ChapterPDF Available

Enjoying the Returns: Women’s Friendships After 50

Authors:

Abstract

Women after 50 show a new vigor in their friendships. The second half of life elicits review and contemplation concerning where one has been and also, sometimes, decision and change concerning the personal priorities that will guide the remaining decades. New perspectives of the self and intimacy emerge. As time becomes more valuable, choices about how and with whom to spend it become more pressing. As women assess their lives, they also take stock of their friendships, often making deliberate and clear-eyed decisions about where to increase and reduce their emotional investment. Old friendships may be realibrated or new ones sought to match fresh views of the self and relationships. What does not change is the immense importancewomen attach to their friendships. Commitment to the role of friend is even more predictive than income or marital status in the determination of older women’s life satisfaction (Trotman & Brody, 2002).
A preview of the PDF is not available
... In old age, those who have the capacity to engage in a mutually enhancing relationship will be able to remain engaged in their relationships and community even if physical capacities and health wane. Friendships assume even greater importance for women as they age (Rose 2007). Those without this relational capacity may withdraw from their relationships or be abandoned by family and friends. ...
... Women's friendships also play a critical role in health and well-being at midlife and beyond (Rose 2007). Close friendships are more predictive of older women's life satisfaction than are income or marital status (Trotman and Brody 2002). ...
Chapter
Full-text available
In this chapter, we provide an overview of current research on older lesbians drawing primarily from research done in the U.S., including (a) the “visibility” of older lesbians; (b) theories of lifespan development and their application to older lesbians; (c) research on older lesbians including cross-sectional studies of lesbians and sexual minorities more generally; and (d) social contexts affecting older lesbians, including personal relationships (partners, friends, and community); minority stress and resilience; and race, ethnicity, and social class. In addition, we also will briefly review the status of lesbian rights in other parts of the world. We examine the impact of living in countries where there are few or no legal protections for lesbians and where powerful homophobic cultural attitudes still prevail. Last, we will propose directions for research and speculate about what the future will bring for lesbians over 60.
... For example, at mid-life rural women may choose to remain in rural place even if such a decision may not be compatible with requirements for 'age-friendly housing' in old age. Such a choice is as likely to be based upon social networks as on housing quality, and may include family [54,55], friends [56,57], neighbours [58], or community [22,59,60]. Conversely, post-mid-life rural women may choose to eschew their portfolio of social relationships nurtured across the lifecourse, to enter a new form of housing, such as a co-housing community [61] that marries collective social relationships with individual freedoms: in Sweden known as the Bund [62]. ...
Article
Full-text available
Rural place is a significant influencer of the ageing and states of well-being experienced by older women. This paper extends existing knowledge on gendered rural place by examining its influence on mid-life (45-65 years) women in rural Sweden and rural Ireland. This paper also examines rural place identity, self-identity and the enhancement of the self, and the multiple pathways to place attachment at mid-life. Qualitative data were gathered in 2019 from ten women living in Sweden's rural Värmland region, and in 2012-2013 from 25 women living in Ireland's rural Connemara region. Adopting a social constructionist approach within a lifecourse framework, methodology was informed by constructivist grounded theory, using one-to-one semi-structured interviews. These distinct studies show both similarity and difference in rural place identity and self-identity among mid-life women, and highlight nuances around place attachment, the home, social relationships, and the natural environment. The data show a compelling need for a greater consideration of the critical and diverse role rural place plays in shaping women's experiences of ageing and well-being both at mid-life and in older age.
... If this is the case, then longevity, along with an increasing prevalence of "solo" living brought about by a single, child-free, divorced, separated or widowed status, may put women at particular risk of loneliness and poorer health in older age. The quality of relationships with children is argued to be of greater significance to women than to men (Santini et al. 2016), and women also appear to seek support from a wider circle of friends than men do (Rose 2007). This may partially compensate for poor partnership relationships, a factor which has been more strongly linked to poor mental health amongst men than women. ...
Article
Full-text available
The aim of this article is to examine and contribute to the existing body of knowledge on gendered rural ageing by exploring, from a lifecourse perspective, the pivotal role of social relationships in shaping the quality of life for rural women at mid‑life and beyond. Quality of life is examined in relation to the contributing factor of social relationships, and the article further explores concepts that intersect with social relationships to influence quality of life, including those of place, work, and health. As part of the examination of social relationships, complementary concepts of social inclusion and exclusion, social isolation, and loneliness are also explored. Findings from qualitative interviews with 25 women in rural Ireland aged 45–65 years, together with grounded theory analysis, suggest that the quality of life experienced by rural women at mid‑life is primarily influenced by the presence, absence, and quality of social relationships experienced with family, friends, and other members of the community. Although a number of influencing factors contribute to perceived quality of life, meaningful social connectivity takes precedence. In considering life beyond middle‑age, rural women envisage social inclusion as playing an increasingly vital role in shaping their ageing and their quality of life.
... Women may look forward to retirement as a time of enrichment, especially those who have fewer care-taking responsibilities, fewer children and more liberal social views (Winter, Torges, Stewart, Henderson-King & Henderson-King, 2007). Women's friendships may also undergo a transition when entering a stage of life in which they may have more leisure time due to a decline in family and household responsibilities, and may be less constrained by patriarchal definitions of women's place (and friendships) as subservient and secondary to men (Rose, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
The “Third Age” offers a conceptualization of the lives of those who are retired and beyond middle age but not facing any disability stereotypically associated with the “old.” Emphasizing good health, freedom from the responsibilities of younger adulthood, and continuing engagement with the world, it articulates a specific form of positive aging that has received very little attention within psychology. We adopted a feminist and critical discursive approach in exploring how eight women, who fit the Third Age profile, understand their lives and who they are. Audiotaped semi-structured interviews were transcribed and analyzed. The participants drew on four pairs of interpretative repertoires in constructing the meanings of aging. Their identity work involved positioning themselves as “not old” and establishing continuity between who they have been in the past and who they are now. The results highlight the women’s agency as they negotiated between the discursive resources available to them. Drawing on a framework for feminist therapy that incorporates an emphasis on social change, we discuss the implications of these results.
... Women may look forward to retirement as a time of enrichment, especially those who have fewer care-taking responsibilities, fewer children and more liberal social views (Winter, Torges, Stewart, Henderson-King & Henderson-King, 2007). Women's friendships may also undergo a transition when entering a stage of life in which they may have more leisure time due to a decline in family and household responsibilities, and may be less constrained by patriarchal definitions of women's place (and friendships) as subservient and secondary to men (Rose, 2007). ...
... Women may look forward to retirement as a time of enrichment, especially those who have fewer care-taking responsibilities, fewer children and more liberal social views (Winter, Torges, Stewart, Henderson-King & Henderson-King, 2007). Women's friendships may also undergo a transition when entering a stage of life in which they may have more leisure time due to a decline in family and household responsibilities, and may be less constrained by patriarchal definitions of women's place (and friendships) as subservient and secondary to men (Rose, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
Women's identities and the third age A feminist review of psychological knowledge Janneke van Mens-Verhulst and Lorraine Radtke Leach & Money, 2007). Importantly, this generation was swept up in major emancipa-tion processes involving, of course, women, but also sexual, racial, ethnic and religious minorities. Such far-reaching change neces-sarily has had effects at both societal and in-dividual levels, with consequences for iden-tity during late adulthood (including the third age). How older persons understand their lives, who they are, and what they envi-sion for themselves in the future will reflect both continuities and discontinuities with their former lives. For instance, given the in-creased occupational and educational oppor-tunities afforded women of the baby boom generation, many enter the third age with an educational background that allows for fur-ther education and skill development, e.g., in becoming a creative writer or drawing on a previous occupational identity as the basis of a 'new' identity within the volunteer sector. Thus, the features that characterize the third age are being shaped by the activities of this generation and will continue to evolve with future generations. As Moen and Spencer (2006) convincingly argued, men and women come to the third age by different routes, and therefore the third age cannot be adequately studied without paying attention to gender. Narrowing the focus to women's identities Gender remains an important social distinc-tion that is embodied and therefore permea-tes all of life, even though there is widespread endorsement of gender egalitarianism in wes-tern societies. Thus, people's life histories and The third age In the past century, the western world 'ac-quired' an extra life stage, the third age, an outcome of the continued increase in the life span, the healthy state of seniors, and socio-economic developments that allow for early retirement (Laslett, 1989; Price & Nesteruk, 2010). In effect, many women and men living in the developed world now face a period in their lives in which they are free from paid employment and child responsibilities, while they are still sufficiently healthy to be active in the world and too young to accept disen-gagement from society let alone the margina-lization of retirement. Thus, they now enjoy a transitional period that some have likened to adolescence (Kroger, 2002), when they must devise how they want to spend their time and energy in the years ahead, with associated im-plications for identity. For example, will they continue their former occupation in some way, go travelling, start a new hobby, or as-sist other people, either family members or others? As part of this transition, they must discover the social and economic spaces avai-lable to them as well as the norms and ex-pectations that constrain them. Here, class, cohort and generational influences come to-gether (Gilleard & Higgs, 2002; 2007). Today, the baby boom generation, born between 1940 and 1960, is reaching its post-working life. Presumably, they have grown up with increasing wealth, education, con-sumption and leisure, and identify with gen-erations that come after them rather than those who came before (Biggs, Phillipson,
... Women may look forward to retirement as a time of enrichment, especially those who have fewer care-taking responsibilities, fewer children and more liberal social views (Winter, Torges, Stewart, Henderson-King & Henderson-King, 2007). Women's friendships may also undergo a transition when entering a stage of life in which they may have more leisure time due to a decline in family and household responsibilities, and may be less constrained by patriarchal definitions of women's place (and friendships) as subservient and secondary to men (Rose, 2007). ...
Article
Full-text available
We explore how psychologists have incorporated gender and power into their exploration of third age women’s identities. Our systematic search revealed that only a few studies explicitly referred to the third age as a distinct phase of late adulthood. However, taking the chronological age of 56-75 years as a proxy, we could identify 17 relevant studies, distributed over a senescing, a life-span development, a social-psychological and a social-constructionist approach. Consistent with the third age as an employment and family free phase of life, many women in late adulthood resist the traditional interlocking discourses of femininity, aging and weakness, take up new activities (frequently volunteer work) and work up their identities within the available discursive space. In most studies gender was reduced to sex (differences). Power was implicitly present in micro and macro level descriptions, and in the attention paid to (dis)advantages. We recommend an intersectional approach.
Article
Despite changes in attitude toward women in society, there is still interpersonal and intrapsychic ambivalence toward competitive women. Conflict between a desire to connect and a wish to stand out can be particularly unacceptable in relation to other women, especially those who might be friends. In any analytic work, historical constructions and relational/intersubjective exploration can be both useful and also used defensively. A clinical example illustrates some of the ways that traditional analytic techniques can reinforce unrecognized defenses against disruptive competitive impulses in a psychoanalytic dyad composed of two women who might, in other circumstances, have been friends.
Chapter
Full-text available
An overview of current research on older lesbians is provided in this chapter drawing primarily from the research carried out in the USA. Topics include: (a) the “visibility” of older lesbians; (b) theories of lifespan development; (c) research on older lesbians; and (d) the impact of social contexts on lesbians over 60, such as personal relationships, minority stress and resilience, and race, ethnicity, and social class. In addition, the status of lesbian rights in other parts of the world and its impact on older lesbians is reviewed. Directions for future research on older lesbians are also explored.
Chapter
Full-text available
Our intent in this chapter was to illustrate some of the considerations, problems, and rewards of friendships between African-American and White lesbians based on twelve in-depth interviews. How the politics of race and racism would affect the formation and development of friendships was of particular interest. Cross-race friendships were seen as healing some of the pain of racism for African-American lesbians, or at least providing a temporary reprieve from it, as well as playing an important role in developing White lesbians' awareness of their racial identity and the privileges and cultural limitations associated with it.
Article
Full-text available
Theories of adult development suggest that both personality and social roles are sources of adult well-being, but most research has examined only social roles. An integrated model was used, including personality, number of roles, and role quality, to predict well-being in 2 longitudinal studies of college-educated women. Results for both samples indicated that role quality and personality development were important components of the path to well-being, whereas number of roles occupied was important mainly in early adulthood. Moreover, the results provided support for E. Erikson's (1968) notion of the importance of the sequencing of personality development for later well-being. Path analyses indicated that engagement in multiple roles during early adulthood facilitated the development of identity, which predicted generativity and role quality, which in turn predicted well-being.
Chapter
Personal relationships have long been of central interest to social scientists, but the subject of friendship has been relatively neglected. Moreover, most studies of friendship have been social psychological. Placing Friendship in Context, first published in 1999, is a unique collection bridging social psychological and social structural research to advance understanding of this important subject. In it, some of the world's leading researchers explore the social and historical contexts in which friendships and other similar informal ties develop and how it is that these contexts shape the form and substance the relationships assume. Together, they demonstrate that friendship cannot be understood from individualistic or dyadic perspectives alone, but is a relationship significantly influenced by the environment in which it is generated. By analysing the ways in which friendships articulate with the social structures in which they are embedded, Placing Friendship in Context redescribes such personal relationships at both the macro and the micro level.
Book
Conceptualising Leisure - Capitalism, Patriarchy and Ideologies of Leisure - A Social History of Women's Leisure - Women's Leisure Today - Social Control in the Public and Private Spheres - Women's Fight for Independent Leisure - Putting Women in Their Place - Towards Feminist Sociologies of Leisure
Article
The chapter addresses the intersection of individual development and relationship development within the context of friendship. Friendship structures, functions, interactional processes, and outcomes change from infancy to old age according to developmental progression in physical, social, and psychological aspects of being and in conjunction with situational contexts of life. Friend relationships proceed along a continuum of intimacy from acquaintanceship or friendly relations, to casual friendship, to close friendship and reflect phases of existence from initiation to maintenance to dissolution. Based on a developmental theory, we compare friendship processes and outcomes at multiple stages of the life span. The chapter concludes with recommendations for future research on friendship from a life-span perspective. In Western cultures, friendship is usually defined as a voluntary relationship that encompasses intimacy, equality, shared interests, and pleasurable or need-satisfying interactions. In contrast to family or even neighbor relationships, scholars view friendship as a noninstitutionalized relationship for which the norms are self-defined and fairly loose. Ordinarily, friendship is neither ritualized nor celebrated in the ways that kin ties are formalized. Although it is important to note that in other cultures friendship is more formally defined and institutionalized than in the West, and that friendships in the West actually are constrained by social structure and norms, we will not discuss friendship from that perspective here (see Blieszner & Adams, 1992, for that analysis).
Chapter
This chapter examines theories concerning lesbians and gay males at the midlife stage to understand better the development of sexual identity at this particular period in life. Studies show there is superior diversity and more flexibility in growth patterns for lesbians and gay males as compared to heterosexuals. Career issues for lesbians and gay males also appear in this period as a respond to discrimination such as preference for self-employment, withdrawal from competition, and a mind-set towards retirement. There seems to be a commonality between lesbians and gay males in terms of styles of balancing career and relationship commitments and preferences for partners complementing the same direction. Despite a lack of data variations in race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, and heterosexual experiences are believed to be influencing patterns in the midlife stage for both sexual identities.
Article
The abstract for this document is available on CSA Illumina.To view the Abstract, click the Abstract button above the document title.