Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

What are the things that puzzle, enrage, delight and tickle you as you go about your life in Madison?
Huckleby
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Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Huckleby » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:41 pm

A long time ago, a friend told me that Madison is a perfect place to raise a family, and it's nirvana for students and 20-somethings, but for older adults, especially singles, it sucks.

Obviously there are tons of clubs and activities where you can meet people. But most madisonians are busy with families, and a lot of the networks of people are cliquish - set and unwelcoming.

A close 54-year-old friend moved to Evanston, north of chicago, and said the social dynamic there is shockingly different. She instantly meets ton of people at her health club & coffee shop who regularly organize picnics, meet-ups, etc. She's been invited to tons of little informal get togethers.

We both have been members of innumerable health clubs in Madison for 30 years. Friendly enough places, but nobody ever got together socially outside the gym, unless maybe on an individual date.

I think its true. Madison is a happenning town for 20-somethings. People in their 30's look old in Madison bars. Not many older singles here. Madison is not really that friendly of a place.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby gargantua » Tue Nov 15, 2011 10:50 pm

That has not been my experience, but I'm married and pushing 60. I don't have the experience of being an older single, so if that is the thrust of this thread....sorry for wasting your time. My wife and I have more places to go and people to see in this town than we have time for. I would like to think that we would make new, mature, residents feel welcome. I guess I don't think the premise of the thread applies as a general rule.

It's a funny thing. I barely notice twenty-somethings. I assume the reverse is true, even though we inhabit the same general area.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby snoqueen » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:27 am

Madison is what you make it.

I enjoy taking classes, following hobbies, volunteer stuff, art museums, the bike trails and nature, city meetings and neighborhood meetings, etc. I don't feel left out at all and I have people around any time I choose to participate in something. Cooking? Animals? The environment? Dance? Weird social theories? Pick something and follow it up.

You can't expect to be invited to join some euchre club that's been together since 1970. There are longstanding social groups that pretty much exist for their own benefit and to invite someone new just doesn't happen. But that doesn't mean you are left as a social outcast, it just means you do other activities and probably meet the same people, just in a different context.

I can't remember the last time I went to a dinner party -- it must have been decades ago. I didn't know people had time for that stuff these days. I think you are expecting something that isn't going to happen, if you think that's necessary for a social life.

A big part of it for me is all-ages stuff, so I disagree with the idea 20-somethings are invisible. In most of the activities I listed, the majority of people are younger than me. I think this is nice, and I am very interested in what 20-somethings and 30-somethings think and do. They're surprisingly open to people of other ages, I've found. I doubt I was when I was that young, and I give them credit. It also keeps me current so I don't start acting as if the world ended in 1985.

You have to respect natural limits. You aren't going to fit in if you want to go to a bar where everyone else is 26, so don't be silly about this. Keep some boundaries and show self-respect.

Once people start having kids, they vanish from my radar for a while. I think the kids thing is so absorbing it totally envelops their lives. But a few years later, they're back.

I think if you go into it with the attitude "what's in this for me?" or are looking for some specific kind of supposed reward, you might be disappointed. The attitude "I'm interested in this and I might meet nice people" is more realistic.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby wack wack » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:19 am

Yes, there are more social opportunities for all age groups in the Chicago area than there are in Madison.

As sno suggests, you have to take a more active role in making your life happen in Madison. It's much more likely to come to you (or be more readily available for you to fall into) in Chicago.

Huckleby
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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Huckleby » Wed Nov 16, 2011 10:43 am

I'm OK with my social life here, not complaining, but that's because I've been here and have made connections for over 30 years.

And ya, I get one must make efforts to meet people by joining activities.

I think for a single person, Madison is a sucky town for finding a mate. (Not speaking for myself, just observing and repeating other opinions I've heard.) Singles tend to be transient. Most of Madison seems familied-up. I've heard Milwaukee is better place for singles. And defying stereotypes, a gay couple I know (men) say that Milwaukee is a livelier social scene for over 30's.

As far as the fact that bigger cities have more nightlife and social opportunities, that misses the point I am unsuccessfully trying to make as well. I'm not talking about availability of things to do, I'm talking about the social habits of people, how open are they to casual conversation with strangers. Madison is a little closed down. People make plans with the old friendship networks.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby wack wack » Wed Nov 16, 2011 11:04 am

Huckleby wrote:As far as the fact that bigger cities have more nightlife and social opportunities, that misses the point I am unsuccessfully trying to make as well. I'm not talking about availability of things to do, I'm talking about the social habits of people, how open are they to casual conversation with strangers. Madison is a little closed down. People make plans with the old friendship networks.


I don't think "opportunities" and "habits" are that separate. Over decades and through generations, the attitudes and habits are a direct result of the surrounding opportunities.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Kyle Motor » Wed Nov 16, 2011 1:41 pm

Huckleby wrote:I think for a single person, Madison is a sucky town for finding a mate. (Not speaking for myself, just observing and repeating other opinions I've heard.) Singles tend to be transient. Most of Madison seems familied-up. I've heard Milwaukee is better place for singles. And defying stereotypes, a gay couple I know (men) say that Milwaukee is a livelier social scene for over 30's.

My opinion as a 31-year old single man is that Madison is indeed sucky for finding a date/mate. It seems a lot of people that come here for college and stay in town do so because they're paired up and having a family.

I agree that Milwaukee seems much more happenin' for the single scene. I get over there semi-regularly to visit friends; a night out there is different from here, and it's not because it's a bigger city. I think they've got more singles per capita, and they're out doing things instead of sitting around alone or in little cliques.

*EDIT: I missed the thread title change to "social dud for over 40's"

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby msnflyer » Wed Nov 16, 2011 3:45 pm

I gave up on the over-40 dating pool in Madison. Lack of success was probably due to my not fitting in the mold, whatever that was. Done the clubs, gym, etc. and have not experienced socialization outside of the venue. Same with work. Good thing I'm comfortable with being the lone wolf, think I was the only single at the Slow Pig event.
Have noticed that people in Madison don't seem comfortable striking up a conversation with others. Once they get past the deer in the headlights reaction the "stranger danger" attitude is evident.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Kenneth Burns » Wed Nov 16, 2011 4:14 pm

msnflyer wrote:Have noticed that people in Madison don't seem comfortable striking up a conversation with others. Once they get past the deer in the headlights reaction the "stranger danger" attitude is evident.


Agreed. When I lived in Chicago I found the people to be much friendlier than what I'm used to these days. Smiles and greetings with strangers on the sidewalk, etc. Fast forward to 2011, and it's a rare day when my neighbors in Midvale Heights can bring themselves to make eye contact.

Case in point: The other morning at the bus stop, a woman struck up a friendly conversation with me. So far so good. Pleasant surprise. Midway through, she half-ironically apologized for striking up a conversation with me.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Ducatista » Wed Nov 16, 2011 6:13 pm

My entire social network is made up of people I know either through work, through one scene or another (music and moto, mostly), or through existing friends from one of those sources. Can't imagine how else I'd try to meet new people.

I'm with you, Mr Burns, on the sidewalk smile issue. I walked the same downtown route twice daily for almost a decade. I like to think I have a pleasant enough affect without crossing the line into creepily cheery (though maybe I misjudge myself), and even people I'd see several times a week generally wouldn't smile. I developed a fuck-em attitude and smiled anyway, Didn't matter, since they wouldn't even look at me and so didn't know I was defiantly smiling. They also didn't know when I made a crabby face after I'd passed them, but it made me feel better.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby ralphie w » Wed Nov 16, 2011 7:18 pm

I disagree strongly, Mr. Burns and Ducatista, on the smiling and greeting fellow pedestrians and bus riders. I walk pretty much every where and my "Good (time of day) " are usually met with warmth. Of course, I'm super hawt.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby rabble » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:01 pm

In my experience the smiling and "hello" thing varies by neighborhood. I walk mostly the near east side and most folks are pleasant and happy to say hi. You can tell the newcomers though, cause they think we aren't supposed to even acknowledge each other's existence. Those folk usually get a little more friendly or they go away.

Same goes for the Monroe street hoods. Passersby will say hi and even stop to chat about the weather with strangers. Or let somebody pet their dog or compliment their kids.

If I range a little further out though, I begin to get more of the attitude Ducitista talks about. And I usually do the same as she does. Smile nice, say hi to see if I can force them to acknowledge me, and then mock them after I pass.

Since I moved here in the early nineties I've done the singles thing, gone out with several women, got into long term relationships with three of 'em. Married one of 'em. I preferred the singles scene here to Beloit where I moved here from and before that, the Chicago area. I realize I may not be a representative sample of something or other.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby snoqueen » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:10 pm

Smile nice, say hi to see if I can force them to acknowledge me, and then mock them after I pass.


With an attitude like that, why do you bother? Seriously, why?

I'm usually friendly to everyone I pass. One time, it was a couple young black kids trying to look as hard and mean as possible. I greeted them the same I do everyone. After I passed, I heard one say to the other incredulously, "She looked right at us!" as if it was the most unexpected thing in the world.

I figure in cases like that, it's not only the human thing to do, it's possibly making a little itty bitty difference in Madison's civility level. Kids so often feel invisible, and I think it might be part of why they act badly.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Henry Vilas » Wed Nov 16, 2011 8:17 pm

My neighborhood is pro smiles and hello.

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Re: Madison - social dud for over 40's ?

Postby Bwis53 » Wed Nov 16, 2011 9:07 pm

I agree with Sno. I don't like to hurry, but I don't consider meeting people a problem. My interests entertain me as do all the people I meet because of them. I'm not gorgeous but an awful lot of people say hi to me for no reason. Sometimes I just have to fake it and say hi back! I've got possessions older than some of the kids I work with but we can still have meaningful conversations. I'm not husband hunting still, I know guys like me. Maybe it's just that I've got interests and I'm not trying real hard. Desperation can be a real turn-off.


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