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Old 10-25-2007, 06:17 AM   #21
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I don't actually consider my individual self to be my basic unit. I always identified myself with my role in a meaningful group. It is this kind of tight identification which is hard for a single adult to recreate.
i've sailed similar waters but taken a much different tack.

while i've often lived a highly social life with tons of acquaintences & friends (developing out of that more than my share of best & good friends), with successful love relationships, tight immediate family & good relations even with an abundant extended family, active membership in organizations, civic participation and the like, i never--not once to my convenient memory--identified myself by those associations for the purpose of knowing myself. i never even put on a nametag at one of their events. if anything, i always felt a bit out of place even with family and friends, frankly with pretty much everyone except maybe my partner and my mom.

i define myself not by what i have accumulated nor accomplished nor by whom i have known but rather by what i am not. take away my friends, am i still not who i was? remove my accumulations, do i cease to be? take away my memberships, am i still not me? if i have no one to talk to, if there is no one to see, if i lose even my arms and my legs have i diminished in the slightest or am i still 100% me?

we are born alone and alone by ourselves we die. we can live as lonely in a group as the solitary can be attended. it is that kind of world.

"the worst loneliness is not to be comfortable with yourself."~~mark twain
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Old 10-25-2007, 09:24 AM   #22
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When I was married my DH was my best friend and we did everything together .When he died I lost my social life and I promised myself I would never make one person my social life again .Fast forward nine years and my SO is my best friend and my social life .I guess I never learn .
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:11 AM   #23
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Volunteer. It makes you feel good about yourself and you meet others who share your interests.

Re-shelve books at the library.

Habitat for Humanity has admin, office, warehouse/retail, homeowner education, AND construction work. My wife was attending socials that folded and addressed hundreds of their local newsletters.

I do maintenance on the Arizona Trail with some retirees, all are SS age. Many of them have hiked the 2200 miles of the Appalacian Trail. Their knowledge and experience is amazing.

Pick up trash in public, outdoor places. No socializing but immediate positive feedback from yourself. No schedule, no boss, but unlimited opportunity. If you do it early on trash pickup day, you can put your collection in the waiting garbage cans.

Take courses at the local community college. Tuition is free for age 65+ in my county.
I can't help thinking that you are describing w*rk as an antidote to loneliness in retirement; which defeats the purpose of early retirement.

Isn't volunteer w*rk still w*rk? Does - not being paid for it make it ok? (or worse?)

I know there are plenty of possible things to do during the day and I am not trying to answer the "what will you do all day?" question. Fact is many retired folks are lonesome. It is rempant in today's world. I am not even saying ER but plain old retired >65 folks.

Many I think in there working life had only there immediate familly (DW, DH, parents) in their social circle; plus the obligatory w*rk acquaintances to have lunch with once in a while.
When you go to ER do you want to socialize with the same w*rking stiffs or would that seem to much like w*rk (what will you talk about beside w*rk with them)?
Having children seem a good way to avoid this syndrome. I know I like to do much with my DS. My parents seem to rely on us also.

Seems to me that there is a specific challenge to ER wrt relationships. It is much more important to create a social tissue around you since you will be retired for a lot longer than most folks.

Question is how to do that without going back to w*rk such as volunteer, 2nd career etc. For a while getting to do things might make you forget that in fact you are alone but for how long time?
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:12 AM   #24
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When I was married my DH was my best friend and we did everything together .When he died I lost my social life and I promised myself I would never make one person my social life again .Fast forward nine years and my SO is my best friend and my social life .I guess I never learn .
Maybe you're being a bit tough on yourself. Some people just naturally are most comfortable with a single "other" being at the center of their lives. If you lose that, it is a terrible loss, but as you have shown, you just get back going and maybe another will fit into that place for you.

DW and I sometimes marvel at one couple in particular in our circle of friends. That couple is constantly planning outings, Superbowl parties, golf games - a virtual summer camp. In some ways we admire them and their huge entourage, while at other times we get a glimpse suggesting that they are not really close with any of those people. With our group of maybe 8 closer friends we are generally pretty content.

Lots of ways to avoid loneliness and for some of us, it doesn't take a big crowd.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:27 AM   #25
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Isn't volunteer w*rk still w*rk? Does - not being paid for it make it ok? (or worse?)
If this is your volunteer experience then maybe you need a new volunteer experience.

Volunteering is like work without any of the accompanying crap-- because volunteers won't put up with that! To me, volunteering is the job we've all encountered that evoked a "Wow, this is fun!" reaction, followed by "Yeah, but it'll never pay a living wage." Well, now you can stay in the "fun!" stage without having to worry about the "Yeah, but"s.

One odd thing we've learned about volunteering-- we ERs know more about some of the things we've volunteered for than the paid employees. You would think that they'd have the wisdom that comes from being paid to learn (since it's their job) but our advantage is having the time to explore & learn as much as we want.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:48 AM   #26
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Many of the posts here sort of miss the point. The posts downplay the issue of retirement unhappiness that evidently around 25 percent of the retiree population undergoes. Some of the posts suggest if you only do X or Y or Z (like me) then you find Nirvana. See I am so happy, you just need to be more like me, and then you will come around.

As an ER, at least you have the option to go back to work if that so suits you. But when you are nearing or above retirement age you just may get to the point where nobody wants to hire you. Or that the place where you once worked and that once defined you has now moved on and the option to go back just doesn't exist anymore.

If hanging around the coffee shop or stacking books at the library seems kind of pointless or seems like a tremendous under-utilization of your talents. If the interactions with others in a similar situation seem kind of pointless then your own sense of self-worth can be undermined.

It may not be as easy for some to transition to retirement as for others.

As for me, I'll admit it, I don't have an enormous social circle or really want to have such. I have a few hobbies but can't help but wonder if they will really take up the time when I pull the plug.

I can say that I am (mostly) happy now. I do wonder though about how I'll cope with not working when I retire and have some concerns about my continued contentedness. I can say though that lately I no longer dislike working, now that I could hang it up if I so choose. My attitude towards working has really changed. I'd also have to agree with the volunteer thing... If I am going to work at something I may as well get paid for it.

So for now, for me, I think I'll just keep working. I'll re-evaluate the whole situation in a year or two.
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Old 10-25-2007, 10:50 AM   #27
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If this is your volunteer experience then maybe you need a new volunteer experience.

Volunteering is like work without any of the accompanying crap-- because volunteers won't put up with that! To me, volunteering is the job we've all encountered that evoked a "Wow, this is fun!" reaction, followed by "Yeah, but it'll never pay a living wage." Well, now you can stay in the "fun!" stage without having to worry about the "Yeah, but"s.

One odd thing we've learned about volunteering-- we ERs know more about some of the things we've volunteered for than the paid employees. You would think that they'd have the wisdom that comes from being paid to learn (since it's their job) but our advantage is having the time to explore & learn as much as we want.
Well I never really had the time to have a "real" volunteer job to this date. I won't argue that there is significant difference between paid and volunteer work. I think you describe it just about the right way without mentioning the words "office politics"

Anyway I hope that this thread stays more on the loneliness/social issue not what you can do to occupy your time.

I can already see relationships changing mid-40s and having my own consulting business. It is just not the same as being 30 and employed. Relashionships are different with the guys I am in contact with. I am starting to rely more on DW for socialization at this time and need to attach myself to other grounds. Only if we move... well moving is almost like starting a new social circle over from nil.

Men and women may approach this very differently as lsbcal eluded to. For what I read in the past the psychology of men and women evolve very differently during their lifetime.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:03 AM   #28
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When you go to ER do you want to socialize with the same w*rking stiffs or would that seem to much like w*rk (what will you talk about beside w*rk with them)?
I still visit with my former co-workers on occasion. If I run across something that would possibly interest them, I'll swing down there and drop it off. Or if I'm out running errands, or grabbing a cup of coffee, I might drop in to say "Hi" and visit for a while. In fact I needed a small favor the other day, and one of them obliged, so today I'm taking him a bag of tomatoes and peppers from my garden.

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Lots of ways to avoid loneliness and for some of us, it doesn't take a big crowd.
I've always found that if I keep busy and/or active with something (anything), then loneliness doesn't have a chance. I learned how to adapt when I was the only person on 2nd shift for over 12 years...everyone else was on 1st shift. My actual w*rk only took 2 to 3 hours a day to complete, the other 5 to 6 hours I was basically there as a night watchman, so I had loads of time to kill. I spent most of it reading or building model kits. (no computers there back then)

Now that I'm ER'd, I go out to my train room, and spend hour after hour out there....by myself.....and totally lose track of time! Like lg4nb quoted, "..solitude is a word to express the glory of being alone."
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:04 AM   #29
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From my mere 37 year old perspective, I think people who are lonely (deep down) or just loners even while "employed" and surrounded by people will experience a greater sense of lonliness upon retirement.

Not everyone is very social creature. I have acquantainces who come to work, go home, go to work, maybe spend a dinner with family once in a blue moon (ie: holidays) - and their idea of a good evening is hanging on the couch watching the boob tube...these types are as fascinating to me as my hectic by choice life is to them.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:21 AM   #30
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My husband and daughter were my social life too. When my daughter leaves home, probably within the next year and a half, I will lose my social connection. All of your comments are really helpful to me...thank you.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:28 AM   #31
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Anyway I hope that this thread stays more on the loneliness/social issue not what you can do to occupy your time.
I understand what your saying, however it's difficult, if not impossible to separate the loneliness/social issue, from time-occupation. They are all intertwined and interrelated. How one occupies their time, has great bearing on their social interactions. If I stay inside my four walls, there's little if any chance for social contact. But if I'm "getting it out there" as Want2retire stated, then my social life takes an up-turn. IMHO, our post-ER "occupations" pretty much determine our loneliness/contentment factor.
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Old 10-25-2007, 11:43 AM   #32
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My husband and daughter were my social life too. When my daughter leaves home, probably within the next year and a half, I will lose my social connection. All of your comments are really helpful to me...thank you.
This hit me like a ton of bricks when my youngest son went to college. Without quite knowing what I was doing, I then depended more on my dog. Then last spring, he died, a month later my wife wanted out of our marriage.

Then I understood that I had been BS-ing myself, and that I had to get to work to re-energize some old relationships, find some new ones, keep up with my brothers and sisters- I almost always talk to all of them weekly- but they don't live in my area.

Some seem to imagine that distraction is the point. A definite misunderstanding. What most of us who need people are after is a solid, two way human connection. To load all one's needs in the area of human connection onto a spouse or SO is hard on him or her, and while often comfortable especially for dyed-in-the wool introverts, it is prone to sudden failure. For example, every marriage must end in death of a partner or divorce. The only other way out is to die together.

The other thing is that for some but clearly not all, people are more interesting than inanimate things. More interesting but harder to source. Anyone with a credit card can have all the toys he might want, but people in your life have to be earned.

Ha
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:00 PM   #33
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Ha, I really understand where you are coming from. Yep... I still have my dog but human connections/bonds, especially for introverts, only happen with special people. Those people are hard to find but oh so wonderful when that happens.
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Old 10-25-2007, 12:09 PM   #34
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I understand what your saying, however it's difficult, if not impossible to separate the loneliness/social issue, from time-occupation. They are all intertwined and interrelated. How one occupies their time, has great bearing on their social interactions. If I stay inside my four walls, there's little if any chance for social contact. But if I'm "getting it out there" as Want2retire stated, then my social life takes an up-turn. IMHO, our post-ER "occupations" pretty much determine our loneliness/contentment factor.
I agree with you. I just hope the answer that you guys come up with is not work.
It is kind of hard to replace a complete 40 hours of social interaction everyday at work. There are plenty of things to do but many of them won't necessary lead to significant social interaction other than usual small talk "nice weather today" and other than the family interaction.

This intermediate circle in between family and neighbors is the hardest one to build. That would be a circle of (close) friends maybe or a circle you like to interact with regularly. Since ER is not about work you probably don't want to hang around former coworkers too much so I guess one would have to make a point to find as many social activities to build a new circle of friends to confide to, to support and to get help from when needed.
Of course everyone is different so some may not need that circle at all. Also circumstances are different, some may or may not have local family ties for example.
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:13 PM   #35
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I moved to the DFW area 24 years ago, to work for MegaCorpGlomerate. Within three years, wifey and kids were headed back north... No "childhood" friends around, so most friends were associated with w***. This worked well for a few years, but attrition took its' toll. One by one, the gang started getting married, changing companies, moving back "home". Mutual interests waxed and waned along the way. Had some relatively long-term romantic relationships as well...

I will have to actively seek new social relationships in retirement, which will be no small feat for a INTP! Thankfully, I'm can be a bit of a clown social butterfly when necessary, plus I'm pretty good at "alone"...
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Old 10-25-2007, 01:44 PM   #36
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A few years ago, I read the book "Get A Life: You Don't Need A Million to Retire Well". Among the advice I remember the author giving was to start cultivating BEFORE one retires not only interests, hobbies, and passions but also relationships with family and friends.

It is hard to build relationships so it is prudent advice for all of us to start now and not wait until after we retire.

Of course, this poses a harder challenge for retirees who are going to move away to another place where they may not have friends or family. They'll have no choice but to start after they retire unless they get the chance to vacation to their new retirement place and get to know some people there first.

Here is an excerpt from above book:
...be sure to read the conversations with the energized, life-embracing seniors that appear between the chapters of this book. When each was asked, "What is the most important thing a middle-aged person can do to prepare for retirement?," all came up with pretty much the same list:
- "Learn new things"
- "Develop lots of interests"
- "Find useful ways to connect to the world"
- "Cultivate important family relationships and friendships", and
- "Take steps to protect your health."

I'm not retired yet so I rely on books and the advice on this forum. It's been brought up before that part of the planning of retirement includes the psychological and emotional aspects, and not just the financial and physical ones. So part of the retirement plan should cover relationships. Not to say that I have a plan as comprehensive as this, but it's good to not forget this part of retirement planning.

It's interesting how with financial preparation for retirement, for sure our pile of money matters and the bigger the pile, the better shape a retiree is in. But because we don't all have a huge store of wealth when we retire, the skills to monitor expenses, adjust, and invest also matter a great deal.

It seems to me it's similar with relationships. Your "store" or "cache" of friends & close family members (the number and quality of relationships) matter but the ability to make new relationships and maintain the old ones would matter even more. So if we were wise, we would start now with building our relationships so that we get practice with this set of skills.
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Old 10-25-2007, 03:23 PM   #37
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Do you think that there are places where social integration may be more difficult?
Rephrasing what was written on the board or somewhere else before:
(hope this does-not offend anyone...)
- Seattle "somewhat distant" - Texas "really friendly" - NH "into themselves people" - NJ "on our guard" - Florida "everyone is looking for new friends" - Cal. "everyone is from somewhere else" ?? ??

In a big city you might more chance to meet people?
The weather might play a role. About cold-long winters?
Here is the list for people friendliness in travel and leisure (of course friendliness is not the only thing,,,) from best to worse

14.65Charleston24.57New Orleans34.56Minneapolis/St. Paul44.55Nashville54.52Austin64.46Portland, Oregon74.44Honolulu84.42San Antonio94.27Santa Fe10 4.27Denver114.25Seattle124.20Chicago134.19San Diego144.10San Francisco154.05Atlanta164.03Orlando173.97Dallas/Fort Worth183.84Phoenix/Scottsdale193.79Las Vegas203.65Philadelphia213.63Boston223.52Miami233.51Washington, D.C.243.51New York253.30Los Angeles
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:14 PM   #38
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I guess I never learn.

and yet you know you have. learning is revealing what we always knew but hid from ourselves. life is a game of hide and go seek.

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I can't help thinking that you are describing w*rk as an antidote to loneliness in retirement; which defeats the purpose of early retirement....It is much more important to create a social tissue around you since you will be retired for a lot longer than most folks....how to do that without going back to w*rk such as volunteer, 2nd career etc. For a while getting to do things might make you forget that in fact you are alone but for how long time?

& (as there seems a running theme)
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From my mere 37 year old perspective, I think people who are lonely (deep down) or just loners even while "employed" and surrounded by people will experience a greater sense of lonliness upon retirement.

words have sound & meaning. in finding definition here, i would be careful to not confuse the sound of being alone with the meaning of loneliness. by virtue of you being in your own skin--like it or not--you are alone so get used to it, because no amount of sex with others (i've tried) nor, as doc rich notes, social intercourse (what the heck, i tried that too) will change that. to the extent that you are not comfortable being in your own skin you are lonely and so you need to find your way, so to speak, out of your own skin, naked before the world.

i think it might have been esrbob who mentioned in a past post that "work" is not a bad word. afterall, what endeavor (by its own definition) is not work? nords notes the fun of working as a volunteer but even fun is not its own ultimate reward. where life is a game of hide and go seek, what do we get out of the accomplishment of work or out of the fun of volunteerism, out of participation with the world? ultimately all we do is reveal ourselves. we learn to see who we are. yes, we explore & build the world in the process but the world is our own and was always there. how we feel about this or that. how we react to this and interact with that. how we enjoy or deplore. what we hide and what we seek is ourselves. all of this takes work.

whether you work to know yourself in employment, in volunteerism or in solitary trance there is danger—again, as rich noted--to delude yourself, to lose yourself, to become distracted, to become lonely even among company.

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Some of the posts suggest if you only do X or Y or Z (like me) then you find Nirvana. See I am so happy, you just need to be more like me, and then you will come around….As an ER, at least you have the option to go back to work…If the interactions with others in a similar situation seem kind of pointless then your own sense of self-worth can be undermined…I can say that I am (mostly) happy now…. I can say though that lately I no longer dislike working, now that I could hang it up if I so choose. My attitude towards working has really changed. I'd also have to agree with the volunteer thing... If I am going to work at something I may as well get paid for it.

“fools hate samsara and seek nirvana”~~longchen rabjam

the thing about nirvana is that the very concept comes from being dissatisfied with life as it is, from thinking: there must be something wrong with this (and i’m not saying there isn’t; i’m just saying).

while i would question from where you get your sense of self-worth because i think that anything you get from outside of yourself can be taken away (and what is it worth then?), i believe you are spot on in regard to your attitude towards work in that how we view a thing often has less to do with the thing than it does with our outlook upon it which all goes back to my idea that what is most important is how what we do teaches us about ourselves. if it happens to help others then that is a bonus.

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people in your life have to be earned

beautifully said.

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Among the advice I remember the author giving was to start cultivating BEFORE one retires not only interests, hobbies, and passions but also relationships with family and friends.

so many are so quick to disregard family especially the button pushers because they seem so annoying but they are the ones who show you where your buttons are, who tell you your fly is open or that you have a little cream cheese on your chin. these are those who facilitate your ability to know yourself. and the more you know yourself the more of yourself you will continue to have even after the ones you love pass on.
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Old 10-25-2007, 04:58 PM   #39
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I REALLY didn't enjoy socializing with the people I worked with that much. We simply didn't have anything in common besides work. Most were in a different age group. We never had kids and most coworkers my age did. I've kept contact with a very few.

We've made lots of friends from our interests/passions completely outside the work arena, both before ER and after. Those friendships really last! And with our perpetual travel RVing lifestyle, it means we connect with these folks infrequently, but when we're in the area we make it a point to get together, and it's always just like old times!

I'm always amazed how easy it is to pick right up where you left off after a year or two or even three, but it is! At least that works for us.

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Old 10-25-2007, 07:14 PM   #40
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It seems that socialization skills are very important in ER. This is especially true for some of us who didn't have a big people-oriented job because we tended to be analytical, introverted, or both. One book that comes to mind that I read some years ago and is still somewhere in the house is Carnegie's How to Win Friends and Influence People. It is rather old fashioned in it's wording when read nowadays as it was written in the 1930's I believe. Also it tends to be directed towards the business world but there are some good pointers in it. Mostly it seems to be about being genuinely interested in the people you meet, forgetting about yourself and your views for a moment and relating to their views.

Any other sources out there for those of us who need to go back to the basic skills we didn't get to learn in adolescence?
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