I’m lonely, in my 30s and find it very hard to make new friends | Ask Annalisa Barbieri

Social anxiety and a dislike of party culture can create a void of loneliness, but there are ways to beat the fear

I’m a man in a my mid-30s who feels pretty lonely. I’ve finished university so I’m no longer around new faces and friends have drifted for various reasons (moved away, kids etc). My two closest friends live abroad and while I love them dearly, I really miss the in-person aspect, especially after the everything-virtual nature of the pandemic.

My partner and I occasionally do things, but in general we prefer to do different things: she likes hosting, I like to go out, she loves nature walks, I’m a city person. I work from home, my company organises social activities which I turn down because they happen in big groups and my biggest obstacle is being an introvert, with social anxiety. I’ve always struggled to make and keep friends. The usual advice is to join a class, a club (or volunteer) but all of those happen in group settings and as an introvert, I find even small groups intimidating; I’m rarely a fun or interesting person in that setting.

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