Dear Dr. Debra,
I am a single man (never married) in
his mid-fifties and am challenged by loneliness and the
many faces and places it represents. Can you please recommend
any books, movies, sites, clubs that might help me...? I
have been pretty much alone and have experienced 'loneliness'
since my adolescent years. This has been very challenging
for me to say the least. I'd like to overcome or make peace
with this feeling and move on. Itís a very debilitating
and disappointing life feeling.
A Lonely Guy
Dear Lonely Guy,
Your life sounds bleak and sad. Iím
not sure if you are seeking a romantic relationship or more
quality friendships. However, the path to both is the same.
Iím not going to suggest media tools because you need to
take action, not be more introspective.
You say your feelings started in adolescence.
The teenage years can be a time of isolation and sadness
for many kids. For some kids, these feelings are periodic,
for others, the feelings pervade their lives. This can especially
be true for boys because they often have less social skills
than girls. The high school male hierarchy places great
importance on athletic prowess. Playing sports is one of
the best ways to fit in and develop friendships.
As an adolescent male, if you werenít
athletic, the next best thing was to become involved in
clubs and activities, so you interacted with others who
had common interests. This is true no matter how old you
grow. The vital key to finding and keeping friends is to
join organizations and/or community projects and participate.
I especially urge you to be of service. When you are
helping others, itís hard to feel sorry for yourself. When
you make life better for someone else, you brighten your
own life. Finding a way to make the world a better place
will add meaning to your life.
Find a project where you can work ďhands
on.Ē People bond while physically working together to achieve
Places of worship are a good place to start. Involvement
in a church or temple can help you feel better on a spiritual
level, give you the friends you are seeking, and involve
you in meaningful activities.
Other ideas: you can become a Big Brother to a child,
raise funds for charity, build houses for Habitat for Humanity
(www.habitat.org), visit a nursing home, join the Coast
Guard Auxiliary (cgaux.org), join an international service
organization such as Kiwanis (www.kawanis.org),
or serve food at a homeless shelter. The opportunities to
serve are legion. And in this time of economic stress, kindness
and support for others is needed more than ever.
If you are shy and introverted, joining
an organization might be a stretch. But if you want to improve
your life, you must act. This means going up to people
and talking, not drifting to the corner of the room. Ask
open-ended questions. Most people love to talk about themselves.
If you donít know what to say, read the local newspaper
and mention items of interest (as long as itís not politics.)
Volunteer to take on duties. Organizations
always need more helping hands.
If youíre looking for a romantic relationship,
youíll increase your odds of meeting someone special by
becoming more involved in life. Either sheíll belong to
one of the organizations youíre participating in, or sheíll
be acquainted with someone who is. Let your new friends
know youíre searching for a partner and ask to be set up
Iím also going to suggest you try counseling.
Your counselor can help you resolve any issues that keep
you stuck in an unhappy life, as well as aid you in taking
new steps toward more fulfillment.
Lastly, Iím going to suggest internet
dating. I personally know two very shy, isolated men (whom
I doubted would ever leave home) who met their partners
through the internet. Both women lived in different states,
and after a long time of getting to know each other online,
through phone calls, and visits back and forth, moved to
However, I caution you to be honest,
both with your written information and your photos. Be a
man of integrity. Donít waste othersí time with dishonesty.
Also mention on your profile that you want others to be
honest with you. State that youíll immediately cease getting
to know any woman who isnít writing or telling the truth
By taking these actions, hopefully
youíll find yourself in a happier, more fulfilled life.
Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed
psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and communication
Feel free to
write Dr. Debra with your questions.
Click here to view the ASK DR.
To read previous 'Ask Dr. Debra' articles,
where Dr. Debra is a regular contributor.
Dr. Debra Holland is also a regular
contributor to the
Wet Noodle Posse Blog.
back to the top