By the time we reach our 60th birthday, most of us have experienced our fair share of heart-break and disappointment. Some of us have gone through a divorce. Others have simply learned the hard way that not everyone can be trusted with our feelings. Is it any wonder that we are cautious about letting new people into our lives?
For most of our lives, our natural caution does not impact our ability to make new friends. In our 30s and 40s, we are building careers and raising our children. As a result, we have a built-in social network.
Then, as we reach our 60s, things start to change. Our children move away and start to build their own lives. Many of us start to think about retirement or moving to another city. If we are not careful, it is easy to find ourselves, through no fault of our own, feeling lonely.
This is one of the reasons that I believe that dealing with loneliness after 60 starts with ourselves. In order to find intimacy and companionship, we need to be willing to risk getting hurt. We need to be willing to accept the fact that many of the people we meet will not be a good match for us – they may not share our interests, values or personality. But, among the people we meet, we may find a precious few who add genuine value to our lives.
I am reminded of a quote by Cheryl Richardson, who said “The possibility for rich relationships exists all around you – you simply have to open your eyes, open your mouth and most importantly, open your heart.”
Of course, this kind of advice is easy to give and hard to follow. No-one should ever tell you that dealing with your own insecurities and social fears will be easy. But, if you want to make friends after 60, you have to make the attempt.
Do you agree that finding genuine friendship after 60 (or at any age for that matter) requires us to be willing to risk rejection, or, at the very least boredom? Why or why not? Please join the discussion below.