Friends and social isolation later in life

Not sure where to toss this one, so IMHO it is. (Mods May Move, Merci.)

Two articles in the NYT, one new, one a reprint from 2012, have brought forward the issues of social isolation in later life and the difficulty of making friends after one’s 30s or so.

[li]NYT on social isolation[/li][li]NYT on loss/difficulty of acquiring friends later in life (2012)[/li][/ul]
A lot of this resonated with me. Dopers over 40 or so… thoughts?

I’m over 40. I just don’t have time to form the close personal friendships that I formed in the past. My best friends over the last few years were people I just happened to be stationed with overseas, where we all had a lot of free time. My other closest friend now is someone I used to work with for 4 years.

I guess not having time is what I’m saying.

Is it lack of time or lack of desire to make the required time & effort?

I look at my teenage son and he’s fit to be tied if he has to sit around at home. He’d sooner just go hang out with his friends and do nothing with them. Then do it all over again the next day and pretty much any day of the week.

I remember that being the case when I was his age too.

Now, I just want to be left alone. I won’t even bother to pick up the phone. Just let it go to voicemail. I’m busy. I have 250 channels of shit on the TV to surf!

When I was young I’d hang out with a bunch of people and only liked a couple of them, because that is what you did, and that is how you got out of the house. Now it is MY house and I just don’t have time (read: interest) in hanging out with a bunch of people all the time, only some of whom I like.

I wonder if money is also an issue? It often costs money to socialise. Even a walk together costs time, time which you could be using to earn money.

I work out of my house, so the only place I get to socialize is at the gym.
I made a new friend this year, a guy about 2/3 my age, who started out as my training partner, and soon became a very close friend. It’s one of the best things to happen to me in quite a while.

Or time you could be napping.

I always was pretty much a loner. Any friendships when I was younger tended to end after awhile. However, these days I have developed friendships with people running our sf convention, as well as those I.know from other cons.

Friendship is something that generally develops from casual acquaintance. I think that when you’re in school and later at work, you find yourself in regular contact with a group of people. This gives you an automatic pool of potential friends. Later in life, people often have fewer opportunities to meet new people.

I’ve found that interests diverge as people get older, which also makes forming new friendship problematic. People are good acquaintances but deep friendship are harder to do.

Yes, this is a problem. There’s another thread about going for surgery or a medical procedure where the instruction is to have someone drive you home (and sometimes have someone with you the entire time you’re at the hospital or outpatient facility). If you’re isolated, then there may be no one you can impose on for this. There are various small chores around the house that really need a second person to accomplish.

A lot of it is definitely the tolerance level- my tolerance for people’s antics dropped significantly after college. Haven’t had trouble making friends since, though moving around a lot also inhibits deep connections.

As I get older, the friendships I do strike up are situational. They’re people I hang with at work, or church or some place else. We’re on Facebook with each other, but we don’t actually socialize together, and when the situation changes we go our separate ways.

My wife retired nine years ago, and she’s made exactly one new friend since then.

I’m nearly 60, widowed for nearly 10 years, work from home in a very rural environment in an area with no family members close by. I definitely have to work harder at having friendships – but it’s not that difficult.

Meet Up is a lifesaver, maybe literally one day. I joined a group with common interests (Center for Inquiry - Skeptics, so mostly atheists), and now have quite a lovely collection of friends upon whom I can call for most anything. We get together frequently for dinner parties, card games, weekly coffee and almost everything in between.

I joined a neighborhood women’s group. We meet monthly for a potluck at someone’s home, sometimes raise money for a local charity but mostly just hang out and jaw about neighborhood happenings. I met most of my neighbors through this group, and that’s a nice thing.

Also available for rural dwellers are grange halls. There are 2 that are quite active in my neighborhood and I drop in periodically to keep up with the happenings. If I’m not careful, they’ll recruit me to help with no end of local festivals and such like! If I lived in town, I might check out the local Lion’s, Elk’s or Rotary clubs.

There is one neighborhood cafe where the folks hang out for coffee and conversation, so that’s another option, though not one I have exercised much. Too busy.

I learned long ago that to have good friends, you have to be a good friend. I entertain regularly, at least once or twice a month. If someone is in need, I try to offer my help before the person has to ask for it.

I’m comfortable with being on my own and so far, I’m able to take care of my place, my livestock and all the rest. But when the day comes that I need to move closer to town and proximity to the friends I have made, I won’t hesitate. Meantime, I do consider myself fortunate to have friends I can call on for help when I need it.

To me, a “friend” is someone you can call up pretty much any time and make any reasonable request or just shoot the shit for a while, no particular driving need involved. If you have to have a reason, and the interaction ends when that reason is satisfied, it’s “acquaintance” or “neighbor” or whatever, but not “friend.”

I guess I could have written any of the above posts, details aside. In my mid-50s, I have moved on from nearly every person I ever thought of as a friend. Too many of them moved on to the next plane of existence, unfortuately. I was connected to several “communities” in California and when we moved to small-town New England five years ago, I got into local politics and community efforts.

However, I seem to have lost what scant ability I had to turn association/acquaintance into even the first stage of friendship, even after becoming a known and reasonably valued member of the town’s involved folks, other school parents, fellow giant dog owners, etc.

I assumed it was just me. I have always been content to be alone, most of the, and never freaked out because I wasn’t socializing; I’ve been sparing and selective with friendships. I am not sure how to feel in slowly learning that it’s not just me, but that it’s perhaps more common to have few or no friends than the opposite - at least, if some narrow criterion is going to be applied and everyone who follows your FB page isn’t being considered a “friend.”

In this of all eras, how did we end up so isolated?

All of my life, I’ve had only a handful of close friends at a time. The older I get, the more difficult it is to make friends and keep them. I’m an introvert by nature–love being at home, puttering around the house, reading, gardening, whatever. Combine that with raising three kids by myself and I’m enjoying the peace and quiet that’s come along when they all moved out on their own.

In the past couple of years I’ve ended two high maintenance friendships and while I do sometime miss that companionship, I don’t miss it enough to try too hard to find new friends.

Two things.

First, in this internet age we get lots of friends. But IMO a virtual friend is nowhere the same as an IRL one.

Second. And you can see it expressed here often. Well, I was friends with my ole in real life Friend Bob, but then he posted some shit I just really do not fucking like. Bob is no longer a friend.

So, not only is the net replacing “real friends” with “virtual friends”…but it also giving any random twit (aka most humans) some reason to hate their real friends.

True. Kind of an aside, though… or is it? Are we replacing the time and effort of RL friends with the imaginary friends of the wondernet?

For one thing, I avoid “friending” family and acquaintances I see in RL. Easier to keep the two worlds distinct. Meaning I’ve never broken off with an RL friend because of online BS.

This is one of the main reasons I am NOT on Facebook (that and I think the founder is one serious cocksucker).

Sounds like the plot to “I Love You Man”.

It’s a combination of not having to rely on other people while at the same having greater means to entertain ourselves and provide for superficial social needs.

You can go on SDMB or Facebook and have a random conversation. You can binge-watch TV, park yourself in front of a videogame or surf the web for hours. By the same token, people talk about “friends” who they will do anything for and will do anything for them. But how frequently do people need a friend to do something that significant?

Here’s what I’ve noticed in my 40s. With a wife and soon to be two kids I barely have time to go to activities I’m invited to, let alone proactively cultivate a social life. But as most of my friends are in a similar situation and scattered all over, most seem content to meet up for drinks or dinner once and awhile or for special events or just catching up on Facebook.

I have a couple of friends who are still single in their 40s. They always seem to be doing stuff. But honestly, I just don’t have time to hang out all night drinking or learning the drums or whatever. When I was single in my 20s, sure. I look for any opportunity to get out of the apartment.