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Relationships Should Be a Tennis Match

I read a Wall Street Journal article entitled Baby Boomers Get More Selective About Friends, an article recently passed around Facebook. It made me so curious, I’ve designed a quiz to get feedback on this issue from my Lady Boomer readers.

Do you feel you are getting more selective about the friendships you maintain? (And I think that is the operative word here — relationships you are willing to maintain and burn some calories for)

According to researchers at the Stanford Center on Longevity, members of the Baby Boomer generation are less socially engaged than people the same age 20 years ago.

There are a number of theories emerging about this phenomena:

(1) Many Boomers are still working,

(2) Boomers are caring for aging parents, leaving less time to visit with friends,

(3) this generation is finding themselves more and more in a position to care for grandchildren, and

(4) technology and social media (which were not really around 20 years ago) often takes the place of physical interactions.


The Wall Street Journal article quoted Laura Carstensen, director of the Stanford Center on Longevity, who says she engages socially with a small circle of family and friends. “I certainly find myself being more selective. Neighbors and friends don’t just stop by the house, the way they did when I was growing up. Now when I hear the doorbell, especially at night and if alone, it’s almost alarming,” she says.

“I’ve reached the age when I don’t do things I don’t want to do,” Kathy Goldberg, a 65 year old registered nurse says.

Baby Boomer relationships

There are a lot of downsides to aging — but perhaps one upside is that we do get more selective with our relationships as we age. When I was growing up I got the message from my mother I was supposed to be popular. I suspect, given the hardships she endured in her growing up years, this was a longing she managed to transfer on to her only daughter.

And, like the responsible first-born child I am, I’ve carried around that unspoken mandate for years.

Until now.

At 65 I really am questioning those one-sided relationships. If it’s not a tennis match where the emotional and conversational volleys go back and forth, is it really worth it to stay in the relationship at all? (I love that metaphor given to me by a dear friend struggling with these same questions)

So what do you think? I want to hear from you. Click here to take the quiz and I’ll report back on the results.


Liz Kitchens is a writer and blogger.  Her blog, liz-kitchensBe Brave. Lose the Beige, reaches out to Lady Boomers, women of the Baby Boomer generation.

Liz also blogs for Growing Bolder and Vibrant Nation, two sites devoted to aging issues. Liz conducts workshops on the health benefits of creativity and is an ambassador for the Creative Caregiving Initiative sponsored by the NCCA, The National Center for Creative Aging. Liz founded the Jeremiah Project, an after school and summer creative arts program designed to foster self esteem and encourage creative thinking among at risk middle school aged students.

Check out Liz’s blog, Be Brave. Lose The Beige, and follow her on Facebook.

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