Being with someone and feeling alone


Feeling Lonely in a Relationship? Here's What to Do

Being lonely is not just an emotion reserved for those who are single or alone. But there are ways to work through it.

“It’s very common that people find themselves in long-term relationships feeling lonely,” says Niloo Dardashti, a New York-based psychologist and relationship expert.

People in a relationship can be lonely because something isn’t working in the relationship itself or because they look to their partner to fill a void that they’ve been carrying within themselves, according to Dardashti.

Whatever the culprit, here, a few experts explain why you might be feeling this way and provide ways to address the root of the loneliness you may be experiencing.

Why do some people feel lonely in their relationship?

One reason for feeling lonely could be that your relationship is not working as well as it once did. A 2018 Pew Research Center survey found that 28% of people who are dissatisfied with their family lives feel lonely all or most of the time. And the number of people who are unhappy at home is rising — the most recent General Social Survey conducted in 2016 by NORC at the University of Chicago recorded the highest number of unhappily married couples since 1974.

This sense of loneliness can often take place when a couple has lost their emotional connection, says Gary Brown, a licensed family and marriage therapist in Los Angeles. “Even in the very best of relationships, there are going to be those times when one or both partners may have drifted apart and feel somewhat distant and estranged from one another,” he says.

An unwillingness to be vulnerable can also contribute to feelings of loneliness within romantic relationships, according to Jenny Taitz, a clinical psychologist and author of How to Be Single and Happy. “One contributing factor to loneliness is not talking about your feelings or sharing things that are maybe a little less safe and risky to share,” she says. “You could be close to someone but they might not know the more personal things about you.

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Social media could also play a role. According to Taitz, comparing your relationship to ones you see on social media can generate a sense of loneliness. “Let’s say it’s Valentine’s Day, for instance, and you had a nice dinner. But then you go on social media and other people got really beautiful jewelry or flowers,” she says. “That will automatically make you feel lonely.” When you compare your relationship to those on your social media, she says, you wind up creating an “unpleasant distance” between you and your partner. It’s through this distance that feelings of loneliness start to arise. And the more time you spend on social media, the more lonely you can feel. A 2017 study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that people who reported spending more than two hours a day on social media were twice as likely to feel lonely than those who spent half an hour on those sites.

But sometimes, feeling lonely could predate the actual relationship. A 2016 study published in Nature found that loneliness can be a heritable trait and that there are certain people who may be genetically predisposed to feel greater pangs of loneliness throughout their lives. And Dardashti warns that getting into a relationship as a means of curing pre-existing feelings of loneliness will never truly work. “People hope for this other person to be the solution to their existential aloneness in the world, but normally that’s not [the case],” she says. “There’s not this person who’s going to take [away] that alone-ness.”

How do you know if the loneliness stems from you or your relationship?

It can be difficult to determine the root of your lonesomeness. But the first step should be to talk to your partner about how you feel, says Joshua Rosenthal, a clinical psychologist and director of child and adolescent treatment at Manhattan Psychology Group. If, during the conversation, your partner is able to point to concrete examples of ways they regularly try to make you feel emotionally fulfilled and yet you still can’t shake feeling lonely, “it’s probably more something within, rather than coming from the other person,” he says.

If that is the case, take a closer look at your past relationships to determine if the feelings you are experiencing are a pattern rather than isolated to this particular relationship, Rosenthal says. Do you typically feel lonely as soon as the novelty of a new relationship wears off? “Maybe it’s how you would feel in any relationship [after] the beginning stages,” Dardashti suggests. “That’s a question to come back to. What is it in yourself that’s creating this dynamic?”

According to both Rosenthal and Dardashti, If you talk to your partner and they’re also experiencing feelings of loneliness, it’s likely that the relationship is the culprit. “Chances are, if you’re feeling lonely, the other person is feeling lonely too,” says Dardashti. A 2009 study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology even found that loneliness can be contagious.

If you and your partner both feel lonely, Dardashti says it’s important to look at these feelings within the context of your relationship. Do you find that the feelings of loneliness are more common when you’re with each other? Do you find that you’re lonelier now than you were before entering this relationship? Do you find that there was a time when you were more fulfilled by your partner than you are now? If the answer to these questions is a resounding yes, then this could be a sign that something isn’t working within your relationship, according to Dardashti. Often, it could just be that the two of you have grown apart, she says. “If you used to feel like there was more of a connection there and therefore less loneliness, then that’s a sign that maybe you guys are sort of drifting in different directions.”

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How do you overcome feeling lonely in a relationship?

If the loneliness stems from your relationship and you’re hoping to get back on track, it’s time to have another talk with your partner. “The very first thing to do is to become self-aware of what you are feeling and then to approach your partner and begin what will probably be a series of conversations,” Brown says. “This needs to happen in a way that your partner doesn’t feel judged; [it’s] more to simply let them know what your experience is.”

So, how do you make sure your partner doesn’t feel judged or defensive? It’s important to come from a place of vulnerability when you’re explaining how you feel and to use a non-accusatory tone and language, according to Brown. For example, you can say something like, “I want to trust you with what’s happening in my inner world — I’ve been feeling somewhat neglected recently, and I don’t want you to hear it so much as blame, as just more my experience,” he says. Consider also acknowledging any stressors your partner may have in their life that could be keeping them from fully being there for you, Brown adds.

Then, listen to your partner’s point of view. If they are on the same page about wanting to mend the relationship, you can have a series of conversations geared towards figuring out what may be damaged in your relationship and how to fix it, Brown says. And if you need a little extra help with communication or coming up with solutions, Taitz recommends heading to a couples therapist and not waiting until things really deteriorate to do so. “If you feel stuck around certain issues or have a hard time communicating effectively with your partner and [you] value your relationship, there are evidence-based couples therapies that can help you increase closeness in a set number of sessions by teaching you skills,” Taitz says. These skills can include communicating in ways that defuse rather than escalate tension and regulating your emotions before talking to your partner.

If however, your partner really is doing everything to make you feel fulfilled and the loneliness is something that exists within yourself, you might be someone who tends to look for external ways to quell your loneliness, Dardashti says. She suggests confronting these feelings on your own by seeking help from a therapist “where you’re pushed to look at yourself and reflect on your stuff, your issues, and patterns. ” There, you can work on your own internal issues that could affect how you feel in your relationship.

While it may seem counterintuitive, the solution for loneliness is not necessarily to surround yourself with people. Dardashti suggests partaking in activities like meditation that force you to be introspective. “The key is that if you do want to be more comfortable with your alone-ness that you don’t avoid being alone,” she says. “Confront it and try to build some awareness around what it is that comes up for you when you are alone. That’s when you can figure out what to do to address it.”

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What to Do If You're Feeling Alone in a Relationship

Elizabeth Tsung / Unsplash

Many of us assume we have to be alone to be lonely, but that’s not the case. In fact, research has shown that even those who are married have reported feelings of loneliness. But what exactly does it mean when you’re feeling lonely in a relationship, and does that mean you should call it quits? Not necessarily, say happiness expert Andrea F. Polard, Psy.D., and Alysha Jeney, a millennial relationship therapist. Jeney says that loneliness is a state of being, and it’s not just boredom—it’s an inability to connect.

Meet the Expert

  • Alysha Jeney is a millennial relationship therapist and owner of Denver-based Modern Love Counseling. She is also a cofounder and relationship expert at Modern Love Box.
  • Andrea F. Polard, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist and specialist in Zen psychology and therapy. She is the author of A Unified Theory of Happiness.

Why We Feel Lonely in a Relationship

“People are lonely in relationships or in social groups because they can’t be themselves with the people and environment that they surround themselves with every day,” says Jeney. “Loneliness is emotional and mental isolation.” Some signs to look out for include feeling unable to be yourself with your partner, lacking genuine intimacy, and hiding your true feelings and likes. This state can stem from many different things, including depression, grief, and anxiety.

Jeney says that every relationship is different, but if you’re feeling lonely, it can be one of two things. The first is that you may be with the wrong person, even if you may match well on paper. Because of this, you may have been unable to let your partner connect with the authentic you, so you have nothing in common or don’t even have similar values or needs.

The second situation is that you are actually with the “right” person, but have been too afraid to let them in. “You may be experiencing isolation because you haven’t taken risks at being vulnerable and shown them the real you, so you aren’t connecting deeply,” she says. The positive news is that if your relationship falls into the latter group, there are actually ways you can combat these feelings.

With the help of Jeney and Polard, we rounded up six ways to stop feeling alone in a relationship.

01 of 06

Be Yourself

Practicing mindfulness allows you to become attuned to whether you’re being yourself or playing a role in your relationship. It’s particularly effective because it helps you to connect authentically to others, says Jeney. “The more you can be yourself around others, the more opportunity to make genuine and fulfilling connections,” she explains. The act of making yourself vulnerable and letting someone in empowers you (this is why therapy can be helpful). Seeing the “real” you empowers you, comforts you, connects you, and even grounds you.

02 of 06

Take Vulnerable Risks

In order to show your true self, you have to take some risks. “It’s not comfortable, it’s not always safe, but this will help you determine who will support you and who will not,” Jeney says. You can do this by being emotional in front of your S.O., or it can be as simple as sharing a story with them. When you share a piece of yourself, it combats your loneliness since you are open to finding a true connection. This is why we feel close to pets on another level—it’s because when we do something silly or disgusting in front of them, we trust they will love us unconditionally. “This is what you are also needing from humans,” she says.

03 of 06

Self-Evaluate

If you're feeling lonely in your relationship, take the time to go inward and be honest with yourself about why this may be. Some people are addicted to external stimulation, according to Polard. "We just feel bored and blame the other for not being more exciting," she explains in an article for Psychology Today. When this is the case, the best thing you can do is acknowledge that you may be feeling this way. Polard also suggests turning to meditation to help you be more mindful of the present. You can walk in nature, listen to a water fountain, or garden, for instance. "Become still in yourself and notice the ordinary gifts of life," the psychologist writes.

04 of 06

Don't Assume You're Understood

You’re probably not dating a mind reader, but many times, we make the assumption that people should know what we need or what hurts us—especially when it’s a partner we’ve been with for a long time or are married to. “Ask for what you need in a calm, gentle, and vulnerable way,” explains Jeney. “Once your person understands what you need, it is easier for them to comfort you, which in turn dissolves your emotional loneliness.”

05 of 06

Speak Up

Learning to ask for what you need is key. “If you spend a lot of time going with the flow and not putting your two cents in, it may be time to start piping up,” says Jeney. Expressing your feelings and thoughts will help you feel more valued in your relationship because this communication is how you achieve mutual respect. And guess what—you don’t even always have to agree with the other person’s opinion.

06 of 06

Listen

As important as speaking up and being honest with your partner is in a healthy relationship, it's equally important to listen to what your S.O. has to say and work to understand their perspective, according to Polard. She explains that "communicating well does not predict satisfaction in a couple, but that a satisfied couple communicates well. " Because of this, even if you and your partner are able to improve your communication skills, you still might not feel less lonely in your relationship. However, Polard notes that if there is still love in your hearts for one another, you can work toward reconnecting.

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Article Sources

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  1. Hsieh N, Hawkley L. Loneliness in the Older Adult Marriage: Associations with Dyadic Aversion, Indifference, and Ambivalence. J Soc Pers Relat. 2018;35(10):1319-1339. doi:10.1177/0265407517712480

  2. Kimmes JG, Jaurequi ME, Roberts K, Harris VW, Fincham FD. An Examination of the Association Between Relationship Mindfulness and Psychological and Relational Well‐Being in Committed Couples.  J Marital Fam Ther. 2020;46(1):30-41. doi:10.1111/jmft.12388

The therapist explained how to overcome loneliness

The topic of loneliness is one that is probably familiar to all of us. Loneliness is the feeling that accompanies us in our development. This is part of the journey of finding yourself. And it leads to the fact that we begin to value relationships more.

Experience of loneliness

Loneliness is experienced very painfully. This is the kind of feeling we want to run away from, and we do it by being distracted by something. We are helped by watching TV shows and movies, computer, mobile phone, travel, alcohol, work. All this helps to get rid of the unpleasant feeling. Because in loneliness we experience that we again find ourselves thrown back to ourselves. In loneliness, I am only with myself. I'm thrown. There is no one around. I don't have a relationship, I don't have anyone I can talk to. Loneliness is the experience of experiencing the absence of a relationship. This feeling can be especially acute in longing for something. If you love someone, you yearn for separation from him. I miss my loved one, I feel connected to him, but I cannot see him. My heart is next to him, and without him or without her, my heart is lost to a certain extent.

A similar feeling can be experienced with nostalgia, when we yearn for our native places. I experienced a very strong longing for my native places when, as a child of 11-12 years old, I was in a boarding school. It was warm and pleasant at home, I had relationships there, I had friends there, and I was at a boarding school far from home. I haven't been home for a whole month. I felt like I was in a foreign world. The world was cold and I felt lost. All this time I thought about what was happening at home, what my relatives were doing: now they got up, now they are having dinner, now the family has gathered at the table. And I was constantly in pain because I was separated from that part of life where I usually experienced warmth, where I had the feeling that I was part of this world. I felt incredibly alone.

We may feel lonely at work if we are confronted with some demands, if there are some projects that we have not yet grown up to. Where we feel insecure about them, and if no one supports us at the same time. Then we feel alone. If I know that everything depends on me alone, there may be a fear that will accompany loneliness. It's the fear that I'll be weak, that I'll feel guilty about not being able to do it.

It's even worse if bullying occurs at work. Then I will feel that I am given to it at the mercy of, I am on the edge of society and I am no longer a part of it.

Loneliness is a very big topic in old age, in old age. And in childhood. Children who are not met, children who are left alone if the parents are busy doing something else, may feel helpless in their loneliness. Loneliness traumatizes children, because in solitude they are not able to develop their Self. They stop in development. There is a curvature in the development of the child if he experiences long moments of loneliness. On the other hand, it is not so bad if the child spends a couple of hours alone, because for him this is an impetus for development. Just what is reality.

In old age, loneliness is no longer a traumatic factor and does not hinder development - but it is burdensome. It can cause depression, paranoid feelings, sleep disturbances, psychosomatic complaints, and pseudodementia. It happens that pseudo-dementia is the silence of a person from loneliness. He used to have a family, he worked for decades, was among people, and now he sits at home alone. One of my patients at the age of 85 was sitting at home alone. Being her doctor, so that she would not be completely alone, I bought her a canary. She has a living being. This canary helped her live a couple of years longer. She talked to her every day.

For most older people, television is their "comfort". But TV is a communication directed only in one direction. And yet man at least hears human voices. And in any case, he can say something to himself, even if no one will hear. I think this is not a bad form of overcoming loneliness, creating a kind of bridge, because it takes the edge off loneliness. But, of course, this is an ersatz, a replacement. In old age, loneliness can be very overwhelming. Especially if he has lost the ability to see or hear. Can I imagine that I have to live in this state for a couple of years? When the only thing that will accompany me is back pain or indigestion. We can imagine how helpless we are in such situations. And here the question of the value of life really arises.

Do I know loneliness? If we ask ourselves: when was the last time I felt lonely? Is loneliness somehow present in my life? Maybe it is hidden behind some businesslike everyday life? If I'm being honest, I can probably find it. Or I may find that there were times when I was alone. Maybe I haven't known this feeling for a long time? Maybe it's foreign to me? Or another pole: maybe I really suffer acutely from loneliness? And it overwhelms me so much that all the joy in relation to life simply disappeared, that the question arises about the meaning of life.

Loneliness among people

I can experience loneliness not only if I do not have relationships with people. I can feel lonely during some holiday, at a party, even at my own birthday, at school, at work, in my family. Sometimes people are nearby, but something is missing. There is no meeting, there is not enough intimacy, there is no exchange with another person. We have superficial conversations, and I have a need to talk to a person for real. We talk about skiing, about cars, but we don't talk about me and you.

In many families, it is only about some business, who and what should buy, who should cook food, but our relationships, what worries us, are silent. Then I feel alone and in the family.

If no one in the family sees me, especially if it is a child, then I am lonely. Even worse - I am abandoned, because there are people around, but they are not interested in me, they do not look into my eyes. They only look at whether I do well in school and that I don't do anything bad. And that's how I'm raised. I grow up alone.

The same happens in partnerships: we have been together for 20 years, but at the same time we feel lonely. The sexual relationship is functioning, but am I in the relationship? Is the other talking about me - or only about yourself? Or just to satisfy some needs? If we don't take the time to talk to each other, as we did when we were in love, then we become lonely even in good relationships.

There are periods in every relationship when it feels lonely as the relationship develops more on a curve with ups and downs. We cannot be constantly ready to communicate with another, be constantly open to another person. We are immersed in ourselves, busy with our problems, feelings, and we have no time for another. But it can happen just when he needs it the most. At this moment, I am not for another, and the other feels alone, maybe even abandoned in trouble. Such situations occur in any relationship. But it doesn't harm the relationship if we can then talk about our different states. And then we find each other again. But sometimes these moments remain wounds that we receive in the course of our lives.

We can experience loneliness not only when we are not in a relationship, but even when we are surrounded by people. And at the same time, we can not feel lonely when no one is around.

To understand loneliness, let's try to look at a person more deeply. Then we can understand why loneliness manifests itself in so many different ways.

Causes of loneliness

A person is a creature that, as it were, was placed into the world. The main idea of ​​existential philosophy says that it is impossible to be human without being related to the world. To be human means fundamentally to be in the world, to be in connection with something or someone else. Without connection with otherness, it is impossible to be human.

It was in this way that Heidegger defined "being here" (existence). Heidegger often used the word Dasein instead of Person to show that I cannot be if I am not connected with You or It. To be here is to be in the world. In the world of my family, in the world of my city, in the world of my ideas and ideas. That is to say, being human is a fundamental correlation. If something does not function in this relation, then we lack something and may feel lonely.

But this connection is twofold. Martin Buber spoke about the relationship "I-Thou" and "I-It": I relate to another person, the same as me - and this is a personal relationship, or I relate to some thing, with some business ( e.g. "I'm driving a car"). That is, relationships have an outer pole, but they also have an inner pole. I also need to manage with myself, I need not just to BE in this world, but I must also be I. We have a correlation outside and a correlation with ourselves. This thought can help to understand three reasons why loneliness occurs.

First of all, loneliness is a disturbance, a breakdown in relationships. In loneliness, we worry that relationships either do not exist, or they develop incorrectly. Relations with a person mean: I am connected with this person with my feelings, I would like to experience a person in my feeling. I would like to be able to feel what drives him and what he feels.

Let's think about the relationship with your child. I would like to feel how a child experiences and lives his life. I would like to participate in this, I would like to be close to him - because through closeness I have a feeling about my child and his life.

Relationships are more than relatedness in terms of feelings. Relationships always have a beginning, but relationships never end. Relationships are forever. And it can be assumed that since I always remain connected with the person with whom I have or had a relationship, I can never be alone. All the relationships that I had with other people have been preserved in me. If I meet my ex-girlfriend after 20 years on the street, then my heart starts to beat faster - because something was, and it still continues to be in me. Everything that happens in a relationship is saved. And I can live on that. If I experienced something good with some person, then this is a source for happiness in my later life. I can think of my mother, father, with whom I had a good relationship - and feel a warm feeling.

However, if the relationship is bad, then I don't want to remember them, I don't want to go back to the past. Then I wish it wasn't true. Then I lose contact with it. Relationships seem to be there, but they hurt me - and I turn away. And if I turn away, then the relationship in this moment no longer lives. Therefore, it may be that I will feel lonely, although I have or have had a relationship.

There is another reason why relationships can cause feelings of loneliness. What we have described so far is the outer pole of the relationship. But there is a relationship directed inward, a relationship with oneself. If I don't feel myself, if I don't have feelings, if they are muffled, then I am alone with myself. If I do not feel my body, my breath, my mood, my well-being, my fatigue, my joy, my pain - if I do not feel all this, then I am not in a relationship with myself. Then I miss a fundamental, basic part of life.

This can happen if I have had an experience that hurts - then I don't want to turn to myself. If I was offended, disappointed, deceived, if I was ridiculed, then I feel pain if I turn to myself. And this is a natural human reflex - to turn away from what causes pain and suffering. We have described it in terms of external relations, but also in internal relations I can withdraw from myself. And then I no longer feel myself, I am no longer in a relationship with myself. It can take me so far that I won't feel my body. I will feel my feelings to such a small extent that I will have psychosomatic disorders. They always indicate that you do not feel something very important. This is a signal: you should not continue to live like this, feel what hurts you so that you can process it. So that you can mourn, so that you can forgive - otherwise you will not be free. Migraine, stomach ulcers, asthma and other disorders tell me: do not continue like this. There is something very important that you must do first.

If I lose my relationship with myself, I can no longer feel myself. Or even worse, I can't have a relationship with you either.

I cannot truly experience a relationship with another if I am not capable of resonance, if there is no movement in me, because the feelings are too wounded. Or because I never really had them. If my mother never took me in her arms, if my father didn't have time for me, if I didn't have real friends, then I have a "blunted" world of feelings - a world that could not develop. Then my feelings are poor, and then I am always alone. Because I don't feel very well (or don't feel at all). Therefore, in relation to the other person, my feelings are also flat. This is the second level of relationship that leads to loneliness.

But there is also a third level, which is above the relationship level and which is also causally related to loneliness. This is the meeting level. This level is connected with the fact that I am I in a relationship. If in a relationship we can experience being together and feel the closeness of another person, then thanks to the I, another aspect is introduced that “explodes” this pleasant being together: for all our connectedness and mutual striving to meet, we realize that I am I, You are You, but I am not You. That difference, which is irremovable. It is eliminated, for example, in a symbiotic relationship, when I myself dissolve into you. But if I am I, then there is a boundary between us. Then I worry that, in principle, I am responsible only for myself, I am left alone with myself.

There is no second Alfried Lenglet in this world. Each of us is unique and unique. The way I am is unique nowhere else. And this is the basis that can potentially make us lonely in this world.

Healing from loneliness

What can help here? The other person has the same feelings, he feels the same way. If it is You who turns to me, it will help me accept loneliness. If other people look at me, in my direction, then by doing so they will let me know: "I see you. You are here." And I really am here, and not only with my feelings - I am here as a Person.

If, for example, another person is listening to me, they are directed towards me. It is not only about the fact that there is some kind of movement of feelings, but that someone is trying to understand me. And he tells me that he understands what he thinks about this. If other people are interested in what I am doing, then I see that I have done this action, and this attracts the attention of another person. That is, not only I see it, others see it too. And then it becomes reality. If others look at me that way, then they respect boundaries and differences. If I feel seen, it means that I was treated with respect.

If other people take the next step and take me seriously, leave me my own: "Yes, you baked this cake, not me," then they treat me fairly. If they listen to my comments, if they say, "What you said is important. Can you explain it further?" then these people treat me fairly. This is an even higher level than just being seen. Being seen means that I have respect for the border, I do not step on you, I do not go around you. The pinnacle of all this is the recognition of my worth. If the other says "I like it"; "I think it's important," then I get a value judgment from the other. And thus my own value takes root. I can get some criticism, but it gives me a certain edge as a Person. If others come to me, tune in to me - I'm not alone.

If all this happens when I am a child, then I can build my Self. The development of the Self is connected with meeting other people. Parents are the people who see me, who take me seriously and tell me that they appreciate me. And then the child can begin to do the same with himself.

We need to learn this. We can learn it from others, but we cannot develop it in ourselves without You. That is why Martin Buber said that I becomes I next to You. The self acquires the ability to treat itself - and then treat others in the same way. The person who survives the meeting develops abilities through which he can meet others.

We have Person - this is the source. This source itself begins to speak in us, but for this the Self must be heard. This I needs You, who will listen to him. By meeting with the other, I can go to myself. And in doing so, I have the basic experience of being a Person. I am self-confident, I have an inner life, the Person inside me speaks to my I, and through the I speaks to You and thus expresses itself. If I live out of this alignment, then I am authentic, then I really am I. And then I am no longer alone.

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Loneliness together: why we are unhappy in relationships

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When I work with a client who is struggling with addiction and ask him to look inside himself to understand what feelings he is trying to drown out with food or alcohol, I often hear the same answer: loneliness. You may think that this feeling is experienced mainly by those who live alone and do not have a family, but this is not so. It is in partnerships that many feel abandoned, isolated. After all, relationships do not always relieve loneliness, on the contrary, they sometimes cause it.

We feel deeply alone when we want to feel soul contact with someone, but this someone is not available to us, does not want or cannot open up to us. This feeling is certainly present when we are alone, but often it occurs in relationships when one or both partners have lost touch with each other - due to the fact that one of them is angry or withdrawn, sick or very tired. .

Having lost contact with ourselves, we cannot connect with others

Being alone and being alone are not the same thing. The feeling of emptiness occurs when we are out of touch with ourselves—when we are unable to listen to our feelings, judge ourselves, turn to all sorts of addictions to get rid of painful sensations, or hold someone else responsible for our feelings.

We will always feel lonely and abandoned when we give up on ourselves.

Moreover, having lost contact with ourselves, we cannot connect with others. And these broken ties become a source of deep despair and disappointment. A person who lives alone, but at the same time loves and appreciates himself, may not feel this painful emptiness. He is able to enjoy his solitude and keep in touch with others when they are ready to make contact.

What makes us lonely in a relationship?

You may feel lonely with a partner if

...your heart is closed because you protect yourself from resentment, anger or possible rejection. You cannot be in contact with a partner when closed.

...the partner is closed, angry or self-absorbed.

...a partner deliberately blocks communication with you, hiding behind work, TV, alcohol, hobbies, the Internet, and so on.

...you adjust to your partner, trying to control his feelings in this way. Giving up yourself for the sake of manipulation interferes with the creation of a genuine soul connection.

...both of you or one of you does not want to see the brewing conflict. The reluctance to speak openly on sensitive topics creates barriers between you.

Isolation disappears when we are open and open with each other

...you or your partner uses sexual relations as a form of control.

...you go over relationships in your head instead of discussing them together with open hearts. Speculative analysis can be attractive at times, but after a while you feel bored and empty.

...a partner criticizes your thoughts, feelings, attitudes, or actions. Judgment and criticism divide people.

...you or your partner are too tired, overwhelmed or unwell to keep in touch.

In a word, everything that separates us from ourselves and our partner causes a feeling of loneliness. Conversely, isolation disappears when we are frank and openly contact each other.

We feel connected to each other when

. ..we are not afraid to be ourselves, vulnerable and say what we think without guilt or fear of judgment.

...willing to face unpleasant experiences, deal with them nurturingly, and learn from them—to take responsibility for all our feelings, rather than avoid them with various defenses. When we are in touch with ourselves, we can build connections with others, we are ready to learn something new about ourselves and our partner, especially in conflicts.

...we show care and compassion for ourselves and our partner.

... finding time to be together, talk, play, love, laugh, learn and grow. We are interested in personal growth and development of our relationships.

When spending time together, developing the ability to love yourself and share love with each other, becomes a priority for both partners, you have a great chance of staying in genuine contact with yourself and with each other. In such relationships, people rarely feel alone.

About the author

Margaret Paul is a family psychologist, co-author of What's Stopping You from Being Happy (with Jordan Paul, Centerpoligraph, 2009).


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