In a recent post I put forward the argument that being a loner is nothing to be ashamed of, nor a disease to be cured. To balance the argument, this post addresses the value of friendship and why we need the closeness and intimacy of genuine relationships.
I want to pause for a minute to define what we mean by friendship. Sometimes it helps to define what something is by deciding what it is not. And what friendship is not is hundreds of online connections on Facebook or any other social media platform. Although virtual friendships can grow close and the use of Skype and FaceTime allows us to stay in touch with people even though we may be thousands of miles apart.
It is to be expected that friendship will mean different things to different people. It may simply be having someone to meet up for a chat and a cuppa or a glass of wine, shared companionship or developing deep and close bonds. Apart from the expectations associated with friendship such as attachment, affection, loyalty, mutual respect and goodwill, true friendship is a relationship that is able to survive the test of time and above all remain unconditional.
Whatever our expectations and definitions of friendship may be, a healthy relationship is rarely one sided and requires two individuals who make the effort to sustain and build on the relationship. It is the willingness to be there for someone else when the chips are down. It also means making the effort to commit time to the relationship. As with anything worthwhile in life it takes effort and commitment over a period of time before we can begin to enjoy the benefits.
There are a number of ways in which we can develop new friendships with the obvious being through shared activities. Life events also play a key role in creating long-lasting friendships during our lifetime. Many relationships are forged when we enter school for the first time, the shared experiences of parenting, entering the world of work, to name only a few.
Another significant life event is that of retirement and, in fact, it offers the perfect opportunity to meet new people and develop new friendships. If, like me, you have spent a big proportion of your life engrossed in your career, travelling and moving around, retirement or semi-retirement allows one the time and space to nurture and develop friendships.
It can also be a challenge, though. Retirement reduces the natural pool of colleagues and business associates that are often the source of our social network. The good thing is there are a lot of other people out there sharing the same life event. In an earlier post I discussed at length the health and emotional benefits of staying connected with others, particularly as we get older and relinquish some of the social connections we had during our careers.
I reiterate, successfully creating a new circle of friends or adding to our existing social group is dependent on the effort we put into doing so. An inspirational woman who decided to do just that was Helen King who founded a group that have mushroomed and spread throughout the UK namely, togetherfriends.com. I have posted the inspirational story of Helen and her efforts that have also grown into a successful business under the page Inspirational Women, accessed above.
Helen’s story is not only encouraging, but her network will also give you the opportunity to meet new people who share your interests. I can vouch for it as it gave me access to a whole new group of likeminded women.
So, don’t procrastinate, get connected!