Feeling lonely makes every other feeling worse. It makes sadness sadder and happiness not as happy. But feeling lonely in a relationship is an added burden.
When you feel alone, you are closed off. You don’t have the connection you once had or crave. Companionship is a human desire. And when you’re in a relationship, that closeness is part of the territory.
So, when you’re feeling lonely in a relationship, that lonely feels even worse than loneliness when you’re single. In fact, you can feel more lonely in a relationship than when you are single. This is because you crave that connection even more knowing that person is there but just not within your grasp.
[Read: Why the relationship rut is so common and how to fix it]
Are you feeling lonely in a relationship?
Being alone and feeling lonely are not the same. Being alone does not always come with loneliness. You can be alone and feel fulfilled with self-love, awareness, and comfort.
Loneliness can be felt whether you are physically and emotionally alone or surrounded by people and connections. So, which are you feeling? Are you truly lonely? It isn’t that you aren’t in the company of others, but that company is not providing you with an adequate connection.
If you feel like you are carrying your stress only on your shoulders, if you feel that you take on the weight of the world without help, you may very well be feeling lonely. And if you are in a relationship, there is something missing.
[Read: Here is what to do when you need to reconnect with your partner]
But that thing can come from any and all directions. Loneliness is not simply a product of a rut, your partner being busy or you isolating yourself. Feeling lonely in a relationship can be caused by many things, and until those things are faced, combating loneliness will feel impossible.
Why are you feeling lonely in a relationship?
This part is hard. It is like therapy. It can take a long time to come to terms with what has led to your current emotional state. We tend to bury these things deep inside, and even if we uncover the beginning, it can take a while to dig deep and do the work to feel better.
But, with that, trying to figure out why you’re feeling lonely in a relationship is a great first step to fix things. Before you blame your partner’s long workdays or your recent lack of intimacy, take a deeper look.
#1 Are you letting yourself be vulnerable? Are you open to connecting or are your fears of getting hurt closing you off? Whether you’ve been hurt in the past or by your partner, fear can prevent you from leaning into the relationship. That can leave you feeling lonely because you aren’t willing to take that risk. [Read: What does it mean to be more vulnerable in a relationship and how to open up]
#2 Does your partner shut down when they’re upset? If your partner’s response to stress is to recede but yours is to talk it out, it can feel very isolating.
#3 Are you keeping a secret or avoiding certain conversations? Avoiding something small like running into an ex or overspending on something can create a much bigger web of lies and leave you feeling separate from your partner.
#4 Do you communicate your feelings with your partner? Both the good and the bad?
#5 Are you trying to fix your partner? Do you try to control them? If so, that lack of control can leave you feeling invalid because your connection isn’t authentic. [Read: How to make your partner better – is it something you should be doing?]
#6 Do you avoid arguments and disagreements? Trying to keep things peachy and nice is not what makes you feel connected. If you swallow down your feelings and opinions, it only distances your relationship even further.
#7 Do you connect when the opportunities arise? If something comes up where you can truly be there for each other, do you? Whether you have something to celebrate or mourn, do you take that time together?
#8 Are you both intentional with your interactions? You should be able to feel at ease around your partner, but putting in the effort to care about how the other feels, it gives intention to your behavior. Without it, you essentially become roommates.
#9 Are you having fun more often than you’re opening up? Keeping things fun and exciting is great for a relationship, but if you focus more on traveling and new activities than you do on your connection, that fun won’t prevent loneliness.
#10 Are you feeling happy? Could you be struggling with depression, anxiety, or another mental illness? These things require the intervention of a professional but can help you get back on track. [Read: How to know if you’re emotionally numb and how to find your way out of it]
#11 Do you connect physically but in no other ways? Or vice versa? Only focusing on one aspect of your relationship can leave you feeling alone or rejected by others.
#12 Do you and your partner judge each other’s feelings and reactions? Judging your partner because they don’t react to things the same as you, can close them off to sharing and vice versa. When you stop sharing your feelings, you lose the connection.
#13 Do you rely on your partner for validation? If your partner is there to fill a void of loneliness, that feeling will never go away. If you are together so you aren’t alone, feeling lonely in a relationship will linger.
#14 Are either you or your partner ill, overwhelmed, or overworked? These things can put great pressure on a relationship and take over the connection you share. They are often temporary and can be worked through.
Any and all of these can be what is causing you to feel lonely in a relationship. If any of these hit home for you, try to focus on that. What has lead to that behavior? Have you talked about it? Can you bring it up with your partner?
What to do if you’re feeling lonely in a relationship
If you are feeling lonely in a relationship due to any of the previously mentioned reasons, you are not alone. A good portion of people in long-term relationships feel lonely now and again. It is a perfectly normal feeling, as long as it is worked through.
Without intervention, feeling lonely in a relationship can take over. If you want to know what to do about feeling lonely in a relationship, you can take these steps together with your partner to reconnect.
#1 Be vulnerable. Willing to let your guard down and share your true feelings is the first step in fighting the feeling of loneliness in a relationship. If you can’t have an open and honest discussion, it will be very difficult to feel like you’re together.
#2 Stop judging. Talking with your partner should be a safe space. You should both listen to each other and take turns sharing. See things from the other’s perspective instead of shutting them down. [Read: Here’s how to become a better listener in your relationship]
#3 Feel all your feelings. If you can’t face your feelings, how will you face them together? Feel afraid of being hurt. Feel lonely and feel weak. All these things need to be felt in order to be worked through.
#4 Learn from one another. You should always be open to learning from each other. Don’t just hear what the other has to say, but listen. Understand what they mean.
#5 Compromise. Meeting halfway shows you’re in this together. When you stop compromising in a relationship, it becomes selfish. When you are willing to meet each other in the middle, it is clear you both want that connection.
#6 Make time. Make time to talk, laugh, and have fun. If communicating is becoming difficult for you, take baby steps to reinstate your connection. Go on dates. Try new things that break you out of your comfort zone. Work together on a project. [Read: 14 signs you’re getting too comfortable with each other]
#7 Talk about why you’re scared of getting hurt. Tell your partner how you feel. Don’t blame them or accuse them. Let them know that you are not accusing them, just sharing how you feel and that you want to work on it together.
#8 Don’t compare your relationship. Don’t compare this relationship to a past relationship, to the couples you see online, or anything else. What this does is drives a wedge in your connection for no reason. You could have a wonderful relationship but see an online couple doing more and then think yours isn’t enough when it is.
#9 Identify a pattern. Is feeling lonely in a relationship a pattern for you? Do you tend to pull away from your partner at a certain point? When the excitement and newness wear off, do you find it hard to keep the spark alive? If so, you may have some work to do on your own or with a therapist about your emotional patterns.
#10 Break from loneliness when you’re alone. When you’re alone at home or in the car, try to fill that time. Instead of focusing on your state, enjoy that time. The cure for loneliness isn’t constant company. Spending all your free time with your partner won’t fix things. [Read: I feel lonely: Here are 30 ways to overcome those feelings]
#12 See a couples’ counselor. If you are trying to work together to overcome feeling lonely in a relationship but can’t seem to break through the walls or open up how you wish, visit a couples’ counselor.
This unbiased third party can offer techniques for you and your partner to admit the truth to each other and try to come through this time.
[Read: Considering relationship therapy? How to know if it is right for you]
Feeling lonely in a relationship is isolating, but it doesn’t have to last. Start with small steps, and follow these steps to change your mindset and your life.
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