I have felt so alone since I separated from my husband

Everyone thinks I am flying, but I’m not. Living alone is hard

PROBLEM: I think that loneliness is the issue for me and I can’t seem to sort it. On the face of things, I have nothing to complain about: I have a job that is fulfilling and I get a lot of credibility from it and I have a good house in a good location. I separated from my husband about six years ago. We are on good terms and I still call to the family home and am involved in some of the decisions about it. Our children are all adults and I have a granddaughter who is a delight, although they live in France, which is quite a distance. After the separation, even though I had wanted it, I went through a difficult time. But I continued on and joined book clubs and had occasional dates, but they led nowhere.

Everyone thinks that I am flying, but I’m not. Living alone is hard and I find the weekends particularly difficult. Sitting at home on a Friday or Saturday night drinking wine is sad and in spite of all the efforts I put into having something to do every weekend, I still end up alone a lot.

Bank holidays are even worse, as the time seems to stretch on endlessly. I am fit and I go to the gym, so I know that I’m not an unattractive person. There are some men who are interested in me but I am not sure if I can commit to another relationship, and the problem with that is I end up alone.

ADVICE: It seems as though you have a very good handle on your situation and that you have been proactive in creating the structures for a good life. Loneliness is a huge issue in our world, as more and more people end up living alone through separation, work requirements or bereavement. It is a very difficult feeling, and you have a strong desire to connect deeply with others. This is healthy and pushes you into taking risks to connect.

Following separation, many people go through lots of short romantic relationships before they connect with the person they might have a long-term relationship with, but your experience leads you to doubt this possibility. Perhaps you are anxious or overly critical when a relationship possibility is just beginning.

You sound perfectly sane and a great person to have as a partner: you are self-aware, intelligent, ambitious and know what it is you want out of life. However, unless you change your pattern, nothing much is likely to happen, as you have exhausted all the current avenues.

There are a number of issues: how to be happy with yourself now (this generates huge attraction, as we are very attracted to happy, functioning people) and how do you move beyond your comfort zone to meet new and interesting men. Being yourself – or rather being happy to be yourself – is one of the keys to being happy.

This means being open and honest in your interactions, rather than hiding or pretending. This requires courage, but your intelligence will not fail and you will not put yourself at risk with people who are not worth it. The danger is that you are spending a lot of time hiding the fact that you are lonely and are perhaps playing a role of being happy. Could you be more forthcoming in your self-expression? You might find that not only do people recognise the issue (as everyone experiences loneliness, even those in relationships) but also that once expressed you do not have to hold it in and so it can dissipate, allowing you to engage with others and have fun.

However, if you really want a relationship, you may have to set it as an aim for your life. In that case, perhaps you could join websites, dating agencies or meet-up groups where you might meet other single people who have the same aim.

Perhaps you could do some self-inspection – that is, inquire with trusted friends or your adult children as to why relationships break up so quickly. You could examine these theories and see if any of them have merit, and if so, you could potentially address them. Perhaps your fear of involvement and the possible pain of break-up might lead you to be overly casual, and so committing to further dates might be the direction to take.

One of the things you can put into action straight away is not to check if someone desires you, but to look at whom you find desirable. Are there people with these characteristics in your life? If not, then you need to seek these out, as it is unlikely you will be satisfied with anything less than having someone interesting and compelling as a partner. Loneliness is the motivation for change and fulfilment in your life.