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Lonely at 40

Community Member


I'm new here, and was actually directed here by Lifeline. So, anyway, I'm 40, and I'm lonely. That's putting it mildly I guess, since I've never had friends. I don't even have any friends online. There's just nobody to talk to, outside of doctors, therapist, and my mental health case manager, and of course I can only talk to them between 9 and 5 on a weekday, and they can't do anything about the loneliness really. Like I said, I don't have friends. I can't even remember the last face-to-face conversation I had with someone who wasn't being paid to talk to me. I've never had a real relationship, just a few online ones where I ended up finding out they were still their supposed ex's. I only met one, and she laughed that I thought our relationship was real. So, I'm 40, and still a virgin. I've never held hands, or hugged, or had my first kiss. People seem to find that funny. It's all a bit of a joke because everyone else just takes all that for granted. I've always been told that if I want any of that, I'll have to go and pay for it. Another joke that people always seem to find amusing. Nobody has ever even tried to touch me. Do you know what that's like? To not know what affectionate human touch feels like? To not know what a conversation is like? To not have ever had any good social experiences? They all end in rejection, humiliation, and more isolation. I've done volunteer work, and that just made things worse because I was treated the same was as always, ignored until I did something, and then yelled at for doing it wrong. I've been to anxiety and depression groups, and found nobody there to talk with. I've been to the Men's Shed, and found it was just all elderly men, so I had nobody there to connect with either. I tend to find most things my therapist and case manager send me to are for elderly people. It seems like loneliness isn't taken very seriously in Australia, or that it is only an issue for the elderly. If you're 40, you're not supposed to be lonely. I go to bowling, to a walking group, and an art therapy group, but there's nobody there who wants to talk with me. I've tried groups from meetup.com, with equally no success. And now of course, at this time of year everything is winding down. I just don't fit in anywhere. I'm just so lonely, it's an actual physical pain, and I just can't stand it anymore. Nobody seems to take me seriously, and I just want the loneliness to end.

14 Replies 14

Community Member

Hi Cucuboth. You've tried so many things and seem to be at a loss to know where to go next. With volunteer work, if you can join in, you will eventually find your niche. Being shy or withdrawn makes joining in or fitting harder. Men's Shed is usually pretty good at welcoming newcomers, but again, you have to reach out to them. I have a volunteer job helping with transporting people to Dr's/hospitals or shopping. Sometimes I 'off-side' which means if there's a van load of shoppers, I help them onto the van. I also drive for the firm. I feel you are painfully shy and this makes it harder reaching out. Have you ever had a paid job? What sort of thing would you like to do? Are you talented in any way? I suggest you give Men's Shed another try. All you have to do is walk in and approach them. They will talk to you, they will ask you if you want to join in or help in any way? Some shed's do actually have a 'shed boss' who will meet you and help you as much as they can. There will be some guys in your age group who will make you welcome. My ex is vice-president of his shed and quite often he will be the one to meet you. Any volunteer work you try will mean stepping out of your comfort zone.


Blue Voices Member
Blue Voices Member

Hi Cucuboth,

Thank you so much for reaching out to us, I was really sad reading that your lonely and that you have tried to reach out but have not as yet really connected with anyone and that you would love to have an intimate relationship. These are all very normal wants and desires and I felt sad that your loneliness has become a physical pain. Firstly, I would like to say its good you do have therapists and have joined groups, that is something. Secondly, its great that you still engage in social groups, sometimes it takes time to connect or you just have to wait until you meet someone you click with but its a good opportunity to practice your social skills and get out of the house. I can relate to some of what you are saying, I am in my 40's and I don't think I ever knew loneliness until a couple of years ago. If I was lonely I didn't recognise it or I must have done more about solving the issue but I certainly relate to it now and I am in disbelief that I have ended up alone and lonely and I didn't see it coming. Apparently it is a common feeling at this age for many people, not that helps you or me but there is something about this age that makes us feel that we are changing and to re evaluate our lives and what we want. For some it is worse than others depending on your support network and personality. Are you on medication at all? or are you just lonely ? There are 2 types of loneliness that I am aware of because I study psychology. 1 is social loneliness, we know that feeling when we hibernate and don't go out and then there is that 2nd type of loneliness that yearns for intimacy. Would you consider online dating again ? or is there anyone you have in mind ? I must say I have had a couple of very brief attempts at online dating and I am not surprised that you didn't find it appealing or successful. You can call us on 1300 22 4636 or Lifeline 13 1114 or chat with us online. I would suggest keep doing what you are doing and if you see someone you do connect with then reach out and try to connect for a coffee or take it to the next level. Just know that you are not alone, there are many of us feeling this way and like you I am hoping to improve my own situation as well and I know its going to take effort from me. Wishing you all the best and please let us know how you are going if you would like to. Nikkir x

Community Champion
Community Champion

Dear Cucuboth
I can give you an account of something that worked when I needed a soulmate - it took tons of patience. Depending upon your intentions, location, situation and health it may be entirely inappropriate - if so my apologies. Both Nikkir and Lynda have already given you food for thought

I live near a small city. My wife died when I was in my late 40's. I was desperately lonely, and considered on-line dating - this was many years ago - but found the interactions stilted, artificial and hasty

While I could have joined organizations that seemed to have lots of female members (eg the RSPCA) I decided to be more direct

I opened a PO box, I wrote an anonymous letter addressed directly to the sort of person I wished to meet. I told honestly of my health and my general circumstances, who I was , my lifestyle, interests and a little on my beliefs.

I had no pre-concieved ideas of age, stature, marital status, children if any, employment or anything else and made that clear.

I stated I was looking for a soulmate and invited that person, if on a similar quest, to write to me at the PO box.

I mentioned that if she was worried about security she could use a PO box or some other method of remaining anonymous. I also said that when appropriate I was prepared to offer references that could be checked.

I placed this in the newspaper. It was long , a 1/4 page over 2 columns and cost (some other method might be more appropriate nowadays)

I was overwhelmed with replies - it made me sad there were so many lonely people. I wrote discouraging the obviously unsuitable and corresponded with the remainder. It quickly became obvious there was one who stood out. We exchanged letters for a while, then talked via email. We moved to phone calls and then met and were delighted with each other. Later we were married - and still are

There are many dangers in this course of action, confidence tricksters and gold diggers being only one. When feeling the pressure of loneliness it was very hard to make dispassionate judgments or to exercise patience. Even the simple act of disregarding the distance between you and the other person can lead to problems as if they are too far away it is not practical to take enough time to get to know one another face to face.

I emphasize one again that whilst it worked for me it was a big and dangerous chance and not suitable for most - I was incredibly lucky

In any event you have my best wishes


Community Member

Hi Lynda

Thanks for your reply. I guess we have had different experiences with volunteering. I've volunteered with the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, and the Salvation Army, and didn't find any connection or feeling that I fitted in at any of them. As I said, I would often get yelled at for not knowing what to do, and then get yelled at for doing what I was told because someone thought I was doing it wrong. Eventually at the Salvos, they told me that they didn't want people like me 'hanging around'. I was so fed up with volunteering by then that I didn't even care what they thought what type of person I was, I just wanted out of there. I guess I found volunteering to be quite toxic. As for me Men's Sheds, the two that I have been to definitely didn't have anyone there around my age, so once again I found that I couldn't make any connections with anyone there. If there were some there my age, they were never there when I was and nobody ever mentioned them.

I guess some things work for some people, and might not work out for others. I did have a paid job back in the late 1990's, working in marketing and promotions with the local council, but I had to leave after having a breakdown and a suicide attempt because of the extreme bullying that was happening there. That was when I really knew I needed to ask for help, because I just couldn't find a way out on my own. 17 years later and I'm still trying to find it. Various therapists over the years have tried to help me with social confidence, starting conversations and the like by doing role-playing, but, what you do in a therapist's office is very different to what happens out in the 'real world'. You can't make people talk to you when they don't want to, and I only ever seem to find the people who don't want to it seems.

Community Member

Hi Nikkr

Thanks for the reply. It's strange how often I hear that they are normal wants and desires ... yet also have spent most of my life being told, and shown, that they are not normal wants and desires for me to have. For most of my life I've been told that the very thought of touching me or being touched by me is disgusting. I've been told many times that I shouldn't need friends and intimacy, and that I should just carry on without them, or that if I really want them then I will have to pay for it because that's the only way it's every going to happen. Online dating sites have never worked for me. Never get a responce to my profiles, and never get a reply to anyone I try to contact. I would try online dating again, but, have to find someone to talk with first, and that seems like the first hurdle is finding someone to do even that. Like I said I've never had friends, so I don't even have anyone to be around or ask for help (therapy obviously can't). I'm currently taking medication, but that's not really doing anything. I've also been on other medication, but those didn't help either. I called Lifeline last night, and it was absolutely frustrating and pointless, and honestly made me feel worse. The person who took my call seemed disinterested. But like I said, I don't have any friends, I've been in and out of therapy for this since I was 17, but really started to ask for help in 1999. I'm still trying to find it. Still trying to find a friend. Still trying to find at least one person who cares.

Community Member

Hi Croix

Thanks for your idea. I guess the modern equivalent of that are dating and friendships websites, and places such as craigslist. I've tried dating sites like eharmony, plentyoffish, and matchmaker, and friendship sites like friendfinder. And craigslist too. Once, I even found a site that said that they would write a professional profile, for a fee of course, so I stupidly paid them and, yes they did write out a profile for me, but unsurprisingly I never got a response to it. I did try putting an ad in the local paper, but that didn't do any good either.

It's all so frustrating, and when I see people together it just feels like I am never going to know what that feels like. I think a lot of people don't understand it. My own family think I should just give up since if it hasn't happened by now it will never happen. I just want a chance for it to happen.

Champion Alumni
Champion Alumni
hello Cucuboth, I can hear the pain you're in, because if and when people get lonely then depression starts and slowly it builds up to where you don't want to see anybody even if you had any chance.
Good comments from those above me, but as you're 40 years of age you expect that you won't have any chance of meeting up with anyone, which in turn will frighten you, so even if someone is looking at you, you naturally assume that nothing will come out of it, and then run, in other words don't assume what the outcome will be, but stand your ground.
Go to the same supermarket everytime at the same time and talk to the cashier and even by going to The Mens Shed talk to the old timers get familiar with them, they may have a g/daughter who is in the same position as you are, but you have to persevere, and not give up because nothing happened the first time. Geoff.

Community Member

Hi Geoff

It's not that I get to that point where I don't want to see anyone. Quite the opposite really. It's more that I loose tolerance for the same old hackneyed 'advice' like "it will happen one day", "just put yourself out there/out of your comfort zone", "you're still young", and "it will happen when you're not looking/when you least expect it". It's not like this has been a problem for only a few months, or a few years, it's been all my life really. We all fall back on past experience, that's natural, and all my social experiences have been very negative ones. If I go in trying to "think positive" (another of those mouldy cliches) then I always end up feeling a lot worse because the same things always seem to happen, no matter what. I can't control how other people react and treat me. I go to the same shops, try to pass some small talk with the cashiers or shop assistants, but .. well .. nothing. It doesn't alleviate the loneliness at all, more often than not just magnifying the isolation.

Therapists and mental health case managers have always seemed to steer me toward groups with older people. And I just can't make a connection there (well, with anyone of any age), and being always steered towards these types of groups just makes me feel even more isolated from people my own age. Plus, the whole "maybe someone will have a daughter/grand-daughter" has never happened. At least, not to me.

Sorry if this sounds like I'm shooting you down. Or shooting anyone down. But hope isn't an inexhaustible resource. Like a car needing fuel, we all need our tanks of hope refilled from time to time. And I've been running on empty for far too long. I feel so frustrated and unheard, and like nobody cares, and I'm just so tired of doing and trying the same things over and over and over .. alone ..

Community Member

Do you have family that you are in contact with regularly? If so, at least that's better than nothing. I say this because I'm pretty low on the friendship tally, but I have a few family members who I'm in contact with and even though they drive me insane, cause me stress and make me want to pull my hair out at least it's someone to be in contact with.

I have had a few friends over the years, but mostly I find they drift away, and even the one that I actually text/see sometimes can't even be bothered keeping in contact with me. So, I feel pretty lonely most of the time.

My situation is very different from yours, I have two kids but I've been a sole parent for years since my partner died suddenly. I've been single since then. No interest, no dates, no nothing. I was always told off for being too quiet, too slow and not asking enough questions, so I sympathise with you for the pathetic treatment you have received in the past.

It doesn't sound like The Men's Shed is for you at all. 40 is really young (I'm 39). It is really isolating to be receiving treatment for mental health issues and not working, etc. I've started a Uni course doing online study, it's really hard but I tell myself I am actually doing 'something'. What sort of things do you like doing? Are you a fan of particular TV shows, movies, music, communities/cultures, pop culture? If there is something you really like, see if you can find a fan community online. I've found that when people can share a common interest, it can sometimes be a base for the beginning of communication, and you may find some solace in sharing an interest with others. There may even be others out there searching for the same thing? What about trying to write a blog? People out there might love to have something they can relate to.