Why you can feel lonely in a relationship

YoIf you’ve ever built a fire, you know it takes some attention to keep it going. The same goes for being in a relationship, where each partner is responsible for keeping the romantic spark simmering and keeping things warm and cozy. But sometimes, a person can feel like they’re the only one stacking firewood or supporting the well-being of the relationship. Whether you’re overloaded, trying to keep the flames of love alive, or it seems like your partner isn’t supporting the fire at all, you may end up feeling lonely in your relationship… even if your partner is right. In the other room.

We don’t enter relationships to be (or feel like we are) alone, so when it happens, difficult emotions can come up. However, there is a subtle distinction between feeling lonely and feeling lonely within a relationship. According to marriage and family therapist Joy Berkheimer, PhD, loneliness is more about feeling invisible and disconnected, whereas being lonely is feeling like you’re alone on a team or like your partner doesn’t quite understand you.

“Loneliness feels like, ‘I’m in a room with you, but everything else is important to you, and it’s like I don’t exist or move you in any way,’ (whereas) being alone is like, ‘I have to do let life work without you being an equal or contributing partner or just without you,’” says Dr. Berkheimer.

“Being alone (in a relationship) is like, ‘I have to make life work without you being an equal or contributing partner or just without you.'”—Joy Berkheimer, PhD, therapist

However, both feeling lonely and lonely can erode a relationship and raise questions about whether it’s worth staying in the relationship in the first place. Below, find seven reasons why you might feel lonely (or lonely) in a relationship, and information on how you can create or recreate a team dynamic with your partner.

7 Reasons Why You Might Feel Lonely Or Lonely In A Relationship

1. You and your partner are living parallel lives.

Life can be busy, and if you have a demanding work schedule or other commitments, it can be difficult to find dedicated time for dating and bonding with your partner. “If a couple is too busy or hasn’t prioritized their relationship or made time for each other, they could be leading parallel lives,” says Gottman-trained couples therapist Kimberly Panganiban, LMFT.

Perhaps the only time they meet is fleeting, so he spends a lot of time alone. The more you and your partner function like ships passing through the night, the less connected you will feel and, as a result, the more alone or lonely.

2. You do not feel that your partner supports your personal goals

Another reason you might feel lonely in a relationship is if your partner doesn’t seem to care, support you, or make active efforts to help you achieve your goals. “This happens when you feel like you have to make your life, or what’s most important to you, work for yourself,” says Dr. Berkheimer.

For example, maybe your goal is to write a novel, so you need dedicated time in the evenings to brainstorm or write notes. If, after expressing this need to a partner, he still blasts music late at night or expects you to take care of time-consuming late-night tasks, it may seem like you don’t acknowledge or support your goal, leaving you alone in that endeavor. .

While you don’t need help writing the novel, showing basic support is part of being in a healthy relationship, says Dr. Berkheimer. In this example, that might look like leaving the house at night for some uninterrupted alone time or getting ready or cleaning up after dinner so you can get started sooner.

3. You are the only one working for you and your partner’s shared goals.

In addition to having individual goals, couples often set goals together; think: get married, buy a house, have children or travel the world. If you feel solely responsible for working on or achieving one or more of these mutual goals, you could end up feeling quite alone or lonely in your relationship, says Dr. Berkheimer.

For example, if you and your partner are looking forward to taking a big bucket-list trip, but you’re the only one adjusting your spending habits to focus on saving for the trip, you might feel like you’re on an island to yourself. …despite the relationship that underlines the trip.

4. Your values ​​do not align

Shared values ​​are part of the foundation of a healthy relationship, allowing you and your partner to feel like you belong on a cohesive team. If, as time goes by, you find that your values ​​don’t align with your partner’s in the way you thought, or if your key values ​​or your partner’s key values ​​change, you may feel like you’re not on the same wavelength. cool. says Dr. Berkheimer.

Perhaps one partner has recently turned to religion and the other doesn’t get it; or you and your partner discover that your preferred parenting styles are profoundly different. The resulting chasm could leave you feeling lonely in your relationship.

Certainly, that’s not to say that you have to like all the same things as your partner; some differences in terms of hobbies and interests is actually a good thing and can help both of you grow. But if your core values ​​or what you hold important turn out to be significantly different or have changed over time, you may start to question the viability of your partnership.

5. You feel that you are working to change your partner

If your relationship has taken on a parent-child or mentor-mentee dynamic, where you feel you are responsible for making your partner the person you need them to be, or teaching them critical skills, you may feel like you don’t really have a partner. equal team in your relationship, says Dr. Berkheimer.

Perhaps your partner had a very different upbringing than you or never learned basic cooking or financial management skills, and now it’s your “job” to provide that knowledge. That kind of teaching role can feel just as isolating as a relationship where you don’t interact much.

6. You and your partner have started to drift away from each other.

A sense of disconnection can occur when you or your partner feel that your “offers”—that is, simple verbal or nonverbal requests for connection—are not welcome or reciprocated. These offers can include things like physical affection, teasing, questions, and sexual advances, but no matter what form they take, if you start to feel like your partner isn’t receiving or returning them, you can create a pattern of “walking away.” each other,” says Panganiban.

At that point, it’s important to figure out why you and your partner have fallen into this pattern, whether it’s because of anxiety, a mismatch in the way feelings are expressed or processed, or something else entirely, says Panganiban, because “when people stop making offers or even stop looking for that connection, that’s really when loneliness can kick in.”

7. Your partner just doesn’t understand your life situation.

If your day-to-day reality is very different from your partner’s, they may not be able to relate to or understand how you experience life, says Dr. Berkheimer, and that can make you feel very alone. Just think about it: If you have a partner and you want to be able to have conversations about the things you’re experiencing, but they just can’t understand (their reality), you may not have a real connection. she says.

For example, if you’re a person of color in an interracial couple and you experience microaggressions and want to share this with your partner, but they just can’t relate, you may feel like you don’t have a true teammate. This could lead you to bring up the topic less and less, which can further contribute to feelings of loneliness.

Another example? Perhaps you have children and your partner does not. In this case, your partner may not understand the challenges and responsibilities inherent in parenthood, which could feel isolating, says Dr. Berkheimer.

How to deal with feeling lonely or lonely in a relationship

Like any relationship problem, how you handle feelings of loneliness or loneliness in a relationship has a lot to do with the root cause. If, for example, you learn that you and your partner have very different value systems or that your goals are incompatible, it may be wise to go your separate ways. But in most cases, the answer has more to do with good communication, empathy, and commitment.

“If you are able to communicate your feelings and share with your partner how you are feeling (feeling alone), it could motivate them to learn how to support you more effectively or make you feel validated in what you are experiencing, even if they may never feel what you are feeling.” says Dr. Berkheimer.

A helpful way to foster a partner’s empathy is to use a comparative analogy (with something in your life) to drive home the magnitude of the feeling, she adds. For example, maybe your partner looks forward to a weekly soccer game as a way to relax; in this case, mentioning that feeling unsupported in your goal of writing a novel (or whatever makes you lonely) makes you feel as bad as they do when they lose a game might help illustrate your point.

If you’re feeling too challenging to share your feelings openly and connect with your partner, seeing a couples therapist might also help facilitate those conversations, says Dr. Berkheimer.

From there, picking up or setting new goals as a couple, where you both feel heard, seen and accountable, is a smart way to work together and feel less alone in the process, according to Panganiban. It may also help to schedule a dedicated time to connect. “During those periods, you can work to find those shared interests or common goals to work on and discuss ways you can start to prioritize your relationship and make more time for each other,” she says.

Rate this post

Leave a Comment