I’m a Little Lonely. Most Men Are REALLY Lonely.

lonely man sitting at the beach
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If I stop and think about it, it makes me sad. So I try not to think about it.

In high school, I had three best guy friends. We loved each other. Said as much when signing each others’ yearbooks. By the time we graduated college, we were barely in touch. The last time we were all together was my father’s funeral when I was 26.

In college, I had four best guy friends. We loved each other and I thought our friendship was unique and special. It wasn’t. We all went to each others’ weddings in our late 30’s, but after we had kids, it was the end of the show. The last time we were all together was a group  40th birthday party in New Orleans. That was 5 years ago.

I’ve  been married for nine years, a father for 6. I work from home in the suburbs. I don’t play poker or golf or drink scotch – I’d rather have a pool party with margaritas and my wife around. There is very little testosterone in my world.

My current friends are  fathers in my community – kindergarten dads, temple dads, soccer dads, etc. They’re great guys, but we don’t have the same history. We couldn’t. What 40-year-old guy can spend countless hours talking  these days?  We have full-time jobs, kids  to raise, and endless  family obligations. I see the local Dads around once a month. I see my longtime LA friends two times a year. I see my college friends only when I’m on a business trip in their city.

If you have a guy friend, call him and let him know you’re thinking of him.

I’m busy, all right. But I’m a little lonely. And I’m one of the lucky ones. Happily married. Two kids. No commute. Highly active social life with an extroverted wife who knows everyone in town. Shed no tears for me. I’m only using my plight as a way into this viral piece by Billy Baker of the Boston Globe, which painfully identifies how middle-aged men don’t have the same sense of community or support as their female peers.

The results are visible everywhere. Go on dates. Ask your guy friends. Most of them will tell you. There are no fraternities or posses or bro-groups for men of a certain age. There are no men’s networking organizations, no conferences just for men, no Love U for guys.

There is mostly work.

If you’re lucky, you have a wife. If you’re luckier, you have a wife who encourages you to make guy time, like I do. If you’re extremely rare, you have one close friend or a small group of friends you connect with  periodically and travel to see every year.

Want to know why guys bear their souls on the first date and want to marry you on the second date? Look no further than the loneliness epidemic, which has quietly swept across America, and is slowly destroying our male population. Disconnected men have no social contact, no warmth, no support, no touch, no one to celebrate successes, no shoulder to lean on during tough times. It’s terribly sad and relatively unreported.

If you have a guy friend, call him and let him know you’re thinking of him.

You’ll probably be the first to do so this year.

Are you a guy who has experienced this slow fracturing of social bonds? Are you a woman who has seen this up close?  Your thoughts, below, are appreciated.

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Comments:

  1. 41
    Persephone

    I didn’t say it like it was an insult, Dear. You merely perceived it as if it were an insult. I was born in Pennsylvania.   I was born a Yankee, but I became a southern redneck.

  2. 42
    GL

    Perhaps then, men need  to find within themselves, more ways to alleviate lonliness and learn how to self-reflect and even vulnerable. My father, is an asshole and has isolated himself. Whatever mental illness he has, has been magnified and I haven’t spoken to him for a year since all he does is find a way to scream at me during every conversation.

    I feel sorry for men in this sense. I wish societies across the globe had different expectations for men. In places like India, I think men are allowed to express themselves emotionally which results in the well-balanced, secure, male. I have been endlessly impressed by my male, Indian friends.

    Perhaps the man who does not get in touch with himself,  makes them less adjusted to dating amazing women. Perhaps the impossible  version of “man,” is unhealthy, unfeeling, and cold. Perhaps the lonely man, could do a better job at understanding women and acting accordingly.

    Now this brings me to a recent personal experience I had in my dating life that I wanted to share on this website, since I was trying to follow the advice that I’ve read in blogs. Mirroring, being relaxed, letting him take the lead, etc…this man was awesome. He was coming over every other night, he uttered the words: “love,” twice, told me he enjoyed spending time with me, there was partnership talk and future talk and mind blowing sex. Jeez, he was into me. We’d known each other a month and there was something brewing.

    Then we ran into a snag. We’d been spending a lot of time alone and he invited me out to a party. Turns out, after later conversations, he doesn’t like pda. I had felt rejected by him during that party. He also had broke away from me to talk to someone else. It was like being akin to being shoved aside.

    I was so hurt I dumped him thinking he was embarrassed of me. He came back and said he understood why I was upset, that things were fine, and we would talk.

    Now I had felt guilty about my reaction. We texted all of this. I said I wanted to talk soon so we could move past this, I could have handled it better.

    The texts were sporadic, he wasn’t trying to see me. I was getting more and more anxious so I asked him if he was coming over. No dice. We exchanged niceties.   Two days later I asked to talk on the phone, explaining it would be nice to just hear his voice because I wasn’t feeling comforted. That the texts were not so meaningful to me. No dice. I lost my shit.

    I went down this insane tunnel of anxiety and expressed my resentment and anger over the fact he could not just give me a small phone call. That we should just be friends because of my issues (which are really non-issues it’s just I was going batshit over this whole thing) or whatever and this is driving me fucking insane. The response I got was: I just read your texts and I will be your friend as it sounds I’ve interrupted your life.” I called him and left two messages asking to call me. He woke up to a good 30 Facebook messages. The final one saying: “Look I would hate to see this end because of a communication breakdown, I think you’re amazing blah blah. I hate messaging about serious stuff. so no more texting about this, call me when you want to talk.”

     

    Naturally I haven’t heard a damn thing, it’s been a day since this happened. Oh the sadness in my heart…

    Now I learned some valuable lessons about dating, expectations, and my own insecurities and behavior.  Some advice from this blog started ringing in my head. Shit.

    But I was pretty  mad at my friends for trying to blame me, I told them I thought they were being sexist. Trying to say things like: well what about having no expectations; it was YOUR insecurities you can’t expect him to try to make you feel better; he’s a man he needs to go into his cave; you should have taken his word for it and you don’t have the right to ask for anything if you don’t know them very well.

    FUCK THAT.

    I say this bitterly:

    The next time he finds himself lonely, maybe he’ll think about how I asked for a simple phone call. How I asked for a date to reconnect because I felt guilty and wanted to move past this. How I wanted to know if he was coming over.

    Yes I freaked out. But so do lots of people in this world. Maybe he wasn’t as into it as I thought, but I think men could stand to learn how to be sensitive to a woman’s needs. That she is not needy or weak or insults his manhood if she puts herself on the line to ask for a connection with a man she doesn’t know very well.

    It’s self-imposed lonliness. I feel sorry for men.

    1. 42.1
      Jeremy

      Sorry you experienced that, GL.   You might find it helpful to read the book “Attached,” particularly the parts about anxious-avoidant relationships.   It might give you insight into the past – both your own reactions and those of this man – and might help you choose better partners for your personality type.

      1. 42.1.1
        GL

        Thank you for the thoughtful response. He has actually communicated with me, after I said that I couldn’t stand being ignored, made apologies for a couple things I said, and then I blocked him on Facebook stating that I can’t be friends at the moment but I hope we can down the road.

        He reached out and said: “Look I really like you, but I don’t handle shit well, I’ll talk to you soon.” He also said he wants to maintain distance while I figure out my life (I just moved, and I was in a very bad place from where I left, very depressed and lonely).

        So at least I got some vindication of his feelings. We’ll see if he comes back.   At the very least he and I are on better terms than just ghosting or ending things in a fit of passion… lol And if we do end up dating I will never blow up at him again, that’s for sure.

        C’est la vie…live and learn!!!!

    2. 42.2
      Sum Guy

      Hi GL

      He’s a douche bag.    In my view it’s not some discomfort about PDA, as he could have reconnected with you privately.    He’s basically a coward, was rude at the party because he doesn’t have enough guts to be honest with you that he is not in love with you, he liked the sex but didn’t want closeness at the party because it shut down his options.

      It’s good you saw this at the party.   Anyone who has been with you every other night for a month should have no problem with an arm around the waist etc.   if they do and really are into you, he would of been over the first time you wanted to talk.

      In sum, your friends are wrong in that he was a douche, but also right in that feel lucky he didn’t call as I suspect it would just have delayed him inevitably moving on after you got more into him

       

      1. 42.2.1
        Sum Guy

        guess I should have read all your posts GL 🙂

        I still think what he did at the party was a douche bag maneuver, one that places you in the bin of good enough for now.

        Good you have learned to react more calmly, but doesn’t make what he did OK nor should you accept him doing something like it again just because you overreacted before.

        1. GL

          Thank you, and I agree with what you said however his PDA problem might be very strong. This was an opportunity for me to exercise calm communication skills, instead I blew up and looked unstable and fucked up. There is a post on this blog where Evan essentially says men want women who don’t flip out when they make a doofus mistake. Thing is even though I did do that, I got to the root of why I flipped out like a jerk and I will be dating way differently from now on. This particular man cannot communicate either. I begged him for phone calls or a face to face interaction. He just messaged me. Lame.

  3. 43
    Greg

    So im 33 years old raised a Jehovah’s Witness left the religion when i was 21 i would have left earlier but my dad got cancer and died when i was 18 so i pretended until my mom met someone and was okay now looking at my life’s course i see my biggest problem as the difference in social skills taught in that religion versus those that the rest of the world learns messed up any chance of having game as they say i can count on one hand the number if women ive had sex with and only one long term relationship that lasted longer than it should have it was not a healthy relationship i have friends and family that i have strong relationships with but the lack of romantic connection is the biggest contributor to my often physically painful loneliness i can feel it even when with family and friends all i see are couples who have what i want yes i can survive with out but i dont want to but ive had no luck online used several sites and my luck in person when i see a woman who appers to be single is not much better sometimes i worry that i will die alone without ever finding someone who wants me

  4. 44
    Greg

    So I’m 33 years old single can count on one hand the number of women I have been with in my life only had one serious relationship I have friends and family that I have strong relationships with I’ve got a job I would vehicle but I can’t seem to wrap my head around the ideas behind flirting I think part of this has to do with growing up as a Jehovah’s Witness and leaving the religion late in life because the social skills that are used inside that religion are very different from the social skills used outside of it for dating and romance and the loneliness is often physically painful there’s times many times where I can be surrounded by friends and family at holiday get-togethers in the like and still feel physically painfully lonely because I’m missing that romantic Connection in my life I know what it is that I’m missing I just don’t know how to go about getting it

    1. 44.1
      Tony UK

      Same here. I was raised as a JW (I also left, or should I say disfellowshipped in my 20’s), and it totally screwed up any normal social skills that I needed to navigate this world.

      I think there are quite a few males in similar situations (from different religous backgrounds), that wern’t allowed to just be normal males.

  5. 45
    Robin

    These comments are a perfect illustration of the reason why the problem of men’s loneliness only gets worse: any attempt to actually address it will either be immediately eclipsed by “yeah well, things are hard for women too and here’s 10 paragraphs about why”, or “you’re men. Your loneliness is your own fault, just like everything else.”

    It may not be your job to fix anyone else, but you are definitely part of the problem.

  6. 46
    SparklingEmerald

    Interesting, on this blog there was another article about how men don’t hate being single as much as women do, but yet studies show that married men generally fare better than single men happiness and health wise. I think (many) men are so closed off from their feelings, so conditioned not to show sadness, that when asked how they feel about being single don’t always answer that question 100% honestly.

    1. 46.1
      sylvana

      SE,

      Absolutely. Not necessarily just because they’re closed off, but also because they’re not “supposed” to show those kind of “weaknesses”.

      1. 46.1.1
        SparklingEmerald

        Yes Sylvana – About the only unpleasant emotion men are “supposed” to show is anger. Men are considered “weak” if they express sadness, remorse or fear. Then we scratch our heads and wonder about “toxic masculinity”.

  7. 47
    Ed

    What women experience in mid life is what most men experience life long, including in their young and prime years. Men are invisible, pathlogized, unwanted, alone, and in many cases killing themselves.

  8. 48
    esme

    Im a single woman and I get lonely lots of time and I am living with my aunt but even so I get lonely and I wonder how guys that’s single and living alone cope, especially when all I know is most males on dating sites are players. Good to know that males get lonely too and not just us females

  9. 49
    Nolan

    You have the most fun of your life between 15-25. That isn’t a secret. You have the most casual sex and meet the most people during those years. It isn’t surprising that we feel some nostalgia for those years. You don’t realize that they are going to come to a fairly sudden stop some time around 30. I forget who said it, but there is a famous saying- “It is truly a shame that youth is wasted on the young.”
    There are a lot of studies coming to the surface about the effects of divorce on men and women. Women typically get custody of the kids, and the man is left alone. Divorced men who don’t re-marry are being found to have significantly younger average ages of death that other men. Loneliness is absolutely a killer. I’m not going to cite a bunch of studies. They are there. If you care to fact check me, please do.

  10. 50
    Terry Long

    I’ve been divorced since 1983. Father of three sons. Seventy years old. I’ve met several good women, but it never lasts. I’m tired of being used, so I am alone. One ex girl friend, I get to be Grandpa to her grandchildren. I love these kids so much, but I’m still lonely. Retired for a week and a half at 67. Went back to work. Now the women I meet expect a free ride. Never thought I’d meet so many parasites. Nothing to look forward to but work. I cook and fix things too.

  11. 51
    Mirm

    Awe… u see this with my cousin and her husband. Also with myself… there is no secret to any of this… just knowing your not a weirdo helps. We all just do the best we can. Eminent death seems to help me put life into perspective… however… my husband likes to wallow in sadness from time to time so I have to get crazy fun (and how) really fast… life is just so nuts people… none of us have the answer… we all just offer bits of possible help! That’s why I read these! The bits of help I see together in my mind! They make things better. Little by little.

  12. 52
    George

    It seems loneliness is a very complicated problem as is being human,the suggestions on this forum all have good intentions,From my experience a 66 year old male very lonely most of my life,there seems to be no easy answers,I have stumbled through life doing most of the things suggested.
    Buddhism has been a great help for me. Our world is very complicated and generally very selfish,and driven by most peoples egos,that under the surface it is not all that it seems.
    there is I feel a lack of honesty in our society.
    The main problem with men is men,they are not good at being honest and letting go of their male egos.

  13. 53
    George

    Hi Brenda
    Thanks for you honesty ,I feel you are right ,things turn out the way they do in our lives for all sorts of reasons,sadly for some people ,the perfect live does not happen (not sure if the perfect life happens for any body) what I am trying to say is that our real life experiences end up different to our imagined fantasies,dealing with this is the difficult part of our lives.
    good luck.

  14. 54
    The very truth

    Especially without a wife and family that many of us would’ve wanted.

  15. 55
    jo

    What Evan wrote here rings true IME. In another thread, I wrote how our society might be less lonely if we stepped out of the (western male) norm of capitalism and the nuclear family, and considered living in groups or couples that didn’t need to have a romantic / sexual component. In other words, I agree with Michelle on the first page that although white males built up social norms in North America and Europe that are capitalistic and isolationist, we don’t have to live that way anymore. And that may help the epidemic of male loneliness.

    Neither Michelle nor I are ‘blaming’ men for this. But this IS what white men have created: a system that might be good for accumulating wealth and passing on bloodlines, but is terrible for loneliness. Other societies have done it differently, and I won’t judge because for all we know, capitalism and nuclear families MIGHT be the best model we have among many societal models (depending on what we’re trying to optimise).

    But times are changing, and our social models should change along with them. Women have much more financial, career, and legal freedom now. We are more open about sexual and gender preferences. Slowly, we see old toxic patriarchal practices collapsing (e.g., formerly acceptable sexual harassment, stalking, abuse). So can we come up with a new way to live together where we might live in groups or communes rather than nuclear families, where men shed old norms about what males may or may not pursue in terms of friendship, and children can be raised somewhat more collectively? Less loneliness would be the result. NB: I’m not describing anything new. Many societies have functioned this way in the past (and present). And maybe at last, this way of living is optimal for even the wealthiest societies. We have so much wealth, now we want companionship.

  16. 56
    Buck25

    Jo, I don’t want to rain on your idea here, but as far as communal living, we tried that in 19th Century America (see the Oneida community, for example) and we tried it again in the hippie communes of the 70s. It just never seemed to work out as intended. Maybe it’s just contrary to some aspects of human nature, or maybe it’s just some aspects of anglo-American culture; I’m not a sociologist, so I wouldn’t pretend to know.

    That said, there are alternatives in some situations. In my case, roommates (or more accurately housemates) seem to help. I’ve had two recently, both women. One was going through a bad divorce and had nowhere else to go, and only a part time job. She needed a time and place to heal and get herself together again, and I had a mother-in-law suite downstairs, so…she stayed, for about two years (totally platonic) until she got back on her feet. She finished her divorce, landed a good full time job, moved out on her own and is now saving to buy a small house of her own. The second is a single cardiac patient who ended up alone in a strange town after her sister and brother-in-law moved. I brought her here, where she’s closer to the medical care she needs, and has someone to look after her (she’s disabled, and awaiting a heart transplant). Again, platonic. If all goes well, she should have a more normal life a year or so post transplant, and she’ll have to decide then what she wants that life to be. Before that, I had a disabled veteran who lived with me for several months. A rocket blast in Iraq took his career (Combat Medic), and left him with a broken back, no short-term memory, severe PTSD, and a broken marriage. He’d given up on himself and no one seemed to give a damn, so I took him in, encouraged him to get back in therapy, found him more permanent quarters here, and got some Special Forces guys I know to help mentor him. I’m happy to say he’s now home in TX, is being a dad for his kids again, has remarried, and now helps other vets find the assistance and resources they need. There are more, but you get the idea. Someone asked me what I do, now that I’m (supposedly) retired. I told them I build bridges, which I guess is as good a description as any. I don’t talk about it much, don’t see much reason to. No reason to advertise; they seem to cross my path anyway; the lost ones, the broken ones, the forgotten ones, the ones who fall through the cracks…and where no one else can or will help… that’s where I step in. I guess I could do what a lot of people seem to do, just throw money at this cause or that, or expect the government to take care of it all, but that wouldn’t feel right to me. I’m just an old paratrooper and EMT/Paramedic, and my place is with the boots on the ground; I wouldn’t know how to be anything else.

    Of course, that won’t suit everybody; I don’t know how many people really want to be a sort of guardian angel for lost and wounded souls, or have the time and resources to do the job. I will say this; I don’t feel lonely, and I really don’t have time to feel sorry for myself. I don’t have much family, as such; but thanks to all the vets and first responders and everyone else I’ve worked with one way or another, I sure have a lot of “little brothers” (and some “little sisters” too) all over the place, and I stay in touch with a lot of them. I can’t say this is what I had in mind when I started; it just sort of happened; but then, the result has not been a bad thing at that.

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