I know a married couple (she’s 68 and he’s 70) who go out practically every evening of the week. Non-stop dinners with friends and family; parties; events of all kinds, from art openings to Broadway opening nights. They’ve been going out at a frenetic pace for decades, with no signs of letting up. I’m not talking about going on “date nights” once or even a few times a week, where just the two of them enjoy romantic dinners or take in a movie. This couple surrounds themselves with groups of people almost everywhere they go, mostly all the time.
I don’t see this couple any more, but if I were to ask them why they go out so much, they’d most likely tell me they love doing it. I don’t doubt that they enjoy the company, but why is it constant? Don’t they like being in the company of each other, with no one else around? Do they need others to make them feel “alive?”
Another man I know, in his 70s, lost his longtime wife recently, with whom he went out constantly, just like the couple I’ve described above. He’s already started dating a woman who seems to be another social butterfly. Not only wouldn’t he like being alone, he probably wouldn’t be happy unless he continued to be on the go, with a woman.
When my former in laws returned home from work in the 1960s and 1970s, they’d have dinner, and then each would relax and read the newspaper or a book. Conversation was usually minimal, and I remember thinking how boring that seemed. “Why aren’t they talking?” I’d ask myself. Now I recognize that they simply enjoyed being together in the same room, after a full day at work, and didn’t have to fill the air with chatter. They loved to host dinner parties, too, which they did about twice a month, and there was plenty of chatter at those.
Please know that I’m not implying that constant activity is bad. It obviously works for many couples. I, on the other hand, started loving peace and quiet in the evenings many years ago, as have the men with whom I was living (thankfully). A typical evening would be sitting down to dinner and recapping the day’s events, personal and otherwise; perhaps knitting while watching a few favorite TV shows; working on FabOverFifty articles and proposals. Although it’s so easy today to eat prepared foods, I’ll sometimes make dinner from scratch if I’m in the mood.
I’ve also scheduled my 30-minute Skype exercise sessions with Vann for early evening.
I’d prefer to have good friends over for wine, dinners and great conversation, or go to their homes, than sit in noisy, ridiculously overpriced restaurants. Eating out simply doesn’t appeal to me as it did for many years, except when I’m traveling (I was in LA a couple of weeks ago, for example, and went with Alex to some wonderful places.) I think I now crave ‘alone time’ in the evenings because I’ve continually interacted with lots and lots of people throughout my career as a journalist, editor and publisher, and it’s nice to be able to decompress from doing interviews, making sales pitches, schmoozing at events, and being a ‘boss.’ I adore being with people, but I also like being with Geri, something I never felt when I was younger. It actually thrills me that I can be alone and not feel a tiny bit lonely.
Think of the actors who you rarely see in party photos, or nights on the town, such as Meryl Streep and Helen Mirren. I imagine they’d rather be home with their families than endlessly flitting about, especially after spending rigorous days on sets.
A website for Millennials, called www.bustle.com, created a list a couple of years ago on the “8 Ways Your Life Gets Better When You Stop Going Out All The Time.” I especially liked reason #5, which said “You’ll find better people in your life. When you go out a lot, you accumulate ‘party pals.’ They’re the people who are there for the drinks and good times but who disappear from your life during daytime hours and aren’t available for any sort of life crisis you might be having. They’re not real friends. When you establish friends doing real things, like hanging out sober and engaging in mutually enjoyable activities together, you’ll find the people in your life are a much better bunch.”
I’d love to hear how you prefer to spend your evenings. Please tell me in the comments section below.