Retirement - Loneliness and Friendships
by John A
Typically, when I post something on this site I try to inject some levity since bringing a smile or chuckle to someone is important. One should have a good belly laugh at least once a day. After all, laughter IS the best medicine.
But lately, I have had something on my mind that must take a more serious tone since I feel there are some folks who are members of this site who are having a tough time in their retirement years. They seem to struggle with no longer having a purpose in life and I ask myself the simple yet most difficult question to answer: Why?
As I read in-between the lines of what some say in their posts, I sense these folks are lonely. They no longer have the socialization / interactions with others they once had in the workplace. And they begin to focus in on themselves wondering why they do not enjoy retirement. After all, the meaningful relationships they once had in the workplace on a daily basis are now gone. The end result is often
depression, isolation or loneliness.
So, it is important that the retiree develop new friendships to replace those that are no longer around. It is important to understand the different levels of friendships one encounters throughout life.
Without friendships, a person can quickly fall into despair, depression and feel totally isolated. It’s a horrible existence to fall into these traps that take away sense of purpose in life and happiness. Instead, it is much better to seek out new forms of support and socialization through churches, clubs or other activities that put you around people.
There is no better gift than the gift of friendship.
There are four levels of friendships: Acquaintances, Casual friendship, Close friendships, Intimate friendships.
Throughout our life time, we make thousands of acquaintances. Acquaintances are occasional contacts we have with others. Most times we will learn and remember the other person’s name and address that individual by name during the next encounter. It is during these encounters where we might ask general questions about the person to convey a sense of interest in him/her such as “Where do you work?”, “Where do you go to church?”, or “What are your hobbies?”.
It’s these questions that will ultimately help you get to know the other person better. If one question doesn’t get answered, then pull another question out of your arsenal of other questions and try once again. As you ask questions, allow yourself to “listen” to what the other person says in order to maintain the conversation. This clearly demonstrates interest in the other person.
A casual friendship can blossom very quickly from an acquaintance. We may have several dozen casual friendships; maybe as many as 150-200 people. As soon as you discover there are common interests, concerns, activities, beliefs, a person may be given the opportunity to ask more probing questions such as opinions or goals. This is where you may discover the other person’s strengths and character traits to build upon for a more solid and higher level of friendship.
It is here where you can begin to express things about yourself where appropriate such as weaknesses. And this is where you can show a genuine interest in the other person’s hopes and aspirations in life and share if he/she has similar problems with you.
A casual friendship will involve the expression of your thoughts, will and emotions, a close friendship will be one of oneness of spirit; where both people share in the same goals of life. The typical person has about 10-20 close friendships. It is at this level of friendship were exhorting the other person takes place; where goals and ambitions in life are discussed in order to help them be achieved or hindrances overcome.
Most people have one, maybe two, intimate friendships in their life. When talking about intimate friendships, sexual relationships are not considered here. Instead, an intimate friendship is defined as where there is an exchange of thoughts, feelings and emotions at he gut level without the fear of judgment taking place. This is the type of friendship where trials, sorrows and joy are often shared with one another. If you have one intimate friendship, consider yourself a wealthy person.
In summary, it is vitally important to get out and meet people. Surround yourself with them at social gatherings, churches, etc. Be open to talking with people even if it is just a quick “hello, how are you?”. After all, the next stranger you meet in life may very well turn out to be your best friend later on down the road.
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