What I Mean When I (Don’t) Say I’m Lonely

I’ve been thinking about writing this for ages but I didn’t really know how to do it. It’s something I’ve talked about on my radio show a few times and I know it touched a number of you because after almost every live show I’ve done since, at least one soul has come up to me and said they were also feeling the same way.

Ah dammit. I’ll just come out and say it.

I’m lonely.

Partly through design and partly through circumstance, I don’t have many friends. Three really good ones and a couple on the periphery. Ot of the three, I work with one of them and the other two I see very rarely. One lives in Bristol, the other in East London. I moved out of London several years ago, but even when I did live there we saw each other less and less frequently. Like I say, it’s partly through life that we don’t see each other but also because I am just so useless at maintaining friendships that we grow apart. I honestly find the juggling of work and friendships and LIFE like spinning plates, it looks easy on the telly but it’s so bloody hard.

Admittedly I have pushed a lot of people away from me. Selfishness, shyness, work, awkwardness, depression, being a dick to people – all of these things have isolated me. And don’t get me wrong, I do often enjoy my own company. I could go as far as to say I PREFER my own company, but that doesn’t mean I feel waves of deadening loneliness at times.

I have joy in my life. My kids being the obvious sources of that. But there’s just this weight, this hole, this emptiness in my soul that means I feel alone and I feel lonely so much of the fucking time.I really don’t know how to combat that. I’m not going to go to clubs, or take up a hobby, the two suggestions most often made to the lonely. Even if I wanted to, which I don’t, I wouldn’t know how to strike up a friendship with someone who has similar interests as me. Can a 44 year old man even make friends? It seems a little late.

I envy those who have religion because I would imagine it’s harder to feel lonely if you have a god living in/with you. There’s always someone you can tap up for a slightly one sided chat. I don’t have that. I’m terrified of the phone. Face to face conversations leave me full of dread as I try to think what the next line of chat should be rather than listening and replying naturally.

Why am I writing this? I don’t know. Not looking for sympathy of phone numbers or offers to go to the pub. I guess I’m hoping this will strike a chord in a similar way as my blog about depression a couple of years ago. You don’t have to let me know you get it, it’s all cool. But I do worry that in this age of technology and social media, it is becoming very easy to fall off the radar a bit and I suspect that more and more people who look great and happy and confident on the outside are also feeling more and more lonely and less connect with the world.

123 thoughts on “What I Mean When I (Don’t) Say I’m Lonely

  1. Elizabeth Shaw says:

    I identify entirely with this – i find Social Media friendships hollow, but struggle to make “real” connections – thank you for putting it in to words

    • Andrew says:

      Feel very similar in lots of ways. A toxic so-called friend isolated me from mural friends and used those friends so she could use me and control those friendships. Luckily she’s the only piece of shit that was in my life. At 45, I find it hard to make friends. I don’t like this era of social media substituting real and tangible one-on-one relationships. But perhaps everything happens for a reason and we can adapt. Thanks for writing what you wrote: it resonated.

    • Sara Jack says:

      I feel exactly the same. I actually push my friends and family away all the time.
      I do not like visitors coming over.
      If it wasn’t for my young daughter..I doubt I would ever go out or get out of bed

      • Catherine says:

        Me too Sara. I sometimes can’t work out if I’m alone or lonely as I dread the phone or doorbell but then feel sorry for myself that the invitations dry up. I love my dog and my mum (who is elderly and lives miles away). It’s not that I love my own company but I’m not particularly comfortable in most other people’s. I too could become a total recluse very easily. God I sound miserable but I’m actually fairly content most of the time.

    • Brian Laing says:

      I have been like this since i was a kid, always felt alone. Only got one real mate and that is my wife. Meet you a few times was at the rabbit hole gig in bath last Sunday did not have the guts to say hello. Sums me up to a T. Your a top bloke and i find things have a way of finding balance 🙂

    • Gaynor Tyler says:

      Most of the world is lonely
      Just most people are better actors.
      I have learnt to make me happy
      Instead of running around making sure everyone else is happy.
      My husband is always on at me to stop taking on other people’s problems.
      Well I am getting there slowly…….
      Your too honest haha……
      A curse Iain I know
      You are who you are which as far as I can see is a honest caring funny entertaining man, yes sometimes grumpy, aren’t we all
      None of us are perfect
      Try and enjoy every day making yourself happy because there is only you that can do that

    • Anne-Marie says:

      I identify with that – feel lonely = depression + make friends to try and get out of it + get let down = depression = loneliness

    • Margaret Longmuir says:

      Your story of your life ring so true, your words are what iv been living and feeling for most of my life,. Now after all the battling, pretend laughter and the struggling iv reach 60 and to tired now to look to change or worry about who to please. Thank you for sharing…..

    • Jill Ashburn says:

      I totally get this . I’ve always found maintaining friendships hard . Especially since having to give up my job due to illness.
      Social media doesn’t make up for having real friends.
      Its an endless circle so hard to get out of .

    • Widowcrypt says:

      I felt as if I was reading a story about me. I am 43 and I thought that I would have gotten better at the “friendship” thing after all these years, but I never have. I’m strange, I get that. I watch the normality of the world pass by my window and I’m left wondering if things would have been different if I had just given into being normal. My heart sinks further into sadness thinking that I would have to give up who I am for a just a few hours of happiness. Then I wondered if people just pretend to be happy they forgot to give me the memo. Loneliness is the driving force behind creativity so it does have its perks.

    • Stella says:

      It seems everybody is lonely , with child or without , it’s a lonely planet. You may be sorrounded with lots of people but still feel lonely, wich is awful,It’s depressing.

    • Dave Templar says:

      Thanks Iain thanks for writing this I feel alone don’t have a lot of friends never met a special someone mum and dad are gone as are all my relatives the older you get the worse I feel thanks again Iain

    • Gary says:

      Good piece, all this tech doesn’t help. Even with God in my life I still agree, the bible is a book all should read, yet the road to the true God is lined with hypocrites. I have very few friends, but they are good friends, many aquatints, & at 50 to realize ones bros & sis are no more than siblings at the very most!!! My best friend, when I get to see him & his lovely family, helps me to laugh at myself & all the sick/wrong things we endure. You only find out your true friends when you hit bottom, one good friend is everything, a shit load of aquatints is nothing. Stay in touch with your good friends they are gold. Are men more loners than women?

      • Gary says:

        Good piece, all this tech doesn’t help. Even with God in my life I still agree, the bible is a book all should read, yet the road to the true God is lined with hypocrites. I have very few friends, but they are good friends, many aquatints, & at 50 to realize ones bros & sis are no more than siblings at the very most!!! My best friend, when I get to see him & his lovely family, helps me to laugh at myself & all the sick/wrong things we endure. You only find out your true friends when you hit bottom, one good friend is everything, a shit load of aquatints is nothing. Stay in touch with your good friends they are gold. Are men more loners than women?

    • Maria says:

      Having had social anxiety all my life as well as depression and anxiety, life can be hard to maintain. I cannot seem to have friendships, work and live, it is all too much. I tried online dating to combat loneliness but the experience was awful and it caused me to have a breakdown. Now at 46, I accept that loneliness is a part of my life.

    • Darren Bodilly says:

      Being 44 myself & doing many of the same things as you have done I’m in pretty much the same boat.
      Between work & children everything else gets pushed aside.
      “Modern life makes us rubbish”.
      I have a really sociable job where I interact with loads of people all day, so much so I end up craving a bit of solitude at times.
      What’s wierd is I very seldom feel lonely when I’m on my own, in fact I quite enjoy it, but put me in a big group of people at an event or do & it can be crushing.
      You end up faking it to make it, say something twatish or go for the no.1 self defence mode humour & your back at school being the class clown!

      I’m not sure making friends & adding people to your life is the answer. Maybe it’s finding your place in life where you can find some peace & balance. The constant inner conflict of attention in one area dertacting from another. We create constant states of tension & then feel guilt & disappointment looking at ways to keep all the plates spinning & everyone happy.

      I’m sure it’s a really common problem & I think it’s largely down to the fact that the world has changed more rapidly than human beings can evolve & we’ve got a lot of catching up to do.

      I think we’ve all jumped on the wrong train , need to get off at the next stop, check the map & choose a new route.

      I don’t know if any of that the rambling mess made sense but Peace & Love.

    • Matt says:

      Great stuff Iain. I was litrally talking to my therapist this week about how I struggle with maintaining relationships and friendships. I am successful in my career but I said that I am not successful at life. He said what defines success in life, to which I said my relationships with people. They are few and far between, they are short lived, they can be fractious, forced and faked. I’m also in Recovery and can find those relationships can be intensely intimate and then die out / find that they aren’t people who I actually have much in common / connection with. I make the effort even though I know that I have nothing in common with these people. I have always been like it, as a kid I was popular but I would wander around the playground, never getting close, in clubs I would just be the clown / heavy drinker, disappear and wander rather than connect with people. But I do have a few close people that I connect with. It’s not the size of the group it’s the quality, that doesn’t help when you’re in that place though. If you’ve ever in the area I take he Shepprton meeting on a Monday night. Would be good to see you / meet you. Take care Iain.

    • Eve says:

      Dear Iain, i never write on things like this! I really felt for you today. Matthew was a git. It’s up to you when and how you choose to share your personal life. Much of what you have said has struck a chord with me and I really believe you could make a huge difference by saying it. When you are ready. Sharing your experience definitely enables others to feel more normalised. However, you should never been an obligation to do this. Stay strong. Thinking of you. X

    • Heather says:

      It’s never too late to make friends. Finding someone worth investing in that is hard though. F2F chat is hard but if you’re ever lonely you can email the Samaritans (you don’t gave to be suicidal). Or write on this blog about what’s happening, no need to publish it live. I may be out of turn, but im 40yr old and only recently discovered I have aspergers, have you ever considered it? Helped me understand how I find F2F such an ordeal! I get less lonely the more I’m at peace with myself. Be kind to yourself, hope you find it. Thank you for sharing, probably one of the only upsides to ‘celebrity’ is by opening up you help others. It is appreciated x

  2. Mandy says:

    It truly does feel like a huge hole. I’m lonely too. For most of the same reasons that you seem to be. I’ve forgotten who I am. It’s enlightening to see it put into words. Spot on.

  3. Natasha Mangion says:

    Hi Iain
    Thank you for writing this. This is how I feel most of the time and I don’t have any beautiful children to bring me joy (my daughter died as a baby) or a job or many friends and recently my relationship also broke down so I feel more isolated than ever. I have many interests and I seek out things to watch and read that make me laugh and sometimes cry …..anything to get some form of emotion going really.
    And I do love animals they do make me happy.
    Like you say I am good at being in my own company and I too have pushed people away in the past for various reasons and yes just life really.
    This piece you have written has really rung true for me and it makes me feel less like I’m some sad bastard, a victim of my own circumstances which deep down I know I’m not.
    How do you make friends at 44? For me I’m 45. It’s the same. Other than idle chitchat in the supermarket or joining in with things on Twitter the only other person I regularly communicate with is my Mum! Yet in the past my life was very different with lots of friends and social activities. Somewhere life just took a bad turn.
    I don’t know how things will go forward but I hope they are better than how they are now. Loneliness is such a cruel hard feeling.

  4. Lisa Horton says:

    I feel the same as you. Never had many friends, only 1 or 2 at school who then went off with others, so again I was left alone. Same with my family. I have 2 sisters, I’m the middle one. They used to tease and bully me. I felt left out all the time. Ran away from home when I was about 7, gone for a couple of hours, but my older sister found me, told me “Get home now, Mum’s worried”… not hugs and where have you been. Same when I got home, my Mum didn’t seem to care. Felt abandoned, tried to end my life at 11. Cutting my wrist with a screw I found on the floor… tried but failed. My older sister came into the bedroom moaning my Mum was calling me for dinner and she was getting mad!
    Never really made friends at work, I always thought I was strange.
    Never had many boyfriends… one long term relationship, 20 years.. he slept with both my sisters!! Felt abandoned again. Tried to kill myself while on holiday in Cyprus. .jumped a cliff at about 2 am. Landed in seaweed.. the sea was out! So I failed again! ! Again, strange, but my older sister found me again. No hugs, where have you been.. at that time I didn’t know she’d slept with my ex..
    Shit life, but I’m still here so I must be a surviver then.
    I’d rather be alone now. Got my rescue Pug Hugo to love. Only thing I’ve loved.
    Take care mister

    • June1r says:

      Oh Lisa that’s awful, what’s worse bitchy sisters or cheating bfs.
      Sorry about your suicide attempts. Medication helps though. Love pugs but prefer my chihuahua x jack Russell 🙂

      • June1r says:

        Oh Lisa that’s awful, what’s worse bitchy sisters or cheating bfs.
        Sorry about your suicide attempts. Medication helps though. Love pugs but prefer my chihuahua x jack Russell 🙂
        Also want to add that society as a whole don’t physically interact with each other like they used to especially over 40s and being more isolated obviously affects self esteem. Eventually ww get lazy and we don’t want to go out because we can order in anything we want
        watch, read and chat on the phone. And if like me you enjoy your own company why bother go out an ‘socialize’?
        I do have 1or 2 friends and 2 or 3 family members I could chat to if I need to.
        Iain I think you’re so super confident and intelligent and very lovely that people could be intimidated by you…just saying. You think you’re pushing people away but your friends could be insecure about themselves and intimidated by your fame
        And you’re a Capricorn!

  5. Hilary says:

    Thank you Iain, for putting in words how I too feel. As a sixtytwo year old, it now feels like impending doom. I have my older husband, I only have 3 real friends – all much older than myself – and the prospect that they will all go and leave me floundering is quite overwhelming at times….Bless you Iain, ýou really are a shining star.

  6. Katie Fraser says:

    I so understand this Iain I experience loneliness too I find socialising very hard and as someone who has a disability too its hard and mindnumbingly difficult there have been days when I just want my own company but other days when I wish I had friends or more friends than I did thats why I enjoy my online friends more. Im not a sad person with her cat but someone who would just love being with a companion. I have lots of interests and very smart and assertive I haven’t found anyone to share my passions with its so difficult.

    Everything you experience resonates with me I know how difficult and I care too that its hard for us both to handle it but we get by dont we in struggling ways.

  7. Dean says:

    This is me. Divorced. 2 wonderful kids. Friends that are all married. Friends that feel awkward inviting a 44 year old fella to things. Its tough. And upsetting. But I have my kids and a job I love. Not quite enough though.

  8. Scott says:

    I totally identify with this Iain. I’m 48, married, I have a decent job, I get on fine with my colleagues, but I’m so lonely sometimes.
    I have no family, apart from my wife of course. No siblings, parents both dead, one uncle that lives 500 miles away. But worst of all, I have no friends.
    I don’t know why. I had friends 25 years ago, but then I moved to London from Glasgow and never really worked out how to make new ones.
    I chat with my colleagues but could never talk to them about my feelings or anything serious like that. I talk to my wife obviously, but some things you just don’t want to share with your other half. I suffer with anxiety and that doesn’t help with making friends.
    I either do things with my wife or do things alone. I’d love to have a mate I could share things with, go to gigs, go to the pub…. It’d be brilliant just to have someone I could confide in.
    I’ve kinda resigned myself to never making any friends now.
    I don’t know what I’m trying to say. Just that you’re not alone fella. There’s loads of us out there in the same kind of situation. I’m sending you good thoughts and positive vibes man.
    Look after yourself x

    • Leanne says:

      Your comment really touched me. You sound such a nice man. I hope you find contentment soon. I understand all these feelings also

  9. Shel says:

    Yep, I feel this. Recently relapsed & now miss the AA community. Miss my drinking friends who I let go when I got sober 3 years ago. I don’t belong anywhere now, really. I do feel like I could disappear and few would be any the wiser.

  10. Sam says:

    Totally get this. I never really had friends at school. Some were only friends with me when it suited them. Didn’t make any friends at uni just acquaintances who I don’t speak to now at all. I don’t even think I can say I have any friends at work I just can’t seem to make them at all. I am married and have great kids but I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonelier. My partner is great and essentially is my only friend but sometimes I wish I had more. I sometimes wonder if I might be on the autism spectrum because I find socialising so hard and draining.

  11. Evie says:

    Oh gosh. Totally get this. We are similar in the sense we are perceived as extroverts and therefore people assume we must have loads of friends and a hectic social life. Couldn’t be further from the truth. I am replying to this from a cafe where I am the only one sitting on my own. Yet again. In my case my social anxiety has got worse with age. I have 2 or 3 old friends from years ago. But like yourself, these guys have either moved on or have busy family lives. For many years now, as empty weekends stretch out before me, I have thought about plans. I’ll join the WI (yes really!), I’ll play tennis, I’ll join those meetup groups you get on the Web. Not done any of it. I actually work in an environment where I probably could make some friends, but if an arrangement is made, my anxiety goes into free fall and the dread and fear is unbearable. So I cancel. Not dated in 17 years, the thought terrifies me. But I would like to meet someone special, but how to do it? Or just make a new friend. Done lots of therapies over the years, meditation, cbt, hypnotherapy. They have helped, but the problem remains. Social media doesn’t help. You’re stuck inside while your virtual friends go on holiday, lark about, have fun. You follow people such as yourself on twitter and convince yourself they are your friends. A like makes you happy and a retweet makes you giddy. For a short while. But more often or not you get no response. And that makes you sad. I’ve never really spoken openly about any of this outside of my family. So thanks for highlighting this issue and being honest. This subject, I’m sure, will connect with many.

    • Leanne says:

      Hi evie, well I noticed your comment and you sound lovely. I used to have loads of pals but now in late 30s everyone busy with kids, so I hang out mostly with my husband. I connect more on what’s app than in real life with anyone, it’s sad

  12. Elle says:

    Thank you Iain for sharing your thoughts out loud. We usually hear about lonliness involving older folks and that in itself makes me sad because i feel even more of a loser, freak, whatever, not really having any friends or family to speak of that im close too at 47 years old. I have an interest in running for example, go to a club, you make small talk with people then everyone goes their separate ways back home to family,partners where i just go home. Dont get me wrong i like my own company and maybe prefer animal best friends but sometimes would be nice to have another human ask how was your day? I dont have the answer for the emptiness to go, but its good to hear there are other people out there similar age with similar thoughts. Thanks again Iain for writing this. x

  13. Jen says:

    I identify too. I am very fortunate to have wonderful friendships but my recent relationship breakdown at the age of 36 has been tough… although I felt equally lonely within the relationship to be honest. I’m at the age where I have to accept that I’m unlikely now to have children and that hurts… it’s like a loneliness created by a premonition of loneliness in some ways… if that makes sense. I love connecting with people but have no patience with superficial connections which makes me socially awkward too! The thought of dating again is also pretty horrendous.

  14. Emma Smith says:

    I like that you have expressed the paradox of loneliness so well. You feel lonely but are apathetic when it comes to maintaining and nurturing friendships.

    I have come to accept two contrasting opinions on my own approach to friendship/loneliness.

    The first is that I cannot maintain a friendship (and I don’t maintain friendships) that require something I cannot give.

    The second is that I’ll be friendly with people I meet until proven otherwise.

    My hobbies and interests are such that I’ll never meet a BFF or have a tight friendship group. I also think everyone feels the same way, and I don’t need to stress of making people like me.

    I love podcasts because you can find people with the same interests

  15. M says:

    Sorry to hear this, loneliness can be pretty painful. It’s a bit like a numb emptiness you can’t really place. There’s keeping busy but then after you stop to rest, it kind of reverts back to feeling miserable and empty again.

    People always suggest taking up hobbies but as an adult that’s extremely hard, so not exactly a helpful suggestion.

    I don’t often comment on blogposts but this really hit home for me.

    I have five friends (only two are local, one lives in Buckinghamshire whilst I’m in Sussex and the other two are even further away). I’m single so don’t even have a partner I can speak to.

    There’s work colleagues at the office but theyre all about 21 and seem to like drinking, sports and clubbing and I’m teetotal and like video games. They’re nice enough but I’m the (slightly) older boring, woman so they don’t often invite me to things.

    I enjoy being alone but sometimes…it feels a little like I’m completely isolated.

    Sometimes it would be nice just to have a friend or even an acquaintance just to talk to.

    Take care of yourself, You’re a good guy x

  16. Paolo Thomas says:

    Iain, thank you for this amazingly thoughtful and honest piece. As with other people who have commented, it chimed with me too. I really struggle with people and to be honest, I’m at an age where I’ve given up on humanity more generally. Very best wishes, Paolo

  17. Helen says:

    Hi Iain,
    That’s so how I feel but didn’t know how to articulate it. I have lots going on too a good job 2 lovely kids and a loving partner. But there is that loneliness inside. It’s part of the social shyness/awkwardness I have. I am a Irish immigrant and live in Essex, always have this yearning to go back to Ireland to live, but know in my sole that that won’t make me any less lonely. Just wanted to say I know how ya feel. It’s so refreshing for me to hear someone come out and say they are lonely. Especially a person like you who talks on the radio! The last person you would expect to be shy or lonely. I enjoyed so much watching you in the jungle and so disappointed you didn’t win. But of course over the moon for the lovely Toff. Anyway thanks for being so honest! You inspire me to do the same. Bye 👋

  18. Tom G says:

    I went through a very awkward stage last year of buying a spare ticket for every event. Gigs, plays etc. “I’m find someone to take” the truth is I can’t. For all the reasons your state, and a couple of extra thrown in, I don’t have anyone I can phone up out of the blue.

    As a result I didn’t go to these things rather than having my loneliness made public. (Even if I’m the only one to know it)

    This is inescapable now. Children grown up. I’m focusing instead on just trying to do fun things, even if it means doing them on my own. Am not giving up just yet. But it is awkward to make new friends at 50

  19. Martin says:

    Sounds all too familiar. Might seem a bit tangential but have you tried parkrun? Gets you out of the house regularly, opportunity for a chat and a cuppa if you fancy it, but you can just bugger off straight after if you’re not in the mood too, no strings attached. I realise it’s a bit close to the ‘hobby’ suggestion, but the absence of any actual commitment (other than to yourself) and not feeling you ‘have’ to connect or risk letting someone down is an important distinction. I’ve found it dead useful as a way of reconnecting and feeling like a functioning cog in a community again.

  20. Colin (Smudge) Smith says:

    A very brave and honest experience Iain. I know how you feel. I went through a similar experience a few years back, things will get better mate. I felt very lonely even though I had a large group of online friends at the time. It will take time my friend but chat to people about anything and everything and you will find some more trusted friends. You are such a good bloke and a great listener yourself. Never feel afraid to message people, it’s easier than face to face and phone calls. I promise things will turn again for you. Keep in touch.

  21. TOMMY G says:

    Hi Iain.

    I know I will sound like yet another guy that says “hey, that is so me.” But it really is me. But we have to make the most of the rare times when we don’t feel lonely. As they get get less frequent as we get older.

    Loneliness sucks. I should know.

    P.S. I love the show. Who doesn’t?

  22. Jen says:

    I love my own company. But I’m also conscious that I have not maintained friendships and somehow I’m losing out. I have a couple of close friends but would love a wider friendship circle. Anxiety and introversion means I find that difficult. An interesting read that means I feel less lonely in my loneliness.

  23. Carol says:

    Just read this and now have tears in my eyes. It says exactly what im feeling and exactly what others dont umderstand about me. I feel lonely in groups if i go to one as everyones already palled up. Other friends i havent kept up contact with as life dealt me bad card after bad card. Im 47 and all i can think is how did i get to this and can anything ever change. If it wasnt for finding iains radio show by accident a year or so ago i may well have given up hope by now. His words mean so much as i dont feel quite so alone, tho i dont know him on a personal level i feel hes my ‘virtual’ friend to turn to when the chips are down. Someone who understands and doesnt patronise or judge. Didnt mean to waffle on lol. Will stop now. Lol.

    • dean says:

      I feel like Iain is my virtual friend as well. I really look forward to the show as it is so relaxed and informal that it really is like having your mates round for a chat! It really does help to ease the loneliness for me at least. I sometimes listen to other radio stations (like radio 4 and 4 extra) but they are more like “programmes to watch”, Iain’s show is like having friends! Still wish I had someone to go to the pub with and stuff.

  24. D says:

    WOW Yeh bang on. I hate meeting people, making small talk. i work in a call center but i hate taking or making personal phone calls. I have 2-3 friends and again see them rarely and have lost some really close people. This is hitting the nail on the head. Sometimes its not even someone to talk to you its just the company. Someone being there. That’s enough.

  25. Sarah M says:


    You’re a wonderful human being for sharing such hard feelings to deal with. I know you don’t want sympathy and you’re writing to help others. It really struck a chord with me.
    I think we all go in and out of phases of this emptiness. It’s nice to know you’re not alone and not some kind of freak for feeling this way. Stay strong big fella 💪😘😘

  26. Jo D says:

    I know how you feel. I am a single parent to 3 kids, one has left home and one has autism. I only have one brother who lives far away and I never see and I only have one friend but she has a full time job and a full time relationship.. my parents are elderly so my relationship with them is more as a carer than daughter….life sucks!

    • Susan says:

      Everyone is entitled to an opinion Michael. But how can you know how Iain (or anyone else for that matter) feels and what is going on in his personal life.

  27. Paul says:

    You have described exactly how I feel. Exactly. Had a group of friends at school who all faded away when the university years started. None of them kept in contact with me. Made friends in my jobs but as soon as they suggest socialising outside of work I make excuses as I can’t face it. I push everyone away. Up until last year I had one close mate, and even him I haven’t seen since last August now. I have a wife and 2 cats that I love but I’m lonely. So very lonely. I’m 42, moving to a new town on Monday 300 miles from where I’ve lived forever. How the heck can I make new friends?

  28. Faz says:

    Yeah this hits home with me too. 43 years old, 3 gorgeous kids, lovely wife but not really any few friends. Sometimes you just want to call a mate and go watch a movie or go for a drink..but it never happens.
    Not sure what the answer is and it does certainly feel too late in the day to do something about it..love my own company, but not always..chin up mate. Great show.

  29. Alison says:

    Hi Iain. I appreciate this. I know about you because you cared enough to interview Reed and Marshall Summers and engage with them in a compassionate way about having a relationship to purpose in life, so I decided to follow whatever you did right then and there. So, still following.
    Just having followers isn’t enough though, and being known on social media is different than being known by those who do the every day with you. I resonate with that because at one point I decided to quit performing music because it was scary how validating the stage and crowd were to my ego, though I felt completely unknown.

    An old friend just said something similar to your “I envy those with religion” comment. He was saying it to me in a way that told me there’s no way he could believe in a God and was envious of the way he thought I was perhaps in delusion about it. At least that’s how I took it. My response to him was the same as what I want to say here, in that religion never cut it for me either in the traditional sense, and neither did belief. To me “God” is relationship and it is the moment when we get over ourselves and hear someone.

    The phone scares me, I don’t like the question “how are you?”, I get totally lonely, and having a spiritual practice doesn’t allow me to escape the flatness on the journey or become lifted among the problems of the world. It just puts me back on the radar. So, I heard you. Thanks.

  30. Billy says:

    Probably similar to all the other comments made here. I may be much more extreme than most in that I really do have no friends. None at all. I have acquaintances and people I work with but no one I’d call a friend. In fact and I am deadly serious when I say this, one of the reasons I am reluctant to marry my beautiful partner is because I have no idea who I would invite as a guest apart from my immediate family. Deadly serious. How lonely is that? Now I’m very lucky that my wonderful fiancee truly is my best friend but other than her… Noone. I don’t talk to anyone apart from at work, about work, and a bit of chitter chatter to neighbours but no real friends. Again, totally seriously, I have not seen or talked face to face with any friends since probably 2009, definitely not since my son was born in 2012.

    One time I did have some friends, then family, jobs, children, pets and all the other stuff came along and I appear to be just like all those other middle aged men with no friends.

    • Susan says:

      Absolutely nothing wrong with a small, intimate wedding. It’s the quality of people….not the quantity that counts. I would be in exactly the same position if I got married. I would only have immediate family to invite. Marry her Billy.

  31. Jamie says:

    Iain, Heart felt post but please remember that “TV’s Iain Lee” totally smashed TV comedy !!! You and your cohorts were absolute f*cking legends and nobody can ever take that away from you. I’d love to see an “11 O’Clock Show” for 2018 !!! and guessing i’m not alone in that !! We are the same age. There’s plenty more life left for both of us ! Stay strong. You are appreciated and respected !!!!

  32. Deirdre McGuirk says:

    Strikes a chord with me! I’m also terrified of the phone and only slightly less fearful of face-to-face conversation. Aged 56, I’m now able to relax and chat with two (old) friends, but it took a long long time. My early 40s were particularly devoid of friendly contact. But Internet forums gave me freedom to have banter from the safety of not being actually seen or heard. And I did an Alpha course in 2005, and made genuine new friends. Yes, it is a Christian 10-week programme, but in our case, anyone was welcome and the connection with people felt real. I guess any ‘small group’ set-up where one feels free to be authentic and appreciated would do the trick. Maybe.

  33. Tina says:

    Yep, all sounds very familiar. I’ve lost quite a few friends over the years for a variety of reasons much the same as yours. I’ve never really had a large group of close friends, just different friends dotted around from work, uni ect. But only a few really close friends. I had a decent social life and always had someone to turn to. Over the past couple of years life hasn’t been great which has led to depression, Iisolated myself from social activities and my closest friends just seemed to stop inviting me places, picking up the phone or getting in touch.
    I now find myself at 42 lonely, like you I really enjoy my own company, I don’t have children but I have a dog who is my absolute world, animals can be such a remedy for loneliness. I never expected to find myself in this situation and most of the time I don’t let it dominate my thoughts, I go to gym, walk the dog, look after others in my job and keep myself busy, but it there’s no escaping the eventual feelings of loneliness, especially when something good happens and you’ve no one to share it with, or worse when something shit happens and you need a friend, or you just want to plan an activity that you’re not going to feel like a saddo doing alone.
    I guess I don’t have any advice but what I will say is the absence of friends in your life isn’t matched to your worth, It’s just unfortunate circumstances.

    Thanks for being so honest and sharing it’s always reassuring to know you’re not alone in your loneliness.

  34. Claire W says:

    Hey Iain . What a lovely moving piece you have written . Yes I’m in your gang too . You replied to me over a year ago as I was going through a messy divorce. Your words still ring in my head . “There’s a lot of it going on which is sad “ you replied . Yes kids help and those one or two special friends . My dog keeps me company but I know you don’t like yours !!! And you .. I’m always listening 10-1 or till whenever I fall asleep . It gets better in time people say (usually the married ones) . But time goes by and I’m still single and lonely too . It does feel weird doesn’t it ? Keep on being a fantastic presenter and be safe in the knowledge you have many people who find you entertaining and love you lots . Can’t wait for the show tonight . Best wishes xxx

  35. Susan Trewinnard says:

    Stop pushing people away. Friendships aren’t about zero tolerance policies. They are about understanding that everyone has insecurities and problems just like you. Be vulnerable together.

  36. David says:

    Thank you for sharing this with us Iain. I too identify with this. I don’t like talking on the phone. I struggle with face to face conversations, with knowing what to say next. I wonder now, if people want to listen to me anyway. A conversation is a two-way thing. It seems to me that too many people want to be listened to, and not hear what other people have to say.
    My best friend, of nearly 30 years, we have stopped talking to each other. We still have the same interests, and we would chat about them regularly, even though we live a two hour drive away from each other, and a couple of years ago it was a five hour drive. We also used to sound off to each other about the stressful stuff in our lives. He would complain to me about his dad, his brothers and sister, his partner and her son. I would complain to him about my mother in law and my step-daughters. I thought he understood this, that it was just a mutual sounding off, and neither of us were expecting any advice from each other, though we would give advice if we could. Then recently he said he didn’t want to hear me complain anymore. Perhaps something changed in his life, though he hasn’t mentioned it. Now we only wish each other happy birthday, and happy Christmas, and exchange cards.
    I have moved house and town a few times in recent years. For financial reasons, not for choice. The other friends I used to have, work mates and ex workmates, are now acquaintances and we exchange Christmas cards and the occasional email. I get on ok with my new workmates. I don’t make friends easily though. I am not a lad’s lad. I am not a football fan, though I can get some enjoyment out of watching a match. I don’t enjoy competitive video games. My wife tells me: if you want to go out for a drink with your workmates, please do so. I used to drink socially and I still do, occasionally. Though now I don’t enjoy the taste of alcohol enough to say: I fancy a pint. I prefer a strong cup of tea.
    I do enjoy my own company. My wife is my best friend.

  37. Susan says:

    My belief is that many of us find it difficult to conduct ‘normal’, happy lives and to make and cultivate friendships because of our mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bi-polar etc. These are all fraught with a long list of symptoms which all contribute to our inability to conduct ‘normal’, happy lives/relationships. We constantly have to live with these symptoms, which I believe makes us strong, resilient people (not weak and pathetic) as some would have us believe (and some of us trick ourselves into believing it too!!). The first thing to remind yourself is that it is NOT your fault. So, please try to stop beating yourself up. I do it too!

    Living with symptoms like: Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood. Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism. Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness. Loss of interest, pleasure in hobbies, and activities. Decreasing energy-fatigue, feeling slowed down. Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions. Insomnia, early morning awakening or oversleeping. Low appetite, weight loss or overeating and weight gain. Thoughts of death, suicide, suicide attempts. Restlessness, irritability. Persistent physical symptoms, such as headaches, digestive disorders and pain for which no other cause can be diagnosed.

    How the hell can we be expected to live normal, happy, contented lives, socialise and maintain friendships while living and dealing with all of this!!!

    I’m in a similar position to you Iain, and others. I suffer from major depression and anxiety. I have no job. Can’t hold a job down because I can’t cope with too much pressure AND when I try to talk to bosses or work colleagues about my illness, they look at me and treat me like I have two heads! I’ve never been married, haven’t been in a relationship for years (because I don’t really like myself and feel I’m not attractive or worthy enough to be loved), have no kids and most days are a struggle. My coping mechanisms are often sleeping or drinking when I feel at my lowest.

    About a year ago I had to move to a country town because I was bullied out of my last job and couldn’t afford the rental prices in the city….I share a house now, and when I moved here I didn’t know anyone. It took about 8 months living here to summon up enough courage to start a Facebook group for women who live in the area. We’ve met twice now, for drinks and dinner and have another outing coming up. My advice would be to keep reminding yourself that it’s NOT your fault, you can’t help it if you have a mental illness. Take baby steps. Don’t overwhelm yourself. I have 3 new friends now because I hopped onto FB, started a small group and met them for drinks. I was nervous, but felt I had to push through the nerves to make progress.

    We beat ourselves up and we shouldn’t. Try to love yourselves for the beautiful, amazing, caring, loving people that you are. Put your energies into trying to get well. Seek out professional help if you need to…the best place to start is with your GP. Be pro-active in researching ways you can help yourself, with diet, rest, exercise and you should try to connect with others (like we are here), so you know you’re not alone.

    May I suggest a YouTube video “Depression What to do When Nothing Works” by Lilias Ahmeira.

    Good luck Iain and everyone. I wish you all the best for the future.

    P.S. I love your show Iain.

  38. Ben says:

    Iain, thank you.
    I’m 27, and relate entirely with you. I have arguably 4 friends. I know with confidence that I am not any of their best friends, but they are mine by process of elimination. They are friends because I worked with them and went to school with them. We don’t share interests. We used to see each other once every month or two at best.

    I’ve now moved out of London to Somerset. I have lost the chance to see them at all without great planning.
    And I am closed, emotionally, to finding new friends.
    I have never had a partner – I don’t know how to make that happen.

    Like you I appear “normal” and confident in life so no one thinks any thing is wrong. It’s going to be a tough year ahead.
    It’s good to get that off the chest.
    Thank you again for being honest and giving us all the strength to feel in good company with our loneliness.

  39. Dave Barratt says:

    That wise philosopher John Lennon once said “Being honest doesn’t get you many friends, but it gets you the tight ones”. I try to be honest and I also try to be REAL, not many people are comfortable with that and would rather ‘pretend’. Let them, I say. Iain, you have to be one of the most honest and real people I know (as much as I know you from the radio and being interviewed by you several times). I’m sorry you feel lonely. I live alone and have no life partner (divorced after 22 years) by choice… not my choice(or maybe it is?) but the hundreds of females I’ve met. Consequently I sometimes feel alone, but I do not feel lonely. I think they are different. I don’t know where I’m going with this, but I wanted to try to say something useful. You hever know, it might resonate with someone, like your comments do with others. I like you Iain, and miss you very much at 3CR. I don’t listen to it any more.

  40. John says:

    Well put Iain Lee I feel the same tho in my 60’s it’s not getting any better. I would use the word isolated rather than lonely, in my case, as I am fine with my own company up to a point. No job, few friends (if any), background health issues, “lost” my mother to dementia tho she is still alive at present, no pets, had one friend alot younger who recently hung himself. One neighbour moved out and another dropped dead. Best thing for me is probably the radio but it is so often the Bradio (Brexit/radio) which has to go off, so over the Brexit debate long past caring about that but it is ruining telly and radio. One of the best things for me is your show so I hope you can get something from doing it, as we get from listening to it. XX

  41. Warren says:

    I can totally resonate with this but it’s always good to remember that when a person is obnoxious, arrogant, controlling and mean to others then they deserve to be lonely. If however you don’t posess those traits then you should just realize that a lot of us are lonely, we come into this world alone and then leave it on our own. A true friend is one who loves you for the sake of God and the sad truth is that a lot of friendships are based on benefit unless it’s love for the sake of God. There is no peace of mind out there other than in the remembrance of God, we can deny it all we want but it’s the truth. May God guide us all.

  42. Terri says:

    Definitely understand. It’s not just you, its a lot to do with society in general. I have bipolar, I lost a lot of people after a breakdown, they didn’t come back after my diagnosis, so I realised they weren’t worth fretting about. I then became disabled, enough for me to need someone around sometimes. whoosh, there went the rest of my friends!! My bipolar has stopped my ability to speak about anything. I’m terrified of people, on the phone, in person, I feel unable to trust anyone. I stopped all social media until I found Iain Lee (thanks jungle!!). I know am on twitter as its more anonymous than Facebook, I choose to follow things I like and not people I know. I have 3 friends now, 3 people who I found by accident when I was just at my lowest. I don’t ask them to understand, they don’t try to. but I am alone… I am 55, I am not going to suddenly start going out, I am unable to be anything else then the person I am. I have grandchildren who love me, and that’s enough. They don’t judge, or scare me, or ignore me. Society just isn’t nice anymore. Treasure your kids, treasure your moments of pleasure, and realise that although you may feel alone, you most definitely are not.

  43. John Cullen says:

    Once again, I can completely identify with your situation – I think many can!
    At the end of my twenties, I realized that the majority of people I believed to be my friends simply wern’t. I scaled back to just a couple – Then I got married.
    After experiencing my partners postnatal depression, and then being involved in an a near fatal accident, I was diagnosed with depression and PTSD. I became reclusive and my personality changed dramtically – I lost confidence and couldn’t face people. Through therapy, I’ve made a partial recovery and I’m back in the land of the living – So to speak. I see two or three friends at various points throughout the year; I keep up with them on facebook too.
    These days, I use audio shows to drown out the demons. My favourite radio/podcasters are yourself and a chap called Joey Diaz. I’ve learnt two things from both you:

    1) From ‘The Late Night Alternative’, I’ve realised that these feelings of sadness and isolation are very common – You and many of your callers have also experienced the same things I have. I’m not alone.

    2) From ‘The Church Of What’s Happening Now’, I’ve learnt you can turn things around – Uncle Joey is living proof. The man was in a dark place in his life once, now he remains in the light, and works to stay there. He’s a genuine inspiration.

    Keep up the good work sir. Even on the darkest of nights, hearing you verbally spar with Alan Caddick and Jonathan From Swansea has me grinning like a cheshire cat.

    To quote the group Atmosphere:
    “We’re not lucky, but we’re fortunate – I’m pretty sure if it.”

  44. Susan Trewinnard says:

    Sorry that posted before I meant to! Try again.

    Stop pushing people away. Friendships aren’t about zero tolerance policies. They are about understanding that everyone has insecurities and problems just like you. Be vulnerable together. I have learnt this the hard way but at 56 now realise it’s how I have lost so many friends. Your friends need you and All you have to offer them. I try to give more
    Now and get much more back.
    I find the radio keeps me company and I love listening to talkRADIO and you Iain. Keep making us all laugh.
    Sue xxx

  45. Daniel says:

    Thanks for writing this, Iain. Pretty much sums up parts of my own existence- I’m a year younger than you. I know I’ll come back to read this for reassurance in the future.

  46. Lor says:

    Could this be common? I am hoping one say I will have a best friend who shares my interests, gets me & is someone I can laugh with I’m in my 50s

  47. Nikki says:

    Thanks for being honesty Iain. I see you and I see me. In fact , I truly believe a lot of people feel as we do but it takes courage to admit it and until we all do, things won’t change. I am a desperately lonely woman and struggle to find the true connection I seek. I have always been honest with my feelings whereas I feel people in modern society are wrapped up in pretension and shallow fake connections. I can’t stomach that and instead am alone trying to maintain hope that my vibe will eventually find my tribe.

    Stay you Iain.

  48. Dobir says:

    I can totally relate to a lot of this, I’m 30 with no friends.. 0 friends.. nada. I find striking up conversations with people painful. Also I feel like people do not want to talk to me. I feel like I’m the only person going through this but reading some of the comments here and your article proves otherwise….. i’m at the point where I don’t know what to write.. But yeah it sucks and it frkin hurts as hell

  49. Ailis says:

    Iain, I feel like you have spoken everything I am feeling. The same things have pushed me away from the friends that I love. I have 2 people that I currently work with whom are my best friends, but I fear that if they were to leave that our friendships would disintegrate. The fear is real. The loneliness is real. I know exactly how you feel. I had a significant relationship break down over new years and the loneliness after that was intense. Once you surround yourself with family and people who love you, it won’t feel so bad. I am also like you in the sense that I love my own company. To have people who love you but also know when to give you your space is amazing. Sometimes it is just a matter of speaking to people and explaining that solitude is sometimes better than a crowded room of people…..I am always here, and always available to speak of you need it 🙂

  50. Ben says:

    Hi Iain,
    I’m struck with how similar our symptoms are, to the point that I’m writing a comment on a radio DJs blog site.
    My wife keeps pointing out things that crop up in the media about your social anxiety, drugs, emptiness etc
    All of which I suffer from.
    I’m 41 and after 9ish years sober I ended up in A&E from taking a cocktail of prescription drugs at the start of this year.
    I’ve felt selfish, lazy and full of shame, but I do have a kind of diagnosis – one that explains a few things.

    My doctor referred me to a very good specialist in the field of personality disorders. He diagnosed me with BPD, or Borderline personality disorder, or for those that find there’s stigma attached to that term ‘emotionally unstable personality disorder’ (I honestly can’t imagine telling anyone I have the latter, doesn’t look good on a CV.)

    Initially when I looked at the 9 symptomatic requirements to join this exclusive club (1.6 % of the population) I wasn’t sure. Self harm, fear of abandonment… neither of which I could identify with. But a few did resonate – extreme emptiness, extreme emotion changes, reckless behaviour, impulsive, prone to addiction…tick, tick, tick.

    Truth is I think this disorder varies from person to person and especially gender. Not surprising as men and women handle emotions quite differently.

    I have had no childhood trauma, I believe that I was like this from birth. An overactive amygdala with a slow reacting frontal cortex…

    I was born unable to deal with life like other people. To the point I prefer to be on my own or take drink or drugs to feel something/different/better.

    Anyhoo, I can’t write to a celebrity all morning, I have 3 kids and a lot of lying in bed to do as you’ve mentioned.

    Look into this diagnosis, you sound extremely similar.

    All the best

  51. Jo says:

    I went for walk to the beach a few weeks ago alone. Despite being married, I am alone. Always felt that way. I sat on a rock and watched the sun go down. Felt the urge to cry and bawl and wail at the top of my voice, to breakdown, but didn’t. Too concerned at what the few people around would think. So I grabbed a stone and scrawled on the rock next to me “Jo – so alone”. I don’t know if anyone ever saw it, probably washed away by the rain before any one did, but I told the world how I feel. It was out there. But nobody came. Nobody ever comes to tell me that it’s going to be ok. That I’m going to be ok.

    So Iain, if you read this, thank you for being so truthful, so raw about what you’re feeling. So many people will say “I know how you’re feeling” and maybe they do. I know how I feel and fuck it hurts. It hurts more than I can ever put into words. So that’s me.

  52. Anne-Marie says:

    That’s beautiful. And sad. You deserve to be happy. Well done for writing about it in such a sensitive way. You should write more- you’re good at it.
    Sorry. AMx

  53. Paul says:

    Wow, I totally get this and I’m exactly the same as I’m lonely 99% of the time, I unfortunately suffered a major stroke 23rd ago thankfully I’ve fought back and back to 90% fitness and back to work (3months) after the stroke, but I’m even more lonely now than ever before and I’ve no friends just family of parents and a sister who’s married and has a hectic social life, I don’t make friends easy because I’m worried about what they will think of me so I just go round in circles of going to work coming home watching tv or reading then bed then repeat 24/7 5 day’s a week then comes the weekend and that’s the worst time so I really do get and understand what ian has written

  54. steve says:

    steve allen plays on the fact that nobody will ever sue him for libel because he claims everything he says is true,he is a bitter,nastie,heartless piece of work and is to scared to have callers on his show because he can give it but cant take it.what he said about you iain lee is just gutter radio at its worst,one day this man will push his luck to far.

  55. Paul says:

    I completely feel exactly the same with every word you have said. I to don’t have many friends to call upon may be one or to at best. Loneliness is also a big part of my life even thought I have my partner of 20 years and two wonderful children.but it is always that underlying sense of just wanting to be left alone. Like most of the comments I have read I also switch on when I need to when it comes to socialising with other people. I do have some faith in my religion but not strong enough, going to bed most times is a relief from life itself and a safe place to gather my thoughts.
    As the saying goes.
    An image is one thing, being a human being is another. It’s hard being a human being.
    Stay strong .

  56. Andy Bakehouse says:

    And you just nailed it.
    And I thought it was just me.
    Thank you.
    I’ll just get another beer just so I can talk to the shop assistant.
    Then watch tv.

  57. Hisako says:

    I was lonely until met Sathya Sai Baba. I visited his ashram 8 times. It’s been good to know about him and my God. I believe my God and I still have no religion, but I’m happy to livening. My English is poor, so I cannot tell you much. I hope it will be a tip for you.

  58. Sarah says:

    I’m 46 and I’m lonely. I’m married with a son, but I cannot maintain friendships. I “know” loads of people through sport, but I just cannot keep close friendships. Someone I considered a good friend told me that I do not treat friends well, so I cut myself off and now feel such envy when I see this person with a gang of friends. I though all of this rubbish was meant to stop when you leave school, but it’s just got harder as I’ve got older. I’ve found that people are cruel and judgemental, which is all the more noticeable living in a very small village! Social media hasn’t helped, it just makes me feel more isolated. I hate it that I don’t have close friends and sometimes feel like I’m in downward spiral of complete emptiness.

  59. A J says:

    Iain, you are a source of strength to lots of us. You tell it how it is. You are so open about your struggles and in a weird way that can be uplifting for those, like me, that suffer in the same way.
    I always want to hear what you have to say because you are a thoroughly decent human being dealing with stuff that is difficult for others to understand. Keep on blogging. X

  60. BRENDA says:

    Hi Iain, very kind and courageous piece to write, thank you. When people are young they are more forgiving (not consciously) of other people. This is because of projection. This is basically where people assume they’re surrounded by like minds to the extent that it becomes a self fulfilling prophecy so people have more friends. As people get older they learn that not everyone is like them / they have less in common with some people than they assumed and also interests narrow / people get to know themselves better so the potential friend pool (people they’d be interested in having as a friend) gets smaller. However, i don’t think this has to be the end of the story. You’ve shown great courage in being public with your thoughts but why not go the whole hog. You don’t want get a hobby etc but why not talked this head on? Why not “meetings for lonely people” , the shared interest is already there. Everyone could just meet up with “Lonely people club” T shirts on and go for a big walk or anything to spend time together. I’m pretty sure time and numbers would make it work and there would be no hiding why people were there behind a hobby or something. Okay it might be excruciating maybe just at first and it might get better or it might stay at the the excruciating level but that might be funny. You might start a world anti online pro physical meet up revolution. Iain Lee kills facebook clubs might go global. What’s the worst that can happen (stalkers, stabbing, other fun stuff)

  61. Donna Webster says:

    I’m the same Iain I don’t have many friends never have done I’m not the easiest person to get along with! I’ve been brought up by my mum to be very independent, even when I was at school I wouldn’t hang around town on a weekend, if and only if I needed anything I would just go into town and get back again. Now fast forward and I’m 40, divorces an my son lies with my ex husband in Devon and I see my son every other weekend. And all this time I’m desperately trying not to relapse and pick up a drink (now 18 months sober) and I couldn’t do 18 days if I’m brutally honest!

  62. Claire says:

    I can relate to this. I work unsociable hours (to make sure I’m home for my kids during the day). I’m normally in a room for 100 people on my own. I don’t do the whole mumsy thing so apart from a couple of others don’t mix in at the school gates. I live away from my family and don’t fit with my other halfs family……sometimes I enjoy being just me, myself and I. But sometimes it would be nice to have a group of friends to do things with. Depression makes it worse….I shut myself off and then wonder if anyone cares!! It sucks.

  63. Jordan says:

    Until today, I had no idea who you were but clearly you have touched quite a number of individuals [Including myself] through your brutal honesty and exposure of a very sensitive subject. As i write this I’m watching the one of your podcasts and hope tomorrow’s show you might devote some time to this subject? I’m a professional and can identify with many a comment on here and feel privaleged, I’m in good company.

  64. David Green says:

    I am married with two beautiful kids who are making their way in the world with great success, I have a wide circle of friends but like you only a handful who I would call close. 34 years ago my brother was killed in a car crash 10 days before his 21st by a woman deciding to overtake a lorry on a blind bend. I was 18. I have spent the last 34 years mostly in my own world trying to work out how the world can carry on regardless. My world didn’t end but a large part of me died that day and there’s few and far people who can understand just how that feels. I understand loneliness but after many years realise that there’s always someone worse off and sometimes just sharing experiences is all it takes to help.

  65. Amy says:

    So much of this is relatable. I have terrible anxiety and most of that is related to the fact that I am completely socially awkward. I’d say I have about two friends and that’s it (unless of course I count my Mum, which I should really, so let’s boost it up to three). The only time I ever leave the house is for work and that’s only because I have to earn money, if it wasn’t for that I don’t think I would ever go outside.

    It’s bizarre in a way because you think you’re all alone feeling this and yet there’s millions (possibly billions) of people out there who are in either the exact same or similar situation. Writing something like this online is kind of easy but having to actually talk aloud about it is terrifying.

    In a way I’m thankful, never have I ever been lured by drugs or alcohol and looking back I had a wonderful childhood, I have no idea why all of a sudden I became who I am now, it’s like one day I woke up and just didn’t want to face the world. I have hope things will get better, I’ve had my demons, my main problem was self harming and sometimes I slip back into that but it is so reassuring to know that you are not the only person in the world going through this.

    Thank you so much for being so open about such a sensitive issue, who would have thought a 25 year old woman would find comfort in the words of a 44 year old man?

    Much love and hope



    PS. Who knows maybe one day I’ll come and see one of your shows? Maybe make it out of the door?

  66. Stu says:

    Every word, man. Every word. The only possible difference is I don’t [know if I] have depression.

    When I’m with people, even people I consider good friends, part of me is just itching to be by myself so I can read or play a game and not have the pressure of trying to think of things to say or be constantly paranoid that they have no interest in what I say anyway. But when I am by myself I feel like there are so many people I could and should catch up with but don’t do anything about it.

    For me the loneliness feels like a manifestation of guilt that I’m so bad at keeping in touch with people. Then I remember that people are actually pretty shit at keeping in contact with me too, which is simultaneously reassuring and depressing.

  67. robert says:

    i do not engage in twitter rows with people who have mental health problems says steve allen last night.idiot.

  68. Introvert says:

    I am:
    * single male,
    * isolated from family (who i speak to by email or on the phone every week or so – but usually about superficial things, not my feelings or emotions),
    * have no friends where I am living (though we exchange emails every couple of months)
    * mainly only speak to shop assistants, civil servants etc for obtaining goods/services.

    At first, I used to have similar feelings of sadness and emptiness as you. But after a while (and lots of timle thinking about it) I realised that the sadness and empitness wasn’t directly caused by the isolation or lack of friends. The principal cause of the sandness/empitness was the social/cultural dogma (thought every kid is indoctrinated with since birth) that says that it is normal/correct to be extroverted/have friends/ etc … and that it is abnormal/sad to be introverted, isolated and with few friends.

    I realised that I didn’t actually feel sad and empty – what I actually felt was guilt and disappointment that I was a failure for not meeting these social/cultural expectations. As soon I realised that these social/cultural expectations (in this, the 21st century) are the product of neoliberal, media-led bulls**t, I was liberated of that guilt/disappointment …. and as a consequence, that feeling I had misidentified as “sadness/emptiness” has disappeared.

    I love my own company – and I like being around other people from time to time. But I will not let idiotic social/cultural dogma make me feel guilty for being that way. The neoliberal authoritarianism in the age of marketing/branding (otherwise known as propaganda) is utter crap and it is important to think how they interact to make us confuse the real basis of our feelings.

    Would be interested in your thoughts ….

  69. Chris Brown says:

    Growing up I spent twenty years or more dealing with the paradox of wanting friends (groups seemed to have more fun, for a start) but finding that what others seemed to enjoy doing largely did nothing for me.
    It was later I found (a few) friends by being myself and finding the odd niche that suited me. The people I met there were far more my sort of folk, however odd we might have looked to “most people”. Turns out I’m seriously not “most people.”

  70. Matt says:

    Thank you for writing this, I empathise. About a year ago I had a mental breakdown. It later ended my marriage and caused a huge rift that will likely never be healed with my teen daughter. I left the family home and lost touch with most of my friends as they were my wife’s friends too. As such I don’t feel I have any close friends now, maybe one or two now who will always answer a message or ask how I am. But no one I could call a best friend. My best friend is my 7 year old son, who I thankfully see every weekend still. He helps fight my loneliness, but I don’t know how a 42 year old man goes about making friends again. I use social media, but that is only to have minimal human contact. I study through the OU and have tutorials every now and then, but I still find coming home from work to an empty house most days so hard. I try to socialise but don’t want to fall in the trap of going down the pub and becoming an old man who props up the bar. I’m wary of losing myself and am keen to find out how I might become part of a new social group, without spending a fortune on a new hobby. So, I feel your feels Iain. It’s a club were in, but not one you brag about holding membership of.

  71. Mark says:

    You hit the nail on the head with pretty much everything you’ve said, you could have been talking about me. Life can be such a bitch at times but I’m lucky to have only one person who loves me and I love her but I don’t know what would happen if she wasn’t there. I’m sorry for the wrongs I’ve done in my 49 years but I did at least one thing right. I constantly battle with that doubting, self loathing voice in my head then I realise that it’s me it’s who I am and it’ll never change. It’s good to talk even if nobody is listening. Keep up the good work on your show Iain.

  72. Luke says:

    It is both sad that so many people relate to this but reassuring that we are not the only ones that feel this way. I ran the Big Half Marathon on Sunday surrounded by 11000 others but still felt totally isolated. I know I could try to make friends but don’t see why anyone would want to so never try. I am lucky enough to be married but my wife is my only friend. She suggests it is down to the fact that I don’t tend to like people rather than being unlikable. Anyway, this felt quite cathartic to actually “say” it out loud, so thank you Iain. For being open about something that appears to be far more common than I realised.

  73. Gax says:

    Wow! Anyone who has the pleasure of meeting you and spend time with you is lucky because brutal honesty really is an admiral and attractive quality.

    I too struggle with having ‘natural’ conversation but ive realised its partly because i need to be around the right people to ease pressure of presenting myself as intelligent, witty and to have other people’s required banter. (I hate that word) When you ramble on or fluff up your words, forget your train of thought or literally have nothing to say and can have comfortable silence – be guided towards those people. Not the ones who require you to fit what their idea of a person should be. Thats exhausting.

    Love this article. Brave man x

  74. Nikki says:

    I could have written that. I feel exactly the same. The other comments show that there are so many of us in the same boat. Reassuring in one way but it just reinforces the sadness in another.

  75. Shez says:

    Now in a complete mess after reading this. Feel exactly the same, find it harder to make friends and be part of “the group”. People say get out there, find a hobby, meet people, but it’s just so difficult.

  76. MB says:

    It feels slightly odd to say that I loved this because I can imagine it was really hard for you to write and share. But I really admire you for doing it. I experience loneliness too, I think a lot of people do sadly.

    I like my own company too and I’m happier on my own most of the time. I only really have two friends. I had more when I was growing up and through school but I don’t ever really call people, not because I don’t want to speak to them but because I don’t know how to start a conversation. So overtime I think people started imagining that I don’t care and they just called me less and less until we drifted apart completely.

    Most of the time it’s fine. But when occasionally the shit hits the fan it does upset me that I don’t belong to a ‘pack’ that will rally around and help as best they can. Even if it’s just checking in on me. A handful of people is great but just not enough some times.

    I’m also at a loss about how to make new friends. I’m only 24 and even I feel too old. Plus I hate meeting new people and conversations terrify me. Doesn’t help that I’m on the spectrum either. So not a great mix when it comes to getting out there (Whatever that means).

    I hope it at least helped you to share. Writing this has definitely been cathartic for me, so thanks for starting a conversation about it 🙂
    Just a shame it’s such a tricky thing to solve.

  77. ST says:

    Dear Iain,

    I’m a 22 year old student, just stumbled across this piece you’ve kindly and bravely shared. I’ve read through some of the comments, and it saddens me that yourself and so many others are experiencing this loneliness. You seem like a lovely, down to earth, kind hearted family man who deserves happiness. The article has made me think about my future and approach towards friendships.

    I know you didn’t write this for sympathy etc, but I do just want to say that I hope you find happiness, have faith in yourself – it’s never too late to meet people and I’m sure you’re aware that there are many who would enjoy your company (whether you enjoy theirs is of course another matter).

    I do hope I one day bump into you in a pub!

    All the best x

  78. Faye says:

    I am a member of “the lonely club” and it’s not much fun.
    I didn’t have anyone to talk to after being off work with depression and losing contact with friends.
    I have, however, found support through Social Media – I’ve started to Tweet and blog my journey in the hope that my recovery can inspire others to feel better.
    If you want to get in touch, find me @FeelGoodGlasgow

  79. David says:

    Yep. 44, great kids. Well paid job but Lonely and perhaps unfulfilled much of the time. Much has changed in our 44 years, tech being the most obvious one which impacts on just about everything, but most importantly our friendships. Not sure what to do about it but will keep trying to find the answer. Good luck and thanks for writing this and reaching out.

  80. Lara says:

    I so get this. I have depression and the added burden of widowhood to contended with so I feel doubly fucked on the making friends angle. I’m hoping to start an art class in April but the lonliness still kills me.

  81. Dom Robinson says:

    I’m 45 and a few years ago I met up with a guy I used to work with, a few years earlier. He’s of similar age to me but goes out into clubs in town, and so we both go out once a month. We don’t care that we’re the oldest ones on the dancefloor, and when the room’s mostly pitch black, and the music playing is from the 80s and 90s, it feels like you’re young again, anyway. I have a sore head from the booze the next day, but that’s unavoidable 🙂

    PS. A number of years ago, I made a video to go with the call you made to Mike Dickin about the Millennium being a great idea. Hope you enjoy it. Your call still makes me laugh loads 🙂 x


  82. Laura says:

    Iain, I’ve never written before and in all respects i’m A new reader but I think I identify with some of your experiences. I struggle to maintain conversation never mind a friendship. I masque almost everything by exclaiming ‘I’m just weird’ but I do feel an inept loneliness. And at 33 and now working for myself, I can’t see a future where people come into my life. Like you said it’s just odd. Good luck and I know you don’t want an offer of friendship from anyone but I’m sure the 100 of us who have commented would not turn you away! Good Luck

  83. Neil says:

    Ay, you hit a chord alright. It’s as if the Western pursuit of convenience, materialism, “career” and total, obsessive connectivity have applied our minds – or perhaps placed too much demand on it – to thought processing that evolution has not engineered it for. I mean think about it, roll back 50 years, and things like hardship, sensory quiet time, uncomplicated love and relationships, need over want, geographically-limited current affairs, 2 TV Channels, focus on making “things”, real degrees, knowing your neighbours, community etc etc. These things have gone, for the most part.

    And I’m going to be frank. Iain, I thought you were a neg-head depressive, because that’s how you’be been portrayed. Worse, thats’ how we’re all played by media. We no longer do vanilla or normal; everything needs to be accentuated or edited to the worst / best parts. Your honesty kind of stopped me in my tracks. “Shit. I feel like he feels”. Differenc being, I don’t have a public persona and my life isn’t edited to the friends I love. But truth is, I got 99 problems and the bitch is 1 (sorry ladies! Play on a song :0) ).

    So let me be honest. The only 2 things that pull me away from that cold, silent place (kind of like the prism the baddies in Superman get imprisoned in before being sent into space) are those moments of laughter with friends and family or ashamedly, when I discover either people feel like I do or someone I thought had the perfect life comes out of the “Loneliness” closet.

    So what we gonna do about it? I wanna do something! Let’s all club together and start a movement that’s bigger than Happy Clappy club. Maybe when they see we’re a serious movement, many in the HCC will break rank and join us. I’m serious, especially as a couple of good friends from the HCC came out only these past 2 weeks.

    Let’s do something about it!

  84. Blackcurrant Moon says:

    I know these feelings and I think I got sober roughly the same time as yourself maybe a little before 13-14 years ago. I met my wife inherited some wonderful step children but left behind a host of people I could no longer be around. I have zero real life friends now I can share my interests with and social media has just become sound byte driven, aggressive and unreal and probably always has been. Forums seem to be dead these days, chat rooms empty or full of anger. Don’t get me wrong I spend good time with my wife she’s my best friend but we have different interests which is fine. I’m a carer and I listen and make music to keep busy at down times or listen to podcasts, catch up on your show on a semi-regular basis but I just feel lost at sea sometimes. I’d just like to talk to someone who knows what I’m talking about when I go deep into the subjects and art that keeps me sane. There’s so much bad shiz about these days and to steal your patter some ‘bad vibes’ going on daily. So I guess I’m just saying like some others I relate entirely and at 42 I feel the world has changed massively and sometimes it’s hard to concentrate on the positive stuff of which there is loads but yep being lonely it doesn’t matter if you are in a city full of people or in the middle of nowhere it’s real for a lot of us. I’m waffling now but it’s a specific kind of weird coming up through the 90’s and being middle aged with few acquaintances in this decade/moment.

  85. Kay Dickinson says:

    I am lonely. Much of it is by choice. I crave friends but cannot keep them. I inadvertently push people away with my social awkwardness, my lack of conversational skills and my inability to make small talk, remember faces, fake interest in things that don’t interest me.

    Very recently I came across descriptions of women who have Aspergers but don’t show it in the same way as men because they are able to mimic “normal” behaviour and cover up for their lack of social skills. I took this test – it’s long but worth persisting with as it may explain that your brain isn’t wrong, but just wired differently to most people. With understanding that you’re not abnormal, a lot of things fall into place.


  86. Jackie O'Reilly says:

    I use to feel exactly like this. I would occasionally write this almost exactly the same on Facebook statuses. I don’t feel like this anymore, and I’ve say a while trying to find the words to explain ‘why’, …how did that change for me? … If you are like me, you won’t want to read a long reply, so shall do my best to keep this short. I’m a full time carer for my two sons who just happen to on the autism spectrum. I have learnt a great deal from them. They each have limited but very close friends, and these amazing young friends all have one thing in common; they accept my son’s entirely, they always include them in invites but always accept that’s it’s ok to say “No thanks” without judgement…when my boys do agree to go out with them, these wonderful friends to our of their way to ensure they are collected and returned home safe and made to feel at ease, and that they can leave at any time they wish without feeling awkward. Watching them, made me realise that it wasn’t that I felt lonely for company, or left out of social events, … I just wanted people who wanted to get close to me, be it friends or aquaintances, to understand me, and accept me unconditionally… Friendly with everyone, best friends with no one.. A friend who will listen without judgement, but socially accept I’m a bit of a poppy friend, but it’s ok to be that way. It works. Like my sons, I have a small circle of ‘friends’, that I rarely see, but are there, and allow me to be in control of how and when I’m social…contact us mainly by text cause I hate the phone (it represents ‘business ‘, and hours of battling for support for my boys .. a lot of years and desperate pleas). I am able to be more productive as a mother and carer, and my stress levels have dropped.. The pressure is off. It was never a social life I sought, it was acceptance.

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