Help pack a million meals for struggling seniors on Sept. 11. Volunteer today


You May
Also Like ...


    Social Clubs

    Do you have a regular group of friends you meet with? Tell us what makes the bond special. Do

Most Popular


Lunch Date With ROMEO Gives Guys a Chance to Connect

Social clubs key to promoting emotional health

En español │The December wind was gusting to 40 miles an hour, the rain descending in torrents, but nothing could keep the ancient foursome from their appointed rounds. One by one — three septuagenarians and an 81-year-old — they made their wet way into Gabriela's, a Mexican restaurant on New York's Upper West Side.

"I wouldn't miss it," a latecomer commented. "I don't know any other two hours of my life when I'm so happy to be in the company of other people."

The foursome is part of a widespread phenomenon known as ROMEO, for Retired Old Men Eating Out. The four men, retirees all, have been meeting for a monthly lunch for a few years now. Their conversation tends to be "like a barbell," as one of them put it: "We talk about politics or new movies, what's happening now, and about what we saw and did a half-century ago — and nothing in between. We laugh a lot."

There are hundreds of self-proclaimed ROMEO groups across the country, some with a handful of members, some with as many as 80. They meet for lunch or for breakfast, weekly or monthly. They may form spontaneously because of members' common interests or associations, or they may be associated with religious groups, adult communities or senior centers.

The ROMEO Club of Chicago, for example, is composed of 13 current or former Catholic priests, while the ROMEO Club of Bloomfield, N.J., is all musicians. One of the Gabriela's foursome was a computer programmer, one was an investment banker and the others were lawyers. They have known or known of each other for at least 40 years. Many ROMEOS, though, are geared to attract newcomers to a town and other people with no links to members.

"What's so nice about these groups of men," says Dr. William S. Pollack, a professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School, "is that it helps them discover what women know from the time they enter kindergarten, that a sense of connectedness feels good and is good for your emotional health."

Like any relationship, the ROMEO connection benefits members' physical health as well. Recent research at Brigham Young University has shown that social interactions improve one's odds of survival by as much as 50 percent. On the other hand, a low rate of interaction, the authors say, is twice as harmful as obesity and comparable to smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

The research matched participants' social connections and their health over a seven-year period. Any interaction, whether positive or negative, had a beneficial impact.

Find a ROMEO club in your area or start your own »

Topic Alerts

You can get weekly email alerts on the topics below. Just click “Follow.”

Manage Alerts


Please wait...

progress bar, please wait

Tell Us WhatYou Think

Please leave your comment below.


Discounts & Benefits

From companies that meet the high standards of service and quality set by AARP.

Carrabba's Italian Grill Chicken Plate, Member Benefits

Members save 15% on lunch and dinner every day at Carrabba's Italian Grill.

Member Benefit AARP Regal 2

Members pay $8 for Regal ePremiere tickets purchased online. Conditions apply.

membership ancestry

Members save 30% on  a one-year subscription to

Member Benefits

Join or renew today! Members receive exclusive member benefits & affect social change.

Being Social


The Coffee Shop

Relax, kick-back, meet new friends and visit with old ones. Discuss

Front Porch

"If the world had a front porch, we'd all be friends!" Let's all be friends! Drop by anytime... Discuss