In a relationship with someone, yet feeling lonely? Sounds oxymoronic, isn’t it? Well, not so much.
“Loneliness is defined by negative feelings that occur when a person perceives a difference between their ideal social relationships and those that exist.”Perlman (2004)
Experiencing loneliness is subjective and cannot be explained through objective parameters. Research indicates that people may have a small group of friends they socialise with and yet may never feel lonely, while those with a large social group, may feel so. Thus, people may be romantically committed and still feel consumed by loneliness. The quote, quality over quantity most aptly fits here.
While there can be several reasons for feeling lonely, we have highlighted some of the most important ones for you here.
One of the most common reasons for being alone in a relationship is attributed to being unplugged with your partner.
Couples report that their relationship is not the same anymore as there often is a lack of communication between them. It is not uncommon to hear that one of the partners is completely absorbed in their work and is unable to take out time to spend with the spouse/family. As much as it is important to maintain a work-life balance to be able to sustain your relationship, it is also important to utilise the time you take out for your spouse judiciously.
Gottman says that “sharing vulnerabilities stops either partner from feeling lonely or invisible”.
It is crucial that partners not only speak superficially but also create a space for each other in their relationship that allows either one of them to speak about their difficulties and insecurities. As vulnerabilities can serve as blocks to honest communication in a relationship, at times. Research suggests engaging in common activities, may help partners overcome communication gaps and give them a mutual topic to speak about.
At times, people may realise that they have been feeling lonely before they entered into the relationship. This could be attributed to genetics. Some people have a genetic makeup which makes them more inclined towards feeling isolated and alone as compared with others. Research done by Nature (2016) indicates that Loneliness may be an inherited characteristic and many individuals may be genetically predisposed during their lives to experience greater pangs of loneliness.
How to overcome feelings of loneliness in a relationship?
While it may seem impossible to get over feeling alone and extremely frustrating to some people, as they aren’t able to see a way out of it. There are a couple of ways that can be used to work on this feeling.
You may first, identify how you feel and label those feelings.
- Try and recalculate when did you start feeling alone – something you experienced recently or something you that happened earlier
- Distinguish between personal experiences (such as those from work or friend circle) and shared experiences (such as those which involve your spouse). Try and see if you are feeling alone due to your partner or some other factors as well.
- Once you are sure that the way you feel is mainly due to your relationship, narrow it down to one predominant situation and speak to your partner about the same.
- Communicate how you feel and share your difficulties with your spouse. At this point, it is important to understand their perspective as well and decide on a mutually acceptable solution.
- If you feel that, the solitary emotions have not been resolved despite the solution you and your partner come up with, seek help from a mental health professional, possibly a couples therapist.
- And if you think, your emotions are driven internally and not due to your relationship, seek individual therapy, and understand your concerns in-depth.
In a nutshell, you must be attuned to the emotional needs of your partner and if you find yourself not being able to help them, then seek professional help and grow together.