“Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you CHOSE your life, you didn’t SETTLE for it.”
~ Mandy Hale
Feelings of loneliness may arise we don’t feel cared for, known, loved, or we believe that no one will be there if we need them.
A woman may be in a relationship, and even have many people around her, yet still feel so alone. In that instance, she would likely be doubting that those around her see her for who she really is.
To be fully known and fully loved, flaws included, is our heart’s desire.
If a woman is in a relationship and still feels lonely, it is very possible that she is intentionally keeping a part of herself from him (dysfunctional family dynamics, past mistakes, etc.) or feels she can’t let him see all of who she really is out of fear.
There is a very common fear that, “If this person really knew me, they wouldn’t love me” and that can leave us feeling extremely lonely.
Once we identify that this is happening, what comes next?
Hopefully this boyfriend is a man of goodwill and trustworthy. Women deserve to be with such virtuous men that will accept them, the good and the bad, and love them for who they are.
If we ask ourselves, “Is this man I am dating someone who I can trust with my entire heart, mind and soul?” and the answer is yes, it is then up to the woman to share her heart openly with him.
Men cannot fulfill all of the needs and desires of a woman’s heart but taking steps to be fully known and loved, as well as fully know and love the other.
This will help us enter fully and freely into relationships as well as take an active role in alleviating our feelings of loneliness.
Melissa Tablada, MS, LMFT – www.melissagracetablada.com
“Only boring people get bored.”
Someone told me this in my 20’s when I complained about my entry-level job. In reflection, I can see how true this is, and how it refers to more than job satisfaction.
Personal happiness means knowing and loving oneself, regardless of where you are or who you’re with.
- Can you feel joy, even and especially when, you’re alone?
- Can you be vulnerable enough to show your true self to your partner, and have the confidence to expect he do the same?
Vulnerability isn’t weakness. Quite the opposite! It takes strength to be yourself, say what you believe, how you connect, communicate love languages, etc. Transparency requires confidence, and at the heart of confidence is love.
What’s this all have to do with feeling lonely in your relationship?
Prior to making any relationship decisions or speaking with your partner, look within yourself and ask:
- How much of my true self am I sharing with my partner?
- Do I show up as my real self? Or am I stuck in the online profile or new relationship version of me?
At the beginning, we are enchanted with our partner’s passions, appearance, and the right “checked boxes.”
We may not be acting as our true selves, the ones that our closest friends and family love and appreciate.
If there’s some truth to this, your partner can’t know you, and what makes you feel loved. And there’s no way he can unless you have the love for yourself to tell him.
In addition to personal vulnerability, you and/or your partner may be experiencing significant life stressors, especially with the current health crisis. Also, your partner may be overwhelmed by work or family, struggle with drugs or alcohol, experiencing mental illness, or other.
Honest communication about your feelings and learning how to support one another is the best way to reconnect.
Good communication skills are essential to these conversations feeling constructive and sustaining the positive change. Many people feel they (or their partner), lack good communication skills, and therefore greatly benefit from individual or couples’ therapy from a trained clinician.
If you’re being your most authentic self with your partner, have tried open communication, and you still feel lonely, it might be that this relationship isn’t for you.
And that’s okay! We aren’t meant to stay in relationships with everyone we care about. He just might not be your person. He absolutely isn’t if he discounts your authentic self and doesn’t, can’t or won’t engage with you on a level that feels good. They say, “it’s far better to be alone and happy than in a relationship and lonely.”
It may be time to consider being on your own for a while.
If you’re fearful of being alone, consider that any more time spent with the wrong person feeling lonely, is more time spent away from your right person feeling loved.
Rae Sandler Simon, PsyD – www.liveandlovewell.com
If you are in a relationship, but still feel alone, there may be some disconnect that needs to be resolved.
Don’t worry all relationships have ebbs and flows like this. It doesn’t have to last forever. It’s always important to communicate with our partners how we feel. Schedule a time free of distractions in which you can bring up your feelings with your partner.
Before bringing the issue up take some time to yourself to get to the bottom of why you are feeling lonely.
Below are some reasons that may apply to you.
1. Take time to think if there are any unmet needs.
- How does your partner fulfill your needs? In what ways?
- Are there needs that your partner could never give to you?
- Can these needs be met outside of the relationship?
Such as spending more time with friends or speaking to a counselor.
When our needs are not being met, we can feel alone.
Write down what your needs are and how you would like them to be met. Ask yourself if they are reasonable for your partner to hold and what you can do for yourself?
2. Sometimes loneliness can creep into a relationship due to a lack of intimacy.
Intimacy doesn’t have to be sex. It can be a hug or quality time together. If you don’t know already, find out your love language. You can take the quiz here. This can be helpful in identifying ways in which you would like your partner to respond to you and how you can show love to them.
If there are issues surrounding the topic of sex, you and/or you as a couple can see a sex therapist to hash out what’s getting in the way of a meaningful sex life.
3. We can definitely feel lonely when we aren’t feeling heard.
Both of you can practice the use of nonviolent communication.
When something arises in which you would like to feel heard, follow this outline.
When ____________ (activating event happens), I feel ___________ (emotions). I need ________ (your need). Can you _____(request for help or support). Try to avoid making “you” statements to avoid blame.
Ex: When we don’t spend the evenings together, I feel lonely, sad, and disconnected from you. I need to have more time together when we are done with work for the day.
- Can we find a time we can spend together after work?
- Can we have dinner together?
Allow your partner to speak from their own feelings as well. Paraphrase what you heard from each other.
4. I love spending time alone, but not everyone does.
Find out if you are an introvert, someone who re-energizes by having alone time, or if you are an extravert, someone who re-energizes through spending time with others. Couples can differ on how much alone or together time they need. Talk to each other about how and when to give each other the space each needs.
If you are feeling lonely due to needing less space than your partner, recognize when your partner does need that alone time, and give the appropriate amount of space.
Knowing how much space is needed and when it is needed can ease the anxiety, and you’ll know when you can be connected with your partner again. Don’t’ be afraid to come up with a plan for when you spend time together and apart. You may have to compromise!
Rebecca Garetz, LPC Intern – www.rosehipwellnesspdx.com
Have you ever heard the saying “When you feel lonely, that’s when you really need yourself?”
This quote applies to every part of our lives whether we are single or in relationships.
If you are feeling lonely even though you are in a relationship, these might be a few things to consider.
#1. When did you start to notice your feelings of loneliness?
Was there an event or a shift that you can recall, that would contribute to feeling alone?
It is important to clarify if possible, when the feelings started.
This may help lead to clarity and perhaps lead back to other times in your life where this pattern may have shown up.
#2. Where do you feel disconnected from yourself?
The boyfriend you have chosen at this time carries more wisdom than you may know. Notice if you two have similar patterns around isolation or disconnection.
Also, notice if you two have any similar unhealthy coping mechanisms like emotional repression, avoidance, etc.
You did not choose him by accident, so notice how you two may be similar and see if there is possibility for a vulnerable conversation around the feelings of loneliness.
If you are feeling lonely this is a chance to look deeper into the relationship for whats not working, and seeing what you get to add so that your needs may be met.
#3. It is also important to ask if the loneliness is being caused by the relationship?
Or do you still believe you would feel lonely even if you weren’t together with this partner?
#4. Have you noticed that due to this relationship you stopped pursuing all of your interests, or seeing friends?
Think back to the experiences in your life that had you feeling the most connected, and notice how that is different from now. What gets to change?
These are all simple questions that can be journaled or processed through in your mind at your own pace.
Don’t wait a moment longer to act, your connection is already present, but it has been blocked. These questions will help unblock your heart and mind, bringing clarity and understanding to your current situation.
Ananda Nelson, MSW – www.anandanelson.com
While having a boyfriend usually helps with loneliness, your boyfriend probably can’t meet all of your needs.
A lot of women are surprised by that. They think that their boyfriend will replace their best friend, becoming all of the social and emotional connection that they will ever need.
In my experience, different people fill different needs. So projecting all of your needs onto one person usually ends in disappointment.
Generally speaking in the years prior to the 1960’s, couples had very defined roles. The men worked and the women stayed home, raised the children, ran the house and created a social life for the family.
I think women then didn’t expect as much from their husbands. They expected to be supported and that he be a good husband (no cheating, drinking or gambling) and father.
As women moved into the workforce those somewhat rigid expectations began to change.
Women had more freedom and more responsibility. They weren’t as dependent on a man so they could be choosier. Eventually with women and men basically able to do the same things, the roles became a lot more fluid, as did the expectations.
These days it isn’t uncommon to hear a woman say that she is looking to her partner to be her “best friend”.
It’s a romantic concept, kind of like a soul mate. And with all of the work involved in working a job, getting an education and creating a home, there’s not a lot of time to devote to growing a supportive network of friends. This is an unfortunate phenomenon, a result of the amount of work we all have to put in just to live. It would certainly be convenient if your best friend lived with you!
In my experience women have a greater need for friendship than men do.
While again this is a generalization, I think it could be a result of the very ancient and traditional roles that men and women had as we developed as a species. Men were in charge of providing the food, and women created the communities that sustained our tribes.
Women (and men, too) need to recognize their basic need for friendships, and put in the effort required to create and maintain them.
I just think that’s it’s a bit unrealistic and probably a set-up for disappointment, to think that our partners will be able to provide all of that for each other.
Sally LeBoy, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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