The poet John Donne (1572-1631) wrote, in his poem “For Whom the Bell Tolls” (1624):
“No man is an island…….”
He meant that everyone needs the support of human companionship. In whatever form that may be. The comfort of friends, the joy of a lover. None of us is a single country, stopping at its own borders, without trade of emotions between ourselves and others.
The surviving partner in a relationship ended for whatever reason – old age, death, or simply a parting of the ways – is always lonely, whether that partner is a man or a woman. And at first it can seem there’s no point in going out and meeting new people. Or you might genuinely have no desire to meet a significant other again. But unless you’re a specific type of person, the “Island” Donne believed didn’t exist, then what you do need is the company of other people.
The problem, for a lot of people whose relationship has ended (particularly if that relationship was a long one, and specifically if the relationship ends in the autumn years of life), is that a whole circle of social connections can hinge on the marriage/association too. The longer you’re together, the more likely it is that you share friends and acquaintances.
When we’re lucky, those friends survive the end of our relationship. When we aren’t, they drift away – either because they remind us too strongly of our departed other and we can’t bear to be with them; or because, in the natural embarrassment that occurs in the presence of a painful bereavement, they begin to widen the gap themselves. And of course in mature relationships, it can simply be the case that we don’t have too many local friends left to console us.
Getting Back in the Saddle Doesn’t Have to Be Romantic…
If you have been bereaved, it’s natural to feel not only wary of new attachments but potentially uninterested in them. Remember, meeting people and enjoying their company doesn’t have to be romantic. You don’t even have to form friendships with members of the sex to which you are attracted. You’re just looking for friendship and good company. And you can find that in the society of people with similar interests.
…And You Don’t Even Have to Share Their Interests
Don’t think, just because you have no specific interests of your own (and a lot of us don’t, or don’t want to think about them, in the aftermath of a breakup or bereavement), that you can’t go to a particular group with the intention of meeting new people. The purpose of a lot of these groups is to provide a place where people can get together and form friendships – the activity the group nominally enjoys is more or less of a sideline to the social side.
You’ll find plenty of coffee clubs, book groups and cinema clubs out there. Clubs like these, whose subjects are enormously wide ranging, are ideal for single men looking for company. Just because you don’t like this week’s film it doesn’t mean you won’t like the one on next week. And there’s nothing like a bit of artistic disagreement to start off an interesting conversation!
No Man Is an Island
John Donne was right when he penned that line, nearly 400 years ago. Some things just don’t change. However alone we feel right now, however bereaved or left behind by the world, we know deep down that it’s something we shouldn’t let last. Be it romance or just good friendship we’re looking for, neither our age nor our situation should stop us from seeking it out.
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