Overcoming Loneliness as a Gay Man

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Loneliness can be a bitch at times, and for some people it can hit harder than for others. And regardless of how one might identify sexually, loneliness can sometimes overwhelm those within the LGBT+ community.

At least it does for me at times, though don’t know if it’s specific to me being gay.

For some, this loneliness can stem from sexual or gender identity discrimination, or even from rejection from their biological families.  Though some might say these feelings of loneliness is to be expected despite our community’s supposed mandate of love and inclusiveness, and trying to ‘choose’ our families.  Unfortunately not everyone can fit into the existing cliques or social circles.

I was reading an article about gay men battling loneliness and it got me thinking about my own life.  A lot of the time, I feel isolated from others but this is something that comes and goes in my life depending on what’s going on at that point.  One day I can feel great, loved, and on top of the world.. but the next I can be curled up in the ball staring at my phone thinking nobody even likes me enough to call.

Obviously, left unchecked this can lead to depression, anxiety, loss of confidence, and all sorts of other issues in my life.

When it’s really bad, I feel like I’m on a deserted island looking across to the mainland where everyone else is enjoying life, and I can only watch as there’s no way to get across to the others.  So in others words, I’m curled up on my sofa feeling sorry for myself, watching people’s posts on Facebook or Instagram of how fabulous their lives are.

Obviously social media isn’t an accurate depiction of people’s lives, but when you don’t hear from people sometimes that’s the only way to hear about what they are up to.

Anyway, the article I was reading (link is at the bottom of the page) listed several ‘tips’ on how to overcome this loneliness.  And although accurate with its advice, it was fairly generic if you ask me, with a focus on substance abuse and reaching out to a therapist.

Often people will tell me if I’m feeling lonely then I just need to get out and be around other people.  Because apparently (in their mind) it’s just that easy.  And for them it probably is.

What those who don’t suffer from feelings of loneliness don’t understand is that you could be standing in the middle of a crowd filled with people you know, and you’ll still feel alone.  It’s like there’s a disconnect from others around you.

When we were all first coming out or realising our sexual identities, we would isolate ourselves or pull away from those around us to ensure our ‘secret’ isn’t found out.  That proverbial closet prevented us from making meaningful connections with others (family included) because of how different we felt from them.  This was probably an emotionally stressful period for most.

After coming out, those feelings of isolation probably went away for most people as they started to meet other people like them and build new social circles.  But for others, that might have highlighted for them how they don’t fit into the groups around them.  Even when those groups are comprised of other people supposedly like them with similar interests.

When I first came out, I met an amazing group of people some of which I’m still in virtual contact with now over 20 years later.  We were mostly all new to being out and living in a small town, so we all came together to support each other.

But like anything in life, this only lasted for so long as people moved away, moved on, found relationships and so forth.  It’s a recurring situation through life, and sometimes it’s hit me harder than others, contributing to those feelings of loneliness as I would try to move past it all to find new friends all over again.  And again.

Most self-help articles advise the best thing to do is to join a social or interest group as a way to feel less lonely.  And for some people this works.

For me, this was only fleeting as I tried several different outlets over the years – gay softball or bowling groups, naturist social groups, gay geeks, cinema groups, etc – but nothing truly fit me.  Sure, I’d meet a few new people and start going out a bit more, but then as people broke off as they tend to do, I was still left in the same situation wondering where everyone went.

So where does that leave me?  Trying to meet guys through the ‘dating’ apps or nightclubs usually leads to failure as these are more for those looking for sex and they’re focused more on physical interactions.  And after all these years, I’m just so over the whole bar and club scene these days.

I try to reach out to people when I’m feeling lonely, but unfortunately that doesn’t always work out.  People (in London) are generally always busy or booked up well in advance, so there’s little room for last minute plans.  Or they are the type that only want to be around when things are going good, so will purposely avoid you when you’re down.

Like anything in life, this too will be a work in progress as I try to help myself.  Or maybe I’ll just wear out my Netflix subscription by spending another weekend at home alone on the sofa.

Who knows. 😉

Source: 5 Tips to Overcome Your Loneliness as a Gay Man

24 thoughts on “Overcoming Loneliness as a Gay Man

  1. If you’re all alone
    And a friend you need
    Like a river flows
    You hurt; I’ll bleed
    If you trust in me
    We can find away
    Take away the pain
    Time heals all things
    Even a lonely state of mind
    ’cause happiness is oh so hard to find – Janet Jackson

    • Beautiful words from a beautiful soul.. I also think of the lyrics to her song ‘I Get so Lonely’:

      Sittin here with my tears
      All alone with my fears
      I’m wonderin if I have to do
      Withoutcha
      But there’s no reason why
      I feel asleep late last night
      Cryin like a newborn child
      Holdin myself close
      Pretendin my arms are yours
      I want no one but you
      I get so lonely
      Can’t let just anybody hold me
      You are the one that lives in me, my dear
      Want no one but you

      • Yes true – fair point. But both offer a way out and reassurance. Loneliness can be good sometimes as it allows us to focus on ourselves as an individual. And some prefer to be alone. Whatever works for you is always best and whether that is “lonely” is something you come can work out. Maybe loneliness is not the right phrase, maybe it’s more about “your time”.

        Whatever it is, I know what you mean and wish you well.

  2. Yasser

    Well, I fully agree with you. But what about worse situations like ‘fear’. Living in fear all the time constantly. Fear of losing everything like your friends, family, and job. Or fear of being isolated, shamed n’ named names, and most scary jail.
    I am trying to say is loniness is not the worst thing. It’s frightening I agree. I try to look at others’ situations and then I realise mine is small or nothing sometimes. Positivity is the best I can do for my self. xxxx Y

    • And you are probably one of the most positive people I know!! I know there are worse things out there.. but this post was triggered by the article is read about this topic and it got me thinking about my own situation.. So I wrote about it. 🙂

  3. Despite all the problems with them, I think gay apps have helped connect a lot of gay people. Makes it far easier for people who don’t live near a large gay community to connect. Loneliness is not just a gay thing. A much higher proportion of the population is single late in life. Loneliness is afflicting many people — not just gay.

    • Oh I agreed that it’s not an exclusively gay thing at all, just can sometimes be more prevalent depending on that person’s circumstances. With the apps I think they’ve had both positive and negative effects on gay life.. easier to meet people from afar (I use the apps more when travelling for instance to meet locals), but has taken away from a feeling of a community. Mostly this post was influenced by the article is read and had got me thinking about the whole situation and how it affects me.

  4. For me, I think independence might be the biggest help. Although that’s easier said than done, I think being unattached and open, never expecting to attach to anyone permanently is the answer. I’ve gotten to the point where I just can’t get into a committed relationship, at the risk of sounding dramatic. I was once married for 19 years to a woman. After coming out, I gave my all in 3 committed gay relationships, always hoping that I met Mr. Right.

    Once those failed, I thought I did find Mr. Right, and we’ve been together now for 19 years. It’s probably the biggest mistake I’ve ever tolerated. People ask me “Why not leave? Why do you stay so long in bad relationships?” The answer is: ENTRAPMENT. Once you really take the plunge with someone and get into financial bonds together (home ownership, joint bank accounts, etc.) it’s very hard and financially damaging to get out of them. And so you stay, and you try to make things work. But the problem is things change. People change, as well as the relationship they’re in, and all too many times, it doesn’t change for the better. Case in point, I now live with a functioning alcoholic who won’t be reasoned with. There’s other issues at hand that never manifested until much later, but this the end. Although I can’t end it immediately, within the next year or so I’ll be out of it.

    This is the end of me thinking that I need someone to feel complete. It’s something like Dorothy realizing that she had the power to go home all the while she was in Oz. Just like Dorothy, I never realized that I have the ability to be accepted, happy, and unattached. Now that I know that, I can’t wait to get there.

    I know of some couples, both straight and gay, who are very happy together. They’ve been through thick and thin together, and I think that’s wonderful. But I don’t envy them. I’ve come to realize that not everyone should be married, not everyone should raise children, and some people can be perfectly happy living alone. That’s not to say that anyone should shut people out; THEY SHOULDN’T. Friends and family are so important, and I enjoy them always. But the thing is, there is such value in enjoying your own company, feeling at peace with yourself and the world around you–it’s priceless.

    I spend much of my time alone, and I’M NEVER LONELY; not anymore. I spend my free time doing the things I enjoy–I’ve become a little old lady for want of a better way to put it. A little old lady who still enjoys a sex life, whether it’s alone or with someone, and I never expect anything more from it. Friends with benefits is one way to put it. I have some friends that I enjoy socializing with, along with my brother and his family who I see every now and then. They all understand how I feel. I’m not on a dating site, I’m not looking for anyone. It’s wonderful.

    My best advice to anyone feeling lonely is: STOP LOOKING FOR SOMEONE ELSE TO MAKE YOU FEEL COMPLETE. Don’t you know? You ARE your own best friend.

  5. Hi there, I really enjoyed reading your post. I found myself nodding along to the sentiments in your post and cab definitely relate. I have never liked the gay pubbing and clubbing scene and feel that it contributes to negative self esteem. People want to put labels on you constantly – twink, bear, top, bottom, fem, butch, muscular etc etc. We don’t half objectify each other as a community and without trying to come across as a prude, I really don’t think the gay sex app explosion and rise of Grindr has done us any favours at all. Yet more sexualisation. Just like porn, people become nothing..no emotions, jus numbers in a never ending wheel of short termism. I gave up on it all, The trying to compete and trying to fit in. I am supposed to like trashy techno and disco. I don’t. I am supposed to smile all the time and have lots of friends. I don’t and I don’t. I am supposed to have a defined sexual role..I don’t. I am supposed to be living my bes gay life on instagram. I don’t. We’re all too diverse to fit into these myriad of gay boxes. I am introverted but I also get lonely at times too. It’s not easy making good connections with people, especially online as it’s all so fast and transient. People have ever shrinking attention spans.

    • Amen!!! I couldn’t have summed it up better myself. Thank you for your words.. it’s all that that I was (I think..) was trying to get across. And good for you for living your life on your terms, your own way regardless of whether you’re feeling lonely or not. That’s something we all need to do more of. Live.

  6. I am in closet and I do feel the disconnection with people due to the feeling that I am different. In gatherings with others, I am very sensitive when they talk about relationships and always trying to blend in as normal, while I know I am different. As age grows, people get relationship, some get married and get kids. Then I learnt to shut up when these topics comes up.
    But I also feel lonely from time to time and I made some gay (gay-friendly) friends. I am open and happy when I am with them. But the feeling of loneliness still occurs when I am alone and have nothing to do. Watching netflix isn’t enough to concur it.
    I don’t know, but maybe it’s time to have a real relationship and kid etc..

    • Perhaps when your friends or acquaintances are bringing up relationships it’s their way of trying to get you to open up.. to share how you are feeling. Gay does not necessarily mean ‘different’, that you aren’t ‘normal’, or that any relationship you might have isn’t ‘real’ as you put it.. just more a change in perspective and a willingness to open up. You might be surprised how welcoming people will be when you just be yourself.

      • Thanks for your words. I wasn’t brought up in a very open environment. I have tried so many years to open up myself. But it’s more a motivation internally. It’s difficult to feel that my friends want to connect with me by knowing the real me. So with the process of opening up, I started to move from one group to another group. If I don’t depend on other people, I cannot get hurt by them. I know this doesn’t sound good. But if I have to think of coming out to any of my friends, I started to think I should make new friends and maybe come out to new friends only. And then the loop starts. Sorry for bothering you with my issue…

      • Never think you’re a bother.. we all need a place to express how we’re feeling. And if you feel this is a comfortable place for you, then please feel free to reach out.. cause that is what you’re doing, and I welcome it.

  7. What’s tough for me is feeling lonely but at the same time also not feeling up to doing something and meeting people. Sometimes there’s nothing I could do about that but it always kinda sucks Hope you’re doing better and remember: times will always change even if doesn’t seem like it at a certain point.

  8. Don’t pay attention to people’s fabulous lives on social media. Just think about the terrible pyjamas they’re wearing when they post all their shit. THAT is the real T. 🤣

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