THE BLOG
01/03/2011 05:16 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

How do I make friends in the middle of nowhere?

For many of us, workplaces have supplanted the roles once played by neighborhoods

QUESTION

Dear Irene,

I just found your site while looking for a safe place to talk to someone who is as lonely as I am. We recently retired to the middle of nowhere in Illinois. No neighbors, no friends. My husband is very happy playing with tractors and hunting.

I feel like I am just waiting to die. I'm only 59. I shouldn't feel this way. I can go weeks without talking to anyone other than my husband face to face. Is there a safe place to find other women who are looking for friends? Thank you

Signed,
Pat

ANSWER

Dear Pat,

Both moving and retirement are major adjustments that can be disruptive to friendships and other social ties. It sounds like you are lonely and may be depressed.

Give yourself some time to get to know "nowhere" and you may find that there's more there, than it first appears. Perhaps you can find out where the nearest town is and explore whether there are any book groups, clubs, or organizations that you might join there. Make sure you take some walks to get regular exercise, and maintain healthy sleeping and eating routines, which can help bolster your mood, too.

Are there any interests or hobbies you have that you didn't have time for while you were working? Are there certain types of books that interest you? There are even online book clubs that might bring you in contact with other people in similar situations.

A recent article in the journal Personal Relationships points out that for many of us, workplaces have supplanted the roles once played by neighborhoods. Both women and men make close friendships at work. Losing this peer group can be very destabilizing emotionally. Try to maintain contact with some of your former neighbors and colleagues by phone, mail, and the internet. You can even try using Skype so you can see each other when you speak. Can you periodically make plans to visit friends or relatives back home?

One other thought: Are you able to speak to your husband about your feelings? Do you have any shared interests? If you're experiencing symptoms of depression or find that you are unable to garner support from your husband, you might benefit from speaking to your internist or a mental health professional so you can get help during this difficult time. You are a relatively young woman and if your health is decent, you may have another 40 years---so it's certainly not too late to plan for and change the future.

I hope this helps.

Best,
Irene



Click here
to find out more about the symptoms of depression from the National Institute of Mental Health.


Related prior posts on The Friendship Blog:

A friend's unexpected move


Leaving a friend behind


When close friends become far-away friends

Why do some women have such a hard time making friends?