How to Deal with Feeling Lonely in a Relationship

Introduction

Being in a relationship is usually associated with feelings of togetherness, intimacy, support, and companionship. However, despite being in a relationship, it is not unusual to experience feelings of loneliness from time to time. You might be wondering, why do I feel lonely in my relationship? How can I be in a relationship but still feel lonely? Well, feeling lonely whilst in a relationship is a lot more common than you may think, and can be due to a number of different factors, such as a lack of emotional bonding, lack of intimacy or separation, to name a few. In this blog post, we’re going to be taking a closer look at some of the reasons why you might feel a sense of loneliness in your relationship, how to address your feelings with your partner, and some strategies to help you overcome feelings of loneliness.

Image showing a couple struggling to connect with one another

Why do I Feel Lonely in a Relationship?

Loneliness can be understood as a negative emotional state that causes you to feel disconnected from others. You may feel isolated, empty or in need of social/meaningful contact with others [1]. Feeling alone in your relationship, or experiencing social isolation, can be caused by a number of different factors [2].

Lack of communication:

If you and your partner don’t communicate openly and honestly with each other, it can lead to misunderstandings and feelings of disconnection. Perhaps when you do communicate, it feels superficial. This is likely to lead to feelings of loneliness.

Different interests and goals:

Perhaps you and your partner have different hobbies or interests. This likely means that you spend additional time apart, isolated from your partner. You may also have different goals for the future, which can leave you feeling as though your relationship is headed in 2 separate directions. Your partner’s behaviour, such as spending a lot of time on their hobbies, may also be causing feelings of loneliness, making you feel neglected.

Physical distance:

If you live far away from your partner or have busy schedules that prevent you from spending enough time together, you may feel lonely despite being in a relationship.

Unresolved conflicts:

If there are unresolved conflicts in your relationship, it might lead to feelings of resentment, which can create feelings of distance and disconnection.

External stressors:

Perhaps there are no fundamental issues within your relationship itself, but external factors are having a negative impact on it. Even social media can have an impact on our family lives amplifying feelings of disconnection in our relationships. Whether it is work-related stress, family problems, or personal issues, external factors can play a large role in creating feelings of loneliness if you or your partner are inclined to withdraw or isolate yourself during times of stress.

Prolonged feelings of loneliness and sadness can have negative effects on both your physical and mental health. For that reason, it is important to consult a couples‘ therapist or explore relationship counselling if you feel you need additional help.

When Loneliness Indicates a Toxic Relationship

Sometimes the lack of connection is due to serious problems in the relationship dynamic. Things like negativity, manipulation, and emotional abuse are often signs of a toxic relationship. This set up can leave you feeling constantly drained, trapped, and isolated. When you are in a toxic relationship, it’s normal to feel a deep sense of loneliness, that is hard to escape. A partner’s toxic behaviour can erode your self-esteem and sense of self-worth.

If you’re often criticised and belittled then it’s hard to feel good enough and easy to believe there’s something inherently wrong with you, even if this is not the case. It can be a really though spot to be in. Isolation and loneliness intensify, and you may feel like no one else would want to be with you.Image showing two partners in their own individual bubbles, depicting disconnection

Recognising the Signs of Loneliness in a Relationship

Loneliness can look different for everyone. Some may experience more emotional pain, whereas others can be affected in a physical way [3]. Some common signs of feeling lonely in a relationship include [4]:

Feelings of isolation and neglect.

Perhaps your relationship is lacking in warmth and care. If you have stopped checking in on each other, this is likely a sign of loneliness in your relationship. Particularly if this has been going on for a long time.

Lack of physical intimacy or affection.

Loneliness in a marriage or relationship is commonly associated with decreased physical intimacy or affection. If this is the case, it is likely that you rarely hug, kiss or have sex with your partner.

Seeking validation outside your relationship.

If you or your partner are seeking attention or validation outside of the relationship, this can be a sign of loneliness and unmet needs.

Frequent arguments.

Recurring arguments can be a sign of underlying resentment, loneliness and disconnection. 

Loss of appetite/trouble sleeping.

Physical symptoms such as trouble sleeping or eating can be a sign of significant loneliness in a relationship and depression. 

Image showing someone struggling with difficult feelings of loneliness alone

Communicating with Your Partner About Loneliness

If you’ve begun to realise you are feeling lonely in your relationship, here are a few strategies you can use to communicate your own feelings to your partner [3][5]:

1. Identify your needs:

Before you have a conversation with your partner, it can be helpful to take some time to identify your own needs and feelings. Reflect on what is making you feel lonely and what you would like to change in the relationship.

2. Express yourself clearly:

When communicating with your partner, it is important to be as clear and specific as possible. This is key to a healthy relationship. Use “I” statements to avoid blaming or accusing your partner.

3. Actively listen:

When your partner responds to you, make sure to really take in their perspective and understand their point of view. Don’t interrupt or become defensive, and clarify what you’ve understood.

4. Try to compromise:

Once you’ve both shared your feelings, needs and expectations, work together to find a compromise that you are both satisfied with. You can do this by brainstorming ideas on how to make changes in the relationship.

5. Seek professional help:

If you feel as though you have significant difficulty communicating your feelings of loneliness in your relationship, it might be worth seeking professional help from a relationship expert, such as a therapist or counsellor.

Need more tips on communicating effectively? Reach out to our experts therapists for personalised advice.

Image showing two partners communicating on their own using their personal devices separated by a wall, symbolising disconnection

Reconnecting with Your Partner

Once you have communicated with your partner about how you feel, it’s time to regain the strong emotional connection you once had! You can do this and move towards closeness by trying out some of the following strategies [1][6]:

1. Plan some quality time together:

Whether it’s a date night, a weekend getaway, or just a quiet night in, make an effort to spend some dedicated time together on a regular basis. Remember, quality time can be simple – try setting aside an hour each day to simply talk about your day and connect [3].

2. Try new things together:

Exploring new activities or hobbies together can be a fun way to build a sense of connection and create shared experiences. Consider going on a hike, taking a pottery class or trying out a new recipe.

3. Prioritise physical touch:

Physical touch and intimacy are important parts of feeling connected in a relationship. Make an effort to prioritise physical touch, whether it’s holding hands, cuddling, or having sex.

4. Treat yourself with kindness:

When you feel lonely in your relationship, it can be easy to fall into a negative thought pattern. Practise self-care, self-love and self-compassion, and make sure to remind yourself of your worth! You can do this by taking a bubble bath, meditating or doing some yoga.

5. Cultivate a support network outside of your relationship:

Having a supportive network of friends and family outside of your relationship can help you feel less lonely. Make sure to invest in your social life by surrounding yourself with people who make you feel good about yourself and who you enjoy spending time with.

6. Pursue an individual hobby/interest:

Try to not forget about your own interests and passions! By pursuing activities that bring you joy, you’ll be able to gain a sense of fulfilment that is not tied to your relationship.

Image showing two partners sitting on a bench in a park holding hands, symbolising reconnection

Exploring Therapy Options

Experiencing loneliness within your relationship can be a challenging and isolating. However, there are therapy options that you can explore to foster the connection you crave. These are options that can provide new perspectives and strategies that simply are not viable if you try to fix the issues on your own.

Considering individual therapy

The first way you can address this professionally is via Individual therapy, specifically geared towards dealing with relationship difficulties. Relationship counselling can be an excellent choice as it addresses various issues that may contribute to your loneliness, such as communication hurdles, trust concerns, or past traumas. In this set up, you’ll have one-on-one sessions with a therapist, providing a non-judgemental environment for growth. You can delve into your emotions, gain insights into patterns within your relationship, and develop healthy coping mechanisms for managing difficult emotions. This type of support will focus on your individual difficulties with the relationship.

Trying couples counselling

The other option is couples’ therapy. This will involve both partners and focuses on enhancing communication, building trust, and strengthening the bond between you. Working with a couples therapist, you can identify the underlying causes of your loneliness and learn how to work through them together A trained therapist will help you in resolving conflicts and increase mutual understanding. It’s a powerful supportive environment for strengthening the relationship, but it does require the commitment of both partners.

Whether you’re considering individual relationship therapy or couples therapy, rest assured there are options available to help you navigate the feeling of loneliness within your relationship. Remember that seeking help is a sign of strength rather than weakness. You deserve happiness and fulfilment in your relationship, and therapy can guide you towards achieving that.

Image showing a person seeing a therapist to deal with their relationship difficulties

Is it Normal to Feel Lonely in a Relationship Sometimes?

It’s completely normal to experience moments of loneliness in a relationship, and it doesn’t necessarily indicate a fundamental problem. As we’ve discussed, many factors like differing interests, physical distance, or external stressors can contribute to these feelings. Recognising and addressing these moments is key. It’s about how you and your partner work together to overcome these challenges that matter.

For example, open communication is essential in understanding and mitigating these feelings, engaging in activities together, prioritising physical intimacy, and seeking external support when necessary can also improve the situation.

Feeling lonely at times is a very much a shared human experience, and with effort and understanding, it can be transformed into a catalyst for strengthening your relationship.

Conclusion

Navigating loneliness in a relationship can be tough, but it’s a journey many couples face and manage to overcome. Throughout this article, we’ve discussed the causes, signs, and different ways to cope with loneliness. The key to managing these feelings lies in open communication with your partner, nurturing your individual interests, and maintaining a supportive network.

However, if you begin to notice that despite your best efforts, there are still overwhelming feelings of loneliness in your relationship, it might be necessary to seek professional help. This is especially true if your feelings are beginning to impact your day-to-day life, communication is continuing to deteriorate, or mental health concerns arise. Identifying why you’re feeling lonely in your relationship is the first step to managing and overcoming it. There are a number of different therapies available to help in dealing with loneliness in your relationship. Remember, it’s okay to ask for help!

At Therapy Central we specialise in relationship therapy and couples counselling, as well as more focused therapy such as stress counselling, anxiety therapy and therapy for low self-esteem. Our London-based and online therapy services are backed up by evidence-based interventions like CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and many other approaches.

If loneliness is casting a shadow over your relationship, or impacting your overall well-being, we’re here to shine a light. Our team of qualified therapists is ready to walk with you on the path to a healthier, happier relationship dynamic.

Don’t let loneliness define your relationship. Reach out to us for a free 15 min consultation to see how we can tailor our support to your unique situation.

You’re not alone in this journey. Let us help you find the joy and connection you deserve in your relationship.

Resources

Self-help Matters: Loneliness

Coping with Loneliness

References

[1] – Field, B. (2022, November 16). Why are you feeling lonely in a relationship?. Verywell Mind.

[2] – LCSW, W. by: V. I., & MD, R. by: B. T. (n.d.). What to do when you’re feeling alone in a relationship. Choosing Therapy. 

[3] – Pace, R., Pace, R., & Rachael Pace. (2022, May 2). 15 signs of loneliness in a relationship and how to deal with it. Marriage Advice – Expert Marriage Tips & Advice.

[4] – Raghuram, A., & Aruna Raghuram. (2022, May 28). 7 signs of loneliness in a relationship and how to Cope. Bonobology.com.

[5] – Jalili, C. (2019, March 19). Feeling lonely in a relationship? here’s what to do. Time.

[6] – Mitchell, M. (n.d.). 7 honest ways to deal with feeling lonely in a relationship. The Roots Of Loneliness Project.

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