“Homosexuals, in the end wind up alone because they are promiscuous, don’t
commit and have no children or family to care for them as they grow older ”
The above sentence is a classic example of prejudice. However, many
LGTB + people will experience loneliness in older age. It is true that whatever your sexuality, as we all get older we
may feel alone along with increasing fragility, apathy and lack of mobility.
There is a prevailing cultural ageism that
older people experience simply by “being” and seen as a burden. For the older LGBT community however you have to add
into this already toxic mix homophobic prejudice that would suggest somehow you deserve to be lonely
for the life you have led.
Giving credence to these prejudices can in itself bring about a crippling fear of unwanted loneliness in older age.
There is no law saying older people must be lonely and that there is no power to change that. There are a number of factors that,
that can lead to loneliness but we do have
the power to manage and try to prevent it.
Without wanting to do an exhaustive count, here are a few:
- Factors that are based on beliefs:
Individual beliefs generated by social influence, among which are: “I don’t have a
right to be loved”or “I am not worth enough”, related to lack of self-esteem. The belief that something bad
and undesirable will happen if we are left alone, supported by a
irrational fear of loneliness that can lead to painful coexistence situations and make us feel a lack of control
over events. These beliefs produce a demotivating effect that we seek solace from by the need for adequate company.
- Factors related to life circumstances related to loss and grief:
In this group we include widowhood, divorce in long-term couples and death
of contemporaries, of those who belong to our generation and with whom
we share a common past and our generational history.
Other circumstantial situations are also included here, such as settling in a country as a
foreigner on retirement, or the current lockdown measures due to the COVID19 pandemic
that take us away from our face-to-face socialization behaivour, force us to isolate ourselves and
These circumstances promote the lack of socialization because it is difficult
due to measures of the new situation that bring loss or change.
- Factors inherent in our biology:
There is of course reduction of mobility, flexibility, strength and body agility,
increased fatigue or recovery periods from illness and physical trauma
as we age.
These factors impact the activities of daily life and, therefore, have consequences
in socializing activities that involve body movement. In addition, it has to be added
here is a vicious cycle: the less one moves or exercise physically, the more unfit you will become hindering future socialisation.
- Factors due to certain personality traits:
Among which are markedly narcissistic traits, excessively
authoritarian and toxic personality traits. People with these characteristics demand a high cost for their peers:
patience, obligation to always please them, perpetual adaptation to their demands,
suffering from mistreatment or micro-mistreatment due to manipulation by power in the
relationship … This causes others to tend to move away as a protective measure.
What makes it very difficult to improve a situation of loneliness due to these causes is that the
authoritarian, narcissistic, or toxic person is generally unable to recognize that it is he or she
causing his own loneliness.
What can we do in the face of the prospect of loneliness in old age?
Being alive and LGBT doesn’t mean being alone. Gay Sitges Link offers a focused Psychological Counseling service
for LGTB + older people to face their fears and look for solutions to their situational
loneliness. With psychology we can develop strategies and
tools for changing beliefs, improving self-esteem, raising awareness including improving
body, motivation, learning social skills and coping with life’s path.
Juan Carlos Uríszar
Colegiado 136 – COPC