Despite everything we know about the importance of maintaining social connections as we get older, finding friends after 60 can be a challenge.
When a friend mentions to you that they are now taking care of a loved one with special physical or cognitive needs, it’s easy to underestimate what this truly means. And it quite possibly marks the beginning of the end of your friendship, if you don’t tread properly.
Have you ever found yourself listening to a friend’s disclosure that she was sexually abused as a child? How did you handle it? What’s the best way to receive such news?
Here are some of my ideas, based on my thirty years as a trauma therapist. During that time, I helped women who had been sexually abused in childhood.
I walked past a local restaurant on Park Street recently. Seated at one of the tables next to the window was a group of women. They were talking, laughing and enjoying themselves and their time together. It was the kind of group that you just wanted to pull up a chair, order a glass of wine and join in.
I’ve moved to a new city and I don’t know anyone. Like many older women, I left my comfort zone to be near my family. When I say I didn’t know anyone in my new city, I mean I missed people with whom I shared history and a comfortable sense of belonging.
Some people are naturally good at social interaction. You see them at parties and events, surrounded by groups of other guests, talking, laughing and having fun. They move around the room, igniting small fires of goodwill. Everyone loves them.
Nothing will hold you back more than toxic friends. By the time we reach our 60s, you would think that we would have let go of all of the people who make us unhappy. Unfortunately, this is seldom the case.
Before I disclose the secret ingredient, let me reveal that it is not love, sociability or friendship. At least not exclusively – despite the fact that these cherished values may encourage us to reach-out to others in the first place.
I’ll bet you’ve heard this plea a number of times in your life. In fact, I bet that you’ve heard it recently, even though you are in the “senior” part of your life. Of course, not everyone uses these exact words. But, have you heard something close to one of the following?
No matter how old we get, women have a need to bond, nurture, listen and empathize.