More often than not when you type the word “loneliness” into a search engine, most, if not all, of the results will pertain to how women can deal with their loneliness.
Is this because women are more lonely than men? Are the search engines gender-biased? Are more female bloggers writing about the issue than male bloggers?
Whatever the reason, the truth is that EVERYONE is capable of feeling lonely.
The one major difference is that it seems women have a more broad array of resources when they deal with loneliness and are generally more capable of seeking help from support systems such as friends and family and online communities.
It’s an unfortunate gender-divide perpetuated by society, but men do have a harder time expressing emotions to others. This, by its very nature, is a recipe for isolation.
What is Loneliness?
Loneliness is the feeling of emptiness and being separate from others. People typically experience either social loneliness or emotional loneliness.
Social loneliness is brought on by a lack of a social group or circle. These are the people you “hang out” with. Emotional loneliness is the absence of a close, emotional relationship.
There is no single cause of loneliness, but the experience itself can be categorized into 3 types:
- Situational Loneliness: unpleasant experiences, inter-personal conflicts, disasters
- Developmental Loneliness: loss of meaning in life, personal inadequacies, developmental deficits, physical/psychological disabilities
- Internal Loneliness: perception of being alone; low self-esteem, personality factors, feeling of guilt of worthlessness, poor coping strategies
Society Makes it Hard for Lonely Men
Society has this expectation that men shouldn’t speak their needs – they should be strong and silent. This belief paints emotional expression as a sign of weakness.
If you are experiencing loneliness, and the only way to alleviate that feeling is to reach out to others and ask for help, you are at a significant disadvantage if you are encouraged to keep your feelings to yourself.
This belief system about men has slowly been changing over the past 20 years but still has a long way to go. Studies show that men do not seek out help as often as women – the stigma remains that men should be able to solve their own problems.
Dealing with Loneliness
As a man, you may find it difficult to reach out for help in dealing with your loneliness. While you may not feel comfortable explicitly seeking a solution to your loneliness problem, there are subtle changes you can make to your life to invite personal connection and eliminate loneliness:
Get Out There
The first step in beating loneliness is to actually leave your home and get out in the world. Try to focus on social-type events that will expose you to other like-minded people. Begin accepting invitations to parties, concerts and other social events.
If you are accustomed to isolation, this may be a huge step out of your comfort zone. However, you can’t make a change in your life unless you challenge yourself a little bit.
Get Out of Your Rut
We, as humans, are creatures of habit. We tend to adhere strongly to a day-to-day routine that does not leave much room for improvisation. Bust out of the rut by taking on new challenges and trying new hobbies.
Expanding on your interests and shaking things up may be just what you need to break out of your routine and meet new people.
Find a Furever Friend
Animals makes great companions – but they don’t completely replace the necessity for human contact. Thankfully, they can be a great way to connect with others.
Adopting a dog means you can go to dog parks or join community dog walks. Taking a dog out and about creates many opportunities to talk to other people.
I mean, who doesn’t immediately approach someone with a dog?