A lonely woman’s struggles

Here is a tough story from a straight woman who struggles with dating, friendship and mental health. She is still pushing forward, and has asked her therapist to look at this site and our list of reasons for dating difficulties. What else do you think she might do to help herself?


I feel inadequate, ashamed and lonely. I just turned 50 (female) and have never been in a relationship. I feel my window of opportunity has long passed me by.

I have tried everything but online dating and (sexual) surrogacy. I think surrogacy is more difficult to find for women because there aren’t many men who are certified and it’s expensive. I don’t know if I would feel more or less ashamed if I went through with it.

I have never tried online dating. I don’t feel you can get a sense of someone online. I have met ‘friends’ through the internet. We get along fine online but in person it’s a mess. It’s hard enough to pursue platonic friends online. If I can’t achieve that, then my nerves about an actual date are off the chart. I will actually become physically ill when I think about online dating. I’m not strong enough for it. Dating sites also ask about sex and how important it is to you. I’ve never kissed anyone so I don’t know.

I stopped telling my friends when I was 32 because they would abandon me. I don’t really have friends because I can’t relate to anyone.

I first asked someone out when I was 17. No go (obviously). I was bullied as a kid and I cannot tolerate being teased.

I’ve been going to therapy on and off for 28 years. No one has ever treated anyone like me and it’s all the more isolating. Therapists aren’t trained in this. They can’t find anything specifically wrong with me so I don’t know what to address. I cannot take antidepressants. They make me worse. I’m depressed and have anxiety with good reason.

It does make me suicidal and I know that is unattractive but I don’t go around telling people. Weddings send me into a suicidal spiral. Now I have a nephew who is getting married at 23 and the pain is so deep.

I hate myself. I understand you’re supposed to like yourself before anyone else will, but how much are we supposed to try, and how long should we seek help without success? I have no answers. I’m looking to this website to try to find resources to resolve this.

Anonymous Contributor

This post is written by an anonymous contributor to Connect2Hope.net.

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. It has always been said that there is someone out there for everyone so don’t give up hope. But appreciate that relationships may involve a lot of work to get over what might be called natural difficulties. The most difficult part though may be to start a relationship in the first place so all available resources should be tried, and you are clearly aware of what they may be. Pursuing hobbies and interests socially often works. In a nutshell put yourself out there and try to be interesting, attractive and approachable.

  2. Thanks, but I’ve been doing that for my entire life. I can sit in a therapists office and they do not believe me. I am not beautiful, nor am I hideous (although I feel it.) I actually went to a counselor 18 years ago that my sister-in-law referred me to, so, she had an idea of my situation. She saw me and exclaimed ”you’re cute. I didn’t think you would be. Why haven’t you dated?’ if I knew, I would not have been there. So that was a long time ago and obviously nothing has changed. It’s only gotten worse with time. This type of situation needs to be addressed in classes for therapists.

  3. “Therapists aren’t trained in this. They can’t find anything specifically wrong with me”
    ”you’re cute. I didn’t think you would be. Why haven’t you dated?”

    This. I’ve just been through this with 2 therapists.

    It seems to me that most therapists take many things for granted. I feel like their job is to bring people closer to the norm. When someone is atypical beyond some threshold, they are seen as mentally ill. So, making someone more typical is the treatment, in many cases, I guess. I feel like I’m atypical enough to feel isolated, but not atypical enough to be diagnosed with something. I’m thinking that I may be Aspergers… but it’s not clear I am, and it’s not clear whether having a diagnostic would really help.

    I’ve recently been through a phase of finding comfort in thinking about non-existence. I’ve been moved by the book “The Trouble With Being Born” by Emil Cioran (it’s an extremely depressing book, to the point of making me laugh… for example: “Let’s not kill ourselves yet: there remains people to disappoint.” The face of people when I tell them this quote…). I won’t kill myself, because I wouldn’t want other people in my situation to kill themselves. I like my way of thinking. I like your way of thinking (from the few paragraphs I’ve read). It seems that the world needs us.

    Now, not wanting to kill myself is a thing, but wanting to live is another. I am right now thinking a lot about the intrinsic value of life. Rationally, it seems there is none. Life has appeared on earth because of a chain of random events. This chain of more or less random events led to my birth. Like me, the squirrel never wished, nor approved its own birth. But here he is, trying to find scraps of food to prepare for the winter. The reason why he is there, is because a squirrel’s DNA is biased towards life, towards the continuation of the species. Life isn’t good or bad per se, it just is, because it has been. My point is: there doesn’t need to be a rational, intrinsic, universal value to life, for someone to want to continue living.

    The value of life (or its meaning) has to be redefined daily. For me right now, reacting to injustice seems to be the meaning of my life. I feel like I need to invest myself and become responsible and implicated; and that responsibility instills meaning to life. About the “meaning of life”, a concept for which there are many misconceptions, I recommend the book “Man’s search for meaning”, by Viktor E. Frankl.

    In your case, it seems that your life experience is extremely valuable. Like you said: “This type of situation needs to be addressed in classes for therapists”. I totally agree. But it seems that it won’t happen unless there are advocates. Maybe it could be you. Maybe not. Advocating is hard. I wouldn’t expect anybody to want to jump into this full on. But just by writing this post, and commenting, you are advocating. And I thank you very much for doing it.

    1. Hi,
      I find myself so sympathetic to sincere ladies like you that I would want to offer to meet and take you out. The only problems are that I am long retired, on a limited pension and live in Scotland. The obvious answer is an online site for people having difficulties with dating. Perhaps also organising social events locally.

      1. Hi Mather! Do you include me in the ladies? If so, the female part of me is flattered. haha.
        Your ideas of a website for people having difficulties with dating, and of local social events are very good! I would definitely want those things in my life! Not sure if they exist, though (yet)!

      2. My apologies, Carl, for the confusion.
        No offence but It was Leesa I was meaning to reply to.

    2. Thanks, Carl. I’ll have to check out that book. Strangely, I’ve been involved in squirrel discussions lately including one with a woman at a local independent bookstore. Her brother did his dissertation for his doctorate in squirrels and how they’ve migrated to different portions of the country. I imagine them as immigrants but from what I understand, it’s not great for the squirrel community.

      You are correct in that I don’t seem to be atypical enough. This makes the struggle particularly challenging. And it’s amazing how many specialty therapists there are but none that specialize in this.

      I’m Alana’s initial project there were tips of overcoming this situation including being independent ( check), getting a job (check), seeking therapy (check), volunteerng (check). I certainly didn’t put any less effort into my life than my peers but I always came up short. I would literally follow the same advice I’d give friends and it would work for them but not for me. Now they’ve moved on and I’m left behind.

      I do want to die. I’m tired and the longer I go, the worse it gets. It’s really hard to call a crisis line and explain you want to die because you’ve never been kissed. Obviously it’s gotten so much larger than that and I can say I’m lonely but it all originates with that sentence. No one that knows me in passing would have a clue though. I wish I knew someone like you in the real world .

      1. I have to say that, today, I took a pretty heavy jab. I’m currently feeling of a mix of shame, disappointment and inadequacy that is very intense. Looking for a way to end this all now is a perfectly reasonable reflex. One of my first reactions was to consume some cannabis, to numb the pain. I have also thought of drinking some gin. But I didn’t do it. If I just numb it, it will come back. I know I have to target my suffering, and change its context. I have to choose how I react to that pain. That pain is a disruption, and this disruption is an opportunity for change.

        I want to relearn expectations. What I perceive that society expects from me is so wrong. I either completely miss the point of what society expects from me, or society has broken expectations. There’s certainly a bit of both, in fact.

        When you say you always came up short: do you think that, maybe, on the flip-side, you have better respected your values by not engaging in just ANY relationship? There’s a glorification of the physical, intimate relationship. I personally think it is way overrated. But even if it isn’t, we should not feel like garbage only because we are alone! Life is so rich and complex. The couple, sex, intimate relationships: it’s only a part of the dimensions of life. There’s so many more! Like animals, nature, books, masturbation, comedy, sports, music, kindness, etc… And all those dimensions are infinite!

        I am not telling you to stop looking for a date completely. I am just telling you that you don’t have to be ashamed to be alone, to be untouched. You’re not an incomplete person. Please try to care less about it. It’s a sure way to reducing your suffering. It’s a way of liberating yourself. The priority now, is freeing yourself. There are many ways to free yourself. We know of one that is irreparable. We also know another: self-compassion.

        I would really like to know more about your life. Maybe we could chat, or maybe you could write a memoir?

        Take care,

        PS: I reiterate my suggestion of the book “Man’s search for meaning”. Please start reading it as soon as possible!

  4. I do have high expectations but while I won’t go out with a felon or someone evil, I have been open to other possibilities. I did go on a blind date once. I did it to try and open the door to the dating world. I was in my twenties and it was a nightmare. Neither of us wanted to be there. It wasn’t personal. We had nothing in common and I don’t understand why we were even set up.

    I worked with a guy for years without interest in him and then found out he liked me. I wasn’t attracted to him but convinced myself he was an ok guy and I should take the opportunity. Then he shot me down.

    I had a coworker try to set me up with someone years ago. I only saw his picture and he saw mine. He lived out of state and we talked for a couple of months on the phone but it just wasn’t working.

    I know it’s not the end all but for me, it’s important to have that experience. Sometimes I wonder if it’s even worth trying anymore. Meaning, do I really want that as part of my life now or is it just something I wish was over and done with, like high school.

    But I do feel ashamed and shunned. I can’t tolerate weddings and it’s not because I’m single. It’s because I’m hurting that I’ve never experienced reciprocal love. I need to know it.

    I love concerts but cannot afford them and when I do go, I go alone. I follow a particular band and have traveled outside of the country to see them. I mingle with other fans. I’ve even met guys that way but they don’t see me in ‘that’ way. I’m missing some ingredient. I’ve hung out with the band as well. Not friends but i’ve managed to insert myself. Not an easy task.

    I’ve walked the path of my favorite author from the 19th century. I love animals and have done a lot of volunteer work. But, I always end up alone. On the original incel site, I got attacked for being independent and busy. Apparently, that is what some men felt was wrong with women.

    I can’t take part in some conversations. And in all honesty, I would probably decline even if I had the experience because it’s private. But to me it signals inadequacy and I feel pain.

    I enjoy writing and it was one of the things I wanted to do when I grew up. Unfortunately, my interests weren’t seen as practical. My parents only wanted me to be a teacher. I hated school so why would I want to force myself as an adult to spend time with mean kids?

    Writing a memoir doesn’t seem appropriate as there is no end. And it’s awfully scary to be this vulnerable. I know honesty and vulnerability are key to strong writing but I’m not that strong.

    Thanks for your input. I apologize for any typos. I don’t have a computer– just a phone. If I’m not commenting on something you said, it’s not because I’m not acknowledging it. It’s simply phone limitations.

    I, like Arthur, wish there were groups for people like i us withno social expectations.

  5. How can the idea of meeting events be progressed for the benefit of individuals rather than commercial interests? There needs to be an organisation with aims and rules and a brand surely? What do you think, Alana?

  6. I think she went to that gathering in Toronto. (I think Toronto.) I believe it was to bring this topic to the attention of therapists. As I told mine yesterday, therapists need to be aware this is a serious and potentially deadly situation depending on how one deals with the depression it can cause. I mean, I’ve seen probably around 20 therapists over the years and none of them have had any experience with clients like me, which is all the more isolating. I’ve found my current therapist to be challenged by this topic, almost redirecting her in her thought patterns and wanting to know more. Therapists need to communicate about this issue and brainstorm on how we might approach this. I think this is part of why this website has been created. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to be attracting many people. This could be because it’s in its infancy. I would like to think that Alana didn’t go to all of this trouble and receive nothing in return.

  7. Reading about your disappointing experiences with therapy just reinforces my opinions on it. I wish less people harped on about therapy. It isn’t guaranteed to be useful just because it’s the best we’ve got.

  8. I’m back in the same situation. ”there’s nothing wrong with you. I don’t know why you are having this problem and don’t know how to help, although I want to.’ I’m just so angry. I was told by a psychiatrist that I have major depressive disorder, social anxiety and ptsd from so much rejection. Thanks.

    1. It seems that your chronic insatisfaction feels so huge to you, that all suggested solutions will feel ridiculous in comparison. But you’re here because you’re still seeking a solution, so I’ll try something anyway.

      When changing external things seems desperate, I think the only option is to change things inwards. The core of your sadness is not rejection; it’s the insatisfaction it causes you. Here’s a great video on the subject: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPPPFqsECz0

      By the way, I don’t agree with those who say there’s nothing wrong with you. Nobody’s perfect. In your case, I think one thing that you should work on is the “skill of happiness”. Gaining the skills of an olympian might feel impossible, but it is possible. Similarly, gaining the skill of happiness seems ridiculous, but it is in fact possible, and easier than you might think.

      To dig deeper, here’s an excellent book that I cannot recommend enough: https://www.matthieuricard.org/en/books/happiness-a-guide-to-developing-life-s-most-important-skill (I think it’s the english version of the one I have read)

      Bonne lecture!

  9. I can’t help but wonder if she has some form of (undiagnosed) autism, as evidenced by her struggle to make and keep platonic friends, and her inability to relate to others.

  10. Hi Rachel, I just saw a psychiatrist a couple of weeks ago and she said no. She said it’s treatment resistant depression, social anxiety and PTSD.

    Carl, the therapist isn’t saying I’m perfect but that I’m normal. So, I guess I’m normal but my situation is not. And because I am normal, I want normal experiences. I do want help. This is quite literally stealing my life. I will give the video a go and get back to you. Thanks.

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