QUESTION: Help! I need advice on how to cope with my lack of dating.
I am a 47-year-old straight man who has never had a girlfriend or been in a relationship. I have been a failure at dating women my entire life. I have tried online dating websites. Most of the women reject me. I only approach women who are around my own age, yet I get rejected anyway. I typically have to send out emails to over 400 women in order to get one response. Even when I get a response, there is no guarantee that the women show up on the dates I schedule because the websites have many bullies, frauds, pranksters and rip-off artists from overseas.
My lack of dating has caused severe depression in my life. Several times I was too depressed to eat and developed an eating disorder and suffered from minor malnutrition. I also have developed a heart condition as well.
Please give me advice on how to cope with my depression due to lack of dating. I already recognize that no woman will ever be attracted to me; I just need advice on how to not be depressed or at least how to overcome my loneliness.
I am not angry with women or society; I am not a desperate pervert, either. My depression is not about finding a woman for sex. My depression is because I wish I could be around somebody I could like and that person would like me back.
~ Lonely Guy
Dear Lonely Guy,
I hear you. It can be very painful when the things we want so deeply have eluded us. It affects us on all levels; physical, emotional and spiritual. First, I would encourage you to seek professional help for your depression as well as your physical health (if you haven’t already). It is beyond the scope of this column to provide medical advice. However, I can offer you suggestions to alleviate your loneliness. I tell people who have tried dating apps to join clubs or groups that interest them instead. First, it gets you out of the house doing something you enjoy. Secondly, you’ll be around other people who have similar hobbies. You’re much more likely to connect with someone who enjoys the same things as you.
There are countless places to meet like-minded people. Meet-up, community colleges, Groupon and Living Social are great places to find groups and classes. There is literally something for everyone out there.
Another suggestion is to volunteer. There are proven health benefits to volunteering and being of service and there are no shortages of organizations that need support. Stepping outside of our own “problems” to help someone else benefits everyone. Plus it makes us feel better and can give us a sense of purpose, feeling less isolated.
Lastly, I would encourage you create a spiritual practice. It doesn’t matter what religion you practice – if any. To be spiritual is to connect with something bigger than ourselves and can take many forms.
David Lawrence Preston said, “Our spirituality creates our world because our lives are a reflection of whatever we hold in our minds.” You must change how you think about yourself and believe in your worthiness and desirability. Take a sheet of paper and write out all the things you like about yourself. Read it every day! Then, before you go to bed, write down everything you’re grateful for in your life. Read that every day! And keep adding to both lists!
My spiritual practice includes reading uplifting books and articles. One of my favorites is “The Little Book of Spirituality – Guidance for a Better Life.” It’s filled with quotes, insights, and suggestions to help you enrich your own spiritual journey.
You are worthy! You are loved! Once you truly embody this you will have what you are seeking!
Rev. Dr. Ellen Faith Contente
Dear Lonely Guy,
I was deeply moved by your letter. Please know that my response is given out of caring, compassion and concern for you and your situation.
Your letter lays out perfectly why you feel you cannot have the good you desire for yourself. The first thing we must do is show you why that is not the case. In doing so you will be open to the very real possibility of having and experiencing the friendship, companionship, mutual love and human value from another that you desire.
“How so?” you may ask, especially in light of the years of experience you have had to the contrary, which you take as proof of it not being possible.
Jesus once said, “It is done unto you as you believe” (Matt. 8:13). To put it another way, life is a mirror that reflects back to us what we think into it, good or bad, positive or negative. Beliefs are nothing but thoughts. What we think returns to us manifested by life. This is true even with what we think or believe about ourselves; be it good or bad, self-limiting or self-expanding. The choice you are confronted with making is to bring about the good you desire. You do this by giving up the self-limiting thoughts about yourself and choosing self-expanding thoughts.
So how do you do this? There are several ways. First of all, watch your internal self-talk – what you say about yourself to yourself. Drop the negative self-judgment and criticism. The Universe does listen and will reflect back to you what you think about yourself whether it is good or bad. It responds to any thought without judgment or discrimination. When you find yourself internally abusing yourself, stop and say: “No, this is not my reality.” Replace it with what you wish your reality to be. Here simple affirmations are helpful. In your case you can say this simple affirmation: “I am loved, cherished and respected. People treat me with goodness, kindness and affection. I have wonderful, caring and trusted friends who desire and enjoy my company, and I am the same to them.” Repeat this whenever you feel challenged with self-negativity. It may seem awkward at first because you may feel it is so contrary to your past experience. But persist, and watch the miracles and the change begin to happen. As Ernest Holmes, the founder of the Science of Mind, once said (and I paraphrase): In order to change your life, you need only to change your thinking. Yes, it really is that simple.
Secondly, get active. Loneliness is a part of the human condition and today it is greatly exacerbated by technology. If we wanted to, we’d never have to leave our house and see anybody. Thanks to the Internet, anything we desire can be dropped off at our door. But, as your letter painfully points out, we all need that deep human connection of being with people and valued. So I would encourage you to get active by joining a church, a fraternal organization or a volunteer organization. For example, Meals on Wheels is a great way to meet and help people. There are millions of lonely seniors who would love to tell their stories and hear your story. That is just one of many options open to you.
Finally, I would encourage you to read Dale Carnegie’s book, “How to Win Friends and Influence People.” I read it years ago and the lessons have proven helpful, enriching, enjoyable and invaluable in building positive, life-affirming relationships with others.
I wish you every happiness and success.
Anthony P. Kelson, Religious Science Practitioner
QUESTION: I’m in my 80s and was a child during the Great Depression. Our family was poor, but we made it without starving or having to leave our home. I’ve lived through several wars and natural disasters, but I’ve never seen so many at one time as is happening worldwide now. Add to these the fear of terrorism.
I was raised Christian and I believe in God, but I don’t attend church regularly although I do pray daily for my family, friends and the world. I’m seriously concerned about my grandchildren who are growing up in a violent world.
My question: Is God angry with us? Is He trying to wake people up to living more peacefully and being nicer to each other?
~ Bewildered Grandfather
Dear Bewildered Grandfather,
It is true that what we are seeing has the appearance that the world we live in is coming apart at the seams and even where the world looks a bit more together it shows every sign that it is fraying around the edges. Living in such a world takes its toll on us and on our sense of wellbeing. The stresses stack up, one on top of another, and we react with fear and anxiety about what tomorrow may hold for us.
And you are also correct in noticing that there seem to be more situations happening around the world, but I am not sure that is true. One of the differences is that the media is showing us more and more stories about the violence, disasters, terrorism, hate, and struggle, when not long ago those same stories would not even be something of which we had awareness. And with the pursuit of ratings by those media companies, the bigger the disaster the better it leads the broadcast.
Things such as the situations of today have been happening throughout history, but the one thing we can count on is God. I don’t believe that God is angry with us (except with a righteous anger when we are continuing to become more and more disconnected from one another). God wants us to come together in the love and hope that we have seen through Jesus, and to know that in all situations God is with us. Each moment of violence or disaster breaks us out of our cocoons for a little while and then quickly we retreat back into the small lives we have constructed.
God is calling us to reach out to one another in the midst of the storm. God is not bringing these situations upon us; we are creating the reality we are living in through separation and division.
Let us listen to the God who calls us through the Spirit to be comforted in our afflictions and strengthened in our pursuit of justice and peace (and then maybe the world will settle down a bit).
Comforted in the storms of life,
Pastor Scott Peterson
Dear Bewildered Grandfather,
Thanks for raising this important question. I’m sure you are not the only person who is wondering about what God’s will is for us in a time such as this.
The Bible is filled with real stories of God’s people who lived through life crisis, struggles and sufferings. The Bible actually makes it quite clear that faith in Jesus Christ does not guarantee a trouble-free life, but only a perfect eternity.
Some of the natural disasters and human created disasters I do think are due to choices that we had made throughout the human history with our free will. Now, God can get angry at our sins and evil in the world. In the Old Testament, God’s anger was provoked by sin. God’s wrath was displayed when Israelites took gold to make themselves a god in the form of a golden calf to worship (Exodus 32). God was angry toward the wickedness of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 6-9). The anger of God is a reminder of the holiness of God and a measure of God’s hatred of sin.
But even His holy anger was a sign of his love. God is love. If He didn’t love, he wouldn’t care. As a loving grandfather, you understand your love toward your children and grandchildren as well as feeling angry when they do foolish things that you know will lead to harm to themselves. Even though God’s anger is vastly different from the anger of human, we get a glimpse of his love through a good parent’s love.
To deal with humanity’s sins, God sent Jesus Christ, His one and only Son, the proof of God’s love toward all people. God sent his Son to forgive and save all people.
The natural and human created disasters are a part of what your grandchildren will have to live with and live through, but not alone. God, who loves them, will help and guide them through if they choose to let Him. God’s love is greater than any of the natural and human created disasters. God’s love is stronger than our sufferings. Because God is God and we are not, we ought to take an attitude of what can we do to help to make this broken world a better place to live for all people.
We can surely pray. We can help preserve the Earth. We can volunteer to lend helping hands. We can give funds to relief crisis. We can do so much more.
I sure do believe our sufferings and pains can be an opportunity for all people to return to God, and to lead the best life possible life on Earth.
We have a choice. We have freedom. We have the right to choose, even the right to choose to do the wrong things or to do nothing. God in His ultimate love even gave us the right to choose not to return to Him.
I sure do hope more people would choose to return to Him and live in peace with each other to help make this world a better place for our future generations.
Rev. Elaine Cho