Lately, I have been feeling down and lonely quite often. The problem is I kinda prefer to stick to my old friend and not struggle to talk to new people. Do you have any advice?
Lara X (age 20)
* * *
Hi, Lara X,
When you say "stick to my old friend," do you mean just one friend? How is your relationship with that friend? Many people struggle to talk to new people. Telling me a little more about your life and background can help me to provide feedback.
* * *
Well, yeah, it’s mostly one relationships with new people don’t seem to last long and we get distant. As for my past life, I unfortunately grew up watching my father abuse my mother and sisters, and kinda feeling guilty for not also getting hurt. This has given me a distrust of most men, which is awkward considering I’m gay, but I also have a distrust of women because almost all of the girls in school used to bully me. This has caused me to be pretty lonely and to limit who I talk to.
Thanks for your time and patience.
* * *
Dear Lara X,
I can understand why you might be socially shy, given your past. I don’t know why your father didn’t abuse you the same way he did your mother and sisters, unless it’s because of your gender (i.e., he would only abuse females), but please don’t feel guilty about that. Bottom line on that part of your life is that it is NOT your fault; it is your father’s fault. Assign blame and guilt where it is due. You are guiltless.
Recognizing you should not feel guilty is Step 1. Step 2 is to realize that just because your father was an abusive douche doesn’t mean all men are like that. As for women, your experience in school is pretty typical. Schools can be horrible social environments where kids who are seen as outsiders in any way are picked on and abused by their peers. Like packs of wolves seeing a weakness in a non-alpha, they swoop down to nip and bite you (both boys and girls do this). In your case, because of your father’s abuse, you were probably shy going into school. Kids sense that and go on the attack.
Okay, so, I’m hoping now you are out of the house and well out of high school. Getting out of negative environments is key to your mental and emotional well-being. What you need to do now is try to put the past in the past and focus on where you are today.
The good news, I believe, is that you have recognized and accepted that you are gay (some people drive themselves nuts for years refusing to believe their own identity). The other good news is that you have at least one friend, so forming friendships is not an impossibility for you since you’ve done it before.
The key to finding new friends is to start in a comfortable environment. Since you are gay, I would recommend that you look within the gay community and other people who are similar to you and will more likely empathize with you. See if you can find a gay men’s social group near you; I would not recommend gay bars (and certainly not gay clubs) at this point, since they might be overwhelming. Anyway, you’re looking for friends, not hookups.
See if you can find a social activity with gay members. A quick Web search, for example, shows me that there are several LGBT Outdoor Clubs in Wales. There is also the South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus (if you like to sing). If you visit the Meetup website and enter some appropriate parameters, you are going to find some social meetup groups, too. So, give that a shot.
Finally, don’t push yourself to make a lot of friends all at once. Start slowly, making one or two new friends to start. What often happens after you get a core group of friends going is that these friends will, eventually, introduce you to their friends, and so on and so on. Before you know it, you’ll have dozens of friends and probably some of what I call “good social acquaintances” who are not close friends but fun to hang out with. It is the lucky person, after all, who has more close, sincerely genuine friends than he has fingers on one hand.
I hope that helps. Good luck!
Leave a Reply.
A note on comments: Comments on letters to Papabear are welcome, especially those that offer extra helpful advice and add something to the conversation that is of use to the letter writer and those reading this column. Also welcome are constructive criticisms and opposing views. What is NOT welcome are hateful, hurtful comments, flaming, and trolling. Such comments will be deleted from this site. Thank you.