Richard was burnt out and lonely
Richard Harris, a customer service manager from San Jose, had just turned 55. After working hard for many years, he had always thought that when he reached this age he would be happy and fulfilled, and could start to focus on enjoying life.
Instead, he was feeling burnt out and lonely. He had very few close friends who lived nearby, and was spending most of his nights alone, watching TV.
Like many people who find themselves socially isolated, Richard blamed himself.
“I started telling myself that this is what life was going to be like for me. I figured I wasn’t the sort of person who was going to have lots of friends. I felt pretty shy, and thought that meant I wasn’t good socially and was why I was alone.”
It was only by chance that Richard stumbled across something that was going to turn his life around.
“I wasn’t even looking for anything, as I didn’t really know where to start. I knew I didn’t want to go looking for romance again, but I didn’t want to keep on the way I was going.”
“But then my sister mentioned that a friend of hers had introduced her to this thing called Stitch, which was all about companionship. I looked to see if Stitch was in my area, and sure enough, it was. And now I feel as if I’ve got more friends than I ever had.”
“It was only after I met so many other people who had been in my position that I realized that being alone and isolated wasn’t my fault at all. It is happening to so many people. I’m just lucky I found out what to do about it.”
Loneliness affects everyone at some point
Since founding the Stitch Community, I’ve met thousands of people just like Richard, and I’ve spent a lot of time with experts in the fields of social health, well-being, and aging.
One thing is very clear: loneliness affects us all at some point in our lives.
It’s not our fault, it’s just a natural aspect of our increasing longevity and the way society has changed over the last few decades.
As we age, our social circles inevitably shrink, whether that’s through divorce, relocation, ill health, attrition, and of course death.
It doesn’t need to be the loss of a life partner. Sometimes friends just drift apart. Or health issues mean our hiking buddies can no longer come on walks with us. Or we relocate to be closer to our kids, only to find ourselves left without a friendship network. There are thousands of reasons, often outside our control.
When we’re younger, our social circles are constantly replenished, without us even really being aware of it. We go to school, we go to college, we get jobs, we become parents — all these things bring new friends and social connections.
Once we reach a certain age, however, this process slows down and eventually stops, unless we actively do something about it.
We can't afford to let it happen
Loneliness might impact everyone at some point, but we can’t afford to let it stay that way.
The COVID pandemic raised awareness about the impact of loneliness and isolation for many people, but the research has been telling us about it for years. If you are the sort of person who gets convinced by statistics, try these:
- For older adults, loneliness increases your risk of death more than obesity, alcohol, poor diet, or lack of exercise, and is as bad as smoking 15 cigarettes a day
- If you’re over 60 and say you are lonely, you are 45% more likely to die in the next 12 months than your socially connected peers
- And you’re 64% more likely to develop some form of cognitive impairment
If you’re like me, however, it’s not the statistics that are compelling. It’s the fact that life feels simply better when I’m doing things with other people.
I don’t need to know what the researchers are saying to know, in my heart, that I am happier and healthier when I’m doing things I enjoy, in the company of people who care about me.
Fill your life with fun and joy
It doesn’t matter whether you’re looking for a lifetime companion, a soulmate, or just a few more friends. Once you embrace the idea that you need to change your mindset, get out of your comfort zone, and build the habit of constantly making new social connections, your life can be transformed.
But in today’s world, that’s easier said than done.
As Richard and so many others have found, there aren’t a whole lot of options available to meet like-minded companions as we get older.
“You can’t exactly just go to a club, the way you could when you were younger. Besides, I wasn’t even sure whether I was looking for romance. I just wanted people in my life who enjoyed doing things with me. And then one day I found Stitch.”
So what is Stitch, exactly?
The question above is something I get asked quite a lot. That may not seem all that surprising — it’s a pretty reasonable question from anyone who hasn’t heard about Stitch before.
What IS surprising is that I’m quite frequently asked the question by people who have recently joined Stitch. They might have been a member for a few weeks, and it’s only just starting to dawn on them that Stitch is much broader in scope than they may have initially realized. Broader, and richer, too. But that richness makes it more difficult to categorize.
- Is it for finding romance, or just friends?
- Is it a social network?
- Is it something online, or in the real world?
- Is it for finding travel companions?
- Is it for singles only, or for everyone?
And here is why we have such a wide variety of members are joining the community: Stitch is all these things, and more.
Stitch isn’t a “Dating site”, even though a large number of members of Stitch are open to romance, and Stitch can help them find it.
Dating sites are built around the very judgmental process of being assessed by your profile, and while they work for some people, for the vast majority, they deliver a soul-crushing experience full of disappointment, fake profiles, superficial judgment, and dodgy business practices. That’s the opposite of Stitch.
Stitch isn’t a “Social network”, even though it’s most definitely social.
Social networks, like Facebook, make their money by exploiting their users by mining their information and selling it to advertisers. The Stitch Community itself is a not-for-profit charity, with the goal of addressing loneliness and social isolation and improving the lives of its members. Stitch doesn’t sell user information and has been set up to act in the interests of its members.
So what is Stitch, exactly?
Stitch is a Community
This is so important that I’m going to say it again: Stitch is a COMMUNITY.
The idea of a community probably seems like an old-fashioned idea these days, in a world that seems increasingly fragmented, individualistic, and selfish. But that’s precisely why we think the very concept is more important now than it ever has been.
It’s why the Stitch Community is built around the idea that you get more out of life the more you put into it.
That we all enjoy our own lives more if we’re helping enrich the lives of those around us at the same time, just by having fun together.
It means that Stitch is something that our members join, rather than a service that they use. This may sound like a marketing slogan, but it accurately describes the enormous difference between what Stitch is and pretty much any online platform I can think of.
You don’t USE Stitch. You JOIN.
One of the most incredible things about Stitch is how clearly it has shown that if you create the right environment, most people actually want to treat each other with respect, to be friendly and welcoming, and to make a positive difference.
The best parts of Stitch come from the amazing contributions of our members, many of whom take great delight in the idea of improving the lives of others simply by getting involved.
It’s why the community component of Stitch is so broad, in order to give members a wide range of ways to connect with other people around shared interests and natural interaction, beyond just browsing profiles.
That includes the amazing number of events and activities that members are constantly organizing around the world, all designed to help create social connections for their fellow members.
Or the travel experiences that our members organize as a way to meet & experience new things without having to do so alone.
Or the way our members use the chat rooms & discussion forums to encourage and help their fellow members where they need it, whether that’s sharing their experiences of getting over losing a loved one, or advice on how to manage the often lonely journey to find companionship.
Stitch still has a long way to go, and local Stitch communities are only getting started in some parts of the world. But we’ve already got members in 83 countries and have built thriving local communities in over five thousand towns and neighborhoods, and it’s all because of the remarkable community spirit.
Our terrific Community Champion Vivien summed up the Stitch community spirit recently in a comment about a New Members evening she has organised for members in Sydney. Some of the new members were joking about being nervous about being “newbies” and standing in a corner without anyone to talk to.
Vivien simply responded with this:
There will be no one on their own or feeling left out. Stitch is a community where we all welcome and care for each other. That’s the difference! Stitch is what we make it, and a good evening amongst new friends is guaranteed.
I couldn’t put it better myself.
Between the members of the Stitch team and thousands of community champions like Vivien, we’ve created something really special. A place where everyone is welcomed, where most people go out of their way to be kind and compassionate, and help others.
To me, that sounds very much like a community.
It’s a community filled with people who are all looking for some form of companionship, whether that’s friendship, romance, or something in between.
And because it’s built on real interactions between real people, in an environment where positive behaviors are celebrated and everybody is treated like a human being rather than just an online profile, we think we’re giving them the best possible chance to find it.
The first step is easy
A Limited membership of Stitch is free, and gives you a chance to try Stitch out to see if you get as much out of it as Richard, Vivien, or thousands of other Stitch members.
You can stay a Limited member for free as long as you like, giving you access to some parts of the community forever, or else become a Full member to support the community and give you unlimited access to everything on Stitch.
We’d love you to sign up for free today and find out for yourself!
Hear what members have to say
If you’re still unsure, it might be because you’re little bit worried about trying something new. If so, that’s completely normal and is something that almost all Stitch members feel at first.
One thing I tell new Stitch members at my regular Welcome events is that our brains evolved to make us feel anxious when meeting new people for the first time. Millions of years ago, that was important for survival, but nowadays it makes us reluctant to do the things we need to do to make new connections.
The best way to overcome that feeling is to meet an existing Stitch member who can tell you about the community and make you feel welcome.
If you sign up to Stitch, you can come along to one of my free Welcome events held each month, when you can meet other new and existing Stitch members who will tell you what being a member is like.
Or you can check out some of the video interviews we’ve published of Stitch members talking about how Stitch has changed their lives:
Remember, Stitch is free to join, so why not give it a try today and find out what it’s like for yourself?