When you feel lonely in your relationship, you might need to take a step back, and try to understand why you are feeling the way you are feeling.
Feeling alone in a relationship can make you question yourself more than you may ever have before.
When a relationship is going well, it’s partly because you feel like you’re a part of something. You’re on a team, and you’ve got someone around who always has your back. And, let’s face it, there’s kind of no greater feeling.
So when things go south, being in a relationship can feel like the loneliest place in the world. But believe it or not, feeling alone in a relationship isn’t all that uncommon.
Why do people end up feeling alone in a relationship?
Psychologist Sandra E. Cohen, Ph.D., says the most common reasons people feel lonely in relationships have to do with communication. While the specifics vary from relationship to relationship if you feel alone with your partner there is either a fundamental lack of communication between you or the standard at which you used to communicate has been significantly lowered.
In the first of these two scenarios, Cohen asks, “Has it always been this way? If it has, there are a few things to consider. Do the two of you have entirely different needs and interests? Are they always busy and unable to prioritize time with you? Are they unemotional, rejecting, or critical, making you withdraw? Do you have a hard time expressing your needs?”
If the second scenario sounds more like your situation, Cohen asks, “Did something change? If so, what happened? Is this due to stress or something going on with them that isn’t about you or the relationship?”
Personally, I would argue that feeling lonely in a relationship is sometimes much worse than feeling lonely and single. When you’re single, you can still believe that there’s someone out there for you and focus your attention on getting closer to your friends and family.
When you’re in a relationship, feeling lonely is a sign of not feeling connected to your partner, and, if at one time you guys were super in sync, it can be really sad. Miscommunication can cause serious damage to the relationship. There’s no longer the emotional connection that begged for one another to be vulnerable with each other.
Therefore, when there’s an unwillingness to be vulnerable, it dissipates the level of connection, allowing for distance to grow. This distance makes you feel like you are no longer close with your partner causing you to feel lonely.
What to Do When You Feel Lonely in a Relationship
1. Communicate clearly and effectively.
If you’ve been feeling the heavy cloak of loneliness draped over your shoulders, even though your partner is only a few feet away, it’s time for a conversation. Like, a real, in-depth conversation about where you stand.
“Whether something’s changed or not, try to talk openly, without accusation or anger. Express your needs and listen to him. If he’s receptive, make time to connect every day. Talk about your feelings and his,” Cohen suggests.
If you’re experiencing feelings of loneliness in your relationship, you need to bring the issues to light. Sit down and talk to your partner, discussing how you feel and what you need from them. But be sure to listen to what your partner needs as well.
You owe it to yourself to speak up and do whatever’s necessary to make you feel connected again. Don’t wait around for another opportunity.
2. Be more vulnerable with each other.
Vulnerability is a strong way to establish an emotional connection and shows the strength of a relationship. It means you aren’t afraid to be open and honest with each other, share your deepest feelings or concerns, and determine a way to move forward together.
Opening up to your partner is also a great way to signal to them that they can do the same. Tell them something personal they don’t know about you, or tell a story that will help them relate to you.
Adds relationship coach Deborah Roth, “Maybe you’ve both gotten a little lazy, or maybe the rest of your life is pulling your attention away from your partner. But remember: creating and maintaining a successful relationship requires work on both sides.”