Things aren’t the same between you anymore. You don’t know what happened … but all of a sudden you don’t share that mutual connection you once had. And now you feel completely alone.
You might feel lonely because your relationship dynamics have recently changed because of a new child. Or perhaps you feel lonely because you’re both so busy and barely have time for each other any more. Or maybe you’ve just slowly lost touch with each other as the resentments and squabbles pile up between you. But regardless of the reason, you simply feel UNSEEN by your partner.
If you’re feeling lonely in a relationship, you’re not alone. Every couple at some point experiences this problem. And what is the major cause of feeling lonely in a relationship?
How Your Thoughts Influence Reality
We grew up being taught a number of harmful beliefs about romantic relationships. Namely:
- My partner is responsible for making me happy.
- My partner is responsible for fulfilling all of my needs.
- If my partner doesn’t do what I want them to do, they aren’t suitable for me.
In other words, we approach relationships with very warped thinking patterns that were conditioned into us since birth.
When it comes to feeling lonely in our relationship, we tend to blame that feeling on our partners — or the relationship itself — and what IS or IS NOT happening.
Take a moment to think about the reasons why you might be feeling lonely.
In fact, you might like to get up a blank document and divide the page in two. On one half write: “Things that are happening in my relationship that are making me feel lonely.” On the other half write: “Things that aren’t happening in my relationship that are making me feel lonely.”
Likely you will discover a number of interesting reasons why you’re feeling lonely in a relationship of yours. Often these reasons fall under the following categories:
- Your partner isn’t spending enough intimate time with you.
- Your partner is less caring than you.
- Your partner is less committed than you.
- Your partner isn’t paying enough attention to you.
- Your partner doesn’t show gratitude for what you do.
- Your conversations are purely transactional and have no depth.
- Your partner doesn’t care about the same things you care about.
Have you noticed something interesting here?
All of these reasons for feeling lonely in a relationship seem to exclusively point to THE OTHER PERSON, and nothing to do with your own thinking.
In fact, when we are suffering, our thoughts are the last place we look.
How to Stop Feeling Lonely in a Relationship … Right Now
The best way to stop feeling lonely in your relationship in the long term, is to examine your thoughts about it.
We tend to think that someone loving us will get rid of our loneliness. But this isn’t true.
How many times have you been surrounded by loving family or friends, but despite their love, still felt unhappy in some way? If being loved by others was truly what made you happy, you wouldn’t feel this way.
The same thing goes for your relationship.
How many times in the past has your partner treated you with love, kindness and concern, but you still felt miserable or discontented about something else in your life? If it was your partner’s love and attention you truly sought, you wouldn’t be unhappy in those moments.
So what is it that is truly making you feel lonely?
Belief in your thoughts.
When you believe the thoughts in your head about how your relationship “should” look or feel, you feel lonely.
Here’s an example.
Your partner is working on an important work assignment, while you stay at home all day looking after to kids. He often arrives back home late at night, and you barely spend time with each other. Soon you grow discontented because he isn’t giving you the same level of attention he once did. You think to yourself, “My husband should give me more attention and stop spending so much time at work.”
Because of that very belief: “My husband should give me more attention and stop spending so much time at work,” you start to feel unhappy and resentful towards him. You blame your loneliness on him.
However, what would happen if you didn’t have that thought? You would be fine. You wouldn’t have a problem with his long days at work. You wouldn’t feel resentful or unhappy.
This example shows that believing one simple thought can warp your entire world. This is why it’s so important that you EXAMINE your thoughts.
You can examine your thoughts by asking the following questions. These questions will only help you if you are honest with yourself:
- What is the thought that is causing my unhappiness? Remember that it is our thoughts that create emotions and not circumstances.
- Is the thought _________________ really true? Do I 100% know that it is true? In other words, can you absolutely know that your relationship would be better if this-or-that happened? Can you be absolutely sure that you would be happy in the long term if your husband stopped doing something?
- What would my life look like without this thought? In other words, if you stopped believing the thought in step 1, how would you feel?
For a deeper exploration of these questions, I recommend Byron Katie and her work.
The reality is that life is completely neutral — but it is our THOUGHTS about life that make it either “good/bad,” “right/wrong,” “ugly/pretty,” “worthy/unworthy.” This can be hard to understand at first because we are so used to immediately believing our thoughts. But through self-inquiry, you can begin to lift the veil from reality little by little.
Your happiness is your responsibility, not your partners. But taking self-responsibility isn’t a passive process it is also an active one.
Here are some supplementary actions you can take to strengthen your connection:
- Take the initiative to create shared experiences with your partner.
- Break the cycle of emotional disconnection by committing to daily time spent together, e.g. going for a walk, cooking together or watching a movie together.
- Express more gratitude.
- Express physical intimacy more, e.g. hugging, touching, kissing.
- Learn to openly communication your thoughts and feelings with your partner.
- Seek counselling or help if your partner has a serious issue (such as addiction).
Remember that no one can hurt you unless YOU permit them to hurt you. When we stop judging our relationships and partners, we are left with only love for them. And ironically, love is all we have been searching for all along. All we need to do is examine the thoughts that we are believing.