Baby Boomer Men And Women Socialize Differently

seniors3Current day baby boomers enjoy dining out, visiting museums, outdoor activities, traveling and remaining active. Baby boomers, in general, are in better physical health than their predecessors, and they have the desire to remain in an active lifestyle. However, isolation and depression can occur when an individual lacks outings to look forward to or friends to share in activities.  Both men and women can experience this, but how do baby boomer men deal with socializing differently than their female counter part?

While there are many theories surrounding the development of gender roles, one fact is unquestionable: men and women are socialized differently. Men use socializing as a means to an end while women socialize because they are social at heart.

Often times, a man’s wife is his confident and the one he feels he can open up to the most. A husband tends to rely on his wife for all of his intimacy and friendship needs.  A woman, on the other hand, may have several women friends that she shares her feelings and confidences with.  When a man loses his wife, especially to death, it is much harder for him to find that support and that “friend” he may have had when he was married.

If you ask many male baby boomers how many true friends he has made over his lifetime, you’re likely to get a reply of fewer than five.   There is no doubt that baby boomer men know many people, especially related to work, their children’s sports activities or possibly through church,  but they do not count them as “friends” or do they socialize with many of these acquaintances.  Instead, they often prefer to do things alone or with their family.

One explanation of the baby boomer man’s seemingly anti-social behavior is that they are also more comfortable when social efforts revolve around activities and interests.  When two men get into an initial discussion, they seek to find out if they have a common interest.  Unlike women who seek to learn everything about the individual, men seek to learn if there is a common activity enjoyed between them in order to further their discussion.

For the most part, men lack the desire to be social compared to women and it takes a bit of coaxing to have them see that it is necessary for both mental and physical health.  Many boomer men use online social networks, in large part, for promoting business and establishing contacts that can help in generating new business.  The online social network “LinkedIn” was initially used by men for the purpose of searching out colleagues and contacts in organizations that they otherwise would not have access to; purely intended to promote their career and business, not with the primary purpose of socializing.  Men are now beginning to warm up to social groups that have organized group activities where you actually meet others face to face rather than online social networks where the purpose is to connect with “virtual” people.

Regardless of gender, as baby boomers age and possibly become single due to divorce or death of a spouse, the need for meeting others in the same age group increases.  This may also be the time when many individuals leave behind much of their social life if they leave their employment.  Without social contacts, men especially, find that single life or retirement can often be lonely and difficult.  Many consider reentering the work place just for the social aspects of working.

Making friends after 55 can be a challenge, especially for men, but it can be accomplished with great rewards.  In Silver Connections, I have seen great friendships develop, between both men and women, that have had a truly positive impact on overall well-being.



Laura Kay House, MA, is the founder and owner of Silver Connections, located in the Triangle area of North Carolina. Silver Connections provides numerous socializing opportunities through events and travel, quality members and connections for age 55+, active and single adults.



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