Dear Angelo,

My boyfriend of twenty years left me and I find myself suddenly alone. The relationship was over a long time ago, but now I'm 43 and afraid I'll be alone forever. You know the way gay men are -- after youth, youth, youth! I don't know how to be a man alone.  I feel like a failure. Where do I go from here?

Singed, Gay and Alone

Dear Gay and Alone,

A higher value and more life satisfaction are often placed on being in a relationship. Aloneness is typically muddied with a feeling of rejection, exclusion, alienation - proof that one's unworthy to be with others. Some men think if they were only more beautiful, richer, nicer- somehow better - they wouldn't be alone. They fear they're not enough. No matter how handsome, intelligent, successful, and loving a man may be, such deep hidden shame, self-doubt, and insecurity can remain buried until some situation like the aloneness of a failed relationship thrusts them to the surface. This can be compounded by an already underlying sense of inadequacy or feeling like the "lowest of the low" for being gay in a heterosexist culture. We can hold onto our hurts, becoming cynical, bitter, depressed and wall ourselves off in isolation.

The fact is we'll all be alone for periods of time in our lives - it's part of being alive. It's a lifelong struggle to balance our desire for relationship with times of solitude. The disconnection or loneliness we sometimes feel in our aloneness is more a disruption of our relationship with ourselves than from not having a partner. We have to feel whole (not empty) standing alone. We can't allow our overall happiness to depend on having a partner.

Rather than fearing being alone, you can embrace yourself, being your own boyfriend for now. Let go of the idea that your ex is the best you'll ever do. Instead, focus on liking yourself and thinking about and doing what you need to do to meet your future soulmate, albeit he's currently unknown. You're not limited by your age or your past. Tell yourself love is on the way; The best is yet to come. Remain optimistic and hopeful. Such a mindset will save you from the darkness and deliver you to the light. This positive approach will also act like a magnet to attract Mr. Right himself.

All The Best, Angelo.

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