The Friendship Doctor

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Fighting Loneliness in Small Steps

What are some of the ways you keep loneliness at bay?

Recently, a reader named Peggy sent The Friendship Doctor an email that explains how she combats feelings of loneliness through some of her interests. She challenges other readers to identify the positive ways they keep busy, get out, and connect with friends. 

You can read her letter (lightly edited) below. What are some ways you keep loneliness at bay? 

Dear Irene,

I am 64 (almost 65) and I read about some of the messy situations of others in my age group. It seems there are a lot of people here who are depressed and say that others are mean to them. 

I have lived through the death of my son at age 27, a revolution in Iran, and the alienation of my daughter. I created a new family, now grown up. My son is a lawyer and I would like to see him more but he has his own life. I don't want him to be tied to me. I have created me own life through the years and have very few friends but that's okay since I have hobbies. I knit, and have two dogs and four lovebirds.   

Now the way I see it is I have two choices. I can do nothing or I can get on something like this and make new friends. I suffer from depression but I take my meds so that doesn't get the better of me. My girlfriend and I clip coupons out of the paper so we can have lunch together, and we go to thrift shops and sometimes go on $25 a day trips on the bus.

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I get scared, too, but I remember it's only a feeling and I can change it. We all know what we feel and try to empathize but that only keeps you in the same place. So why not find out what positive things each person likes to do, let them post pics, and get some real positive feedback? I knit and live in Maryland. Who else does? What else do they do?

Peggy

Irene S. Levine, Ph.D., is a psychologist and professor of psychiatry at the NYU School of Medicine. Her latest book is Best Friends Forever: Surviving a Breakup With Your Best Friend.

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