Young, Single, Lonely

Q: After 3 years of a relationship, I am now single. I'm feeling lonely and as though I have nothing to live for. Also, it's hard for me to even talk to a woman. I don't know who I am, but I know I don't want to feel this way anymore. -- Chance, 19

Dr. Susan: After spending a long time in a relationship, where conversation is easy and you don't feel on the spot to perform and be judged all the time, it can be enormously challenging to be out in the dating world again. And that's the case whether you're 19 or 79. My greatest concern for you, Chance, is that you equate having a relationship with having a reason to live. Danger, danger! Sure, it's pleasant and comfortable to be with someone. Sure, it seems to make all of life more interesting and fun. But I would hope you'd be resilient enough to realize, deep in your gut, that you'll find someone else someday to share your life with, if that's what you so obviously want. Please please please find a counselor or a compassionate adult, someone who will listen to you and support you in figuring out who you are and what you want out of life. Believe me, it won't be too long before you're not feeling this way so intensely. Most of us have been through the agonies of a love ending before we wanted it to. It's hell, but it does lessen and then life becomes quite bearable again. Some people find that recording their misery and thoughts in a journal is a big help. Call a teen help line. Just don't sit there and hate yourself and life. Take a walk every day, stop at a new coffee house or store, join a club of almost any kind, do something to get yourself out of the house. You're probably not yet ready to make overtures to new women. When you feel a bit more hopeful about yourself, you'll find it easier to start a conversation.

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