It somehow makes it worse that I brought it on myself. Looking back now, I can see that I put all my friendship eggs in one very fragile basket. And now, I am a man in my 50s and I have no true friends.
Oh sure, I know lots of people through work and I get to socialise with them from time to time. I occasionally meet up with husbands and boyfriends of my wife’s tight-knit group of former school friends. But friends — true friends — of my own? There are none. And, to make matters worse, the situation is almost entirely of my own making.
I had lots of friends at school. I was part of the football team; I considered myself one of the cool kids. I had male friends, girl friends and girlfriends. But when I left school, I inadvertently and sub-consciously whittled down my friendship group and concentrated on just one or two with whom I was particularly close.
We took holidays together, attended each others’ weddings, and raised our children together. It felt like it would last forever.
But one of my two closest friends moved away. We promised to keep in touch but we didn’t. Life gets in the way sometimes. So does death.
My closest friend was killed in a motorcycle accident a few years ago. The greatest impact, of course, was on his children. I am certainly not comparing my loss with theirs.
Now, several years later, I find myself friendless.
I must stress that I am not alone. I am happily married and I have four grown-up children. But that is not a substitute. There are times when I could use a male friend to talk to; times when my wife is just too close to what I am experiencing and is, therefore, unable to be objective.
And just how do you go about making new male friends when you’re in your 50s? It was easy as a child. You just said: “You and I should be friends” and that was good enough. Try that as an adult and people will find you weird.
As I said. I am not alone. But it turns out that you don’t have to be alone to be lonely.