Being in a relationship doesn’t mean you’ll never feel lonely. Feelings of loneliness differ from person to person. Scientists believe that each of us has different expectations about being with people. Some of us are happy with one or two meaningful connections, whereas other people feel isolated without lots of communication.
This means that it’s perfectly possible to feel lonely in a relationship. It could be because something is lacking in the relationship, or that you miss connections outside of it.
Loneliness can develop, if you feel that the number of existing relationships is smaller than you want, or that you are not getting the level of intimacy and connection that you desire.
Relate, a charity that helps people with relationships, says that when someone feels ‘lonely’ in a relationship, it can mean a variety of things: feeling unheard or unloved; feeling disconnected from your partner; or feeling confused and unable to resolve a problem.
Often these feelings can be linked to a change in your relationship; one of you is getting a new job, or moving in together.
Because we all feel differently about loneliness, the most important thing is to talk to each other. If you are feeling lonely your partner may not even realise and may have different expectations about the amount and quality of time you spend together. Talking calmly about your feelings can help them to understand what you need and want from a relationship.
It can seem strange to talk to your partner about your feelings of loneliness. You might worry that it will upset them, but loneliness in relationships is very common. In one recent study, 62.5% of people who reported being lonely were married and living with their partner.
If you feel fulfilled in your relationship but still have feelings of loneliness, it could be that you need to spend more time with friends. When relationships are new it can be easy to forget your friends and spend much of your time with your new partner. But friendships are important too. Spending time away from your partner and with friends is healthy for both of you. It can actually help relationships as it gives you new perspectives and new experiences to talk to each other about.
If you have trouble making friends, read this month’s article on meeting new people in London.