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Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hi, first time posting here.


I'm 21 and over the last couple years in particular have been struggling with the social aspect of my life. I've put a lot of focus on career and academic progression and have an incredible job that I love (so much so that I don't think I've ever dreaded going to work). Despite this, I've been feeling very lonely and inadequate. The expectation for people my age is to be out having fun, being in relationships, exploring things like sex and just living life, because that's what you're supposed to do when you're young, right!? Sure, career progression is great, but I feel pressure from my friends and even my family to actually go out and have a proper social life, meaning that every time I do go to work this idea is constantly in the back of my mind. I have regrets about wasting time and wasting my youth and it really frustrates me because I really do enjoy work (in fact more recently I've realised it's the only real thing that gives me validation in life). 


I've never been in a relationship, nor have I ever come close to one. I have no sexual experience and have almost zero confidence in myself form this standpoint. Sure I am a good speaker and can hold decent conversations with people easily, but I simply cannot fathom a situation where a girl would actually want to be with me. Why would anyone look at me and go 'oh wow he's good looking, I'd really like to be with him'? This is really killing me as I feel like all I need right now is for someone to show some interest and to give me a bit of confidence to say 'hey look there are people out there who like you!' Of course I have liked people before, and I've damn near fallen in love with someone too. But in basically all of those situations I've ended up discovering that the girl has no reciprocal feelings (either through my own inference or by her actually saying so). I'm 21 and have met so many people and been through so many friends, so if it hasn't happened up till now, why would it ever? Some people say 'just put yourself out there!', and others say things like 'you don't need to try, it'll happen eventually'. So what is it? I've tried both, and both have failed. I have really just lost hope, leaving me in a state of perpetual discontent.


I have a decent group of friends (mix of guys and girls), but none of them super close, so it's tricky to discuss these things with them. It's tricky to discuss it at all because it makes me feel like more and more of an inadequate loser every time I think about it. I'm struggling to be truly happy at any point other than when I'm at work and don't know how to resolve it. Would be really great to hear anyone's insight into this, or if anyone is experiencing similar problems!


Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hey @delta413 and thanks for raising this topic! Smiley Happy


I'm in a similar situation - have focused on my academic/career goals and also often wonder if I'm missing out on my 'youth.' I try to remember that if I'm happy with the life I'm living, then the life I'm living is the right one for me, whether or not it's what we're supposed to do when we're young.


In regards to relationships, have you tried apps like Bumble? Or something like speed dating? They might be some alternative options/ways to meet new people...


You mentioned that you're struggling to feel happy outside of work. I'm wondering, what are some things that you enjoy/used to enjoy?

Perhaps those could be a gateway to meeting new people/creating new connections and opportunities for joy and/or happiness.


Looking forward to hearing from you Smiley Happy 

// Spiral outward, keep going. //

Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hi @delta413! Welcome to the forums!

That situation sounds tough. It can feel physically painful when we experience loneliness and rejection. It sounds like you're struggling with your confidence and it must have been a blow to your self-esteem to discover those girls didn't share the same feelings for you. It might not have had anything to do you with you specifically. It could be that they're not ready for a committed relationship, for example. Has anything helped you feel better about this in the past?

Do you see a future for yourself? I used to get very self-conscious and struggle with self-loathing and hopelessness but those feelings have diminished as I have got older. 21 is still a young age and it's never too late to meet someone special or make new friends. I can't tell you what to do, but what helped for me was volunteering in social settings to help me improve my confidence and communication skills. It's great that you have found a job you love and brings you fulfillment. Smiley Happy


Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hey @delta413

Welcome to Reach Out and thanks for sharing. We really appreciate how hard that would have been for you. It’s great that you’re reaching out.

I’m sorry you feel that your dating life is lacking at the moment. Growing up and entering adulthood can be tough in that regard Heart . It can be really easy for us to fall into that trap of setting expectations for ourselves. I remember when I was a just a young teenager I’d think to myself “by 16 I’ll have my first boyfriend, and by 24 I’ll get married, and by 26 I’ll have children”…and none of it worked out that way. I remember friends in high school having boyfriends at the ripe young age of 15 or 16, but I didn’t enter my first relationship until 21. Everyone is ready for things at different ages and you’re time for a relationship WILL come. Believe me it will. I, only now, in my mid 20’s have entered into a fairly serious relationship.
I might also add that what you’re experiencing is very normal. I know many young adults who worry about being single and feel like they are NEVER going to meet ANYONE…but most of the time that is not the case…and it’s important for you to remember that.

With regard to your social life – you mentioned you have a decent group of friends. Is it possible to hang out with them? Potentially ask one of them to go out to dinner or a bar? Or explore the city?

You are only 21 and it sounds like you have already achieved so much! There are some people who might have a fantastic dating history but be completely confused in the career department. Things fall into place at different times for everybody, so don’t be too hard on yourself.


Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hi @delta413,


Everything said so far has been really great advice. I just thought I'd jump in and add I didn't get into my first relationship until I was just about to turn 23. I had many of the same worries as you that I was missing out and that I would never find someone.


Even though you shouldn't compare yourself to others as there isn't on 'right path', I think you would be surprised how many other people also don't have these experiences until their early 20s and even later. A lot of people feel the pressure that they should have done certain things romantically by a certain age and so aren't vocal about the fact they haven't. This results in a lot of people feeling alone in not having these experiences. I know when I finally admitted how late my first relationship was I was surprised by how common it actually was.


To answer the 'put yourself out there' vs. 'it will come' debate I would say keep working on your own goals and say yes to new opportunities to meeting new people, but only ones you are generally interested in and would enjoy going to. If you are meeting people through things you love (maybe through your work) you start out with things in common.


I would say just start off by trying to make connections with people and try not to focus on finding a partner. If you are just meeting people and having fun, you yourself will come across as more relaxed and there is way less pressure. Then, regardless of who you met, you enjoyed an event about something you actually like and you met other people with similar interests to talk about it with. My first relationship happened because I went somewhere new and knew no one. I was too focused on trying to make sure I had friends to be worried about romantic stuff. 


Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

amazing advice being offered in this thread. 

@Tasi  I noticed this is your first post - welcome to the forum! So great to have you jump in and offer such amazing insights from your own experiences. Thank you Heart Looking forward to seeing more of you around the forum! 

@delta413  I hope you've found something in this thread helpful  - let us know your thoughts, and how you're going. 

I'm leaving ReachOut on the 5th of June Smiley Sad Say goodbye here

Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

@letitgo @WheresMySquishy @TOM-RO @Tasi @gina-RO wow thank you to all of you for such fast and detailed responses. It really means a lot to hear such overwhelming support so quickly.


Everything that's been said has been eye opening and it really makes things feel a lot better to know that I am not alone in this. I get the feeling the feeling of isolation is falsified, and in actual fact there are so many others in similar circumstances.


I'm taking each day as it comes and I find that keeping busy really helps. I want to set some goals to be more open to opportunities that come my way and to try and stop dwelling on the past by, again, keeping busy and distracted. 


Thank you again to everyone and I'm hoping I'll be able to get through this soon.


Re: Lonely, single (eternally) and feeling hopeless

Hey there @delta413 ,


I'm glad to hear that the support offered here has been of some help to you Smiley Happy It can be such a welcoming feeling to know that we aren't alone. Setting some goals for yourself to be more open to opportunity sound like fantastic goals to have. Have you ever considered seeing someone such as a counselor to help you with these goals?


Keeping busy and distracted can be a great way of getting through the negative feelings. Are there any activities in particular you enjoy the most? We have an awesome list of 100001 coping strategies and distractions that might have some ideas, or where you can add your own Smiley Happy What do you think?


I am finishing with ReachOut this week, say good-bye here. I'll miss you all!