Retirement - Loneliness and Friendships

by John A
(Tyler, TX)

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.

Casual Friendships

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.

Close Friendships

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.

Intimate Friendships
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.

Comments for Retirement - Loneliness and Friendships

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Friendships Are Nice But Not Necessary
by: Linda/Nevada

People only become lonely because society insists on the theory that you must have other people in your life. Seniors are told that they will not live as long as those people who have warm and fuzzy relationships to hang on to. The doom and gloom picture of loneliness is always associated with people who live alone or who do not surround themselves with friends or family.

Not everyone likes the constant company of others in their presence. Not everyone likes people in general. This is not a character flaw but a chosen way to live but society constantly preaches that we all must live within circles of friendship. It is far better to be comfortable and alone with yourself than to force feed yourself with so called friendships that may or may not be genuine.

I live in an apartment complex for seniors with 228 units. The complex is fully occupied. Less than 20 percent of the tenants attend social activities that are sponsored by the property management. Many of us prefer our privacy and do not need to listen to the constant chatter and complaining of our neighbors. Sometimes, once you open your door to another person, you may never be able to close that door if things don't work out.

Everyone will live and die according to God's timetable so spreading the tale of doom and gloom about loneliness is useless. If you are a person who thrives on friendships, good for you but if you prefer the silence and peace of your thoughts, then don't believe that your life will be short and unfulfilling just because of your choice to live solo.

by: jojo-calfornia

i cannnot recall a time where i’ve had 10 friends at any time. i’m an introvert. i’ve heard suggestions to find friends much the same as finding a date: take a class in what you’re interested in! perhaps find others with your illness/disability (tho some people want to get out of that "bubble"), go to church! (some of us are not religious) join a gym (nope for me on that one) some also cost more $ than we have.

here’s how it goes where i live: people early in the morning walk from house to car (or apartment to garage i guess) then walk from car to home at the end of the day. or coach bus takes them to and from office (can you guess from all this where i live?)

there’s no need to mow the front lawn (gardeners do it) or wash the car (done elsewhere i guess) there’s no need to buy groceries, apps and delivery for that, or go shopping, online for that.

if someone happens to have a front porch, no one uses it even though they might have chairs or a bench to. for safety reasons, children don’t play in their front yards or up and down the street or i guess they’re inside online.

a few folks walk their dogs.

just saying "hi" to someone gets you a suspicious look or nothing in reply... and i live in the same neighborhood i grew up in!

But how?
by: Anonymous

Other people seem to have all the friends and family they need. It is very hard to put yourself out there, only to be given the brush off. Though we keep trying!

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