Are you feeling alone in a relationship lately? Feeling lonely in marriage or a significant-other relationship is a common experience whether you’ve been with your partner for a short or long time. It can be ironic when you’re romantically involved with someone but still feel isolated and disconnected.
Many people immediately worry something is wrong with their most vital relationship when lonely feelings creep in. They assume because they feel empty and deserted, there must be something wrong with their relationship and start to wonder what the solution could be.
Regular feelings of loneliness may indeed indicate more significant issues that need to be worked through. For instance, you may require more quality time as a couple or improved communication skills. But it’s also possible your loneliness mostly has nothing to do with these specific concerns. You may simply need to grow your friendships and social opportunities. Let’s explore a little more about why this could be the case.
Your Significant Other Isn’t Enough
Perhaps you find yourself saying things like:
“I am so depressed and lonely in my marriage.”
“I feel alone in my relationship.”
“I’m in a relationship but feel alone.”
First, it’s vital to note that, in a general sense, your romantic partner isn’t enough. This doesn’t mean you need to go out searching for another partner who is enough. No one person can meet all your needs. And that includes your need for meaningful human interaction and connection.
We all have deficits that can’t be directly met by our most vital relationship. Myths abound regarding the idea that once you find your forever partner, you’ll be completely fulfilled. But, again, this is not reality.
Yes, of all your relationships, your romantic bond should provide you significant meaning, purpose, and hope. At the same time, your partner is limited, just like you are. The expectation that you can find the ideal partner who completes you in every way or that you can be that for someone else isn’t fair or realistic.
You Need Meaningful Friendships
Part of the cure for loneliness in your life cannot be met by your partner. This means that, no matter how connected you are as a couple, you will still struggle with isolation if you don’t find meaningful friendships with others outside of your primary relationship.
In her “Psychology Today” article entitled For Healthy Romance, You Need Friends, Marisa Franco Ph.D. speaks of three types of loneliness:
“We experience intimate (desire for most intimate relationships, like a spouse or best friend), relational (desire for good friends), and collective (desire for a larger community working toward a common goal) loneliness distinctly. Because of this, we can be lonely even with the loves of our lives. We, truly, need an entire community to feel whole.”
It can be easy to neglect friendships around us during a romantic relationship’s early stages. Relatively new relationships often involve infatuation. Will the relationship survive the infatuation phase? Only time will tell. But in the meantime, our friendships can suffer as we pour additional energy into our romantic relationship to the neglect of other connections.
However, romantic relationships many years in the making can also suffer from a deficit of meaningful social connections with others. We can get so busy and loaded down with responsibilities that we fail to interact adequately with others.
Increased Connection Helps to Improve Our Romantic Lives
Franco drives this point home in her article as well. It isn’t simply that you need others outside your significant-other relationship to feel less lonely. You also need outside friendships for your romantic relationship to thrive.
Increased meaningful connections with friends make people feel more fulfilled in life. The happier, healthier version of themselves that results only makes their romantic relationships more successful and fulfilled.
You no longer expect your spouse or significant other to improve your connectedness in ways they can’t. Healthy friendships only enhance peoples’ romantic relationships.
Of course, if those outside friendships undermine the romantic relationship in any way, that isn’t healthy. Your primary connection shouldn’t be overthrown or negatively impacted by other friendships. But at the same time, healthy romantic relationships require friends to thrive.
Our Connected but Disconnected World
This message of our need to cultivate friendships has always been relevant in a culture where it’s easy to have acquaintances that seem a mile wide but an inch deep. But since the pandemic and the rise of remote work, highlighting this need is critical.
We require interactions with various people to be the best version of ourselves. This is the only way to be healthy in our romantic relationships and avoid chronic loneliness.
Are You Feeling Alone in a Relationship? Counseling Can Help
Feeling lonely in a relationship can seem bewildering, to say the least. You want to feel fulfilled and like you belong in your most vital relationship. After all, this relationship, although not the end all, should still significantly help you to feel connected, purposeful, and valued.
If you’re regularly feeling alone in a marriage or romantic relationship, that’s a tough way to go through life. There are many reasons you may feel lonely in a marriage or a relationship. Yes, it could be that you mainly need to grow friendships outside of your primary relationship, as we discussed. However, specific challenges in your current relationship could also lead you to feel alienated or disconnected.
Thankfully, there are various ways you can work through a lonely relationship so your situation improves. One proven way to do this is through professional counseling. You and your therapist can work together to identify what makes you feel lonely in your relationship. Then you can implement demonstrated ways to work through these isolated feelings.