Many folks in the LGBTQ community grow up internalizing messages from our culture that being queer is bad and there is something deeply wrong with them. For this and a number of other reasons, loneliness is very common in the gay community. In this video, Gay Therapy Center Director Adam Blum shares some ways to deal with that sense of isolation and tips for making friends as an adult.
Exploring Gay Loneliness
You’ve heard it before: life can be a lonely place. LGBTQ people, especially, deal with loneliness.
I think LGBTQ+ folks sometimes have a blockage to finding friendships, or even a partner, because we had discomfort in expressing our true selves. Expressing who you really are, is what gives other people something to hold on to, to communicate with, to connect to.
But it can be hard to express who you are, if you have internalized those crazy messages that the culture gives you, that somehow being LGBTQ is wrong, immoral, gross, or disgusting.
A lot of us have internalized that message. I think at an unconscious level, some of us feel like we’re not even a member of the human race, like we’re a different species, and that we deserve this loneliness.
If we have taken in those messages, then we need to recover from what has become an abusive relationship with ourselves.
For most of us, the only thing that was ever wrong with us was the belief that something was wrong with us.
Self hatred is easier to learn than unlearn. Of course, it can be unlearned, that’s what therapy is about. But you can also do it through reading and through self exploration.
You don’t have to fully love yourself, though, in order to manage loneliness, make friends or even to find a partner. It does take some time. I think sometimes we think it’s going to be easy to make friends. And the truth is, it takes a lot of time. You have to be strategic about it.
Here’s a gay therapist’s number one tip for finding friends to deal with loneliness:
My number one tip to fight loneliness is to join a group that meets weekly. There’s something magic that happens when you see the same people over and over again. It builds safety. The people who I think have some of the best social lives are the people who join groups like AA that meet weekly, and talk about personal feelings.
But you don’t have to join AA, you could join an LGBTQ social group, or games group, or political group, or arts group, or spiritual group. There’s tons of them online, just Google it. There’s Meetup.com, which usually has quite a few LGBTQ groups in every city. Joining groups does take time, and it is a pain.
However, people who join groups tend to be the people who can commit to things and those are the people that make good friends and good partners.
Research has been done on the top five regrets of people who are dying. The number one is “I wish I’d spent more time with my friends.” Again, you may feel like you’re too busy to do this. However, the number two regret of the dying is ‘I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.”