It has become accepted that loneliness in a relationship is an oxymoron. Since we have a steady partner by our side, we spend time with them and talk to them. In reality, many people exchange messages with each other. These resemble the conversation of co-workers or roommates as they deal with logistical issues.
Will you be picking up your daughter from nursery school today?
Which carpet fits better in our bedroom?
Where will we go on holiday in August?
Conversations about everyday matters lack intimacy. It is difficult to build intimacy on them. As a result, a single person in a relationship feels deprived of emotional support. The partner does not meet her needs in the relationship because she does not know them. This also works the other way round, as the lack of intimacy leaves his or her expectations a mystery. People who complain of feeling lonely in a relationship often spend time together and yet separately. They live in the same flat, use the same household appliances, but do not really show interest in each other. Sometimes there is a physical distance involved, which over time turns into an emotional one. This problem is also experienced by people who have chosen a long-distance relationship.
Loneliness in marriage – an increasingly common problem with lack of intimacy in marriage
Moving away from each other in a relationship is a common problem in marriage. Couples experience successive developmental crises. Some face them and come out of them successfully, others are not so lucky. When a child comes into the world, we often focus all our attention on the child in order to avoid repeating the mistakes of our own parents. We want to provide it with everything it needs to develop properly. Unfortunately, we forget about the partner, who feels sidelined. Another developmental crisis comes when children leave the family home. Some partners then realise that they have little in common. For years, they had concentrated on caring for their offspring. Now that the children have moved out, they have no common topics of conversation. Such couples have not developed any rituals, nor do they share hobbies. On the other hand, problems in the relationship may have arisen much earlier. Loneliness in the marriage bothered one of the partners, but he or she did not end the relationship for the sake of the children. The abandoned nest syndrome makes him or her realise that it is time to separate.
Why is loneliness in a relationship so common?
Emptiness in marriage in many cases is due to a lack of open communication. We often enter a relationship without this important skill because we had nowhere to learn it. Some people avoid conflict so as not to lose their partner. They also do not disclose their needs because they suffered emotional neglect in childhood and are afraid of rejection. The partner, in turn, does not know their expectations and thus cannot meet them. Without honest and deep conversations in which we reveal our emotions, hopes and fears, we have no chance of building a close relationship. There is a high probability that our needs will never be met by our partner, increasing frustration and feelings of lack of intimacy in the relationship and a sense of loneliness in the relationship. We now work much more than our parents or grandparents because we want to gain promotion. We hope that our working life will eventually slow down when we reach the position we want. This moment often doesn’t happen because… we can always be promoted higher. We think we are taking care of our loved ones because we sacrifice for them by staying at the office after hours. We forget that they need our active presence, not expensive gifts.
Why do you feel lonely in a relationship?
I feel lonely in a relationship – this is what women who have chosen a long-distance relationship often say. The partner was only supposed to go away for a few months to redeem himself financially. A few years pass and he only comes home at Christmas. A long-distance relationship is full of challenges, not all couples are able to cope with them. When it comes down to it, setting a date for when they will live together again plays a very important role. People who represent non-secure attachment styles are often unable to form close bonds and feel lonely in a relationship. Their deficits date back to childhood, when their parents did not meet their needs. They lacked emotional responsiveness, thus failing to tune in to their child and approach them with empathy. An anxious-ambivalent attachment style is characterised by an intensified need for bonding. People who manifest it often want to spend every free moment with their partner because they are afraid of losing him. In doing so, they violate his or her need for autonomy. Everyone sometimes wants to be alone, so they go out for a walk or meet up with friends from their studies. The avoidant attachment style, on the other hand, causes a person to take actions by which they separate themselves from their partner, creating emotional distance. When discussing the causes of loneliness in a relationship, it is worth mentioning the focus of all attention on the child and the lack of good relationship patterns in people from dysfunctional families.
Feeling lonely in a relationship – where does feeling lonely in a relationship come from?
A person who is lonely in a relationship feels an inner emptiness for a variety of reasons. Some of these have already been discussed earlier in this article. Below are the most common reasons that result in emotional distance in a romantic relationship.
Lack of intimacy and closeness between partners
Loneliness in a relationship is very often associated with a lack of intimacy. Not all people are able to build intimacy in a relationship. The aforementioned process requires removing the mask that protects us from rejection. By revealing our feelings, emotions and thoughts to the other person, we run the risk that the other person will invalidate them. Fear of rejection often accompanies people who have developed a non-secure attachment style. When forming relationships with others, they draw on dysfunctional patterns established in childhood. Sometimes we simply do not have the time for intimate conversations, as our attention is occupied by professional activities or raising a child.
Lack of common interests
Couples who decide to engage in activities together generally have a positive view of their relationship. The experiences we have together have a great bonding power. We do not always remain compatible in terms of temperament and interests. Some people love to climb mountain peaks and explore remote parts of the world. Others appreciate a quiet evening spent in a restaurant chatting with their partner. In fact, no form of activity is better or worse, but with major differences in temperament, a problem arises. An introverted person in a relationship with an extrovert feels forced out of their comfort zone. He or she dislikes frequent large gatherings and loud concerts. The extrovert, on the other hand, may be bored by an evening spent at the cinema.
Unmet emotional needs
Feeling lonely in a relationship often stems from unmet emotional needs. When we do not express them openly, our partner does not know our expectations and therefore cannot meet them. If we do not tell him or her that we are feeling sad about the loss of an important client, he or she does not know that we are experiencing it and need consolation. By relying on the other person to guess what we are experiencing, we often condemn ourselves to misunderstanding. In order to be able to express our needs, it is useful to get in touch with our emotions. When we learn to recognise them, name them and read their meaning, we will be able to define what we expect from our partner. It is important that our open communication is based on assertiveness. If you don’t understand your emotions or are less in touch with them, you are not at a loss. This is something you learn at any age thanks to the high plasticity of the brain:) In my latest course, The ABCs of Emotions, I show you how to make them your allies and communicate them to those around you, so that close people can meet your needs.
Stress and tension
Dissonance in a relationship sometimes occurs as a result of the stress experienced. When you are starting up your own business or having problems at work, you seek understanding from your partner. He or she does not always react in the way we expect. Sometimes we get the impression that he overrules our problems and treats them as unimportant. We tell him or her that we feel tired from a heavy workload, and the response is that everyone does now. As a result, we are accompanied by the impression that we face all our challenges alone, because no one is interested in our fate.
Disagreements and conflicts
Loneliness in a relationship often stems from misunderstandings. Sometimes we misinterpret our partner’s words because we do not ask what exactly he or she meant. It is worth revisiting the example cited in the paragraph above. The person who complained about being overworked felt affected by his partner’s response. She did not tell him how she had taken his words. If she had used assertive communication techniques, she might have found out that her partner did not mean anything bad. He simply wanted to comfort her by saying that many people face the same problem.
What does loneliness in a relationship lead to?
In a person who feels lonely in a relationship, more and more frustration builds up every day. The longer he or she avoids talking to his or her partner, the more emotional distance will be created. Assertive communication is based on expressing one’s emotions and needs in an accusation-free way. This opens the space for dialogue and the development of an agreement. Unfortunately, we often do not know how to initiate such a conversation. Moreover, we are afraid of rejection because we have experienced it in the past by allowing ourselves to be honest. Couples who do not talk to each other, even though a void has appeared in the relationship, choose different strategies to cope with discomfort and unmet needs. Some renew old friendships and spend more time with friends. This solution is not a threat to the relationship when it is not at the expense of the relationship. If Martha can’t encourage Jack to go to the theatre together, she will fulfil this need with her girlfriends. This will help to improve the atmosphere in her relationship. Worse, if she begins to seek the company of other men and their interest. One of the acquaintances made may turn into a flirtation and lead to her partner’s infidelity.