One of the biggest emotional obstacles that many men must conquer after a divorce is loneliness. The shock of adjusting to life alone can take even the toughest guys by surprise. There is no one to come home to, enjoy a meal with, or provide that ever-comforting silent company.
If you find yourself struggling with being alone after divorce, there are things you can do to break out of the funk. You don’t have to let the solitude overwhelm you. Instead, you can capitalize on your precious free time to take control of and improve your life.
Come with me as I lay out a plan to conquer your post-divorce, loneliness blues. You just might wind up in a better place than where you started.
It’s scientifically proven that regular exercise will improve your way of life in many ways. These includes but is certainly not limited to:
While the health benefits of exercise are great, being in good physical shape is important to you as a bachelor because it makes you more desirable. As a single man back in the dating game, you’re likely competing against younger men with lots of stamina.
I’ve seen these guys at the gym. They have beards, they’re into MMA, and they’re aggressively going after the same women that you are. A fat schlub will have no chance against these guys. The dad-bod craze is a myth.
If you’re using any of the current dating sites (and you should be, Match.com is a great dating site for divorcees) you’re largely going to be judged by a picture. Being noticed by women means creating a good first impression. That starts with great physical health.
I’m a bit crazy when it come to staying in shape. My personal rule is that I make an attempt to do some physical activity every single day. No “Monday, Wednesdays, and Fridays”. No “4 Days a week, when I get to it”.
If I miss more than a day or two of working out (especially when it comes to cardio), I literally start to feel ill. My body needs that release and intense workouts are an awesome way to de-stress after a tough day at the office.
And the best part? It becomes habit-forming.
So if you’ve put off exercising for a large part of your life, now it the optimal time to get yourself into a routine that works for you. Then keep at it and track your progress. Here’s a great list of 20 tools for tracking your weight loss, meals, sleep and more.
Once you start seeing real improvements, you might end up mental like me and enjoying a workout every day.
The length of your daily exercise routine is entirely dependent on your goals. But I never spend less than an hour working out. I probably average a 1.5-hour workout, sometimes more and sometimes less.
The government recommends you get 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity a week. I think that’s probably the minimum if you don’t want to keel over and die. But I digress.
The point here is that you can spend your alone time exercising which will improve both your mental and physical health. That’s at least one extra hour per day you don’t have to spend moping around and thinking about your divorce.
Going to the gym is the ultimate solution to loneliness as you get to burn some alone time, increase your well-being, and also meet new people. Most gyms are like a big community and the people are very friendly. But most importantly, you can meet hot girls at the gym (and you don’t even have to buy them a drink).
One great way to occupy an idle mind is to take on a hobby. Maybe you already have one that you put on the back burner because you didn’t have time during your marriage. Now would be the perfect time to rediscover that hobby and the joy that came along with it.
If you’ve never picked-up a hobby or are looking to find one, check out this huge list of hobbies for some potential ideas. They’re categorized by indoor and outdoor hobbies and there’s enough to keep you busy for quite while.
Let this activity signify taking control and living life on your own terms.
That sense of control will ease your feelings of loneliness by promoting a sense of freedom. When you are busy and the mind is engaged, loneliness becomes treasured seclusion. Part of the readjustment period after a divorce is learning how to enjoy your own company.
At the time of this writing, I’ve been divorced for about 9 months. In that time, I’ve spent a good chunk of time learning new software architectures and working on personal projects This was a point of contention during my marriage, and I’m so glad to be doing something I enjoy again.
As a matter of fact, I’m enjoying my alone time so much that it’s starting to concern me a bit. Does this mean I’m destined to be alone forever? I’m not sure I even care!
The purpose of goals is to give yourself something meaningful to work toward. The goals you set for yourself after divorce don’t have to be extraordinary. They can be simple and achievable milestones that pave the way to a more stable and fulfilling future.
Achieving ambitious goals takes hard work and time. The time you spend working toward accomplishing these goals will keep your mind busy and depression at bay. The euphoria that comes with conquering your objectives will make you grateful you had this alone time to improve your life.
Mindtools has some great advice for setting goals and achieving them. Check out their website for other great tools to track goals, de-stress, and get organized.
I had plenty of small goals after my divorce like losing weight, reducing my expenses, and getting a better-paying job. But I also set one significant goal that I wanted to achieve by one year after my divorce. It involved my house.
I bought-out my ex-wife as part of our divorce and assumed ownership of our home. Unfortunately, my ex-wife left with almost all of the furniture (I got the Saints season tickets).
But it turns out the lack of furniture was the least of my problems. Shortly after I moved back in, I discovered I had a termite infestation (the worst kind). This was followed-up by a broken air conditioner, a leaking roof, rotting doors, and so many other smaller problems that I can’t even remember them all.
One day, as a stood in my empty house (just me, my dogs, and the termites), I questioned if I’d even be able to hold a simple birthday party for my kids in this house that was collapsing around me. Who would want to attend a party at a termite-infested house with nowhere to sit?
So my first long-term goal became to fix and furnish my house to a point that I wouldn’t be completely embarrassed to have company over.
I’m happy to say that I just finished the last of my major repairs (most of the work done by yours truly). I’m also now practically a professional when it comes to patching and painting walls. Most importantly, the termite invaders are deceased.
On the furniture side of things I hustled for a second-hand couch and bought some other used furniture off CraigsList. I had family that moved during this period so I inherited a few hand-me-downs which were put to good use.
I was able to accomplish all of this by year’s end because I kept a detailed list of every task that needed to be done, no matter how small. Then, I made sure I addressed one or more tasks on that list every single day. It was hard work, but achieving this goal was absolutely worth it.
I’m still not where I ultimately want to be. But that just means I have another set of goals to work toward next year.
I’ve definitely made significant progress and having goals (and a plan) has helped me stay focused on the most important tasks. I managed to throw two birthday parties at my house this year and could be hosting the family Christmas dinner.
We talked about hobbies as a great way to occupy alone time, but another great way to spend downtime is getting organized. Being organized increases productivity, reduces stress, and helps you to achieve goals must faster.
Life after divorce can get hectic. After my own marriage, in addition to my normal daily routine of working out, fixing things, and cleaning, I also had to assume all of the tasks my ex normally addressed. This included things like banking, paying bills, and cooking.
My responsibilities essentially doubled, which forced me to get organized and become more efficient.
I am an avid believer in using lists to stay on top of commitments and work toward my goals. Developing a system for maintaining lists has really helped me ensure that:
I have a huge [stickable] white board from Writeyboard in my office that I use to brainstorm things and jot-down thoughts. I also have a paint-based whiteboard from the same company in my garage that I use to keep track of house repairs and to sketch out home improvement ideas. These are great products that I highly recommend.
When I’m not at home, I use a few different desktop and mobile applications to keep track of my lists, calendar, tasks, and notes:
I also keep a binder with me at all times containing lists and tasks I’m focused-on for that week. This way I can always glance down and see what is a priority and needs to be done. I review these every morning, add and modify them throughout the day, and then re-review them each night.
These lists are based on a simple goal-setting system used by FuBu owner Daymond John.
I simply couldn’t function without lists. If you give them a try, you’ll likely notice that you can accomplish more and achieve your goals more efficiently. In a way, lists set you free.
As part of my mission to get more organized, I spent a considerable amount of time tidying up legal documents pertaining to my divorce. You’d be shocked by how much legal liability remains with you even after your divorce is final.
Getting back on solid legal footing took a good bit of research and legwork. But luckily for you, I documented the entire process in a new article: 10 Legal Document to Review After Your Divorce. If you’re a recently divorced man, it’s required reading.
Lonely or not, the urge to become a hermit is all too strong following a divorce. You have a lot on your mind and having to re-explain your divorce to countless friends could get old. It seems much easier to just stay home and hope for better days ahead.
In my case, I also spent a lot of time at home simply because the financial burden of divorce meant I couldn’t afford to go out much. I eventually got past this period through downsizing and smart budgeting. But it took the better part of a year.
If divorce has left you penniless, check out my article on starting an emergency fund after divorce. It’s a good first step toward gaining financial stability if you’re completely starting over
Even if you feel like home is the safest place during this period of your life, you should make a concerted effort to reconnect with old friends from time to time. Through Facebook, I have found several good friends from college who I didn’t even realize had moved locally.
It has been great to meet these guys and reminisce about the good old days. I still don’t go out much, but when I do I have a bigger circle of friends to call on.
So look up those old friends and invite a few over to watch a game or drink some beers. As guys, don’t really get our feelings hurt when we lose touch with someone. You’ll likely pick up where you left off, and it’s cheap!
Before you know it, you’ll be reliving high school memories that were best kept in the far, dark recesses of your mind. But most importantly, you’ll expand your post-divorce social circle. And what is the best cure for loneliness? People!
If loneliness is your problem, then you’ve got to get out and get social. Don’t sit around waiting for someone to ring you up with plans for a incredible weekend getaway. Take the initiative and start making plans to get out at least once every week to do something worthwhile.
Better yet, make planning an outing a recurring task on the weekly to-do list that we discussed earlier. This way it becomes a habit and you have no excuse for missing an opportunity to get out and interact.
Here are some weekly excursion ideas for getting your lonely, divorced ass out of the house:
Better yet, if you think you’ve waited long enough after your divorce, go on some dates. If you have kids, check out my Dad’s Guide to Dating for some valuable pointers on juggling your home and love lives.
It might take many baby steps for you to begin emerging from your dungeon of despair. But once you’re in the habit of going out weekly, you’ll naturally start to connect with people and more opportunities for socializing will emerge.
Instead of perceiving your temporary solitude as oppressive, cherish this time and reflect on what you want from the next stage of your life. Celebrating your freedom is an essential part of the post-divorce healing process.
Being in a bad marriage is exhausting. If you have children then you probably do way more giving than receiving. So during your alone time there is nothing wrong with spoiling yourself from time to time.
Make a reservation at a nice restaurant and sit down to a delicious dinner by yourself. No one will look at you and think, “Poor guy”. They’ll likely think: “There is a guy that is comfortable in his own skin”.
If you can’t find anyone to spend a rainy day with, head to the movies and lose yourself for a few hours. There will come a time when your responsibilities come first but that time doesn’t have to be now.
Loneliness after a divorce is common and unfortunate reality of life after a divorce. But it is also entirely manageable and can be minimized with the right tools and a positive attitude.
Triumphing over loneliness requires a combination of strong will, a sense of adventure, and an unwavering desire to break out of the funk and reclaim your identity. It’s not going to be easy but I’m living proof that these strategies can work for someone battling loneliness. I hope they’ll work for you as well.
I am obviously not a doctor and can only present strategies that have worked for me after my own divorce. If you can’t shake your loneliness or depression, you should always seek help from a medical professional. If you think you need professional help, this resource from HealthLine should point you in the right direction.
Anyone have other strategies for how they battled loneliness? Tell me about it in the comments below.
Brad is a divorced father of two who is navigating the brave new world of dating after divorce. A software developer by trade, he experiments with the latest dating applications and tools so that you don’t have to. Brad writes online dating reviews along with other actionable content for men to improve their quality of life after divorce.