Dear Carolyn: When I left school, I was fortunate to move to a city with virtually all my closest friends. But, as happens, we’ve all moved on to new phases of life, and virtually everyone has moved away.
I love my city, partner and career, but I am having a hard time shaking a really heavy sadness over feeling suddenly alone. I’m fairly independent and am happy to do things solo, but I’ve always preferred the company of others and relied on friends as an important outlet. Of course my friends haven’t stopped being my friends, but I miss the small day-to-day benefits of having friends nearby — being able to grab an impromptu dinner after a bad day at work, or having someone to talk to about a new musical.
My partner is great, but I struggle with the feeling that my world has become limited to my relationship with him. I’m sure the solution is to make a few new friends, but it’s just so daunting as an adult. Any tips? Are there other solutions? Do I just have to accept that when you grow up, you do become more defined by your nuclear family and less by your friend family?
Way to talk yourself out of making friends ever again!
Yes, it’s hard. You have to rally thought, effort and steep personal vulnerability to do the job proximity used to do for you. And, your yield is often quite different — a friend here and there is the more common result than a large and comfortable pack.
But don’t saddle new people with comparisons to what you once had; you might find better friends because a more mature version of you is making them.
So when you start to think it’s not worth it, say out loud to yourself, “My last chance at friendship expired when I was 21.” Completely batnuts, right?
In lieu of tips, I offer tip: Recreate the proximity of school however your lifestyle allows. The key features then were regular exposure (same dorm, same class, same extracurricular) and common interests. It won’t be exact, but with focus and patience you can reproduce these two conditions to get close — in both senses of the word.
Dear Carolyn: My oldest grandchild is going off to college and needs help financially. We are able to provide it, but I am sensing the other grandchildren’s parents will also expect help. Even the ones who are more than able to pay full freight. I don’t want to stir up resentment, but I also want to help out only where it is needed. Do I need to treat all the grandchildren equally (all or none)?
Three things: (1) A term of art in education right now is, “Fairness means that everyone gets what he or she needs,” which means scaled versus flat-rate support – and that makes sense to me.
(2) Your assessment of “more than able to pay” could be off for any number of reasons;
(3) Money isn’t just about money. If you give X dollars to needy Grandchild A and Y dollars to flush Grandchild B, that usually goes over better than giving nothing to B. Invest in all somehow, thoughtfully if not equally — and, of course, keep the specifics of the amounts to yourself.
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