• Phil McAuliffe

How do you numb?

The thoughts and feeling of loneliness are horrible.

How do you numb them?



Hello!


Very few gay men seek out and then read articles about loneliness unless they’ve come to the realisation that they’re lonely. The stigma and shame we feel is real, and it takes a lot of courage to even engage with the subject.


I’m proud of you for opening this article. I recognise and admire your courage. Now that you’re here, let’s start getting you connected to yourself, those most important to you and to your community.


~ Phil


* * * * *

How do you numb discomfort?


Let me ask it in other ways:


How do you work through a bad day? How do you work through the grief after the death of someone close to you or the end of a relationship?


How do you numb the thoughts and feelings of loneliness? How do you go about filling the void? How do you try to silence the voices within you that you’re not worthy of love and belonging?


Let’s look at common ways to numb:


- eating

- drinking

- illicit or prescription drug abuse

- sex (including hookups, porn and masturbation)

- work

- shopping

- exercise

- cooking

- partying

- relationships (platonic and sexual)

- hoarding (how many rolls of toilet paper did you buy – or want to buy – in March 2020?)

- travel

- hobbies

- busyness (being so busy that there’s no time to stop and think)


The list is endless, and I’m sure that you get my point. But one thing is clear: numbing is anything we hope distracts us from doing the uncomfortable thing or facing uncomfortable truths.

Is it shopping?

Even that which is ‘good’ – like exercise – can eventually not serve us. Indeed, even some numbing practices that society labels as ‘good’ and is celebrated – like work – is not healthy for us when we use it to numb.



So perhaps, dear reader, the clue that we are experiencing loneliness but aren’t wanting to deal with it is in the numbing. Does our loneliness reveal itself in our numbing behaviours?

Does YOUR loneliness reveal itself in YOUR numbing behaviours?


[continued below...]




I don’t for one moment want to say that I don’t numb. Make no mistake, I numb too. Oh, how I numb!

For me, I numb feelings of loneliness and unworthiness. My go-to numbing sources are work (including here at The Loneliness Guy), exercise and busyness. It used to include porn, but my relationship to porn has changed since coming out and it much better serves me than not.


Here's the thing


We all numb or avoid those thoughts and feelings that make us uncomfortable. We all do it. But sooner or later, the ways that we’ve been numbing don’t work and we have to face up to the thing we’ve been avoiding.


Sooner or later, the numbing no longer works like it used to. We find ourselves doing double the numbing to get half the results. We can become frenzied in our attempt to numb and distract, that it takes less effort to sit with the uncomfortable thoughts and feelings than it does to keep up the numbing.

How do you numb? What are you avoiding? Is it avoiding the awful thoughts and feelings about your loneliness?


* * * * *

If reading this post has made you uncomfortable or made you think and you need some help, remember that I’m here to help. I have resources on my page if you need crisis help right now. I’ve also built a team of amazing coaches and human connection experts to help you make sense of your loneliness and to help you towards connection. These coaches and connection experts can be found here and can help you learn from your loneliness and help you towards feeling connected.


Also, for a small monthly fee, you can join the growing community of other gay men who are all prioritising their connection according to the three pillars of connection. I help the group to set weekly connection intentions, share my own and then help to keep them accountable in a supportive way. Contact me on socials or send me an email if you’d like to know more and get the help and support you deserve as you work out how to give the world the authentic, beautiful human you are.


Want to chat more about numbing? Join me and Justin Oberste MA, AMFT for a coffee and a chat in the upcoming episode of my podcast for gay men ‘Connection over Coffee with The Loneliness Guy’ from Thursday 9 December 2021.



Where to now?


Join the community or join the mailing list

Connection is the antidote to loneliness. Join the mailing list (free) or become a premium member (monthly charge) and let’s stay connected as we work to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men.


Premium members join an exclusive group on Facebook in which we have regular video chats and help and support each other as we put our real, authentic selves into the world to get the connection we need. We’d love for you to join us!




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Thank you for reading this post. I hope that you’ve found it helpful.

I’m now asking for YOUR help.


Sharing my work really helps it reach more gay men and helps us all to de-stigmatise loneliness and promote authentic connection for gay men globally.


You may not feel lonely and have just the right amount of authentic connection in your life, but sharing this article could really help a friend or relative who may be quietly struggling with the thoughts and feelings of loneliness and disconnection.


Indeed, I'm looking to build an evidence base to test the hypothesis that people who share content that de-stigmatises loneliness and promotes authentic connection for gay men globally make better lovers.


Please share this post by email, a message in a chat app or by sharing my post on social media (hit a social media icon below to share) and let me know if the hypothesis is true.


~ Thank you ~


Important notice: All views expressed above are my own/the authors and are intended to support, challenge and inspire gay men to consider the issue of loneliness and increase awareness of the need for authentic connection with themselves, with others and their communities as an antidote to chronic loneliness. They are not intended to, nor should they, replace the advice of a licensed helping professional. Please consult the Resources page if you feel that you need the services of a licensed helping professional where you are in the world.




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