By Richard E. Bleil, Ph.D.
Today I had a long drive, long enough to do the math. See, I was married (late in life, in my mid 40’s), but it lasted less than two years. I had two additional girlfriends (one before and one after), each of which only lasted about a year. This means that, even taking out pre-high school years, I’ve spent over 90% of my life alone.
Maybe, like me, you are alone. If not, I’ll bet that you know somebody who is. If you’re like me, you will probably recognize a lot from this post, and if not, I hope it helps you to understand the lonely a little bit better.
When you really have nobody with whom to share your life, there are two times that seem particularly lonely; when things are going very wrong, and when things are going very right. For those with somebody special in your life, it might make sense when you think about the first one. When things are very hard going, you want somebody by your side to comfort you, provide guidance, and to believe in you when your own faith is struggling. But it’s also very lonely when things are going really well. Think about what happens when things really go your way; with whom do you most want to share your success? How would you feel getting home, excited to share your news, to a dark home.
If you are still young and alone, you’re going through the “Peter Pan Advice” stage, namely, that trite “advice” you get from, well, everybody. “Don’t worry, there’s someone for everyone” (well if this is true, my “someone” is cheating on me!). “You’ll find someone when you stop looking” (yup, just like that million dollars I stopped looking for many years ago).
The good news is that this eventually ends. Well, eventually. But people will always try to fix you up, although it becomes less about finding somebody who is right for you, and somebody who is single. Or a widow. Who smells like she shares the bed with a stale litter box. Oh, joy.
I “love” getting set up on blind dates, and I really wish I could type in a sarcastic tone. My favorite advice is “just be yourself, but don’t tell your jokes, and don’t wear your boots, or your hat, but just be yourself, but…less of yourself and more of…what, somebody else, I guess.” ‘kay.
If you have a lonely friend, please…just stop. Stop trying to help. Stop trying to advise. Stop trying to fix your friend up. I still remember the time my mother tried to fix me up with her male florist. if I were homosexual, this would be fine, but I’m not. There’s nothing wrong with homosexuality, but, and I hope I don’t offend anybody by saying this, I’m not going to change my sexual orientation just to get a date. Thanks, mom.
One of the most common types of advice is, “have you thought about going to church? There are lots of women in church.” Here’s the thing; I don’t belong to a church, but I do respect people’s beliefs. How disrespectful would it be for me to suddenly start treating other peoples’ religion as a dating service?
If your friend wants advice, or to be set up on a date, or for fashion advice, believe me…they will ask. Be cool. They may be unhappy with their current situation, but they’re okay.
If, like me, you are alone, I really wish I could tell you it won’t always be that way. Believe me, I do, but deep into my fifties, with 90% failure rate, I’ve come to grips with the fact that I will, after all, end up alone. The good news is that for most people, this is not the case. The odds are on your side, but if you turn out like me, it will be okay, too. I’m fine, just the way I am. And…so are you.