Tuesday, May 7, 2013

The Role of Friendships and Family


The typical boomer, by my observation, is or has been married, has children and despite our mobile society lives fairly close to some part of their extended family.  I am atypical in that I have no children, my closest relative is 200 miles away and most of my family lives more than 1000 miles from here.

I’ve read many books and articles on the nature of friendships. Strong friendships usually develop over time, shared time.  The individuals share experiences, social time, may occasionally ask each other for help and offer each other help, sometimes with very important or serious situations.  A bond is formed through these shared experiences, especially if the friendships develop during times of personal growth or change such as adolescence.  There are levels of friendship, ranging from the casual friends who might be connected by work or neighborhoods to the closest, emotionally intimate friends who can call each other at 2 in the morning to ask a favor or seek help to handle some emergency.

I have lived within fifty miles of my current address for just over twenty nine years yet I cannot name a single person who I could call at two in the morning for that kind of help.  I can only name one person who I could call and ask for a ride to a doctor’s office if I was unable to get there on my own, and that is my now ‘ex’ and obviously it would be very awkward to make that request of her. 

So how did I get to the point where I’ve lived half a lifetime in one area yet have not developed any of those friendships?  And if you are in this situation, have you ever thought about how you got there?  More important, what do we (boomers or otherwise) do about it?

I have no answers, only questions.  At one point in my life I was a great networker but I let those skills lapse, especially when it comes to family.  I have close friends now, partly because of constant communication, but they live in North Carolina, Louisiana, Hawaii and England.  It has been a challenge to re-establish local friendships from my first years living here in the Washington DC area.  I know I write about (and whine about) this a lot.  I am working on taking action but that is difficult.

My biggest source of new friends is work.  Those friendships begin with shared connections to work and sometimes they can develop into more significant friendships, but only if the parties engage in non-work bonding.  That could be sports, hobbies, whatever, but who has time for that?  I do plan to concentrate on meeting people outside of work, but that is a time issue to, at least for now.

I’m rambling now, so I’ll stop.  Just wanted to share this observation; maybe you’re in the same boat at times.  Updates later.  I’m happy with the direction my live is moving in; if you’re a regular reader, you know that I am often obsessive and impatient. 

All for now.  Cheers.

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