Loneliness is not a normal part of the aging process, any more than sleeping poorly or losing your memory are. This was the simple message that Kory Floyd gave me when we talked today.
I do! When you live by yourself, you can get up whenever you want. You can wear your pajamas all day. You can cook whatever you want and eat your creations with whomever you choose.
When you live alone, you can work without feeling guilty and play without feeling restricted. For many women over 60, this kind of lifestyle sounds like heaven.
There’s only one problem. While many women over 60 love their independence, we still need companionship. We may or may not be looking for romantic affection. Either way, we want people in our life who care about us.
This is one of the central contradictions of life as an older women. How do you maintain your independence, while building an active and happy social life? This sounds easy, but, it really isn’t.
So, to get some help with this topic, I recently interviewed loneliness expert, Kory Floyd. Kory is a Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona and he has been studying loneliness for more than two decades. So, he is the perfect person to help us with these questions.
I hope that you enjoy our interview. Please give it a watch and then join the conversation at the end of this article.
No matter how independent we feel, sometimes, we wish we had a friend sitting on the sofa next to us. Even married women feel lonely. If your partner is unresponsive or distant, you may add frustration and sadness to your feelings of loneliness.
In my conversation with Kory Floyd, we discuss how loneliness is not a “normal” part of the aging process. Instead, it is a serious indicator that something important is missing from your life.
It’s ok to feel lonely occasionally. Everyone does. But, when you feel lonely all the time, you need to take steps to get things back on track.
How do you know if you are chronically lonely? Kory explains that we should recognize that we have a problem when we find ourselves feeling constantly depress or yearning for affection with strong emotion. If you find yourself feeling chronically lonely, Kory offers 3 pieces of advice.
Kory’s first suggestion or dealing with loneliness as an older adult, is to seek affection from multiple sources. It’s natural to want your children or spouse to meet all of your emotional needs. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible.
By looking for affection from multiple sources, we can get the love we crave. For example, we can learn to recognize small social gestures that acquaintances – and even strangers – offer us.
Do you notice when other people smile at you at the gym or on the street? Do you take advantage of opportunities to chat with people at the super market? Is there an elderly person in your neighborhood who needs your help with grocery shopping? Once you start looking, there are opportunities for finding affection everywhere.
Kory says that we need to be careful not to attach too much weight to the affection that we receive from our children. Like everyone else, they are living in a chaotic world and have their own challenges to deal with.
We should do our best to have positive relationships with our family members, but, they shouldn’t be our only source of affection. We need to learn to see the wider world as an opportunity for positive social interactions.
Kory reminds us that there is often a big difference between the affection that others feel for us and what they are capable of showing. It is up to us to gently show people how we want to be treated. For example, if you want your husband to hug you more often, don’t demand it, but, invite it. Saying, “I love it when you hug me. It makes me feel beautiful.” is more powerful than questioning, “Why don’t you ever hug me anymore? Don’t you still love me?”
The bottom line is that loneliness is not a normal part of aging. There are many things that we can do to invite more love and affection into our lives. I hope that you found this interview inspirational and useful. If so, please share it with a friend.
Do you feel lonely from time to time? What do you do to stay social? How do you balance your need to be loved with your desire to be independent? Let’s get a conversation started!
Kory Floyd is a Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona. He has been studying loneliness and the need for affection and love in life for over 20 years. He is the author of a new book called “The Loneliness Cure, Six Strategies for Finding Real Connections in Your Life.”