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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 mutual goals.


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 on dates.


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 be together.


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 about herself.


By taking these actions, hopefully youíll find yourself in a happier, more fulfilled life.



Dr. Debra


Debra Holland, Ph.D., is a licensed psychotherapist who specializes in relationships and communication techniques.

Feel free to write Dr. Debra with your questions


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Dr. Debra Holland is also a regular contributor to the Wet Noodle Posse Blog.


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