamela. Most of my older friends who retired before me are not as close now that I’m retired as I had assumed they would be.
I made some close friends at work and these friendships continue in retirement. Now as people are starting to return to physical work sites, I read about the reluctance of so many to give up working from home. I get the convenience of working from home — I did it for the last four years of my career. But as cordial as relationships were with online colleagues I never established any friendships. I wonder if these folks who want to remain out of the office are missing out on forming some of the best relationships they’ll ever have.
Oh, I’m with you. I think it would be a mistake for people to assume that in-person work is all about work. I made most of my close friends over the years at work.
I’m an only child, the youngest of all my cousins and have moved countries a few time. Not conducive to having long term friends.
My closest friends whom I have known for the longest time I met through a mother’s and babies group. Unfortunately most of them have retired away from the city in which I live so we have used social media to stay in touch.
Some of the women I taught with organise the odd coffee morning or lunch so we stay in touch. I have also been lucky that the faculty and house I taught in invite me to end of term and celebratory events which is lovely as I am able to catch up.
So perhaps not a friend recession but a change of pace.
That must be nice to return to work for celebratory events… and have a chance to catch up with former colleagues.
I believe my friends and social circle is about to change as my husband of forty-four years passed away in November 2022. I have been forthright when asked what help might I need? I responded with my need for social interaction and friends. I told them I was still a “party animal” which initiated a few chuckles of agreement. I am thankful for their intentional listening and the invitations that have arrived.
I also want to be realistic and take some adventurous steps of my own. A new season is before me and I’m praying that what time I have left be full of friends, old and new. I am thankful to have full family support in this. My husband said that my independent nature was an attraction (and I’m sure a headache at times). I’m confident that he would not want me to languish.
This is such a timely post, Sue. Thank you for this opportunity to mull over my thoughts on friendship and to set my sights ahead.
I’m so sorry about your husband, Charlene. And how smart you are to be clear and honest with friends and family about your needs. Good luck on your adventures. 🙂
I’m so sorry to hear your husband has passed away, Charlene. Be gentle with yourself in these tender months. I’m so glad you had time together to settle into a new home closer to your kids. xo
I’m so sorry to hear that your husband passed away, Charlene. I’m glad that you have strong family support and that you felt free to be open about your needs. I wish you well as you navigate this new season.
I retired during Covid and found it challenging to maintain contact with work friends. Two have remained close and we meet for lunch or go out for drinks. They are quite a bit younger than myself but we actually have a lot in common. Other work ‘friends’ have maintained an FB friendship and others a radio silence, but again they are younger and maybe it’s just the business of family life. I have reached out but no reply.
I have a group of friends from outside of work that I meet with monthly for lunch but in December the two founding members ( in their eighties) had a mysterious falling out and are no longer speaking..the rest of us are still mystified and have never been told what happened. These two women were friends for over fifty years!! They were also our organizers and planned our outings hopefully the remaining members will still want to get together.
My husband’s had friends through work but he is retired now for four years and he literally has one remaining friend! The two years after he left colleagues were constantly calling him about work issues but then stopped. He is not very social so not one to reach out in new directions.
I remind him that his father sits alone at home with nothing but his TV and is very lonely and depressed. I don’t want my husband to end up like that. I have suggested he volunteer at the Food Bank but says he’s too busy??? Doing Wordle! Anybody else have husband’s in a friend recession?
Friend fluctuations after so many years is unusual isn’t it? I too have had “good” friends disappear from my life. Funny that. But a falling out is a whole other thing. I hope your group can still hang together without them. Maybe if it does they will eventually drift back. My husband doesn’t need friends the same way I do. But he has a few with whom he skis and fishes and plans canoe trips. And a regular golf game with old hockey buddies. Thank goodness.
Hi Sue and other Friends,
I intended writing some comments on last weeks blog as I had lots to say…but just didn’t get around to it!
On the subject of Friends, I have my very best Buddy, Ruth whom I met outside the school gate while picking up my 2 Children from National School at least 30 years ago. This was back in a small village in County Wicklow. We have remained the bestest of friends since those years. As I now live most of the time in Spain, I unfortunately only get to spend time with Ruth when she comes here for holidays or I hop back to spend a short time in Ireland. I do miss her very much but thankfully we see each other on FaceTime. I am very Blessed to have met a lovely Irish lady within 5 mins walk from where I live here in Spain. We met before Covid. Both Mary and her Husband John have become very good friends and we meet up at least once a week, all four of us. We had some fun times during Covid where we used to sneak over to each other’s homes for ‘catch up’ time…always on the look out for the police or other persons to stop us and order us back to our homes! It certainly was a strange time but i believe lots of good things came out of those months. I am a bit of an odd bod as I am very extrovert but also a bit of an introvert. My partner says that I would talk to any one I meet on the roads, I do make friends very easily but most of these friends come and go as most of them come for short times here in Spain. I think that as I’ve got older I have become more selective in choosing the right type of friends and have stopped gathering people whom I have nothing in common with. Although I am extrovert and give a lot from myself to others, I need to have quiet times to re energise myself again! I am quite self sufficient and enjoy my own company even if I often find myself talking out loud to my inner being!
I have stopped gathering together people with whom I have nothing in common too, Lynne. I think as a young person I had a strong “herding instinct.” Ha.
I suppose I did hit a bit of a friend recession when I left the UK, after marrying my Greek husband. Though I never lost touch with my friends back home, the friends from school, college and work, I did often feel lonely and not fitting in here. In time I made friends with other women in the same situation and we meet up regularly. But we all agree that we haven’t succeeded in making close friendships with local women. And it seems that what is lacking is a shared mutual background, which of course we have with the people we grow up with.
I would like to be able to “pursue ” women that I think I could be friends with, but often lack the courage. And having been suddenly given the cold shoulder by someone who I thought was a friend, am now even more reluctant. Even though I think this woman had many problems that she didn’t want to share, so maybe it wasn’t me. Your friends must get a lovely warm glow reading about how much they mean to you !
Hi Maisie, I’ve just read your blog and I felt quite sad on reading about your bad experience with some whom you believed was a friend. I have had the same experience with a neighbour who although wasn’t a close friend, I considered her a good neighbour. It was all a miss understanding on something I had said to her. I thought about what I had said and realised that she totally got the wrong end of the stick. I apologised profusely for any hurt I had caused her but it took a year for her to eventually be able to look me in the face and move on. All I can say Maisie is, life is too short and in times like these where we are hurting we need to Pray about it and leave it with HIM. I hope this helps.
I understand your reluctance to “pursue” friendships, Maisie. It’s a very different thing renewing a connection than reaching out to make entirely new friends. I’d struggle with that too.
Friendships mean a lot to me, probably all the more so because they don’t come easily to me and it takes a while before I can consider someone a friend rather than an acquaintance. I suspect the barometer for what constitutes a friend is different for everyone. I have a group of friends that we didn’t see much during the height of Covid and the trend has continued. I am chalking that up to their season of life rather than something bigger. I will admit that making and maintaining friends takes a lot of work on my part and I’m usually the one to do the reaching out. I am lucky to have a few friends that I have seen almost monthly for decades and another group of new friends that I met about a year ago. It is nice to have a mix of different groups of friends brought together on different threads of your personality and interests.
I think you’re right, Amelia. We each feel slightly different about what constitutes a “friend.” I have very few really close friends with whom I share my innermost feelings.
This was an inspiring post. It is clear that you put in the effort needed to reconnect with old friends and make new friends. It paid off. Your post serves as a reminder to me to make the effort to stay in touch with people I care about. With a full-time job, my blog and a busy life, it is often easy to let go of connections. I am lucky to have friends I very occasionally see and I enjoy their company so much. I have one friend I walk with a few times a year and we have a couple of other annual outings. I consider her a very dear friend. My husband and I have a small group of couples with whom we raised our children together. We get together regularly for dinner. We love to cook, so there is always a feast involved. I am lucky to have them as good friends.
My husband is my regular walking partner, but I would love more women friend walking partners. Your encouragement might be what I need to reach out to acquaintances to plan walking dates.
I agree with you that blogs and social media have given us online friends and I look forward to reading posts and the comments from the community.
BTW, I “met” Frances of Materfamilias Writes by reading comment on your blog and I have been enjoying her blog ever since. Thank you!
I’m so glad you found Frances, Dottie.
I’m not at all surprised to hear that you are now rich in friends. Seems so right. And yes, I am in a friend recession, at least IRL. Online is great. But going to college across the country leaving high school friends behind, moving back west and leaving college friends behind, divorcing and watching the friends of young motherhood fade away, then working in tech with very few women, then my best friend of 30 years dying in 2020, well, I’m now working hard on meeting more new people nearby and picking up with high school and college people again.
So your story encourages me. Thank you:)
I wouldn’t say that I’m rich in friends. Maybe only “well off”… comfortably middle-class. 🙂 I am happy though that I can see my oldest and dearest friends now that they all live in New Brunswick. And I am so glad to have connected more closely with a couple of women from work. It’s lovely to have buddies who live nearby… or…. only a twenty minute drive away, anyway. For years and years I used to wish that I had a friend next door like when I was a kid. Or like on television. Ethel and Lucy?? Living in the country always makes that harder.
This one struck home, as I’ve felt for a while that I am in a friend recession.
I had plenty of friendly relationships at work, a few good friendships there, and other couples that my husband and I have known for years. After retiring nearly six years ago I continued to see the three work friends regularly. Then one moved away (we still email regularly), the pandemic hit, then another was laid off and moved away and I stopped hearing from her (although I still send Christmas and birthday greetings). The one friend who remained in the area dismissed me completely when we were trying to arrange a lunch and I asked her vaccination status (at the time, Covid hospitalizations were high, my grandchildren were too young to be vaccinated, and my husband has cancer and heart disease and asthma, so it was not a question posed flippantly or judgmentally). Apologies, birthday greetings, Christmas cards all went unacknowledged, and I eventually gave up.
In the States at least, I think not just the isolation of the pandemic but also the political climate has taken its toll on friendships. Each “side” seems to see the beliefs of “the others” as not just differences of opinion but as fundamental character failings. It’s exhausting to navigate those waters, and there comes a point when it’s easier just to choose to be around like-minded people. I expect that is exactly what my unvaccinated friend decided about me, however much I tried to explain myself and to appreciate her point of view. The sad thing is that we’d ALWAYS had differences of opinion, and over fourteen years of friendship that had not mattered, and then one day it did.
Oh dear… I have friends for whom the vaccination thing became a problem. One friend’s brother-in-law routinely ridiculed my friend for wearing a mask. I’m sorry that you lost your friend this way, Sarah. But you had to protect your family.
This hit me right in the feels. It’s my favorite blog post to date. Reading it, I realized how tentative I am about reaching out to make new friends since we moved when I retired 18 months ago. I keep in touch with friends from grade school and high school. There’s a smallish group of us who get together every couple of years for a long weekend and we text and talk in between.
Making new friends has been harder than I thought, although I have met some that I really like and from your post I think it’s time to reach out and pursue these friendships.
My husband has so many friends through Rotary club work that I tend to just ride his coattails and make friends with his friends.
Thanks so much, Peggy. I think the hardest thing about keeping friends after retirement is that everything has to be organized… nothing happens as easily as when you see someone every day at work. And for a while every meeting involved eating. Ha. That’s why my walking group has been a great thing for me, getting my exercise and keeping in touch with friends at the same time.
Hi Sue, late to the party but just really wanted to chime in to say that I loved this post (and all your posts, actually). It’s so important to discuss and reflect on engagement and connection.
I’ve been really lucky in life to have had meaningful relationships and now, in retirement, to be making new friendships and rekindling some old ones.
I also really appreciate the more casual interactions with others as I do miss that staffroom banter. It is wonderful to have the time to recharge my batteries!
Thanks, Genevieve. The rekindling has been for me the most unexpected… and so wonderful.
So sorry that I’m late to the party-it was a very busy and exhausting week.I have to read other comments later….
Real friends are pure gold. IMO our generation still prefer “real” friends-I discuss the topic with my son from time to time- his (also real) acquaintances are all called ” friends”,I make a difference here,real friends are quite rare.
Love the story about your friends,Sue! I feel that I know some of the lovely ladies,too!
I’ve been very lucky in my life,as well. Some of my friends are from school or grammar school and university,as well as my working place (I was a match maker,too,so friends that I’ve introduced to each other are still happily married ) ,and I’m very happy to have them still. There are others that I’ve met later in life but we are very close nevertheless. I utterly appreciate my friends and friendships,I’m fond of our memories and time we’ve spent together. Real friendship and friendly relationships are to cherish and nurture . Three of my very good friends,unfortunately, died very young and there are some that are not friends any more
Some of the nice and interesting people are those I’ve met during different periods of my life, due to mutual interests. We’ve spent a lot of time together during this specific period (children activities,italian lessons,some sports…..) but than our paths diverged (and it was as it was meant to be with this type of acquaintances).
I also feel that some of my digital friends are friends, too,and I enjoy our conversations (sometimes in real life,too :))
I hope this week is a better one for you, Dottoressa. 🙂
Late posting…but I have been blessed with friends from high school and college for well over 40 years. We are scattered around the country, don’t see each other often, but try to check in at least once a month.
That’s wonderful, Heather. Hope things are good down your way. 🙂
Beautiful post, Sue – and just what I needed to read. I have been struggling with illness (my own), retirement, and like everyone else, the pandemic for the last couple of years and feeling “at odds and ends.” I miss the busyness and banter of working life. Thanks to you, I have started reading Materfamilias and thoroughly enjoying her, (she reminds me of my sister), and begun reorganizing my closet. I totally agree – the internet is a boon for adults to reach-out, connect, learn and share. Thank you for your consistency and inspiration!
So glad you’re enjoying Frances’ blog, Donna.