Midlife, I was caught up with my job, marriage, caring for aging and then dying parents, etc. Then I turned 60, only to find myself single, without children or a family, and just plain lonely. For a while, I was looking to remarry, but found dating sites were not for me as I wanted more wholesome men. I turned my focus from dating to just finding friendships. It is difficult to just meet people, male or female, to develop friendships. My job isn’t really offering that avenue, nor my hobbies, nor do I have a church to draw from. I don’t drink, and I don’t dance, and I don’t have a pet. Any suggestions?
Lonely in a small town,
Cathy R., Kansas
True friendships are really a blessing and they seem to come up in unlikely places. It may also be that one person will not fulfill all your wishes for a friendship, so perhaps there are several people who can each fill a part. For example, maybe a friendship from the past can be rekindled? Maybe this person is in your season of life, and you can understand, empathize with, and support one another.
It may also be nice to meet people who share your interests. Now is not the time for traveling, but maybe in the future, a group tour in your area of interest might be a way to meet like-minded folks. Or maybe you could try a solo trip. Generally, when we travel, we become more open to making new connections, and sometimes these last a lifetime.
Closer to home, perhaps taking a workshop or class in a nearby town or city might also be a good way to meet like-minded people.
Another way to fill the void more locally is to see where you might be of service in your community. This may not lead to close friendships, but being of service also fills the heart. Does the idea of working with children or the elderly appeal? Or maybe giving a class in your hobby area? Organizing a clean-up in a local park? Making baked goods for families in need? Or you could offer to come over and hold the infant of a neighbor so she can take a break.
There are so many ways to give; choose one that inspires you.
I am a homeschooling mom of two young children. I have been involved in a very wonderful co-op for the last two years. However, this year for personal reasons, I decided to go with a private school-type of homeschooling. I still wish to remain friends with our former co-op families; however, some dynamics are currently making this difficult.
Before I made my decision to leave the co-op, three other ladies and I had been talking about forming our own smaller group. Then, one of the ladies (let’s call her Friend #4) decided to join a different co-op but did not tell us right away. We found out when we started trying to plan our own co-op and now the rest of us are hurt, and we don’t know what to do about Friend #4. We really needed her guidance and light. I didn’t feel we could be successful without her. She said that she didn’t mean for it to seem like we couldn’t have our other co-op still, but the other ladies (rightfully, in my opinion) feel that we should invest our time in just one circle of friends.
I’m disappointed right now because I shared something very sensitive yesterday (in a text), and Friend #4 didn’t even comment. This tells me that she is shying away from us because she has some discomfort about the way she handled the situation (although I freely admit that I am not a mind reader). Personally, I am not nearly as upset as my other two friends are. Friend #4 has almost as many children as the rest of us put together. So I get why she did what she did. She has to do what’s best for her family, right? But now if I even hang out with her, or let her daughter hang out with my daughter, my other two friends are going to be angry. What do I do with everyone?
Adrianne B., California
Human dynamics can be so complex—especially among us ladies and especially when times are stressful. Giving grace to others can really take so much burden off our shoulders. It sounds like you are already doing this, but try pushing it a bit further.
There could be any number of innocent reasons for Friend #4’s poor handling of the co-op situation and her silence after your text. It may also be you are seeing a weak, thoughtless side of her, or perhaps she is also overwhelmed and struggling. In any case, the beauty of giving grace is that you don’t need to know, you can just allow her (and your other friends) to be where they are—faults and all.
From within grace—which should be a calmer place—do some deep, honest reflection, and then have a heart-to-heart conversation with Friend #4 about how you and the group may have come across to her.
It may be painful to hear her reasons for leaving, so you may want to wait until you feel grounded and able to listen. Using some terminology from nonviolent communication may also help keep the conversation on the right track.
Hopefully what comes to light will also help your other friends understand and let go of any hard feelings toward Friend #4. But if they continue to be upset and your daughter really enjoys the company of Friend #4’s children, I see no reason why you shouldn’t get together. Of course we should be considerate of others’ emotions, but we cannot let them dictate our lives.
Do you have a question for our advice columnist, Dear June? Whether it’s a frustrating family matter, a social etiquette issue, a minor annoyance, or a big life question, send it to DearJune@EpochTimes.com or Attn: Dear June, The Epoch Times, 229 W. 28th St., Floor 7, New York, NY 10001
June Kellum is a married mother of two and longtime Epoch Times journalist covering family, relationships, and health topics.