Bright lights, big city, no friends

I followed the man I love but I left my life behind

By Cary Tennis
Published October 3, 2011 12:01AM (EDT)
 (Zach Trenholm/Salon)
(Zach Trenholm/Salon)

Dear Cary,

After I had been widowed for three years, I fell in love with a man who lives in a large city (I lived in a small town). We tried long-distance dating for two years. It was very difficult, and we came to the conclusion we wanted to be together. Since he was still working, the only way we could be together was for me to move to the city.

It was a difficult decision. I would have to leave my friends of many years to move to a major city where I didn't know anyone. Also, he has a long commute to work and sometimes has to work late.

I moved to the city two years ago. We have a wonderful relationship, and I love the city. However, I do not have one friend. I joined a yoga class and am taking an art class. I volunteer twice a week. I've also tried to join a book club. I cannot find one book club in my area that has either mixed ages or women my age (I am in my mid-60s). It seems everyone in our neighborhood is between 25 and 40. Sometimes I get so lonely I just want to go to bed. I am so depressed.

We have talked about moving to a different area of the city, but right now the housing market is so depressed. I dread the onset of winter when I am even more isolated. I am happy on the weekends but then Monday rolls around. Cary, I feel like I am losing my mind. How do I pull myself out of this?

Sad Lady

Dear Sad Lady,

You already have done many smart things. You joined a yoga class. You are taking an art class. And you volunteer twice a week. These are smart things to do. If they have not yet yielded lifelong friends, that's OK. It doesn't mean you should quit. Rather, it suggests that it's time to build on this foundation. There are ways to transform these brief contacts into richer experiences. Identify an event, or situation, after one of these events, to which you can invite someone spontaneously. If there is a movie nearby you want to see, or an art exhibit, or some good food, suggest that you are going to this place afterward and ask someone if they'd like to tag along. Make it something you'd enjoy doing anyway, even if no one can join you. If no one can join you, do it anyway. They will ask you about it the following week. And it may get them thinking about things they'd like to do. Suggesting this a few times will put the idea into people's heads that there are things to do after the yoga class, or the art class.

If these classes are in the evening, it might be better to suggest something before the class, like meeting for coffee or meeting at a bookstore. The idea is to gradually build out from what you have already established. This will help you explore your new city and also spend time with new people.

As you explore your new city, knowing your good old friends as well as you do, think of what they would enjoy. Send photos and accounts of things they would like, and suggest they visit you. Identify new people you have met whom you think your old friends might enjoy. Put people together. And visit your hometown when you can. Bring souvenirs and lures to attract your good old friends to visit you in your new city. Recruit them. Sit down at the computer while you're with them, and make the reservations together. That way, concrete plans will be made. You'll have visits to look forward to.

I have another suggestion. Ask the love of your life to use his network of contacts to create more social opportunities for you. Look for opportunities to become involved in his circle of business friends, activities and acquaintances.

Getting socially situated in a new city does not happen by magic. But these suggestions may help.

Good luck!

Creative Getaway

Citizens of the Dream

What? You want more advice?


Cary Tennis

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