I’m 46 and have never had a date

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I am 46 years old and have never had a date. I have major social anxiety and I've had traumatic experiences that have me afraid of almost everyone. I have gotten to a point where I’ve lost all hope that I will ever find someone. I have been going to therapy for 20 years and it helps me to have an outlet. Yet, I only feel safe with my therapists, or when I am writing.

I do not know what to do anymore because I feel there is no hope for me to ever change. I will go through an entire shift at work never saying one word to anyone, and this is the norm for me. I have no friends and I live with my mom, who is no support what so ever. As a matter of fact, she is a major part of the problem.

I feel I am getting older and losing more hope. I have tried to accept that love may never happen, yet I still cling to this hope that maybe somehow I will be able to find my way to someone. Then reality sets in. I do not know if you are able to help. I thought it was worth a try with this letter. I feel I am the only one 46-year-old man in my position.

– Alone

I'm glad you're in therapy. I'm sure those professionals can tell you that there are many kinds of help.

It's worth asking your therapists about the benefits of group work. I've known people who've dealt with social anxiety by going to group therapy, where the whole point is to practice interactions with others. There's something less scary (hopefully) about testing yourself in a room full of people who understand the fear and are coping with it at the same time.

You talk about wanting love, but there’s also "like." There's also making one acquaintance at work and admitting that it's a win. Allow yourself to start small.

Know that there are others like you. Maybe not exactly like you, but others in their 40s who are thinking, "I'd like love, but I don't know if I have the skills or space to find it." I think you're at a point in life where the focus needs to be on the more ordinary interactions – and how you live. Maybe it's about talking to someone at work about their weekend. Finding a few hobbies so that when someone asks you questions, you have something to share. Dealing with the mother thing, which sounds way too complicated to guess about in this letter.

Basically, it's about taking more of the small steps that help you recognize a crush (that could turn into more) when you see it.

Talk to your therapists about how to start by testing your social skills in a safe place.

– Meredith

Readers? Thoughts on smaller steps that might lead to bigger ones?