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Thread: The biggest threat facing middle-age men isnít smoking or obesity. Itís loneliness.

  1. #1
    Senior Member UltraliteAngler's Avatar
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    The biggest threat facing middle-age men isnít smoking or obesity. Itís loneliness.

    This article is worth a read.

    https://www.bostonglobe.com/magazine....html#comments

    So much of what the author says has been my experience and my observations with other men as we got zooming into middle age. Though my experience as a divorcee might actually make my loneliness more profound.

    There certainly is something deeply uncomfortable about admitting I am lonesome.

    There is also something deeply uncomfortable in those to whom I admit my loneliness. It actually makes others withdraw more rather than reach out more.

    Though I will say I am trying to figure a way to take advantage of his idea for reversing this awful trend.
    ďI came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member flowerseverywhere's Avatar
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    This is why so many people (men and women alike) live in Retirement communities. Easy to find golf buddies, arts and crafts friends, people who like the same team you do,and want to meet at the sports bar for a burger, or play poker or bowl or work towards a charitable cause.
    I was skeptical when I moved to a large retirement community but seeing most of the men and women around me find their tribe has been great.

    When you work work full time and balance family, home and work responsibilities it can be impossible to also have friendships with any regularity. Just no time. Some people have a church family or other similar interest, but religious affiliation has greatly decreased through the years. It is very hard to take the time and find the right people to form these bonds with.

    So your question Ultralight was how to reverse the loneliness trend. What do you like to do? Are you a sports fan? What about inviting some people to the next game to a sports bar or your house to watch the game. Join a YMCA and I bet you will see the same people over and over who help each other get fit. Many members post about their interactions with friends and acquaintances through many activities. They might not have started by looking for buddies but it is the inevitable outcome of doing what you enjoy. I have my quilting, Others have their scuba diving, community gardens, racquetball or tennis games, card games, volunteering in the community as a first responder or in pet rescue, lending a hand at a soup kitchen and so on.

    One thing I have seen about living in a retirement community is that if you wait until someone comes and knocks on your door you will remain lonely. You have to go out of your house and seek activities, no matter how painful it seems. And if your first idea does not work, find a different one. One step at a time.

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I've read similar studies. I can kind of relate this to my own DH's experience, and he's past middle age at this point, but I've seen his dwindling social connections over the past 10 years. He's a VERY outgoing guy, and I've always been a bit concerned about him since his business dried up and he let his employees go and returned to working out of his home office. Not a great environment for an extravert.

    So now, it places a burden on me because whenever I travel, he hates it. He hates being alone. I never felt this urgency to get home from a business trip even when my kids were teenagers!

    Ironically, as outgoing as he is, he has a hard time making friends and nurturing friendships--I think that those skills are a little more natural for women. Plus, he always depended on his three sons for male companionship, but they are either too busy with their own families or they're 7 hours away. Plus, it's not right to depend on your own children to fulfill your social needs.

    He used to golf a lot, but now his knee bothers him and he has some other medical issues that have pushed him away from regular involvement in "guy things."

    UA, I'm sorry you are in that boat at this point in your life. I don't have any suggestions--if I did I would have offered them to my husband. Loneliness is a bitch, but at least it's not irreversible.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Senior Member UltraliteAngler's Avatar
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    The author explained that men bond into friendship through going through something together, something challenging, like school, military, or some such.
    ďI came from a real tough neighborhood. I put my hand in some cement and felt another hand." -- Rodney Dangerfield

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    One place where my husband has found some camaraderie (as have I) is our local permaculture farm. The "kids" who run it are much, much younger than we are, but they host pot lucks and there is a great diversity of people who hang out there. We volunteer and we see other people then as well.

    So, I looked up volunteer opportunities for farming in Columbus, and here you go: http://urbanfarmsofcentralohio.org/b...ved/volunteer/

    This would meld nicely with your "clean eating"! Just a thought.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
    www.silententry.wordpress.com

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    Oh yes, I totally see this and as much as I struggle I see men struggle more. We just make it worse with so many little ways as a culture we work with this. If someone is not too perfect or annoying we avoid that. If our schedule is packed we 'take care of ourselves' at the expense of maintaining relationships. It seems we just expect that people will be there whether or not we put in effort, and then they are not.

    I know that I have also had the experience of people withdrawing rather than reaching out when I take a risk and share a little. For me it is great that I have family, however those single parent years really took a toll. I was always having something with my kids or my multiple jobs, and not being a couple I didn't get the family friend benefit. Honestly I am pretty disappointed in my fellow humans on this. I am making very slow progress on this, and the years when I was not as much fun but still wanted to have friends are painful to recall.

    Just this week I snapped at one of the teachers at my school. The first day of school we found out we had things in common, we have talked about meeting for coffee or going to a movie since then. All winter break I worked and still called her. I eventually saw once again I was doing all the calling in a friendship so I backed off. I went by her room to tell her something about a kid and she started talking about stuff (she will talk my ear off in her room, on her time, on her topics), and said I don't know what she is going through. I answered that was exactly why we should go to coffee, and it was her turn to try and call me.

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    Having recently retired, I realize now thow many of my connections came from the work world. Prior to that, it was friendships around having kids. Once those two things are gone, it becomes much harder to find social connections. Moving to an entirely new area is forcing DH and I to get out there and look for new connections via classes and volunteer or community work. I see it will not be as easy for DH though. As much as I loathe the idea right now, I can see us moving to a 55+ community in a few years just for the camaraderie and support of people in the same boat. That being said, I think the media does a good job of finding topics that make us feel bad about ourselves. I don't think it so much about being alone (some of us love that situation) but how you decide to feel about being alone. I have always been a fairly solitary person - it is my nature - and once I accepted that, it doesn't seem like an issue - until I read another article about how bad it is to be alone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by UltraliteAngler View Post
    The author explained that men bond into friendship through going through something together, something challenging, like school, military, or some such.
    I think that's very true. Most of my oldest, most solid friendships date back to school or the military. I also have an equivalent of Wednesday night I try to keep as sacred as possible. Oddly enough, my wife often pushes me to spend more time with the guys. I suspect she sees things I'm blind to in the human relations realm.

  9. #9
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    DH, an introvert, still has no trouble making connections with others. His no. 1 persona is "gardening guru" so he joins up with people through that and is always welcome.Last week we had a small group on our yard here to be tutored on the science of pruning fruit trees. These people were from the Sustainable Backyard Tour organizing group. He also has inserted himself into the community garden group for a nearby neighborhood and he is welcome there for his expertise in vegetables and fruit tree growing. And or course, he is the garden leader for our own neighborhood's community garden where he gives advice, builds stuff, weeds for others, etc.

    He also plays cards and goes to movies regularly with friends and without me. His social network is stronger than mine.

    OTOH I have many small roles in our neighborhood and talk to people through that volunteer work. I just took on a new small job, one that that wasnt being done and it pizzed me off! So I volunteered to do it. I would bet that DH couldnt name all of the small jobs I have for this neighborhood, I just go out and do them, and a fair number of them are chiefly accomplished through a computer.

    The big scary change is that many of our long held friendships end because our friends are moving away.

    I love St. Louis but I do sometimes think about moving. My latest thought is about moving to a small town, but maintaining an aprtment in St. Louis. The small town would have to have small town activities like history/genealogy society, garden club, etc.

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    Simpleton Alan's Avatar
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    I thought everyone knew men were happier when they had the opportunity to flocculate.
    "Things should be made as simple as possible, but not one bit simpler." ~ Albert Einstein

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