your avatar   LT, 22-year-old man

First of all my first language is not English and so there may be a few mistakes here and there. I'm a 22 year-old man and although quite young I believe my level of loneliness is far beyond the levels of the others taken together. So we are not talking about ordinary situations here. All the knowledge from all the psychology books that you've studied simply scratches the surface of my existence. You will need to go beyond your books if you decide to handle this case, you will need to search deep inside your soul to reach the very limits of human nature. And there somewhere on the line that separates the known from the unknown lies the answer that could bring light into my life. But it will be then that something unique, something wonderful will cease to exist, a world that I share with myself alone. No one can penetrate into my world because it is my imaginary reality whose entrance is protected by countless nights of loneliness and their number is indeed to large for any mortal to complete in the duration of a lifetime. I will forever be there in my world desperately looking for a quantum of light through WebPages that promise to help you get out of a world that nobody even knows is there. But I well know it is there cause I'm trapped in there. I look around me hoping to find an exit and from time to time I just get the impression that I find one, one that has the appearance of the beautiful eyes of a sweet young lady that I happen to see here and there. But those eyes disappear before you can see the way out.

But why did I say that if you find that line a wonderful world will then cease to exist... Because it is wonderful indeed and that is exactly why I got trapped in there for the first time. It is this conflict inside of me that doesn't let me to decide what is the right thing to do. Half of my existence desires desperately to stay in the beautiful but dark world of loneliness but the other half screams with desperation and asks for the strength to break those powerful chains that keep my soul in the darkness. When I was younger only the first half had any influence on me but now the second half has become equally strong and the conflict is more than my tired soul can handle anymore. I've been through the sadness of a million people and my existence screams out loud it deserves a meaning...Yes...Affection is my greatest dream...to take and to give as well.

In my world affection is simply an unknown thing and my nights have become too difficult for me to handle anymore -- sleepiness with all those sounds in my ears from all those happy couples on a Friday night. And it is such a Friday night tonight and my brain tries to concentrate on this piece of text but my soul is desperately looking for a way to meet the soul of the beautiful young lady that I saw on my way here. I do not wish to make my way back home tonight cause then I'll see lots of beautiful faces that will only remind me of how miserable I am.

Today I went to a shop to buy a few things that I needed and while there a very good-looking young lady touched my hand by mistake. Many hours have passed since then but my thoughts are still there with her and my soul feels anger for the fact that I did not possess the strength to say a single word to her. Life just can't have been any more unfair than it is to me. Simple things that for other people seem insignificant are for me beautiful moments that I make sure to properly record in that small memory of mine.

It is a Friday night and most 22-year-old blokes out there probably share a sexual pleasure with their girlfriends and here it's me in front of a PC monitor thinking about that beautiful young lady simply because she happened to touch my hand by mistake. I wonder what she could be doing now and the thoughts that rise from my brain drive me crazy.

I feel extremely jealous when I see young happy couples on a Friday night and so I always make sure to stay locked in my room and that pushes me deeper and deeper into the dark tunnel where my soul has been trapped. The few people who know me say that I'm a person of extremely low level of self-esteem and I think I agree with them. But that is not by itself the whole reason that made me decide to put an end to this story. It is rather the biological need to feel something that others do for fun whenever they want. And it seems so logical to them yet so out-of-this world to me. 22 years with no sex experience at all is something awful. I've tried in many ways in the past to increase my self-esteem but none of them worked.

I'm now left with a last chance, an extreme solution to this extreme problem: to have sex with a young lady. What worries me though is what will happen the "following day". Yes it will be the best night of my life, far beyond anything I can even imagine, but what happens next? I really hate what people call a "one-night stand" and I 'm certain that I will want to see the young lady again. And not only that but I'm also pretty certain that I will fall in love with her because I'm extremely lonely. I will give her more affection that she could possibly knew was there that night but that would make me love her. And I do not think it is the right period for me to fall in love with a young lady. I'm an extremely busy person and I work like a robot 24 hours a day. Falling in love would mean that I would spend some of my precious time thinking about my relationship and that could only have a awful effect to my career. And then there is another even more serious reason why I should not fall in love with the young lady... if she falls in love with me as well that would make her life a complete nightmare. She would be trapped in the same awful trap where I am.

Let me explain what I mean. I usually spend my nights locked in my room studying magazines like Scientific American and New Scientist. I do not think that that is what a young lady would want to do on a Friday night. She would want us to go out and have fun but I'm not used that way and fun is indeed an unknown word to me. If I do not have sex soon I will continue to move further into the dark tunnel. If I do have sex I will ruin my career and I will turn a young lady's life into a nightmare. So my future does not seem very bright no matter which way I go. The most likely thing to happen is to postpone my decision and keep wasting my nights looking up to the stars hoping that there is indeed such a thing they call God because "he" would know that I have this enormous sadness while no other person around me seems to care about my existence.

I would very, very, very much like to thank you for reading this long letter and I really do wish that I at least have your sympathy. I wrote this text in a foreign language but I do believe that even if I had written it in my first language I would still not be able to find the proper words to express all the enormous sadness of this soul of mine which has been treated in the most cruel and unfair way than any other soul to my knowledge. Thank you, thank you.


    Bob Rich, Ph.D.

Dear LT,

I DO know exactly where you are, because I was there myself when I was a young man. Between the ages of about 14 to 23, I felt just like you. And, like you, I thought I was the only person on the planet to be lonely. I felt myself to be worthless because I was loveless.

You are clearly an intelligent and creative young man. I coped with my loneliness by achieving: winning long distance running races and getting top results in school and later University. You are doing much the same, working 24 hours a day and immersing yourself in your career.

Also, you have constructed an imaginary life for yourself, and this has been so seductive that until now you have preferred it to reality.

My friend, your imaginary life is a sort of an addiction. It is there because your ordinary life has been unbearable, so you needed something to fill the void. You needed to do this, but now it is time to move forward.

You don't have to get rid of this wonderful place you have made for yourself. Keep it. Maybe you can share it with others by writing. You need not aim for publication, but for self-expression. If you can write this well in English, you must be already very good in your own language.

Once you have shared your inner world, it will become a rocket ship to take you into reality, instead of a prison to keep you from it. And some of the people who will be interested in the creations of your imagination will be young women.

Your career has also become a prison. So what if you become the best in the world at what you're doing? So what if you make a million dollars before you're 30? It means nothing UNLESS YOU ARE CONTENTED WITH LIFE. If you stay lonely and unhappy, and think of yourself as worthless, well, what's the use of that great career to you?

Anyway, I think you spend a lot of time and emotional energy in feeling sad about your loneliness. If you had a special friend whose needs you could meet, and who could make you feel whole, all this energy and time would be liberated. You might actually achieve MORE in your career, without having to spend so much time at it.

What to do about it?

It is not true that your loneliness is unique and different. There are millions of "loners" like us -- and half of them are female. Yes. There are young women who feel exactly as you do. There are young women who think of themselves as worthless, who feel that no-one will ever love them, who wish for commitment and sharing with a person like you. And, many of them need privacy, and space for themselves. They are not all party creatures.

When I was a teenager, I used to go on long runs, despairing of ever having a love of my own. At University, some cruel "friends" made fun of me for being shy around girls.

And yet, I have now been married to the same woman for 33 years, have three wonderful children and four grandchildren. And all this time, I have stayed a loner, a reserved person who lives inside his own head much of the time.

I'll tell you how I did this, it may work for you too. I decided to practice talking to girls. I said something -- anything -- to a girl who happened to be alone, and stumbled through a conversation. At first, I felt like a complete idiot. To my surprise, almost all of these girls were very kind, and actually helped me to get through my embarrassment. They did their best to put me at ease. And if I came up against one who was unkind -- well, I wouldn't have wanted HER for a friend, would I?

I did this as a sort of school, learning how to talk to girls. I joined groups of people who shared one of my interests, and after a while realized a secret: GIRLS ARE JUST PEOPLE WHO HAPPEN TO BE FEMALE. They were not all that different from me. If you can talk to a guy, you can talk to a girl.

Through this, I made many friends who happened to be girls. (Eventually, about 25 of these 'sisters' came to my wedding.)

Once I could talk to a girl as a friend, I went on to the next lesson. I approached a strange girl, chatted with her as best I could, then I asked her for a date. I was really surprised: almost always they were happy to go out with me. The exceptions already had a boyfriend, or even a husband. Many girls actually felt I was doing them a favor, instead of the other way. That's how I discovered that girls can be lonely too.

All this may sound like a lot of work, taking you away from your career and your wonderful inner world. But doesn't anything worthwhile demand a sacrifice?

When you do find a girl to share love with, I don't think you will drag her into suffering. You are far more likely to be a kind, considerate, loving partner who will be thankful for the rest of his life to the girl who freed him from loneliness.

Give my method a try. When you have, I would be very interested in how it worked for you.

All the best,

Bob Rich

This question was answered by Dr. Bob Rich. Dr. Rich has 30+ years of experience as a psychotherapist. Dr. Rich is also a writer and a "mudsmith". Bob is now retired from psychological practice, but still works with people as a counselor.For more information visit: http://anxietyanddepression-help.com

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