Updated August 31, 2022
by Clinton Power, psychotherapist and Gay Therapy Center guest blogger
Unfortunately, feelings of loneliness and isolation are really common in the gay community despite the focus on love and relationships. Sometimes you might struggle with making connections at all, and other times you may feel “alone in a crowded room” because it’s so hard to forge true connections.
Let’s explore how you can constructively deal with these feelings and share a life you’re excited to live!
Why do gay men get lonely?
Loneliness is, in some ways, part of the gay experience. Since everyone is assumed to be heterosexual, we all start out in the closet. The stress of not being out is emotional more than rational, but it takes its toll. Even before you came out to yourself, on some level you might have known you couldn’t fulfill expectations of a heterosexual life. You may have grown up feeling different and separated from the majority.
After you’re out of the closet, things don’t necessarily improve right away. No matter who you are, as a gay man you’ve experienced homophobia (whether active or passive) from family, friends, and/or the culture at large. This is called “minority stress” and can be more harmful than many people give it credit for.
Some of the problem comes from the culture of gay men themselves. Gay men can often buy into the negative aspects of masculinity. Trying to be emotionally detached—and succeeding, too—can cause psychological harm.
Many gay men belong to other groups that are discriminated against even within the gay community, magnifying your minority stress and contributing to negative body image. LGBTQ+ spaces like clubs (and more recently, hookup apps like Grindr) are not designed for the creation of close relationships, leading to many encounters where you might have to be focused on the physical instead of the emotional.
Altogether, these factors mean that gay men—despite the chosen-family attitude of the LGBTQ+ community—often feel lonely and isolated. How do you learn to deal with these unhappy feelings?
How to Overcome Feelings of Loneliness as a Gay Man
Feelings of loneliness and isolation can lead to depression, anxiety, self-harm, substance abuse, and suicide, so it’s very important to make genuine connections as a gay man.
Substance abuse is, in particular, a common issue because many people feel that alcohol and/or “uppers” like cocaine or Crystal Meth give you the edge in social situations that allow you to interact more freely and with less inhibition. Using substances for reasons like these can create a dependence that leaks over into other parts of your day-to-day life.
Now that you know you’re not alone in your loneliness, here are things you can do to overcome these feelings.
Five Practical Tips You Can Use to Alleviate Loneliness
- Admit to yourself and others how lonely you’re feeling. Being open and honest about your emotions frees you from some of their weight, and reaching out to others can help you form more intimate relationships. Knowing and seeing that people care about you can make all the difference!
- Volunteer, join clubs or sporting groups that meet regularly. It’s much easier to make friends with people who you see on a regular basis than to make friends with people you see once at a club. Research shows that people who start volunteering become happier over time.
- Get closer with your acquaintances. Many people don’t reach out to possible friends that they already know. This takes little effort and you can deepen your connection in less time because you have a pre-existing relationship.
- Get help for substance use. Using might make you feel more confident in the short term, but in the long run it will just make you feel lonelier and more isolated. If you’re abusing alcohol or drugs, seek out support groups like AA or NA, which often have LGBTQ meetings in most major cities.
- Seek out a gay-affirmative therapist. While there can be some stigma about seeing a therapist, including in the gay community, therapists exist to help you find creative solutions that work. You will learn to deal with your existing feelings of loneliness, as well as increase your confidence and self-esteem. Group therapy is also a good option where you can connect with other gay men and learn more about yourself and how you relate to other people.
Take a small step today and enroll in The Gay Therapy Center’s free online course 30 Days to Feeling Good About You! It can help you build a better relationship with yourself and others.
Believe it or not, there are always going to be people out there who would love to create a true friendship with you. Use some of these practical tips to find new friends and reduce your loneliness and isolation once and for all.
Are you an LGBTQ+ person struggling with loneliness?
Don’t let feelings of loneliness consume you. If you’re ready to take the next step to getting help, schedule a free 15 minute call to discuss your therapy needs and be matched with an LGBTQ+ therapist.
About the Author:
Clinton Power is a psychotherapist who specializes in working with LGBTIQ people in Sydney, Australia. In 2003, Clinton founded Sydney Gay Counselling to support the mental health and wellbeing of LGBTIQ singles and couples.
Clinton’s book 31 Days to Build a Better Relationship has been downloaded over 5,000 times and is available for Kindle on Amazon. Visit his blog to sign up for his free report, 10 Tips for Moving Out of Relationship Pain, or follow Clinton on Facebook.
I am 57 years old and gay man,
I have never found or met another gay man and had s relationships, is this happening to many other gay men?
Yea. Im in the same boat. Im 59 came out in my early 40s. Had one 8 month relationship with the love of my life. Lost him to a hot 23 year old with nothing else to offer but his hot body. Idk where to even look. Grindr is a joke. No good guys there.
Hi Aaron. I am also 59 and came out only three years ago! Was married to a very nice woman, but…
email me if you want to chat.
Seen this post while battling with loneliness. Trying to connect with people with same situation. What I am thinking now is to connect with them to build good friendship as we continue our journey. At least, it may make us happy once in a while.
I’m 48, and so lost. Back in my 20’s I was doing drugs just to be social like the rest. When you saw me I was outgoing. Now I’m still outgoing, but to meet others I chock. I’m lost getting all the help I can get it does help. When I’m alone I think back to the past that’s all I know of. Meeting people that I can connect with would be wonderful.
I am 59, and still in the closet and married to a good woman but she has no idea.
I have fantasies of me.
Living a lie is horrible and trying to act straight is no fun. Are there anyone in this situation like me?
I feel same
I’m 32 and I’m feeling the same way. I just haven’t found that group of ppl that I feel where I can authentically be myself and belong.
Same here as well, I am 57, came out at 32, thought I had a relationship but looking back it’s was a joke, I was fooling myself. I’m thinking a lot is hopless, especially at 57.
m 58 and feel totally lost. I was one of the "pretty boys" back in the 80s and 90
s. I never had a problem picking up someone. Now, my sex life has flatlined. Im depressed. it hit me like a ton of bricks. You
re enjoying life and all the attention, then all of a sudden you are an "old queen ". It happens so fast. I guess its something we all have to go through. As hard as I try to focus on other things, the lack of “feeling attractive” takes it`s toll.
Yes, yes, I feel your pain. I wasn’t promiscuous at all, but I really miss all the men that oogle over me and try to pick me up. At times, back then, I would hate it, but now. Oh, now I would give anything for that. again. Started gay sex at 15, and held a really good body through my mid 50’s. But now, well……..
61 here, and same experience in the 70s and 80s, so even before safe sex… I learned not to do too dramatic, it is simply inherent to all human life, it is suffering and everything is impermanent. I cherish that I had the honor of being part of this and have all these experiences. I feel good about it and can even laugh about the fact that nowadays I can enter a gay bathhouse as if I am the invisible man while in the late 70-s I everyone was chasing me 🙂 Be happy that you were attractive in the first place, many people are not or do not have the liberty of enjoying it.
I’ve noticed that we men in our mid to late fifties have this problem. Ima also in the same boat. I believe it stems from the fact that many of us were very popular when we were younger, and yet somehow me ended up alone. Not just romantically but also in general. Our friends we once had go off and get married and have kids, then grandkids. Once the kids begin, they belong to a different married world and drift out of our lives.
50 something, been taken by Colombian immegration fraudster. We gay old folk are so unprepared for sexless stage in life.
I’m 36 and I feel so lonely and isolated. I was fortunate to have married when I was 28 but divorced by 33. I have always felt socially detatched from everyone else and this isn’t helped by the fact that I have no family that really care about me anymore. I wish I could overcome this and live a happy life but it’s making me so unhappy. This article was interesting but it gave me no real hope because I don’t live in a big town with big groups and financially it’s not viable for me to move. I’m addicted at this point to alcohol. I feel hopeless.
This sounds really painful and I am sorry you are going through this difficult time. I do hope you’ll reach out for local treatment for addiction. That’s a really good place to start and you will meet many other people dealing with isolation. They may not be gay people in your small community but you will see yourself reflected in their stories and that will be an important step in your healing process.
Hello, Sorry to hear you’re feeling this way. It’s been 6 months since I ended a 14 year relationship and feel very lonely right now.
I’m 58 . I don’t know what’s like to love and be loved. I have never been lonelier in my life. I’m closeted but I don’t pretend I’m someone I’m not . I simply exist. I don’t like gay clubs, so I never meet anyone. It came to a point where I don’t believe in love, it seems like an utopia people spend their lives in search for.
This seems to imply that we all have substance abuse issues to get over before we can be worthy of not being alone.
I came out at 49. I knew I was gay my entire life, but grew up in a very religious environment as a Jehovahś Witness. I was constantly told homosexuality was an abomination. I denied who I was for years until I came to the point where I either had to live my true life or end my life. Luckily, my mother was very supportive as well as my sister. I am not out to most of my family as I know I would not be accepted. I am extremely lonely and just want to meet someone who wants a relationship and not just a quick hook up. I want love and companionship, which does not seem to be the norm in the gay community. I have lots of friends, but at the end of the day, I am alone. I want someone to share my life with and someone to love.
Hi I’m so sorry for all of us going through all of this
I came out at 18, and am now 52. I have never had a relationship at all. Of course I have been extremely lonely.However, I would say that over the last few years I have been able to make peace with the fact I will always be single. I am an Introvert, and perhaps becoming more so as I age.The thought of dating appalls me tbh, and although I do still feel lonely at times, it’s at a level I can cope with.
Are there any groups for men in sexless relationships?
I have never had any trouble finding sex, in fact it is frustrating how much easier it is to find sex then to find someone who wants to make a genuine human connection. These days, so many gay men are in good, long relationships and even getting married. How they do it, I have no idea. My entire life, I have had difficulty even getting a date where someone wants anything other than sex. I am 40 now. I don’t know any other gay men. I see only emptiness in my future.
I am at this exact point in my life. It’s hit me very hard actually since I just turned 40. It’s like my world is turned upside down and just lonely and don’t know where to go from here. Although i guess we aren’t as alone as we think because of this site.
Please feel free to email if anyone would like to chat more in depth.
Totally agree. 50 hit me like a brick wall.
I totally agree, I’ll be 51 in a few days and have no close friends. Moved from Alabama back to Oklahoma, leaving my church and good friends. Then Covid hit. I’m also amazed how easy it is to find sex but can’t find anyone to chat with, watch a movie and be normal.
Just browsing- I can echo what ive read except for alcohol/substance abuse. It feels good simply to write.
Very helpful, i guess were not alone
I came out at the age of 23 and was very popular then. I found my long term partner about 4 years later and we were together for 28 years until he died of prostate cancer at 70. In all the time we were together he never stopped telling me that he loved me. I have been on my own for close on 18 years and although I have a number of friends I feel very lonely and unloved. The worst is trying to contact them by phone and being faced with the “kiss of death” ansafone. I have to constantly make the effort to contact people. It’s like pushing a wheel that stops when I stop pushing it or get too exhausted to continue. I recently made close friends with a 30 year old guy who is very caring and physical in a way I haven’t known for years but he lives a fair way from me and is not well off at all, with all the burdens of a dysfunctional family. He is single and has no job at present despite being well qualified; and he has a room in a house. I go up to see him quite often. Incidentally, I am 72.
Well my life has been a complete disaster, came out toy family and was told i am going to hell. The found out I was adopted by a father, always knew there was a difference shown, just didn’t know why until then. Shot in the head for being gay, still have bullet in my brain. You name it and it has happened to me. I have very low self esteem, depression, loneliness… Don’t know what else to do…I am in a relationship but not happy. I am at my lowest. Just praying that something can give me a positive response as to what to do. To reverse my feelings. Raised in the bible belt. North Carolina. I hate my life….
Perhaps try to analyse and ruminate less on your unhappiness. New thoughts will be a new life. Perhaps try to look beyond yourself (I know it’s difficult, I am also very focused on my inner world, my feelings and my pain). Try to find a purpuse to be helpful to others. Volunteering, helping people, perhaps some gardening, some cooking and than share the food :), good books, good music. And cut all social media (facebook, Twitter, insta), it gives people so much depression, without noticing it. If you are somehow believer, try to pray to get out of this unhappiness and to be useful…
dm me jon. you will be fine. i think you can dm me here.
I’m still in the closet and about to turn 22. You all seem much older than me and I’m going through hell. I’m still a virgin and feel like I’m never going to find someone… because I’m not even trying. I don’t want to be gay. Any advice for coping?
I already wrote to someone (above in the comment section). Perhaps try a new life if you don’t really like yours. That could mean new habits and new thoughts. And also less thinking and ruminating your unhappiness. Try to think of others more, to imagine how you could be helping and useful.
In my case, it helps me to speak loudly with myself from time to time (not crazy), to encourage, to pray, to walk in nature, do some gardening, make small gifts and surprises to others. And stay out of social media as much as you can (I deactivated my facebook acount 7 years ago). Social media makes people depressed, they keep comparing to others, they become tense and hateful…
DM me mate. I am in a similar position from a very religious family AND community. Be good to chat
Sometimes find things difficult. At present buying Christmas presents eg alone.
Hi I am a 17 year old boy in Africa dealing with the same problem I haven’t yet come out of the closet to everybody but to my gay friends only. I am single and I experiance loneliness most of the time and i always ask my self the same question alot of people are going through right now of[AM GOING TO BE LONELY TILL I GET OLD ] living in Africa were LGBTQ rules are not allowed it’s tough and also hard to find a gay boyfriend cause alot of us are hiding here, its hard cause here we dont have gay bars or the Gay community. so some say we should have sex with someone that way will find someone who really wants a relationship not just a hook up but that leaves me hanging cause it’s like they are telling us to be offering our bodies to people. I AM NOT SAYING NO TO SEX. i am a virgin ready to take the next step but i dont want it to be in this kind of situation. PLEASE WHAT SHOULD I DO TO STOP FEELING LONELY
Hi- I am 47 and have found trying to date men a really depressing experince. I am mixed race Agentine and Afghan, Brit born and have had to face alot of issues within the gay apps when trying to find guys to connect deeply with. The majorit seem to only be able to operate through a hyper sexual lens and if you are not stunning, white, super masculine, preferably smooth and under 31, then you are nothing. You are seen as invisible and this has got worse and worse as i have got oldr.
I relied on my good looks up to around 40 and they have naturally started to lose there striking features.
I dread guys asking me to show face on snap and my body because it does not meet that perfection standard, although, i am still in good shape for 47. Snap and other apps are not your friend as you age! I am not out as Bi and i think it will stay this way now. The blocking, ghosting, rejection, straight up telling you you are not super hot etc eventually wrecks your self esteem. Personality and kindness do not seem to count for anything with men looking for men. I was lucky enough to meet guys up to age say 42, but past 2 years has become harder and i feel i will be lonely now as it probably only gets harder. I am a loving caring guy and always though i would end up with someone i love and connect deeply with, not like this. The other issue is my own libido has dropped shaprly and it was a main driver before and helped me connect with guys. Without sounding crass, i can’t get it up like i did at 21 and again, you are out of the game if you can’t do that with guys as everything revolves around sex. DM me if you want a nice chat. Thanks people.
i wish there was a topic here or somewhere ‘ losing your good looks as you age as a gay or bi man and becoming invisible’
i am in my 40s in similar place. Feel very very lonely. DM if you want to chat
I am 19 and I feel a void inside me. I understand that being gay isn’t a choice, but that makes it 10x harder. My sexuality is the one thing in my life I truely want to control and I’m not able to. I don’t want to lie to a poor woman about who I am, then having to own up because I was pretending all along. I feel desperate, I don’t fit in when my friends talk about their girlfriends. I am afraid of growing old lonely, sexually frustrated and frustrated with life in general. I’m doing so much, working so hard and yet I feel like I’m failing the one thing I’m supposed to do on this planet. I am most afraid of not having children, I feel like I’ll be the end of what was supposed to be a chain.
It seems like I’m reading a bit of my life in every comment. Just about to turn 59 and I’ve never felt this miserable. I have no idea what it’s like to love and to be loved. Just a lonely life masqueraded by whatever was going on . Now, it feels like my life is over , and if I never had anyone while younger and still filled with dreams , now it feels totally impossible.
I also share these same feelings that many of my fellow gay me. In their fifties have. All my friends I once had followed the “path”. They got married, had kids, and some are even grandparents. We single people can’t participate in their new world. There’s no place for us. Same with siblings and cousins we were once close to. I look around now and ask myself: if I were to just suffer to vanish, would anyone really care? I know it sounds dramatic, but I truly mean it. Parents are dead. Sister has her own family. Same with cousins. Friends are married and with their own lives. Pets help a great deal, but it’s not quite the same thing. Pets give us purpose, but it’s not the same. It’s a feeling of knowing there are people who care, but have their own lives and do their own thing, with their own families. This all just hit me today; like a hammer hitting a nail. It’s as if I’ve become obsolete to the world.