Beacon woman organizes “middle-aged” meet-ups
This past September, Alexandra Florio, a recent, middle-aged, Brooklyn-to-Beacon transplant, was feeling a touch isolated.
The daunting process of making friends, together with several career shifts, left her with what felt like an abundance of time on her hands. Born and raised in Manhattan, with an affection for big-city anonymity, Florio prides herself on not being self-conscious — “If I want to walk around in my pajamas, cool — I’m not embarrassed” — which she decided to put into action.
On the spur of the moment, while browsing the Beacon, NY group on Facebook, she posted this message to its 14,500 members:
The post quickly had 529 likes. That inspired Florio to post again, this time with details:
Months later, Florio is still surprised at the resounding response she received to these initial posts and more recent invitations to meet at the Roosevelt Bar in the Hudson Valley Food Hall.
She thinks it’s “because I was asking about single-sex companionship and that got attention in a way that a co-ed suggestion would not. With a same-sex [straight] environment, there’s no potential for some kind of sexual or romantic interaction. I like men plenty, but I have a boyfriend and I’m not looking for that kind of interaction.
“Also, men sometimes dominate the social navigation and it becomes a complicated environment,” she says. “Sometimes men tell a lot of stories, and women are just listening. It’s not a secret that many men like women’s positive attention very much, and men aren’t necessarily trying to be obnoxious, but it can be an impediment to getting to know each other.”
Along with the droves of women, there were also some, from Florio’s perspective, “weirdly negative” responses from men. “Teasing, lightweight, with the point of view of ‘I’m going to show up and tell you that men are OK.’ They could only conceive of all women as talking smack at men.”
Florio is candid about the posts being self-serving. “I moved to Beacon, unexpectedly in March,” she says. “I didn’t know anybody, had no connections and couldn’t drive, so I needed ‘them’ to come to me. People suggested making a club, but that’s not what I’m looking for. I post spontaneously, when I’m free, hoping to reach whoever’s around.
“Honestly, everyone I’ve met through this thing has been surprisingly terrific,” she adds. “I wonder why, at times, and think it may be because it eliminates women who spend energy pandering to men, and also women who only light up in the presence of men.”
The largest gathering so far has been eight women, although typically 100 to 200 respond — but they keep returning, and friendships have been forged. Off-shoot groups have formed, too. Florio says she finds it compelling that many women are looking for close female friendships, not just a roster of casual connections.
“I’m not someone who has had a lot of acquaintances,” she says. “Maybe it’s because I haven’t had a sister, but that female best friend who knows you so intimately they could write your biography is what I want. I guess what came as a surprise to me were there were so many women who responded saying they were seeking more than just acquaintances.
“The beauty of starting things is that you control the emotional tone. The women I have had the pleasure to meet through this have been great. In fact, I’m suspicious of women who can’t get behind the idea of hanging out with only other women sometimes.”
Raised by a single mom, Florio graduated from the all-female Wellesley College. (She is now a single mom herself, of two young adults.) She has sold real estate for many years and recently wrote a reference guide to navigating the New York City market. She also does writing and creative consulting.
Florio promises to post more notices in the Beacon, NY group for spontaneous meet-ups, when she finds herself free. “I don’t actually do a lot of talking while we meet,” she says. “I’m just interested in the women who are there, and I’m delighted when people like each other.”
I love this idea. It’s annoying that we have to explain and justify wanting to not include men. I’ve seen women talk (especially in mom groups) about setting up “play” dates for their spouses because they feel “left out” or don’t initiate socializing on their own. So, more labor for us. Enjoy your night out, middle-aged women. There’s something for everybody; you just have to be vulnerable and willing to organize if you can’t find what you want or need. [via Instagram]
I’m curious about the racial make-up of the group. I’m Black and have often tried to make women friends in Beacon. Nearly every time, I am told by white women they want to hang out but they are never available when I reach out. Very rarely do they reach out to me. I have also seen them out and about having meals and drinks with other women and it is always white women. [via Instagram]