Tag Archives: friendship

Dating in Later Life…for Friends

friendship

friendshipI went on a date recently. No, I wasn’t cheating on my husband. I was meeting a friend of a friend for coffee.

Much like real “set-ups,” I put this one off for a long time. Our mutual friend had introduced us months ago. And while I periodically emailed this woman – and she me – to try and find a convenient place and date, neither one of us really put much effort into it. The meeting languished on my “long” To Do list, falling somewhere between “polish silver jewelry” and “figure out religion.”

And then, one day, when I was scrolling through my email, I came across her name and thought: “What the heck?”

Finding Your Type

I’ve written before about how hard it can be to find your “type” when you’re dating for friends in adulthood.

On the surface, this lady I eventually met up with had everything going for her: she was a psycho-therapist (and we all know how I love a good therapist), she specialises in mid-life transitions (Hello!) and she was Jewish (Nuff’ said).

But, of course, people can look great on paper and still be total duds in real life. (I once went on a date with a guy in DC who seemed like reasonable enough boyfriend material, but who then spent the entire evening telling me how he’d been been listed as one of Washington’s 100 most powerful people. Right after telling me his salary and his work-out regime.) Blech.

Not so here. Within half an hour, this therapist and I began jointly analyzing the link between my being the youngest of four children and how that affects my attitudes towards my own kids’ sibling rivalry.

I knew I’d found my people. By the time we ordered our second pot of fresh mint tea, I was in love.

Why Real Life Friendships Matter

In the hyper-connected world which we all inhabit these days, it’s easy to fall back on virtual friends.  I, myself, have made loads of friends Online over the years. Some of those friendships have now claimed a seat at the table on my personal Board of Directors. Others are people I simply enjoy catching up with from time to time on Facebook.

But the internet can’t yield the sort of benefits that derive from close, real-life friendships. Research shows that having robust, diverse social relationships can have a host of wellness benefits, including longevity, happiness and professional success.

And it’s not just close friends who matter, either. The New York Times recently published an article on the importance of loose ties. The thrust of the article was that by cultivating low-level friendships at places we frequent – whether churches, bars or PTA meetings – we become less lonely and more empathetic. These “low stakes” friendships are also a fantastic source of recommendations for everything from hair salons to accountants.

The Value of Friendship

In a compelling column in 2014, New York Times columnist David Brooks declared that if someone magically gave him $500 million, he’d use it to foster adult friendships. His vision was sort of like a giant summer camp, composed of grown-ups drawn from all different backgrounds. Brooks believes that having close friends helps you make better decisions, adhere to a higher standard of behavior, and – ultimately – be more authentic.

I’m totally with him. I’m not sure I’ve got the cash right now to go to camp. But I do know that I need to keep putting myself out there, meeting new people, and soldering old ties.

In the meantime, I’m having dinner next month with my new Bestie. She’s bringing her husband and I’m bringing mine.

Who knows? Maybe they’ll become friends too.

Image: Backlit Dawn Foggy Friendship by Helen Lopes via Pexels

Breaking Up With Friends: Online…and In Real Life

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She doesn’t know it, of course. Because I don’t know her.

In that curious Online way in which we now Friend and Follow and Subscribe to many of our “friends,” you can just as easily unfriend, unfollow or unsubscribe to someone’s feed and they won’t necessarily even know that it happened.

It was a weird experience for me, nonetheless – the end of this relationship. She was one of the very first bloggers that I began to follow, long before I launched my own blog. I followed her because she seemed wise and funny and edgy. Most of all, she had super-insightful tips on an array of topics that interested me concerning blogging and career change and work/life balance.

Over time, however, she began to blog less and less about these professional topics and more and more about her personal life. That didn’t bother me, at first. For starters, she has a super-interesting personal life. And she’s also got a terrific voice. And, let’s be honest, blogging is an inherently narcissistic activity. So if you don’t have a strong voice, it really doesn’t work. (Thank goodness for all of us that narcissism is no longer in the DSM…)

Read the rest of this post over at Better After 50

Image: Symbols Icon Like Www Online Favorite Internet via MaxPixel

Coping With Depression: A Poem

Some people I’m close to are going through some difficult times right now. Some are having relationship problems, others are enduring career crises, and some are just very, very low.

So in the spirit of Valentine’s Day – which is, at the end of the day, a celebration of friendship and love – I thought I’d post this poem written by the fabulous Colleen Wainwright of Communicatrix fame.

I’ve been sending it around a lot lately:

For Occasional Blues

When you are low

—and you will be,
just as sure as you
may not be now—

it is good to have
a few necessities in stock
to keep the beasts
at bay.

Like your day at Point Dume,
and that wall of wind pushing back
as you sung the first three lines
of fifty pop songs
against it
while your heart screamed,
my ocean!

Or sinking into the air-cooled comfort
of first show at the Grove
and tucking your chilled toes
up under your tush
as you prepared
to disappear
for two delicious hours

Or the heat of the tarpaper tiles
on the low-slanted roof
as you baked between classes
beside your traveling companion,
passing salted Ruffles
and a half-quart tub of sour cream
back and forth
against the prospect
of imminent minor discomfort.

The trick
if there is one
is to recall specifics
with the precision
of an ichthyologist
aligning individual scales:
the feel of leaning in
the nap of new velour
the slope of the incline

And if you can’t,
make it up

But precisely

God is in the details
even if you are the god
who put them there

and it is through these million
man-made pinholes
that you will reconnect
with the All-That-Is
and find the love
that eludes you now.

Send this to someone you love. We all need a pick-me-up once in awhile…

Image: Depression by Canonsnapper via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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Networking in Adulthood: Dating For Friends…Online

One of the great things about blogging is that you get to read all this stuff you’d never come into contact with normally, simply because you are now paying attention to – say – adulthood. This past week, for example, I can’t tell you how many wonderful reviews I’ve read of the movie, Where The Wild Things Are, all of which talked about its appeal for grown-ups.

Another great thing about blogging is that you get to know (ok, e-know) all different kinds of people whom you’d never meet in real life. That connection might come about because they left a comment on your blog or started following you on Twitter. Or because you saw them interviewed on someone else’s blog and you decided to get in touch. Whatever the source, the social side of blogging is one if its many wonderful attractions.

It was through a combination of these two channels that I came to discover my new e-BFF, Sharon Hyman. I was scrolling through one of the many “search alerts” I routinely send out on topics like “adulthood” and “middle age,” when I came across an article in the Canadian National Post entitled Imposter Adults. Intrigued, I read on. It was all about Sharon’s reflections on the process of growing up. It read:

I always thought that being a grownup meant you had the external trappings of adulthood: marriage, kids, a mortgage, maybe even a driver’s licence! Of course, having none of these, I presumed I couldn’t possibly be seen as a proper adult in this society. I also figured that being a grown-up meant that you had conquered the hopeless insecurities and fears that derailed you in high school –again, something I have yet to achieve. With these thoughts in mind, I set out to discover if anyone really feels like a grown-up on the inside, and what the concept of grown-uphood really means.

Sound familiar?

I immediately went to Sharon’s website, Neverbloomers (subtitle: The Search For GrownUphood), where I found out that she’s actually making a movie about said topic. I watched the hysterically funny video on the front page of the website, which includes clips from some of her interviews for the film.

And then – because who am I to turn down a personality test when proferred? – I took the Neverbloomer “Have You Found Your Inner Adult Quiz?” (Needless to say, I haven’t, though I did receive the result “grown up in training” which sounded about right to me).

I promptly emailed Sharon to express my delight and appreciation at having found her website. The rest is history. We’re now “friends” on Facebook.

I once wrote a commentary for Chicago Public Radio about the elusive search for female friends in adulthood. The thrust of the piece was to illustrate – by example – what a nightmare it is to have to “date” for friends once you grow up and have kids. But in this brave new world where most community-building takes place online, that’s all gone now. And so, like millions of men and women before me – I’m now discovering the joys of online “dating”…for friends.

And what a joy it is.

*****

Speaking of e-friendships, follow me on Twitter.


Image: 42/365 Meet My Best Friend II by Leah Mancl via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

Can I Groom You?: The Importance of Female Friendships in Adulthood

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately.

It started when Double X announced a new advice column called Friend or Foe by Lucinda Rosenfeld focusing on female friendship. At first, this struck me as a rather “girlie” topic for this particular women’s magazine. And then I thought, why not? Rosenfeld is absolutely right that most women spend far more time talking about other women than they do about their boyfriends/husbands/partners.

Then I saw The Duchess, a period drama in which the bond between two women is so strong that it survives one of them becoming the mistress of the other’s husband…even sharing a house!

Finally, I read about this new study out of UCLA arguing that baboons whose mothers have stronger female ties are much more likely to survive into adulthood. Interestingly, it’s not about the number of social ties – but their intensity – that seems to matter for the reproductive success of their offspring.

As someone who’s been likened to a rhesus monkey on more than one occasion, perhaps I was unduly drawn to this particular line of research.

But I also think it’s true. I’m not sure if close female friendships make me (or anyone) a better mother, but I am convinced that they are an essential part of a happy adulthood.

I regularly exchange emails with two friends of mine from Chicago, even though I haven’t seen either of them in three years and it’s unlikely that we’ll ever live in the same place again. But we met when we were all new mothers. And the intensity of that bond has kept us emailing about politics…parenting…literature – you name it – on a regular basis to this very day.

Ditto for my older friends from college and graduate school.

I have one historian friend who felt so close to another colleague that they decided to write a novel together. They each took one of the two main characters and then lobbed the plot back and forth to one another over email like a tennis game. She told me that it was an absolute blast and I’m sure it was also one of the most gratifying things she’s done professionally.

I wish I had better insight into what makes adult female friendships so essential. There’s the obvious bond of motherhood and all the agony and ecstasy that giving birth and raising a kid implies. But I find that these bonds are just as important for my friends who don’t have children.

One clue may come from the baboon study, which says that there’s something about the grooming process between females which lowers the release of hormones that induce stress.

I don’t know about you, but I plan to carry a hairbrush with me to my next ladies night out…

*****

Further to Monday’s post about freelancing during a recession, I came across this humorous and thoughtful blog – pink slip – about the travails of being a freelancer.

Image: Baboon Concentrating by patries71 via Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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