Relationships are typically a source of love, affection, and companionship. Though we know that relationships don’t always last, there is often an underlying feeling that we might be with this partner for the rest of our lives.
The idea of everlasting companionship may feel daunting at times, but it also offers a lot of comfort – knowing that we’ll have someone to share our lives with and never have to feel alone.
Healthy relationships can bring us a lot of joy. We have a partner with whom we can share ideas, dreams, and goals, have fun with, and turn to for affection, closeness, and comfort when things get tough.
However, not all relationships are perfect. Sometimes we disagree on something and enter conflict or have a full-blown argument. Sometimes we let our partner down, or they let us down, and we find ourselves trying to forgive or be forgiven.
Conflict, arguments, and even the occasional disappointment are normal parts of any relationship. When both partners want to be together and are willing to work on the relationship, these bumps in the road can usually be overcome.
One common but often unexpected bump in the road when it comes to relationships is when we begin feeling alone in a relationship especially when we do not get to spend time with the other person. The feeling takes us by surprise because it’s the last thing we’d expect from being so close and intimate with another person.
If you feel lonely in your relationship, then read on.
In this article, we’ll explore what it means to feel alone in a relationship. We’ll look at some common causes of relationship loneliness and explore some practical approaches you can take when you feel lonely around your partner.
Signs of feeling lonely in a relationship
Loneliness is a deeply personal emotion. It can mean different things to people depending on their personal history and life circumstances.
Some people are okay with feeling a bit lonely occasionally and may even set aside special times to be away from their partner. Others have a low tolerance for loneliness and may seek to solve problems as soon as they can.
Of course, being alone and feeling alone or lonely are different. You may not feel lonely when you’re on your own, or you may feel incredibly lonely in your partner’s company.
Though loneliness feels a little different for everyone, there are some common signs of feeling lonely in a relationship. These include:
- Feeling disconnected from your partner and the relationship
- Feeling that your partner doesn’t care anymore
- Feeling unheard, ignored, or disregarded
- Feeling unloved
- Feeling worried and hesitant about bringing up an issue
- Keeping important news from your partner, and vice versa
- Doubting the future of the relationship
- Making long term plans without your partner, or vice versa
- Not sharing how you feel with your partner or vice versa
- Being the responsible partner and making all the decisions
- Feeling empty or unfulfilled in the relationship
When it comes to your relationship, feeling lonely is not always your partner’s fault or a reflection of the quality of the relationship. Sometimes, feelings of loneliness stem from within. They may reflect a part of ourselves we have neglected or that feel unfulfilled.
Still, these internal factors in your loneliness are essential and personal to you, so they should matter to your partner too. If they don’t matter to your partner, then it’s not surprising if you feel a little alone around them.
Fed Up Unappreciated Quotes
Below are some valuable quotes to help you when you feel fed up and unappreciated.
“If they don’t appreciate you, they don’t deserve you.”– Mary J. Blige
“We can’t be afraid to dismiss the unappreciative.”– Dominic Riccitello
“If they don’t appreciate your presence, perhaps you should try giving them your absence.”– Tinku Razoria
“I always felt as a kid that I was underappreciated, invisible or weird, but I’ve always secretly thought people would one day appreciate what is different about me. I’m always putting that message out there.”– Judd Apatow
“If you treat me like no one today, tomorrow you will be no one to me.”– Cv Pillay
“It’s better to be alone than to be with someone who never sees your worth.”– Nishan Panwar
“Some won’t appreciate you no matter how much you do for them. Release yourself. Go where you’re appreciated and understood.”– Robert Tew
“When we feel unappreciated, when we feel that no one is taking care of and trying to please us, we run out of anything to give. We need to learn to increase the people in our lives who do appreciate us.”– Hackney Evans
Why am I feeling alone in a relationship?
There are two broad reasons why you may feel a sense of loneliness in your relationship. Something is missing from your relationship, be that clear and honest communication, genuine love, or shared goals.
The other reason is that you feel lonely within yourself, and the feeling is manifesting in your relationship. We’ll explore both reasons in further detail below.
1. Loneliness in your relationship
The dynamic you share with your partner may be the reason you feel lonely in your relationship. Perhaps things are not as fun or exciting as they were at the beginning of the relationship, or that you feel like you’ve lost the spark.
Perhaps you and your partner have grown into yourselves a little more through different life experiences, and that’s led to a natural rift in your closeness.
Below, you will find some of the common causes of relationship loneliness as it relates to the relationship dynamic.
Healthy, open communication is the foundation of any strong relationship. The quality of communication in a relationship is usually a strong predictor of whether that relationship will last.
What is healthy communication in a relationship?
Healthy, effective communication is about sharing your wants and needs with your partner. It’s not about expecting them to read your mind and reprimanding them if they don’t satisfy each of your wants and needs all the time.
It’s about letting your partner know what you’re looking for, how you’re feeling, and what you think about the relationship.
It’s about letting your partner in on your vulnerability so they can get to know you better, not closing off and trying to work through everything on your own. It’s about verbally and physically sharing how we feel; as much it’s about opening up as a receiver to how your partner feels.
“Much unhappiness has come into the world because of bewilderment, and things left unsaid.” ― Fyodor Dostoevsky
Communication is a two-way street. You cannot expect your partner to listen to your wants and needs and try to meet them if you don’t offer the same return. When people feel lonely even in a long term relationship, poor communication is often the culprit.
If a partner doesn’t feel heard, or that their partner doesn’t want to listen to them, they may feel that their partner doesn’t care about them, which makes sense – if their partner cared, then they would make sure their partner knows it by listening to them and sharing their vulnerabilities.
Some couples get along like a house on fire at the start of a relationship but soon find they’re not as compatible as they expected.
It’s normal, even healthy, to have some differences of opinion and different ways to enjoy and engage with life, but if these differences are too stark, then the couple might realize they’re not right for one another.
It happens, and it’s not a personal fault or sign of weakness, nor does it reflect an inability to maintain a relationship. Again, communication is key.
If a couple realizes they’re incompatible, it’s crucial to talk about it. With healthy communication, the couple can come to a mutual understanding that they might be better off to go their separate ways or both decide the relationship is worth working on.
Without open communication, both parties might stay in the relationship and eventually come to resent each other and feel deeply unfulfilled.
If incompatibility and a lack of communication about the truth are affecting your relationship, then you’ll likely end up feeling alone and lonely around your partner.
If you feel like your partner has hurt or betrayed you, then it’s understandable that you feel lonely. Perhaps they’ve been unfaithful, or they may make promises but rarely follow through. Maybe they’ve lied to you one too many times, or they’ve treated you with less respect than you deserve.
Instances of betrayal or hurt in a relationship may be repairable, but it takes time, effort, and a willingness to work together to find effective solutions. If you find that your partner doesn’t seem to care about improving the quality of the relationship, then things may feel extremely one-sided and make you feel lonely.
2. Loneliness within yourself
Loneliness is unique to each of us. We all experience it from time to time, but it can reach deep places within us that touch on feelings, emotions, past relationships and experiences that only we know about.
If loneliness is appearing in your relationship, it may have something to do with the relationship’s dynamic, but it may also have something to do with you as an individual.
We’re at our most vulnerable when we enter a close, intimate relationship with another person. As such, relationships set the stage for our deepest and darkest parts of ourselves to come to the surface.
Below, we will look at two of the main causes of loneliness in oneself and explain how they impact your relationships.
Loneliness and mental health
Your mental health may be the root cause of the loneliness you perceive in your relationship. Well-known by psychologists and therapists, our feelings often arise out of the cognitive triangle – the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors.
If your mental health is poor, then you’re likely experiencing a lot of negative thoughts about yourself, others, and the world around you. These thoughts influence your feelings.
They may make you feel pessimistic, disconnected from your partner, and as though nobody understands what you’re going through. In turn, those feelings influence your behavior.
You may deeply believe that nobody understands or cares, that people hate you or don’t want to be around you, so you may not even try to connect with your partner because you don’t believe it will solve anything.
If you’re struggling with depression, you may struggle to identify and connect with your feelings. Emotional numbness and lack of motivation are key characteristics of depression and can manifest as feeling lonely in a relationship.
The root of the problem may not be that your partner is not attuned to your feelings but that you’re not attuned to your own.
Psychological trauma can also manifest as feeling lonely in a relationship.
Trauma, particularly that which occurs in childhood, can significantly negatively impact our ability to trust and be vulnerable with others in our adult relationships.
Trust issues can also arise from problematic past relationships.
Feeling like you can’t trust or open up to your partner is almost certain to lead to a sense of loneliness.
Loneliness and insecure attachment
There is a lot of talk about attachment styles in the world of pop psychology and for a good reason.
‘Attachment style’ has become somewhat of a buzzword in recent years, as more and more people realize the impact of one’s attachment style. The way they learned to relate to others and get their needs met in their early childhood affects their thoughts and behavior in adulthood.
As young children (0-5 years old), we rely on our primary caregiver (usually our mother) to not only meet our needs for food and shelter but also for love and affection. If a caregiver was attuned to our needs and met them with consistency, we likely formed what is known as a ‘secure’ attachment style.
Adults who formed a secure attachment style as children find it relatively easy to trust and be vulnerable with others in their adult relationship. They experience a sense of safety and security within themselves, allowing them to branch out and know that they can always come back to themselves if things get tough.
If a parent was not attuned to our needs or only met our needs sometimes (inconsistently), then a child may develop an insecure attachment style. Insecure attachment is characterized by difficulty in trusting others and will over or under-react to conflict, stress, and confrontation.
Dismissive-avoidant attachment (insecure)
There are two types of insecure attachment – dismissive-avoidant and anxious preoccupied. A dismissive-avoidant partner is likely to detach from their partner if things get tough. They may act cold and aloof, leaving their partner in the dark about how they feel and causing feelings of loneliness and emotional distance.
Anxious-preoccupied attachment (insecure)
An anxious-preoccupied partner will feel clingy and obsessive toward their partner and may worry about being rejected or abandoned. They seek constant reassurance and may feel incredibly lonely and isolated if their partner fails to provide them with the high degree of assurance they seek.
How to stop feeling lonely in a relationship
1. Work on communication
As mentioned earlier, communication is key to a healthy relationship, so if a sense of loneliness is looming over your head, it’s time to talk to your partner about it. It’s unreasonable and unfair to expect them to know what’s wrong if you don’t at least try to let them know.
Real-life romantic relationships are not as dreamy or fantasy-like as the ones we read about in novels or magazines or see in romantic movies.
We may wish that our partner can read our minds, say the right thing at the right time, or fix all of our problems.
Of course, it would be nice if your partner can pick up on your cues and have the awareness necessary to notice that the relationship is overcast with a cloud of loneliness, but if you’re the one feeling lonely, you need to make sure it’s known. If they don’t seem to get it or pick it up, simply tell them.
They may be surprised or may have suspected that something was going on with you. If they’re into the relationship and willing to make it work, they’ll take the time to listen to your concerns and work it through with you as a team to get things on the right track.
If they’re not willing to work on it or they dismiss or ignore your feelings and concerns, then consider if it’s really worth being with them in the first place.
2. Work on yourself
Suppose you suspect that the loneliness you feel in your relationship has more to do with you as an individual, such as mental health issues, trust issues, or your attachment style. In that case, it’s important to take the initiative and do the inner work necessary to free yourself from those obstacles to real health and happiness.
Practice mindfulness and self-awareness to tune into how you really feel and recognize your thoughts. It helps to be as honest and authentic with yourself as possible to identify what’s making you feel lonely.
Prioritize self care. Remember, you cannot give what you don’t have. Limit social media exposure and stop comparing yourself and your relationship to others.
You can seek professional help if mental health issues or problems to healthy attachment are getting in the way of your relationships. A therapist can help you identify the root causes of your worries and issues and help you develop effective skills and techniques to manage your emotions and outlook on life.
3. Spend quality time together
How do you spend time with your partner? Do you only talk to them over breakfast in the morning and dinner in the evening because you’re both so busy? Is your time spent minding the children that your sex life is suffering?
Both partners in a relationship must commit to spend time together, away from responsibilities and distractions. Resentment arises when not enough attention is given to each other because they are so caught up in their everyday family lives.
A date night once a week, a home-cooked meal, and a glass of wine for just the two of you, or even a weekend away, can work wonders in resolving the emotional distance that gets created when our lives become hectic.
Feeling lonely in a relationship can be disheartening. It’s the last place we expect to feel lonely, yet it is often one of the most painful experiences of loneliness.
If loneliness is getting to you lately, try to speak to your partner about it. If you’re not ready to confront the issue with your partner, reach out to a friend, a family member, or a relationship expert. They may share some similar experiences and may be able to offer some advice.
Finally, don’t forget to keep your mental health in check. Loneliness can exacerbate mental health issues, so it’s important to bring your awareness to how you feel and consult a mental health professional if necessary.