Feeling Out of Place
|Written by Mark Rutherford LCSW on January 19 2012|
My partner and I just moved down to Florida from Virginia about 8 months ago. I retired last year and we decided to make a new start. My partner Chris and I have been together for 9 years. He is considerably younger than me. I'm 56 and he's 31. We decided to buy in a gay neighborhood as I really wanted to make some new friends. But I'm finding developing a new social group at my age isn't as easy as I thought it would be.
Chris got a job as a bartender at a local restaurant and seems to be doing just fine making new friends. But I'm kind of driving myself crazy. There is no job to go to anymore so I wake up late almost every day. My day consists of walking the dogs, grocery shopping, napping, and watching porn. I have tried to be very friendly with my neighbors. Everyone is nice enough back but when I suggest dinner or drinks for the whole group, everyone seems to have an excuse. I have tried just "stopping by" a couple of the houses on our street, but people get put off by that here in Florida. In Virginia everyone did that. Chris has tried to include me when he gets together with his co workers but everyone is so much younger. They don't really seem interested in me.
I'm beginning to think maybe it's me. I'm not really sure what to do next. In Virginia, we had a big circle of friends. I'm very outgoing and was always the life of the party. But here people seem put off by me. Any words of wisdom?
Ed, Fort Lauderdale
Making a big change in your life can be a hard thing. It takes time to adjust to your surroundings. I'm hearing you say you were very social in Virginia but finding it hard here. It sounds like you were very established back there. People here don't know you that well. You have to give them a chance. Sometimes the tactics we used from the "last chapter" in our life don't necessarily work as well in the new chapter. If you were the life of the party back there, maybe you should try coming on a little softer here. Perhaps invite one couple over for a drink or out to coffee. Or if you want to "stop by" try calling first and see if they have the time. Start small and work your way up. Remember, not everyone is retired. Time is often a scarce commodity for people. Be respectful of that and perhaps it will get you farther.
Also, have you tried talking to Chris about your concerns? When we get bored or without structure, we often get wrapped up in "time sucking" activities like drinking or porn. Both are fine, of course, but if they are starting to take away from the quality of your life, you may need to alter some of that behavior. Lastly, remember that you are a good guy. People have been friendly with you your whole life. Nothing has changed but your surroundings. Take a moment to reflect why you made this move to Florida. Then begin to see where you can integrate yourself into your new surroundings. Volunteering, community activism, sports leagues. . .all can be good vehicles to meet new people. Good luck.
Mark Rutherford LCSW