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Common Causes of Loneliness in a Relationship

Article | March 2019

Common Causes of Loneliness in a Relationship

Did you know that loneliness can occur even if you’re in a relationship? Just because you are married or dating someone doesn’t exclude you from the possibility of feeling lonely. What are the main causes for loneliness in a relationship and what are some ways you can deal with it?

Is it normal to feel lonely in a relationship?

Feelings of loneliness can happen to anyone and at any point in their lives, in or out of a relationship. If you’re feeling lonely in a marriage or relationship, it may be time to consider the reasons why and recognize the signs of a lonely relationship.

What are the signs of loneliness in a relationship?

Loneliness is a sense of feeling disconnected, isolated, and disengaged from others. In terms of loneliness in a relationship, these feelings would apply to your spouse or partner. Feel lonely even when you’re in the same room with them? Feeling lonely during an evening of watching TV with your significant other is not the same as feeling lonely all the time. Ongoing feelings of disconnection and disengagement from your partner may be the sign that you’re in a lonely relationship. 

What causes a lonely relationship?

Here are some of the factors that can lead to feeling lonely in a marriage or relationship:

  • Intimacy fizzles: Some relationships just lose their spark. If you feel a loss of connection and affection, you may be left simply going through the motions. Intimacy plays a big part in getting deeply connected. Without this connection to your partner, you may begin to feel a sense of isolation and separation, which may lead to feelings of loneliness.
  • Incompatibility: Couples who get together and ultimately find they are not compatible may end up in a dead-end relationship. Resentment, intolerance, impatience, and unhappiness can replace what was once possibly a blissful existence. If you end up in a relationship like this, loneliness could be among the emotions and feelings that bubble up to the surface.
  • Distance and physical separation: When a spouse or partner is away for long periods whether due to military service or work, the physical separation may lead to one or both partners suffering with loneliness.
  • Health problems: Feelings of loneliness may occur in relationships where a spouse or partner is dealing with a chronic illness, battling a serious disease, or is even hospitalized.
  • Emotional issues: Issues like substance use and depression can introduce loneliness into the relationship. It’s important that your health care provider, a therapist, or counselor is engaged. They can help address all factors of the relationship, including the causes and effects.
  • Physical or emotional abuse: Any kind of abuse in a relationship can certainly lead to loneliness, but it can also lead to depression, substance use, and injury, as well. If there is abuse occurring now or in the past, please talk to your health care provider, a counselor, or therapist about it.

 

What can you do if you are feeling lonely in a relationship?

If you’re feeling like you’re all by yourself in your relationship, consider these tips:

  • Talk to your partner or spouse: It’s important to let them know how you feel. You and your partner or spouse may be able to work together for the good of the relationship. For example, maybe it’s time to plan a weekend getaway, or a date night. Even a walk in the park together could help relieve a sense of loneliness. Carve out even a small chunk of time to focus attention on each other.
  • Spend some time among friends or family: Just because you are lonely in your relationship, doesn’t necessarily mean you feel lonely when you’re among friends or loved ones. If the company of others helps ease your lonely relationship, then make plans to do things with others. See if these moments of connectedness can help ease your feelings of loneliness with your partner or spouse.
  • Talk to a couples’ counselor: It may be that your relationship just needs some TLC. If your partner’s willing, some therapy time with a couples’ counselor may help you and your partner explore what could be contributing to loneliness in the relationship or marriage. A therapist may even suggest ways to work past it.
  • Get involved outside your relationship: Maybe spending less time around your spouse or partner can help ease feeling of loneliness and actually help the relationship. Volunteer opportunities, hobby clubs, running, biking, and workout groups, are all possible ways to focus your energies elsewhere and bring enjoyment to your life, outside the scope of your relationship.

 

There are many other tips to try if you’re working on overcoming loneliness.

If you’re struggling in a relationship that seems lonely, tending to your emotional and physical health is important. Only you know whether the relationship is worth it. Find ways to communicate with others—your partner, friends, family, counselor or therapist—and try some of the options for working through relationship loneliness.

Man and woman sitting apart on a couch; he’s on a tablet and she’s looking away.

This information is for educational purposes only. It is not medical advice. Always consult your doctor for appropriate examinations, treatment, testing, and care recommendations. Any third party content is the responsibility of such third party. Cigna does not endorse or guarantee the accuracy of any third party content and is not responsible for such content. Your access to and use of this content is at your sole risk.

Sources:

5 Ways to Overcome Loneliness in a Relationship, Psychology Today, May 28, 2018, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/unified-theory-happiness/201805/5-ways-overcome-loneliness-in-relationship

Are You Lonely In Your Marriage? Psychology Today, October 29, 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/toxic-relationships/201710/are-you-lonely-in-your-marriage