Are You in a Relationship but Still Lonely?

Posted by on Mar 15, 2015 in Couples Counseling For One | Comments Off on Are You in a Relationship but Still Lonely?

Loneliness is not a diagnosable mental health disorder, but it still causes people a lot of emotional problems. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and even affect your physical health and lifespan. Loneliness is excruciating, and causes a lot of misery and anguish.

Chronic loneliness affects your thinking.

Loneliness distorts how you see other people, making them appear less concerned and caring. Your partner may seem less interested in you, and your relationship less satisfying.

Often this leads to overreaction, hypersensitivity, and the perception that your partner’s actions are rejection. You may become extremely focused on what he or she is not providing emotionally, and miss opportunities to connect.

If you miss the ways your partner is reaching out to you, you may work overtime trying to force connection or withdraw and give up. This could lead to your partner’s withdrawal, exacerbating your loneliness. Chronic loneliness often becomes a vicious cycle.

Being in a relationship doesn’t necessarily protect against loneliness.

When people feel chronically lonely in a relationship, it builds gradually as the emotional distance in the relationship increases.

Warning signs of loneliness in your relationship:

  • Discussion of world events, mutual interests, and dreams or goals cease. You and your partner don’t talk about much anymore.
  • Conversations are transactional or obligatory in nature. “Can you pick up some milk at the store?” “Suzy has a soccer game.” You and your partner only talk about what needs to be discussed.
  • Your daily routines foster emotional distance. Is your time at home spent pursuing separate activities? Does one of you go to bed early, while the other stays up late? You may be physically present, but fail to interact or allow your time to overlap.
  • You fantasize or feel more connected to other people.

Try these tips for combating relationship loneliness:

  • Show interest in your partner. Demonstrate that you’re listening to what your partner has to say. Even if his or her interests aren’t yours, try to find a way to be supportive. Take opportunities to foster closer connection.
  • Create shared experiences. Ask your partner to do things that require minimal time or effort to minimize objections. Take a walk or cook dinner together. Eventually, work up to planning trips or taking on new projects.
  • Try to see things from your partner’s point of view. It’s easy to make automatic assumptions about each other over time. Your ability to read your partner’s thoughts isn’t as accurate as you may believe. Take a few minutes to close your eyes and put yourself in your partner’s shoes. How would your partner react, think, or feel? Gain a truer sense of where your partner is coming from to foster deeper sympathy and connection.
  • It’s important to learn to tolerate some loneliness. Often we have the expectation that our partner will fulfill all of our emotional needs. Your partner isn’t responsible for your loneliness. It happens occasionally. It’s normal. Use lonely periods for self-examination and growth. Sometimes you have to go through it to get past it.

If you still experience chronic loneliness, take a good look at (1) the viability of the relationship and (2) your own contribution to your loneliness.

Unrealistic expectations, core beliefs, low self-esteem, and unresolved grief may be contributing factors. Consider addressing personal issues with the help of a counselor. He or she may help you resolve problems getting in the way of a healthy, connected relationship with your partner.

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