Retired for 12 years and love it...except for one thing

by DavidW

I retired back in November 2003. I had retired early due to two reasons. I had suffered an injury doing my job in 1997 and never fully recovered. I also had been saving for retirement since I was all of 25 years old.

I saved early and often. I want for nothing financially in retirement. I started up my own computer consulting business in January 2004. Made a great deal of money doing it and met lots of people. I sold the business last year so I could retire once again.

I have done everything you can imagine since I retired. Been all over the world, twice now and sailed from San Diego to Hawaii in 2006 with two college classmates.

But, despite it all, one thing I don't understand is my former coworkers from the federal agency from where I retired in 2003. They gave me a retirement party and after that, you would have thought I was infected with the Ebola Virus.

Whenever I called, they were always busy or couldn't talk. Three people that had been my best friends for 25 years seemingly didn't have time for me any longer. I was hurt about this. I even came back to the office to visit and it was almost like my first day at work there. It was strange. Everyone seemed to just want to make small talk and then said they had to get to work. I never went back after that.

I finally cornered one coworker about this "shunning" I was receiving. He at first said I was overreacting, that everyone still loved me and had the greatest admiration for me. I continued to press him on it. He said something that has stuck with me every since.

"David, you are not part of our daily lives any longer. You're not the guy we depend on to complete a project or get out a report on time any longer. Someone else has taken your place." i was told.

I discovered something almost immediately. I was thinking I was the one who had changed after retirement. But, in reality it wasn't me so much as it was my former coworkers. And I disovered something else.

A true friend will stick with you regardless of life's circumstances. These people who I thought would be friends for life were nothing more than "friends of convenience." That's the best way I an describe it. It was a shock that I still have trouble coping with at times.

Has anyone else experienced this kind of treatment from former coworkers after retirement? I am almost at the point I think I may be the exception.

Comments for Retired for 12 years and love it...except for one thing

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Co-workers & friends - are not the same.
by: Barbara (N.East NJ)

David, I was downsized (with many other co-workers) 5 years ago and the only co-worker that I have contact with is the one I would get together with frequently after work. We are great friends who call and see each other once a week - just as we did when we were working.

Now she is retired too, so we can see each other more frequently. Every friendship I have (with other women), I've developed by taking the initiative.

Some friendships are deeper than others. I wish you the best!

Real Friends
by: Diane/Vancouver, WA

First off, I would say that I do not have a lot of friends. I have always been a somewhat shy person, but open up when I get to know someone.

As a result, most of my friends have been those I've made at work, because that's where I had the opportunity to be around the most people for the longest time.

I've moved with my job frequently and have found that the work friends that have the most staying power are the ones that took the time to be my friends outside of work as well.

Did you do lunch, a movie, hike, go to the farmers market with any of your work friends before you retired?

If not, then they are probably not friends in the true sense of the word, just coworkers. I have found that those true friends that I always did things with outside of work are still my friends since I have retired. It would be really sad if that weren't the case.

I guess thats when you know who are your real friends.

Thank you for shedding some light
by: Carole K, Olympia, WA

David, thank you so much for helping me understand the "reality" of what is a work "friend" and a co-worker.

It really bothered me that only a few of my "friends" reached out to me after retirement. I kept in touch with emails, but you are totally right... now someone has taken my place, and my "friends" have moved on to someone else who is providing them with the tasks that I used to do.

Yes, I need to let go and value the true friends I have and not take it personally that my old "friends" are no longer in the daily picture.

It will be nice to see them occasionally for lunch, but I know it will be up to me to make first contact - and I have to accept that.

Right now I am still a newbee in retirement (2 1/2 months) and am still trying to find my "rhythm" in retirement. I still find myself sleeping a lot, but have ventured out a bit with exercising, thanks to a new friend who lives next door.

I guess when one door closes, another opens. I just need to be cognizant of when a new door opens, and be willing to explore new friendships and experiences.

Thanks again David for your insight.....Carole K

True Friends
by: Joe Morowski, ND

I sure appreciate your honesty about the friends you had while still working verses retired. I don't think a person needs to wait until their retired to feel that way.

My wife always mentions how she doesn't have any friends even in the neighborhood. I told her she has me and that is all that matters but that doesn't always work.

All I want to say is people need to find their own true friends. That may never happen but it would require a person to have an outward personality.

Just sayin. Again thanks for posting.

work friends
by: Alison NY

I have only been retired since August, but I also found that the minute I walked out the door of my job it was like I disappeared off the face of the earth to those people I used to work with.

And our friendships seemed to be close, we met at each other's homes, I knew their kids, I went to their weddings.

What I have had to do is develop a set of retired friends from the same job. We meet for lunch once a month or so.

On occasion, one of our old co-workers who is still working will show up, but we don't share the same things in common anymore.

We welcome new retirees into our group and lament the loss of all those people still working. It made me rethink all the time and attention I put into those friendships...

Try not to take it personally
by: Nan/Phoenix

I retired after 18 years at the same non profit. They gave me a wonderful little party. I had to retire due to poor health and cannot drive to visit my 4 or 5 work friends who happen to live on the other side of town.

They do come over on occasion and we have a great time gossiping and eating. They consider my home a safe place to vent about work an to fill me in on the goings on of clients and staff. They are unable to vent at work it is considered hang a poor attitude.

I know that one friend is jealous that I am no longer working and curious about what my small home looks like. My other friends have their schedules and families to consider.

I understand.

I am no longer in the loop but serve as a sounding board. I do enjoy my freedom from schedules, paperwork, meetings, etc.

Retired for 12 years
by: Ned

I think it is very common that you loose the work force friends as they say you are a freind only as long as you are a support to them and its important to cultavate friendships out side of the work place those seem to stick around a bit longer and also have a few outside interests out side of your profession which helps also

its common
by: canada

I have been through the same experience and what your former friend said to you is correct. I appreciate the time I had with my co workers but like you do not see them anymore.

I now am spending my time making new friends that I have something in common with (old age ha ha). I do have one friend that as been around all of my career and comes to see me once a year. she is the exception..

Enjoy what your life is now, you are lucky you have the opportunity to make a new life with new friends...

Work Friends vs True Friends
by: Tom Damron

I believe the question you raised is universal

The people I worked with were friends only because we worked together and depended upon each other in one way or another to accomplish the jobs.

However, the people that became true friends were those that worked in a different capacity in a different department where we had no work commonality.

This year marks my 25th year of retirement and I am still in contact with those friends but have not seen work friends in years. The work friends I have were the few that I golfed with, camped with, partied with and where our wives were engaged in activities together.

I was at a higher level in the company even though I wasn't the supervisor of those I worked with, but it made a difference in attitude. Those are the ones I no longer see or consider to have been true friends.

Just wanted you to know my experience from years ago.

Your universal dilemma
by: Elna Nugent, Lenox, MA

I hope other men on this website will read your comments. They are universal, especially if you had any kind of position of authority.

People at work have no more in common with you. What you might want to discuss is foreign to them. They can't freely share what's going on at work because they would be leaving you out no matter how the played it and they don't want to hear about the good time you are having.

Women go through this, I'm told, if they were good friends with people at work but then got married and had children. Even if they came back to work, they felt totally isolated unless some of them had had the same experience.

Hopefully you won't take their attitude too personally because it isn't you, it's the situation. I'm impressed they were honest enough to tell you.

A true friend is a rare and wonderful thing that becomes more and more important as we age. Blessings.

by: Linda C.

David: It's so sad that who you thought were friends all those years were only faux 'friends' - more like robots in a workplace who saw you only as a 'functional friend' - a 'gear' in the clockworks - instead of the warm, caring human being that you were/are.

My first thought when reading your post, was that your co-workers were jealous of you and that it was easier for them to turn their backs on you once you retired, as seeing you again might remind them how much they wish they were in YOUR shoes!

I have visited past places of employment myself, over the years and often I wished I hadn't returned! The open-arms greeting I had imagined was not there and I felt like an intruder!

Something my last boss said to me still rings in my ears -- during one of my annual reviews and in an attempt to stand up for myself against a catty co-worker's lies against me - I whined that she seemed to 'have it in for me' and was determined to make me look bad! I went on to say that I didn't understand her hostility, that I had never done anything to her to deserve her bullying and mistruths...

My (female) boss simply said with a stone face and in a cold voice, "Linda. You are not here to make 'friends' - you are here to work."

Enjoy your retirement, David, and your 'true' FRIENDS!

Been there...
by: Wendy

I would bet you'll get lots of comments on this post... because its not just you.

Honestly, I think the majority of people you work with are only that - people you work with. I don't know why that is, but it is.

I worked with many over 35 year with one employer, and none are "friends" today. The commonality between us was our employment. Our daily chatter consisted of the what we needed to get done that day, daily gossip and gripes, what we were doing for lunch, what happened the night before, but really nothing that makes a real friend... but you don't get that until later.

Oddly enough, the few times I've done lunch with someone, they can relay whats happening in the office, but -- its not the same. I don't get the nuances of whats happening as I don't know all the players any more (and their personalities).

Just my two cents... others may have very different experiences. Curious to see!

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