One of the benefits of being married is having a built-in companion for vacations, weekend activities and nightly dinners. It’s also one of the disadvantages. When I was married, I didn’t invest as heavily in my friendships and in socializing because it was easy to just go with my husband. And, truthfully, we did have fun together. I had fun with both of my husbands. But, there were things that I enjoyed doing that I didn’t do because they didn’t like doing those things. Neither one of my husbands liked to camp. I have this photo of my first husband on a camping trip in North Carolina. He had the most miserable look on his face that I’ve ever seen. And, I remember that camping trip ending with his vow that he would never camp again. And, we never did.
In order to socialize when I’m single, I have to put in the effort. I have to invest in my friendships so that I have people in my life that will do things with me. One of the reasons that I don’t want to own a house again is that I have to spend so much time as a single investing in my social life, I just don’t have the time to invest in working in my yard. Yes, I could work in my yard and on my house in my free time, but I reap what I sow. If I invest in my home, I’ll have a beautiful home but no one to fill it. I have to set priorities. And, as a highly extroverted person, I have to invest in being social and cultivating relationships of all kinds.
My running is one way I’ve met people and created a social circle. My 12 step groups are another community that I have. Those have evolved from things that I’ve done naturally in taking care of myself, and they are very important to me. Over time, there are a few individuals who have become very close in both of those communities. But, with relocating coming up in the next few weeks, I’m going to have to invest in new communities. In Baton Rouge, I want to invest in making friends who write. I’ll still have my 12 step and running communities by default, and I’ll eventually make friends there. I’d also like to hook up with an outdoor community for hiking, paddling and camping. One of the best places to find these communities by interest is through Meetup Groups. Lots of people I know get into Meetup groups based on their location and interests and have instant friendships and companions to enjoy common interests. I have a friend here in Memphis who has built his community via people he’s met on Match.com. I’ve said before that I’ve met good friends on Match.com … probably more friends than dating partners. I’ll probably check that out in time.
Last year, I discovered Women’s Quest. It is a company that specializes in women’s outdoor adventure vacations. I went with them to Hawaii and Costa Rica in 2012. I met a lot of women that have become friends. They are scattered all over the country, but, because they like to travel and are into active events, we meet up in different places for races and active vacations. Those kinds of trips are great because you have several days together in a beautiful place. The activities themselves help you meet others and develop relationships quickly. It’s sort of like a petri dish for growing female friendships. Plus, it’s a great way to have companions on vacation without having to plan your itinerary. Women’s Quest goes all over the world, both domestically and internationally for different types of adventures. It does cost money, and it does take time, but it’s worth it. It also took a risk for me. I wasn’t sure I’d like it nor was I sure I’d like the people. It could have gone either way, but it’s worked out for me.
I have all but quit making friends at work. Sure, I have friendships that develop at work around work. But, as far as close personal friendships, I’ve gotten burned having them at work. I try to keep it light and friendly but hang out with people other than those in the place I make my money. For one thing, I’ve found that when I leave a job, the friendships usually disappear. To rely too heavily on those is a risk I’m not willing to take. I need friendships for the long haul. Men come and go, but my gal pals are with me forever, and I depend on it.
One of these days, I will not be able to get around on my own. Or, I’ll be able to get around but won’t want to live by myself. I may not have a partner as a companion. My vision is to have a few gals that are single, divorced or widowed to share living space. I hope it will be a big beautiful shared space with privacy in a lovely location. At any rate, I hope the rest of my years continue to be social. If I ever do get into another relationship, I will not depend so much on their companionship. One of the things that has turned me off about some men is that they just want to hook onto my life. I want them to have their own life with friends of their own and interests of their own. I don’t want to be the only person in their life. That puts too much pressure on me, and it puts too much pressure on them. It spoils the relationship when I ask too much of a single partnership. One person can’t be everything to everybody. That’s a problem I brought to relationships of the past.
I know that I have to build a life in my new city. I can create whatever I want. I have to look at my interests and prioritize where I want to make friends and make time to invest in getting to know people. New relationships take time. Building community takes a lot of effort and sacrifice. Both give so much back to me. Money comes and goes. Romantic partnerships come and go. Investing in something that lasts like community and people is the most important investment of my time as a single person. I am single but it doesn’t mean I’m meant to be alone. I’m the only one who can make the choice to reach out.