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5 Reasons Men Are So Devastatingly Lonely


Lonely Men in America
Men. From early childhood, we are taught to be rugged, assertive and above all – manly. So strong are these messages that entire marketing campaigns are created for guys about what it means to be a man.

Don’t believe me? Open up any men’s magazine and look at the ads. From razors to sports, it’s all there in high-testosterone color.

39 Comments to
5 Reasons Men Are So Devastatingly Lonely

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  1. Thanks John. Until reading this I’d never thought about how posts on how to address loneliness include tips that are hard to fit with masculine stereotypes that men are often expected to conform to.food for thought.

    • Hi, Nadene,

      Just wanted to say thanks for the comment and insight. The stereotypes are strong for sure.

  2. It’s not just men who expect men to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” or to not by whiny … it’s women too. They constantly complain about how you won’t talk about your feelings and pressure you to do so, and then the moment you cave in and actually tell them something they visually and usually also orally indicate that they are disgusted by your feminine behaviour.

    That kind of reaction from women when we attempt to talk about our “feelings” is about the only kind of “feelings” topic that the men I have known in my life have talked about. Which, of course, means that the whole male group “conversation” amounts to:
    1.) Latest fool who attempted to talk “feelings” with a woman indicates that he is pissed off by her reaction.
    2.) Rest of group empathizes with “been there, done that” and “never going to make that mistake again” kind of remarks.
    3.) We all exchange embarrassed looks – because we have talked about mushy crap – and move onto safer topics like sports or politics.

    Bottom: we don’t talk among ourselves about mushy crap and we quickly learn that women want to hear stuff like that from their girlfriends – and *really* not from the boyfriends or husbands.

    • Interesting observation. Thanks for sharing, Rob!

    • Hmmm, sounds like you need to revise your friends.

      • Why on earth would I need or want to “revise” my friends? Because they’re a bunch of guys who are uncomfortable talking about mushy stuff? They wouldn’t be guys if they weren’t uncomfortable.

        I’ve been reading science web sites since they first existed and science magazines and journals long before then … and many studies have shown that talking about feelings/emotions is good for most women but very stressful for most men. The male/female differences about what happens in the brain when talking about mushy stuff are strong enough to show up in MRI scans and in the hormones and other chemicals produced in the brain.

        Men and women have brains that are structurally different, are bathed in different hormones, and react differently to many chemicals and hormones. So why on earth would anyone expect men and women to respond the same way to any stimuli, regardless of whether that stimuli is some “emotions” or “feelings” talk or a minefield-free football game?

    • ELI you are so right as women all want to be the leader and be tough and if you dare open up to them they throw it right back in your face and say they don’t want to hear it. However if they come home after a bad shift at work they sure as Hell want you to listen to their bitching and validate their feelings. So I solved this problem the only way I know how and that is by just saying as little as I can to my wife who is that in title only and it really sucks but any other way sets you up for disaster. I have my wonderful dog and dog walking friends,a lot of which are women and that is working ok for me except I would like some intimacy again.

    • I will second Rob on this.
      Women, not men or the media are now the primary drivers of male loneliness.
      The expectations placed on us are not acheivable, and men will not play a game they can’t win, so they isolate themselves.
      Women want us to talk, when we do, we get mocked.
      Share a touching childhood story, mocked.
      Share dissapointment at work, mocked.
      Humiliation and dismissall are what happens when men acknowledge that they have emotions, pain (big chance for a woman to emasculate a man) or even love acknowledge our need to love someone and be loved.

      Men are a joke, so we isolate rather than play a rigged game.

  3. As a visibly disabled male with chronic low confidence, I am Exhibit A of all five of these points. And I’ve been lonely for too many years to count. Frankly, I’ve come to the conclusion that these five tenets are my lot in life.

    • Hi, Paul,

      I appreciate you coming by and sharing your own experiences. Helpful to all.

      John

      • Had a brain injury and EVERY friend that i had known for 30 years disappeared. Brain injuries make you act like you’ve lost it and crying and falling apart are frequent in the beginning. Too much for guys to handle.

        I consider myself tough and dont give a damn that i exhibited symptoms synonymous with brain injuries. It’s an emotionally devastating injury.

        I have fought back to have some kind of life but the loss of my friends will be painful forever. And “they were never real friends” etc. doesn’t ease the pain.

        I lean right but i dont lean towards ignorance. “Real” men are for the movies. The rest of us have feelings and living inside yourself is the loneliest place to live.

    • There are so many lonely people out there for all sorts of different reasons. Sometimes, it’s a product of withdrawing further and further with each facet of life that lets us down and erodes at our confidence. Fact is, good and true friends are hard to come by and chances are any given person is going to have experiences with several people who chip away at our self confidence. There are a select few who can truly go about life with natural confidence, then there are others who do a pretty good job of presenting confidence, even though they do have to try. Then, there are people who, unfortunately, don’t have natural confidence, don’t fake it well, therefore feeling awkward and looking that way as well. Negative reactions become a vicious circle of self-fulfilling prophecy and in the end, it feels much easier to just not take those social chances anymore. Wouldn’t it be great if we could all just be our natural selves AND not care if it fits into the mold of normalcy or popularity AS WELL AS not be judged for it? I don’t know what my point is really, I just wanted you to know that although you are lonely, you are not alone in feeling that way. I think one of the best things someone can do for loneliness is to adopt a dog or two. They provide companionship, a purpose, get you out walking and give you an immediate subject to talk about (and attract people to when you have it with you.) Going to dog parks, walking trails, etc. could provide a wonderful opportunity for someone to open up in a relatively safe (for your feelings) manner and the more one does this, the easier it becomes. Now, if you are someone who just doesn’t like dogs, I would say give it a chance. I didn’t grow up with them, was afraid of them in childhood and never got to know one, but when I got my best buddy it transformed me into a certified dog lover! I, myself, can’t complain about being lonely- I have enough people in my life to keep me busy that I honestly prefer getting away from people most of the time. However, I have my own deep set of issues just like everyone else. Even the “happiest” looking person has had troubles in his or her life- just don’t get stuck on believing that this is how it always has to be. Life can move very slowly and then completely change in a matter of minutes. Don’t give up!

      • Wonderful comment and I didn’t read it until I had commented about my best buddy which is my dog.They love you without reservation and don’t care if you are not all that and love you like nothing else all the time. Rescue dogs are the best but as long as you have a dog and treat it right you are much better off.

  4. I was reading a recent article in a men’s magazine discussing how men feel afraid to physically touch one another.
    The author examines the stigma attached to men touching each other. When you think about it, the only touching that heterosexual men really do with other men is sports, or worse, fighting. That’s the only time when it’s acceptable to touch. Even women get the brunt of this because men aren’t known to be cuddly. And when they use the term ‘let’s cuddle’ it means a completely different thing than what women think it means.
    A lot of it has to do with hypermasculinity but also homophobia and, sadly, perhaps memories from child sexual abuse.
    I hope men can be able to seek help in this so that they can become more rounded, better, and, above all, happier men.

    • Hi, Lisa,

      Just wanted to pop in and say thanks for the comments and the observations. You made some great points!

      John

    • Hi Lisa,
      I can explain why we dont touch. At one time we did, we hugged, gave pats on the back, etc. but we can’t now.

      You see, with the introduction of sexual harassment training in the late 80s early 90s, we taught everyone that all touch was sexual in nature or could be perceived as sexual in nature. So it was best to avoid it at all costs rather than risk punishment.

      Over time, that idea was adopted as truth, and men, fearing being seen as gay (in a culture that emasculates us on a daily basis) stopped touching.

      This is also why most (close to all) men do not trust women anymore. Once sex was weaponized, men withdrew and isolated (physically and emotionally) No trust, no love. We cant touch you or each other without fear of punishment, either through ridicule or law and loss of employment.

      All touch is bad touch.

  5. John, good article – I identify with all of the points. Also in addition I wonder how much work burnout contributes to this loneliness – the demotivation that happens with work burnout touches all facets of life, including a man’s ability to continue connection with his friends… exacerbating loneliness and frustration – just when you need the support the most… Warren

    • Hi, Warren,

      I am glad you stopped by and shared!

  6. I love being lonely, alone. I live for that. It’s better than having friends. I’m nearly 49 years old and never had a real friend, ever. It’s great. I’m sure you’d say that a result of my easily passing your CED test, or my ADD or whatever, but I believe it’s simply because I don’t need friends to get by in life. I do have a wife and 11 year old daughter, but no friends and no real relationship with me brother or sister or their family members. I truly believe life is better that way. Call me a nutbag if you like, but please just keep in mind that not everything is for everybody, and if you need friends to cope through life than that’s great, but I don’t. Not everybody does.

  7. Great post!

    • Thanks, Mario!

  8. Dr. Moore,

    Bullseye! As a combat veteran with a MS in psychology I have come to see similar issues. While I am not a paid counselor, I have many service colleagues that talk with me at length about their experiences. Some adapt to the solitary feelings and life style but many struggle. I have found few counselors that understand and tend to do more harm than good. I’d like others to know the fight is worth it, never give up, never give in, the struggle helps you to define yourself and you are worth more than you realize. Keep searching, keep moving forward and it helps to talk with other veterans.

    • Hi, Lee,

      I really dig your positive vibe and how you encourage guys to keep at it. My experience with veterans is they want to talk about their experiences – provided it’s with others who won’t tell them silly, stupid things like “man up” and “get over it” (I’ve actually heard people say these kinds of things.

      Best,

      John

  9. Finally…..an article about men that isn’t about men doing stupid things, winning something or being a corporate leader. My family roots can be classified as being from the depolorable class. Being a sensitive male was a “No No” . There were no male mentors in my family or neighborhood. I had to find masculinity in therapy where I could be vulnerable. As I approach my 70th, I found it very difficult over the years to discuss the 5 issues as outlined by John Moore. I am hoping that this Weinstein moment will be an opportunity for men to discover a different way to be a Male. Also I hope that this time will not be a time ” to pile on” how bad men act by others. Otherwise , it seems that men will gravitate to the Uber Male role. Thank you again John for this article.

    • Hi, Don,

      I really appreciate what you have shared here and for the comments. Yep, many of the articles on the Internet play into the same themes that aren’t always helpful or perpetuate expectations.

      Warm regards,

      John

  10. Loneliness? In a society where if you say something wrong to the opposite sex you can get arrested, or accused? I am single never married.
    I love women, but to me they are human land mines and can blow up in your face, and that’s just something a guy really doesn’t need.
    As a young man I enjoyed a lot of friend and interesting situations, but as an adult, not so much.

    I equate loneliness with boredom, and I have never had a boring day in my life. There is always something going on upstairs and so there is no time to be bored.

    To carry your loneliness theorem to the next level, I Live without anyone, all my family has died, and I trust no one, so no friends, but life is good. There are a plethora of familiar strangers situations where people have seen me for years, and although they don’t care anything about me, I enjoy the familiarity they provide. This is because as much as they pay no attention to me, I pay that much more attention to them.

    For me, it is interesting to me, to surmise what they might be like based on the snippets of their life I interact in.

    I was raised in a hyper aggressive, violent environment and so now I have to be vigilant not to get myself in situation where the beast is loosened. This is no minor point. We live in a society where common people has no respect for basic humanity. They will say whatever they want if they want to hurt you. what they don’t know is somethings are fighting words.

    Some things you say might push the wrong button, people today have no sense of self preservation. You say the wrong thing and all bets are off. So, it is important to insure that one is not in a situation where all bets are off. A jail cell is the ultimately unfriendly environment, one tends to avoid being invited to reside in one.

    To conclude loneliness is a powerful emotion, but is like nay other emotion. You can’t go around crying all the time becuase of the sad thing in the world, so you can’t feel badly because you are alone, it is life, and if it is meant that you should share your life with others, that will happen. To live your life, is to live for you, you cannot live for anyone else, live and be free, and when those times bring to you a smile, a laugh, some happiness grab those times and hold them as precious treasures.

    • Hey Eli, in my humble opinion, you have identified the key issue for men today, without actually naming it. I would like to name it – demonisation. It actually involves drawing attention to every negative aspect of being a man. It is encouraged by the media, many levels of government and those in our society that want to drive a wedge through humanity. Interesting thing is this – we are all human beings – female, male, gay, straight, black, white, yellow, pink or purple etc etc. My point is this – whenever statistics demonstrate how difficult life is for men, for the most part, these statistics are ignored eg suicide rate among males (3 to 4 times higher for males compared to females in Australia); death at work (up to 9 times higher for males compared to females); living on the street (again, up to 9 times higher for males compared to females). When was the last time you heard those advocating for equality or “closing the gap” mention these horrific facts ??? General society today, doesn’t care about men. Yes that’s a big statement – however, evidence demonstrates that this is true. When we wake up & realise that men are being demonised systemically, then we will have some hope of addressing the huge issues associated with men’s health.

  11. Great post! I agree with some the assessments made by the writer. If I hear a woman say one more time asking “where are the real men?” my head’s gonna explode. men suffer from preconceived notions but I rarely have an outlet to discuss how I feel. I don’t want to be a blubbering mess in front of everyone but there are issues. Thanks for starting the conversation!

    • Hi, ET,

      I am glad you shared some of the things you’ve heard. Happy to get the conversation going for sure.

      Best,

      John

  12. John,

    Thanks for the article. I agree with a lot of what you said. I have strived to make these changes in my life. I wish the article would include more references to studies and external sources. One good reference would be Brené Brown’a TED talk on vulnerability:
    https://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability?utm_campaign=tedspread–a&utm_medium=referral&utm_source=tedcomshare

    Thanks for the article!

    Cmdrkeen

    • Hi, Cmdrkeen,

      Thank you for stopping by and for the TED Talk link.

      John

  13. It IS something that we need to address because too many men are committing suicide.

  14. This is a timely subject…thank you for posting. I recently watched a documentary, “The Red Pill” on Men’s Rights and there are many connections to what you addressed here. I HIGHLY recommend watching this for eveyone! My husband and I had many ah-ha moments and a great discussion as a result of these incredibly eye-opening and at times, jaw-dropping facts. All I can say is WOW. http://theredpillmovie.com/

  15. Thank you so much for this article John. Im a 45 year old man who was raised in a poor blue collar background from family to hometown.

    I grew up during the 1970s and 1980s. Talk about stifling emotionally. I have NO men friends at this point in life.

    When I was younger it was a different story altogether. However at this age Ive tried and tried to connect with other men having no luck whatsoever.

    The women in my life are the only true friends I have and I appreciate them tremendously for this. Without them I would most certainly be alone.

    How sad and tragic that the men in this country are going through this! How sad that we were never warned about this being the final outcome of such harsh emotional conditioning.

    At thos point I’m more than willing to open up and connect with my fellow men however they aren’t having it. They all too often view this as some sort of threat.

    Ive finally at the age of 45 given up. Having come to the conclusion that the women in my life will be my best friends until death.

    The men in my life want nothing more than to be aquaintances at best! Thats very obvious.

  16. John,

    Excellent article. I believe that today’s companies are partly the blame, if your not a workaholic your not worth anything.

  17. I enjoyed reading this article as it was very well written and thought provoking. This article made me have a little more compassion for what the boys and men are going through today in our society. However, men need to realize, that because of their fear of being vulnerable, treating women like dirt, lying and cheating and being promiscuous with several different women at one time and treating them like crap is not the answer. It may make them feel powerful for the moment that they are always “one-up” on women, however, they need to realize when they get into their 50’s and lose their looks, they are going to be pathetic and lonely. I was in the mindset where I hate all men and they are all the same and I am completely “done” with them. Frankly, I’m tired of the Misogyny which I think is result possibly of these expectations women place on men in our society. However, the “misogyny” is leading to “misandry” which I currently find myself in this place. When you bring religion into play it does help with my thinking about this as we are all sinners and with the state of the world, it seems the enemy is getting better at destroying lives and allowing not just me but women to lie, cheat and treat each other with no respect and like crap. This does help me to have a minute bit of compassion but it is sad, that me and a lot of other women have just given up on men because we are tired of being lied to and cheated on. The current stated of social media, the internet and dating sites just makes the situation worse, where the temptation is too easy when a person gets tired of that person to just go find someone else and not work on the existing relationship. This is frustrating, there is no easy answer.

  18. There are several reasons why men are lonely in my opinion:

    1) Corporations demand that people be available 24/7 with no chance of a social/family life. In addition, people have to work two or more jobs to make ends meet.

    2) Jobs that you had in your local community have been moved to other cities or counties whereby, people now have to commute anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours. Not much time to have male bonding.

    3) Men used to have friends in school; however, once they leave school, there is no opportunity to maintain the friends in the neighborhood plus the people that you work with, live in other cities or not in the same part of the city where you live.

    4) American society is a dog eating dog society and as one reviewer stated it is everyone for his/her self and the bosses play off the workers and even their own managers against each other. People would sell out their own family members if they could make a profit off of it.

    5) Men not allowed to have a full range of emotions due to the icon culture of American men like John Wayne and Clint Eastwood. How many movies have you seen those two actors cry, laugh, or tell their wives and kids that they love them?

    Frankly, I don’t care about the CEOs and wealthy people about their loneliness plus having no friends. They spend a lifetime making other people’s lives miserable and enjoy doing so. They play an important part in creating the situation in America by not allowing men to be paid good wages, adequate family leave and other things that are necessary to have a quality of life for friendships and families. I remember back in the 1980s, one of the favorite sayings of the bosses was “I am not here to win a popularity contest.” These men and women only use people and then throw them away when they no longer need them anymore and then complain about lack of human friendship? Sorry, but after spending a lifetime of leaving dead bodies behind, they deserve what they get for destroying the human species.

  19. Hey Dr. Moore,
    Good article. I hope you don’t mind if I add a few observations to it.

    Men are lonely because we cannot meet the expectations of society. And by society, that means potential female mates.

    Sex is not just fun for men, like its portrayed. It’s actually one of the few ways remaining that validates us as men. Most of the roles that once defined masculinity are no longer just for us, leaving sex as our final validation.

    But most guys cannot meet the current archetype for sexual attraction. It’s kind of a watered down version of Christian Grey, for lack of a better way of saying it. So fewer and fewer men get to play the relationship game.

    So sex is less available to average guys.

    Sex was weaponized by groups pushing agendas. The final way we are validated (sex) can also mean our loss of jobs or jailtime. And trust was destroyed in the process, impeding our ability to love.

    Also keep in mind that the rules are different for different men. High value males can get away with murder and get giggles from women, where average dude giving a compliment could be grounds for punishment.
    Why is this important? Guys will isolate rather than participate in any activity that has inconsistent and arbitrary rules.

    We can’t get together legally. Men’s groups and clubs get shut down. Activities? There are no social situations or clubs that don’t involve women, and therefore pose the possibility of ridicule from them should vulnerability be shown. So men isolate.

    Sexual harrasment training also sexualized all forms of touch. So men can’t even touch each other without fear of being seen as gay, or worse yet, having your friend think you want to have sex with him. (Even I, in full knowledge of all of this, flinch if hugged by a guy)

    We are also framed as stupid and incompetant by the media. Our pain and confusion of the dissapearance of our identity is mocked. Confusion is a weakness in our society, and as you observed, men don’t want to be seen as weak.

    Our loneliness is self imposed, but it’s understandable considering the current culture that frames us as the cause of the ills of society.

    Ultimately, this is all about trust. And men have few reasons to trust women, employers, the law, and increasingly each other.

    Loneliness is the price we pay for a sense safety. And over time, it kills us.

 

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