Q. I’m 32 years old. For a multitude of reasons, my personal growth was stunted after high school, and it took me twice as long to finish college than planned. In that time, circumstances (like the pandemic), led to my parents’ premature retirement and prompt move from northern New Jersey to The Villages in Florida.
Having not gotten my career off the ground, I was forced to leave with them. Shortly after, I was able to find a job I can perform remotely, and I’m getting paid well. In the two years since, I’ve grown used to spending most of my time isolated, since there’s a sense that there’s not much a person my age can do in the country’s biggest retirement community.
I’d like to move out, but the inability to form any real relationships with peers is starting to wear me down, and with the economy in the state that it’s in, I don’t know if my plans will remain viable.
To be frank, I never went out of my way to make any real relationships back home, either. My friendships were only made at work, and now I’m starting to feel that regret. The only work contact I have now is with my boss, and the only other person I know locally is my personal trainer at the gym.
I feel like I’m grasping at straws, and I need advice about how to prevent myself from losing any social instincts I might still have.
A. My advice? Get thee out of The Villages, stat.
I looked at extensive demographic data published by worldpopulationreview.com. According to this source, in 2022 this famous community in Florida has a little over 84,000 residents. The median age is 73 years old.
A person your age could develop friendships and have a meaningful life in this community, but it is not working out for you.
Given that you are working remotely and have likely saved money by living with your folks, I suggest that you spend the next few months researching communities that might be a better fit for you.
I’d put in a bid for college towns, which tend to offer lively cultural events and volunteer opportunities. If you are willing to move back north, Philadelphia is a great city for people your age.
Moving will not magically solve your social isolation, but it’s a start. It’s also a brave and positive choice to make. Once you arrive, you will have to continue to bravely step out into the world, joining a gym or clubs, volunteering, and (ideally) finding fulfilling work that you can enjoy in-person.
Q. My younger sister and I have a rocky relationship. She and our dad are currently feuding and because I didn’t side with her at our grandma’s funeral, she has cut me from her life.
It doesn’t bother me, but my 13-year-old daughter has only one cousin: my sister’s toddler.
We live far away from my sister, but are planning to visit other relatives in her town soon. I really don’t want to let my sister know that we will be in town, but because of my daughter wanting to see her cousin, I feel like I should.
What do you think?
DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILY IN IOWA
A. If your daughter wants to connect with her toddler cousin, then you would be setting a good example for her by reaching out to your sister.
Your sister is also likely to hear about your local visit through other family members, and so if you contact her using a neutral tone, she can then decide how to respond.
Try: “Hi, I’m letting you know that Tiff and I are planning to visit the Murray cousins next month. She is eager to see her little cousin, so let me know if that would be possible.”
If your sister is determined to continue this feud, she will do so. This is truly a case where you might be “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.” Brace yourself and carry on.
Q. Often, you offer advice on how to handle a family member’s excessive drinking. As someone who enjoys playing sports, I’ve had teaching pros tell me what to do to improve. However, for me and others the best way to learn is to see our mistakes on video.
Would it be helpful if family members took video of their drunk relatives and showed them the evidence?
A. Many readers have suggested this, and yes — video evidence could be a wake-up call.
Amy Dickinson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.