Loneliness is the pandemic of the modern world, and men are among its biggest victims.
Conditioned not to show any emotion apart from anger, many men still struggle with extreme feelings of loneliness, misunderstanding, and confusion.
You know what, though?
Loneliness can be beaten. And it all starts with self-awareness.
If a man displays these 7 behaviors, he’s probably quite lonely in life.
1) His life revolves around distractions
After having been friends with and dating a few lonely men, I’ve come to the conclusion that most men who feel lonely share one defining characteristic: they try to forget just how alone they are by keeping themselves as busy as possible.
Some men are workaholics. Others spend the whole day playing video games. Others yet go clubbing five days a week to drown out the void inside them.
All so that they don’t have to spend more than five minutes in their own company.
However, distractions only ever take you so far – at some point, you’ve got to go to sleep, take a shower, or crash down on the couch from exhaustion, and it is exactly in those moments that the loneliness hits you harder than ever before.
Distracting yourself is a short-term solution, and depending on the kind of distraction you choose, it can also be very harmful in the long run.
2) He pretends to be overly independent
Independence is good, right?
Well, it depends. If you’re hyper-independent – you refuse to accept any help and are convinced that you’ll do just fine on your own – you can burn out or fall into despair as your mental and physical well-being grows progressively worse.
What’s more, too much independence is sometimes nothing but a guise under which loneliness hides. If you pretend you love independence, you don’t have to admit to yourself just how much you need somebody.
Unfortunately, the same principle as the one above applies here. Putting on a mask of independence only works for so long.
At some point, you’ll ultimately have to face the fact that you are lonely – and that in order to live a more fulfilling life, you’ve got to take charge of your destiny.
3) He struggles to open up to his friends
Growing up, many men are told that vulnerability is the opposite of strength. They should always be brave, stoic, and independent; they should be someone others can rely on, not the other way around.
But the simple truth is that we all need a shoulder to cry on from time to time. And unfortunately, many male friendships don’t provide the space for that because they primarily revolve around light banter.
Even if you do have a friend who could offer emotional support, you might still struggle to open up to them because you don’t have much experience with it.
If this sounds familiar, consider trying journaling before you take the step to share some of your feelings with a trusted friend. Take it step by step. A little bit of bonding goes a long way.
4) He focuses on building online relationships
Making friends in the real world is much scarier than on the internet.
Here are some of the reasons why that is the case:
- You can be anonymous, which helps you feel safe revealing information you would have otherwise kept to yourself
- You can end the interaction at any time, so you’re in charge of the situation
- You don’t have to go out into the real world to find some sort of a connection, which helps a great deal if you struggle with anxiety
While online relationships aren’t something I’d ever shun – many people have met life-long friends and partners online – I’ve seen a couple of my male friends isolate themselves more and more as they invested all their time into the online world and forgot about the real one.
Over time, they seemed more depressed and lonely than ever before, and yet they didn’t actively try to form real-life friendships because they had their online friends to fall back on.
The moment the internet becomes your safety net, it can be very hard to untangle yourself from it. Unfortunately, it is very rare for people to thrive mentally and physically when they sever their connection to IRL people and situations.
5) He turns to video games as a form of escapism
Before I say anything, let me be clear on one thing: I’m not against video games.
They’re an interactive and immersive form of storytelling that allows for critical thought and entertainment at the same time, which doesn’t make it all that different from movies or books.
However, the issue with video games is that they make for an incredibly easy dopamine boost. Every time you complete a level or learn a new skill, you feel great about yourself, which temporarily helps elevate feelings of sadness and emptiness.
But video games won’t save you in the long term. The more time you spend at home, staring at the screen, the lonelier you’re likely to be.
Video games are a brilliant form of escapism, which is something we could all use from time to time. But be mindful of how much time you invest into escapism and how much into reality.
6) He overthinks his social interactions
I’ll be the first person to say that anxiety is a bitch. I used to have such bad social anxiety that just forcing myself to go on a date made me want to cry.
After every social interaction, I spent hours tossing and turning in bed, wondering if I’d said something embarrassing and if there was anything I could have done differently.
But the more I exposed myself to these situations, the less stressful they became over time.
Fast forward to now, and my anxiety is nowhere near as bad. In fact, I barely even think about it most days.
What I’ve learned from my past experience is that anxiety grows in isolation. The lonelier you are, the more you overthink, and the more you overthink, the more you stress yourself out when you finally do go out.
It’s a vicious circle.
7) He lacks the confidence to turn his life around
…alright, that sounds a bit too harsh.
The truth is that loneliness isn’t just a simple result of fear, lack of courage, or laziness. That’s not how it works.
A lot of complex issues factor into it, including one’s socioeconomic background, community, gender, and family dynamics.
Nonetheless, we all have to make do with our lot in life. It is not your fault that you are lonely, but you are the only person who can get yourself out of the rut.
And you can do it.
Here are a few things you can start implementing today:
- Start therapy and discuss your issues with a professional who will gently guide you toward a more fulfilling life (I started therapy recently, and I can’t recommend it enough)
- Challenge yourself to go on a few dates every month (practice makes perfect – the more dates you go on, the less stressful it’ll be)
- Join a club or attend an event that revolves around your hobby (I love the website Meetup)
- Strive to transform your online friendships into IRL ones (if you live in the same country)
And before you go, remember that it is not a failure to be lonely. More men than you think feel the exact same way.
Loneliness is a symptom that can be dealt with, not a state of being that’s set in stone.
You still have a great deal of happiness ahead of you.