DEAR AMY: I am a 61-year-old woman, divorced for years. I have an adult daughter, and a small immediate family. Years ago, I had lots of friends. Some moved, some got married, a lot of them are very involved with their large families, etc. Here I am — alone. I am a very active, friendly and interesting person. I have volunteered, gone to church, participated in meet-ups, taken classes, etc. It is extremely hard to make new friends at this age and in this day. The majority of people are into their own thing, do things with their families, have their own problems and are not responsive. I’ve tried everything. Someone told me to stop trying and it will happen. Nope, it doesn’t. I can’t believe that in a city as big as New York City, it’s so hard to make a friend with so many lonely people out there. What do people in my shoes do? I need people in my life! Can you give me ideas?
Lonely in New York City
DEAR LONELY: Being a lonely woman in the big city is a theme that stretches from Edith Wharton to Nora Ephron. You’re not alone in being alone.
My main suggestion is that you should stay in one place long enough to establish yourself. This would be not only to meet people and make friends, but to also benefit personally from the activity.
Dipping in and out of groups, volunteering or going to church sporadically — this really makes you a moving target. And while it’s wise to try different things if something isn’t working, being consistent will put you on the radar of others who are also consistent. For instance, if you volunteer, take the same shifts for a period of time to see if you click with any other volunteers.
Checking meetup.com in New York City, I see a huge variety of groups, including many advertised for the “young at heart” age group. You can join a book club, go bowling, play board games, go for hikes in the city or meet at a comedy club. You could also start a club devoted to a particular interest of yours — even if your interest is to meet for coffee and discuss the challenges of friendship.
DEAR AMY: My in-laws are travel nuts. They always expect my husband and me to accompany them. They are wealthy and can do what they want with their time. We work full time, live paycheck to paycheck and have a mound of student debt. We try to politely decline, but they push, beg and plead until we agree. So, even though it’s a financial burden, we have gone on most of their trips with them. We took a trip last month, and my MIL has already told us where we are going this summer. She also said that they’ve decided to go to Europe next year, so we should think about getting our plane tickets! My husband and I cannot handle this. His attempts at standing up to them end up with him being bulldozed. They will keep fighting until you break down from exhaustion. Generally, my in-laws are good people. How can we make them understand that we can’t keep doing this, and how do we handle their bulldozing?
DEAR WONDERING: How can you two possibly skip work for all of these holidays? If you can’t, then don’t!
Let’s rip off the bandage quickly. The command comes in. You and your husband say, “Thank you, but we’re not going to do this.”
They ask why, and you say, “For a bunch of reasons. Also, we just don’t want to.” Rinse and repeat as often as necessary.
The bulldozing will commence. Respond: “Well, I know this is not what you want, but it’s what we want. We can’t go on vacations when you can. But we hope you have a great time!”
Dealing with professional-grade bulldozing requires constant girding, responding calmly and pushing back when necessary.
DEAR AMY: I was disgusted by your awful answer to “Always a Cat Lady.” Her so-called “boyfriend” claimed to be allergic and she was going to give her cat away because of it. Really? I bet he was faking his allergy. She should keep the cat and dump him!
DEAR CAT LOVER: Cat lovers definitely have their claws out regarding this answer. But “Always a Cat Lady” reported that her cat was suffering, for reasons unrelated to the boyfriend and his allergies. Rehoming was definitely best for the cat.