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Thread: Social contacts

  1. #1
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    Social contacts

    I have been struggling with social contact. Zoe Girl made some comments about it, and I read an article about loneliness in the NYT. I’m curious about the amount and types of social contact that people have/consider normal.

    I live with my husband and daughter who both work full time and have activities outside the home. I see them a few waking hours a day. Mostly during meals. Often dh is home one full day on the weekends, but more often two half days. Additionally, in the last week I:
    Thursday: worked at the food bank - 2 hours of near constant face to face conversation with strangers and people whose names I know. No close relationships, even the people there who I like, if they died, I would be sad like I was sad when my rabbit died. In my life they are even more replaceable than the rabbit.
    Friday: had heartdaughter and grandson stop by for about an hour on the way home from camp - cookies and conversation. Picked berries at my friend’s house while talking to her for an hour and a half.
    Sunday: went to the grocery store - 5 minute conversation with checker and bagger
    Monday: had heartgrandson here most of the day and his mom for half the afternoon. Picked berries again but friend only joined for half an hour. Also exchanged greetings with her son.
    Tuesday: had a “conversation” lasting 7 e-mails with two coworkers.

    that is a very social week for me.

    i have been trying to reach out for more social contact. I am trying to schedule a visit from a new friend - so far no luck. And I have been trying to get in personal touch with my cousin - she has a very active Facebook page and I get emails from her that are clearly sent to her whole address book, but I can’t get her to answer her phone, return calls, or e-mail me back. It’s weird, because I would actually describe us as “close” and when Dd posted on Facebook about my new store opportunity, my cousin wrote a really nice note on the post.

  2. #2
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    Chronic Loneliness is a major problem and it comes with health problems you do not want. I have studied the heck out of this issue because I was tasked by a community organization to give a presentation on it.

    There are several pathways to the social center.
    1. A romantic life partner
    2. Family
    3. Friends
    4. Community (this could be things like a church, a labor union, a professional organization, etc.)

    If you have all of these you are all set. If you have three you ought to be okay. Two, you might get by. One and you are screwed. Zero? You might at well cash in the chips.

  3. #3
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    What is meant by “have”?

    i have a romantic life partner who I do not have as much time with as I would like.

    i have a daughter living at home who is often not here and is a mix of comfort and conflict when she is.

    I have family I would like to see/speak with more often, but they are mostly far away and traveling is a big deal for me.

    I have 5 friends who live within an hour of me - by “friend” I mean “person whose company I enjoy, who shares at least some of my interests, with whom I can have in depth, meaningful conversations, who would come in an emergency, and who would leave a hole in my life that could not be fully filled by another person - I would miss them because they are them, not because of the function they serve in my life.” Two of these people I literally interact with less than once a year. Most of them less than once a month.

    i have three coworkers who probably qualify as “friends” from a normal person perspective - we enjoy working together, we have pleasant conversations, we help each other out, and we share details about our lives outside of work.

    i am involved with 4h and the food bank. I attempt to serve 4h with as little human contact as possible.

    I take pottery classes about 22 weeks a year (split into 3 spaced out sessions) with people I like but only see at the pottery studio.

    plus, I am a teacher.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken lady View Post
    What is meant by “have”?

    i have a romantic life partner who I do not have as much time with as I would like.

    i have a daughter living at home who is often not here and is a mix of comfort and conflict when she is.

    I have family I would like to see/speak with more often, but they are mostly far away and traveling is a big deal for me.

    I have 5 friends who live within an hour of me - by “friend” I mean “person whose company I enjoy, who shares at least some of my interests, with whom I can have in depth, meaningful conversations, who would come in an emergency, and who would leave a hole in my life that could not be fully filled by another person - I would miss them because they are them, not because of the function they serve in my life.” Two of these people I literally interact with less than once a year. Most of them less than once a month.

    i have three coworkers who probably qualify as “friends” from a normal person perspective - we enjoy working together, we have pleasant conversations, we help each other out, and we share details about our lives outside of work.

    i am involved with 4h and the food bank. I attempt to serve 4h with as little human contact as possible.

    I take pottery classes about 22 weeks a year (split into 3 spaced out sessions) with people I like but only see at the pottery studio.

    plus, I am a teacher.
    I am not sure what feedback you are looking for. My social contacts are much more limited than what you describe in our life here, since we moved here 5 years ago. To me, it sounds like you have a rather full social life. It's certainly much fuller than mine, anyway.

    Maybe you just need more girlfriends to go out with? Sounds like family contacts and marriage are very strong and fulfilling. You also have work and volunteer covered really well.

    So maybe do like you are doing and pursue some women friends to hang out with?

  5. #5
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I definitely have the life partner, and I definitely have family.

    I feel my life has been too insular and revolved around #1 and #2 on UL's list.

    It's not that I don't have friends, but I don't have "hanging out" friends. Just contacts on social media, basically.

    And it has been a long time since we had the type of community on ULs list--we belonged to a church when our kids were really small and we had a really nice social life with them.

    In moving to VT, I'm hoping to be able to establish friendships with people I feel a kinship with. CL, to your point about the food bank people, sometimes you just fall in with people and sometimes you don't.

    Here's an example: I was walking my DDs dog in a nearby state park a couple of weeks ago. A woman approached me and asked about the dog. We just started chatting, and before you know it, we were walking along the full 1.7 mile length of the nature trail, just chatting and getting to know each other. So we decided to pick a day the following week when she would take me to another trail on the island.

    I thought it was so nice, but odd, when I got a group text message from her.. unfortunately she had a family issue that took her out of town, and so she was apologizing to four of us--three were obviously old friends, at least older than me! I was flattered that she included me on that text message! That's the kind of thing I'm looking for. I get the sense we have a lot in common, and I'm hoping we can just go out once a week or so and chat.

    I'm also becoming friends with the realtor that sold me this house. DH and I met her and her husband at a lovely pier bar up here for drinks Friday night. DH and I haven't been out for drinks with friends in years, sad to say.

    So my social life is picking up. My next plan is to join an organization.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

  6. #6
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    My dh is retired so see him all the time. Son and DIL have dinner once week. Every Friday night sleep at my best friends house and go home around noon on Saturday. See stepson once every 2 weeks. Have 3 close friends that I usually have lunch with one of them every week or 2. Go to a event on Saturday and talk to strangers. Talk to people when I walk the dogs daily and talk to next door neighbor frequently.

  7. #7
    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    There are several pathways to the social center.
    1. A romantic life partner- no, but I walk the dog and talk daily with a friend. Not sure why it must be a romantic partner so perhaps you could expand on this. I loved my DH but life goes on with or without a romantic partner.
    2. Family - yes, in regular contact but they are living at a distance as has happened to numerous friends so we friends visit for cards etc.
    3. Friends - we visit and talk or email weekly
    4. Community (this could be things like a church, a labor union, a professional organization, etc.) yes to church and art organization and volunteering.
    I don't feel I lack but remain aware that there are many who need more social contact. I greet so many people on my daily dog walks that know my name, share what is happening in their lives if the need is there. I see social contact as giving to others in whatever setting works. I need my privacy and time to recharge and reflect so pretty self-sufficient as well.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

  8. #8
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I think the need for social contact varies widely. I require a minimum, apparently. Since my partner died, I feel a bit adrift, but I still have friends and family who are in contact by email and phone. I may expand my circle somewhat in the future, but if not, I'm OK with it.

  9. #9
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    Jane, I did not realize your partner died. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  10. #10
    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tybee View Post
    Jane, I did not realize your partner died. I am so very sorry for your loss.
    I didn't realize that either! So, so sorry, Jane.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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