Romantic relationships are meant to fill us with positive emotions and make us happy, right? But what if you feel alone even when you’re dating someone?
Believe it or not, many people feel lonely even if they’re in a relationship. In fact, according to a NY-based couple psychologist, Niloo Dardashti, feeling lonely in long-term relationships is very common in the US population. This means that sometimes you might feel lonely even when you’re married or dating someone.
Not surprisingly, many people experience loneliness in relationships as a result of a serious problem. Whether it’s losing intimacy with your partner, facing emotional issues, or feeling that you’re not compatible with your partner, one thing’s for sure: if you’ve been feeling lonely for so long in your relationship, you need to fix this problem and develop a healthy emotional bond with your other half.
Let’s discuss why people tend to feel lonely in relationships, how loneliness is expressed, and why couples counseling is considered the most optimal way to overcome this problem.
Why Do People Feel Lonely While Dating Someone?
Do you feel satisfied with your relationship? If you’re like most people, chances are that you don’t. Why? Because, according to the Pew Research Center, the majority of people who feel unhappy or unsatisfied with their relationships tend to feel lonely. What’s more, a study published in Personality and Individual Differences proves that loneliness mediates the relationship between the need for belonging and life satisfaction (Mellor et al., 2008).
Therefore, if you feel that your romantic relationship can’t meet your need for belonging, you’ll probably feel lonely or isolated, and this, in turn, will affect your psychological well-being. And since different aspects of loneliness are associated with negative outcomes for mental and physical health (Mushtaq et al., 2014), it’s important to acknowledge your problems while dating someone and start to work on them as soon as possible.
One of the most common causes of loneliness while dating is the loss of emotional connection with one’s partner. Considering that we live in a technological world where online communication has become the new normal, it’s not surprising that more and more people tend to report losing intimacy or emotional connection with one another (Graciyal and Viswam, 2021). However, being emotionally connected to one another is vitally important for clear communication and healthy relationships. As a result, sometimes feeling lonely is a starting point for more serious relationship issues, such as being unable to communicate effectively.
Signs of Loneliness
Loneliness can be manifested in different ways depending on an individual’s environment. Still, here are the most common signs of loneliness in relationships:
- Lack of physical intimacy – If you notice that you’re no longer feeling physically close to your partner, your sexual life seems unsatisfying, or you rarely hug or touch your partner, it might be a sign that you’re becoming lonely and this feeling gets more and more overwhelming over time.
- You don’t spend as much time with each other as you used to – Loneliness can also be expressed in seeking to avoid spending time with your partner. As a result, your communication skills get weaker and your conversation gets limited to everyday issues instead of intimate problems.
- Increased use of social media – If you spend more time scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, or chatting with your friends over social media platforms instead of communicating with your partner, you’re likely to feel lonely in your relationship. On the contrary, your feelings of loneliness are one of the reasons why you seek connections on social media.
- You feel unwanted even when you’re physically together – Sometimes you feel sad even when your partner is right there, speaking to you. If you’re feeling unwanted whenever you’re communicating with your partner, then it might be a warning sign that your relationship is in danger and you need to get help from professional counselors.
Common Reasons for Feeling Lonely in a Relationship
Even if you’re sure that you experience overwhelming feelings of loneliness in your relationship, sometimes it’s hard to identify the exact reason why you’re feeling this way. The following reasons might help you understand why you’re feeling lonely in a relationship:
- Incompatibility – Often couples start dating before they get to know each other’s beliefs, attitudes, and personal characteristics. As a result, they discover they’re incompatible only when they’re already in a relationship. And this usually leads to feelings of loneliness.
- Physical distance – If either you or your spouse has to live far from you or travel for long periods, chances are that being physically separated from them will make you feel lonely.
- Chances in lifestyle – When one of the partners quits or starts a new job, moves to another town, or experiences a significant lifestyle change, this change might occupy most of their time. Consequently, your relationship may become satisfying to you.
- Losing spark – It’s nothing new that when couples start to live together and spend most of their time with one another, they get used to each other so much that they lose their initial spark. As a result, you may feel like you no longer feel as close to them as before, and this, in turn, may cause feelings of loneliness.
How to Overcome Loneliness in a Relationship?
If you realize that the feeling of loneliness badly affects your relationship as well as your psychological well-being, then it’s time to react! Here are some suggestions that can help you work through your loneliness:
- Acknowledge your feelings – The first step towards overcoming loneliness in relationships is to become self-aware and admit how you’re feeling to yourself. Once you’re familiar with your feelings, share your concerns with your partner, but remember not to make them feel judged.
- Get physically close to your partner – Sometimes expressing physical affection towards your partner is the quickest way to restore lost intimacy and reduce distressing feelings of loneliness. Remember that even a simple hug can make you feel that you’re not alone anymore.
- Reduce the usage of social media – If you’re too attached to social media and use it as the main source of communication with your partner, you need to take a break. Just plan a simple date at the cafe and spend time with them face-to-face.
- Seek support from other relationships – If your partner can’t physically be there for you, you can meet your social needs by communicating with other people around you. Try to meet up with your friends or family members for lunch and plan certain activities together that you enjoy the most.
- Get professional help – If none of the methods above helped you overcome loneliness in a relationship, it might be best for your mental health to contact professional counselors and receive couples therapy. Let’s see how counseling can help.
How Can Counseling Help You Overcome Loneliness?
Most of the time, feeling lonely in your relationship can be a temporary thing. If couples have clear and healthy communication patterns with each other, they can work on the problem together and take optimal steps to deal with it. But what if you notice that your symptoms of loneliness are getting more and more intense but there’s no interest from your partner to work on this issue together? In this case, you might need to look for professional help.
The most common form of counseling regarding relationship problems is couples counseling. While the feeling of loneliness tends to reduce relationship satisfaction (Mund & Johnson, 2021), couples counseling significantly improves the satisfaction of couples who experience individual and relational distress (Hewison et al., 2016).
Counseling can help you express your feelings of loneliness, make your partner realize that something is wrong in your relationship, and develop effective communication patterns to work on this problem together. Couples’ counselors will make a specific plan to restore your emotions. In order to rebuild trust, you need to feel that you have a secure environment where you can heal and get support from your partner instead of feeling lonely.
But if you know where to start, contact the licensed therapists at Health for Life Counseling in Grand Rapids, MI, and Ada, MI. Our professional counselors are always there to help you deal with your relationship issues or anything you are going through. So, just reach out to them in the West Michigan area or talk to them online to receive support.