A couple of articles to get thoughts going:

Loneliness...

...in middle age.

...in the gay community.

(If you have other good articles for other sub-groups or aspects, sure, post 'em.)

As for me, I relate to the "in middle age" part, as I'm just too busy to have any sort of regular -- or irregular -- time to get together with a friend.  Difference is, I don't really miss it, for now at least.  I feel some unease as if I should miss it.  

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Reminds me of a poem I wrote several years ago - before I got married. I published it in the comments thread in "Dead Poets". The title is "The Empty Seat"

There’s an empty seat beside me; vacant by my choice.

I chose to live alone and free, with no companion voice.

I savored solitude and silence, unbound by another’s will.

But lately in the seat I sense a void that joy could fill.

 

 

There’s an empty seat beside me, though many there have taken rest.

And some clung to it dearly when I tired of it’s guest.

But I’d given my disclaimer when beauty settled there -

I‘d remind her who she knew I was, when she started the affair.

 

                                 

There’s an empty seat beside me that I dread when I come home.

Temples grayed and youth has fled, my selfishness outgrown.

Each night I retire to an empty bed and wonder - is it too late to meet

A partner I could love and wed, to fill the empty seat.

I can relate to feeling that way regarding ex-lovers; however I view it as more of a matter of lacking a sincere spiritual connection, rather than just 'being alone'; the loneliness being more related to how one views life and others, as mere 'sex objects' of one's amusement, rather than simply the lack of physical companionship.

And there are those who have companionship of the flesh, but are still empty in the spirit, so I couldn't extend simply "finding a partner" as a cure-all for one's own ills, especially those which are self-created.

The article on loneliness during middle age was interesting; I've heard arguments that in some ways, perhaps due to economic issues, it's become more problematic with some men basically "shutting out" their friends and overly-depending on their wives for companionship.

To be honest, I'm honestly of the opinion that lonliness is a vice to be overcome; I'm sure that it can take its toll on folks and be hard to manage, but if a person develops the mindset that they are "completely dependent" on the physical companionship of others, then this is a negative spiritual mindset, as this means they are dependent on external circumstances, rather than spiritual enlightenment, for contentment; external circumstances also includes people, even loved ones; because if one is completely dependent on another individual for their own security, rather than on a higher source of truth, then this is a worldly vice.

If one doesn't essentially have a back-up plan for how they would fare spiritually if they were forced into solitary confinement for the rest of their lives, however unlikely, then they are taking a risk which could lead them in a bad spiritual direction.

A couple of articles to get thoughts going:

I just skimmed the two articles. They seem to be about two different kinds of problems.

The first article is about how close relationships (families) tend to crowd out friendships for men. In other words, it's not actually about loneliness. It's more about one specific type of social isolation: Lack of friendships.

The second article was more diffuse: Larger issues of social isolation, difficulty finding stable relationships, etc.

Anyway, my point is that there are different types of "lonely." As the first article pointed out, you can be in a fulfilling relationship with a significant other (or family) but be socially isolated in terms of friendships. Alternatively, you can have lots of friends and acquaintances but lack a significant other. Or you can lack both.

Research seems to indicate that having lots of friends and acquaintances but lacking a significant other is generally healthier than having a significant other but lacking friends. Of course, lacking both is the least healthy state. (And having both is presumably the healthiest state.)

Could be because there's more of a strong biological impetus for physical relationships with a significant other, so that people are more willing to put up with a dysfunctional relationship with a spouse due to the desire for physical companionship, than they are with a friend who's a complete jerk.

Could be because there's more of a strong biological impetus for physical relationships with a significant other, so that people are more willing to put up with a dysfunctional relationship with a spouse due to the desire for physical companionship, than they are with a friend who's a complete jerk.

Basically, yes, something like that.

The problem is called "enmeshment." One or both partners can have poor emotional boundaries, and a couple problems can arise: For example, other relationships get crowded out (friendships, extended families), and as a result one or both parties become increasingly isolated. Or in other cases, the stronger personality in the relationship can swamp or suffocate the weaker personality.

There have been psychological studies showing that couples who revolve around each other are less mentally healthy than single people with friends. Link to study: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/200811/the-fragi...

I believe so, the idea that having a partner is the sole raison detre for existence is actually quite unhealthy both in a practical and a spiritual sense, a partner is more like an asset to an already satisfying life.

For that matter, most men historically of accomplishment who I'd consider role models had a deeper overarching purpose for living than merely "finding a partner", and their partner was to them basically someone with whom they shared a deeper purpose and satisfaction, not the "sole purpose" itself.

I believe so, the idea that having a partner is the sole raison detre for existence is actually quite unhealthy both in a practical and a spiritual sense, a partner is more like an asset to an already satisfying life.

For that matter, most men historically of accomplishment who I'd consider role models had a deeper overarching purpose for living than merely "finding a partner", and their partner was to them basically someone with whom they shared a deeper purpose and satisfaction, not the "sole purpose" itself.

I agree.

Ha, good article on middle age.

I have some old friends. I have a wonderful wife, great family.

I enjoy people I work with (more or less), and my show has even brought me some limited notoriety locally, along with some awesome contacts in my industry.

And I'm lonely as hell. I can't watch two buddies help each other out in the gym; like a starving man watching others eat.

I don't see any solution; life for middle-aged, middle-classed white males like me is simply too busy and compartmentalized. Especially those with no former baseline of male contact.

I drink, and talk to my imaginary buds when no one is around. Better than nothing.

I don't see any solution; life for middle-aged, middle-classed white males like me is simply too busy and compartmentalized.


Well there has to be a "why" behind this; maybe uncovering the "why" this is, is the first step. If you're lonely, what is it that's so much more important to you than friendships that you're too busy for it?

Not to invade your personal life, but IMO even if a guy works 40-50 hours a week, and sleeps 8 hours a day, that's still about 54 hours left in his week, so I don't see why he couldn't find 3 hours out of the week to spend with some guys at a bar, play pool, or something along those lines. Heck, there are even meetup websites for guys just looking to hang out and do some 'guy stuff' like play a game of poker or pool.

And if a guy's working 100 hours a week or more, maybe he's just overworking himself to buy trinkets which he doesn't really need.

Brett McKay wrote a couple articles about male friendships up at the main AoM website. Here's the title and first paragraph from one:

Title: Making and Keeping Man Friendships

Several weeks ago we posted an article about the history and nature of man friendships. Several readers added comments in which they lamented the difficulty in both making and keeping man friendships, a sentiment I fully sympathize with. Once you’re out of college, and especially if you get married and move, it becomes rather hard to make new friends and maintain the bond with your old pals. I struggle with this problem myself, and so while I won’t claim to be an expert with all the answers, I have spent some time talking with other men and brainstorming ideas for how men can make and keep solid man friendships. [...]

Link to the article: http://www.artofmanliness.com/2008/10/28/how-to-make-friends/

Especially those with no former baseline of male contact.

If you simply have no experience of male friendship in the past, it can be rough to make male friends; you don't know what's expected and all that.

Myself, I'm ex-military so I have those experiences to fall back on: Observing and enjoying the bonds of friendship that spring up in that environment.

Anyway, I would suggest following the advice in Brett's article and do things like joining organizations where you can observe how males interact. Then mimic.

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