Feeling Alone In Your Relationship? Our Best Tips To Help

As much as our culture puts an emphasis on relationships curing feelings of loneliness, it doesn't always work out that way. It may not make sense to those who've found fulfillment once they locked it down with someone else, but one's relationship status doesn't necessarily play a role in feelings of loneliness. According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, 28% of U.S. adults who report dissatisfaction in their family life attribute it to feeling lonely "all or most of the time." In contrast, only 7% feel satisfied in their family life.

"People are lonely in relationships or in social groups because they can't be themselves with the people and environment that they surround themselves with every day," millennial relationship therapist Alysha Jeney tells Brides. "Loneliness is emotional and mental isolation ... You may be experiencing isolation because you haven't taken risks at being vulnerable and shown them the real you, so you aren't connecting deeply."

But while feeling alone in a relationship isn't uncommon, it's still not something for which anyone should have to settle. Without addressing those feelings, the isolation can intensify to a level that will be even more difficult to work your way out of.

Communicate your feelings with your partner

Communication is the cornerstone of every relationship. Without it, not only does the relationship struggle, but so do the people within it. When you know that your loneliness is due to issues within your relationship, you need to speak up — and do so without passing blame. "The very first thing to do is to become self-aware of what you are feeling and then to approach your partner and begin what will probably be a series of conversations," licensed family and marriage therapist Gary Brown tells Time. "This needs to happen in a way that your partner doesn't feel judged; [it's] more to simply let them know what your experience is."

The best way to navigate this type of conversation is to set time aside for it. If you get into this topic when you're in a bad mood or feeling down, you won't be able to accurately communicate your feelings. If you need to make notes so you can broach the subject in a clear and effective way, then do that. The most important thing here is being honest and allowing yourself to be vulnerable, the latter of which may not be easy, but could ultimately create a deeper emotional connection between you and your partner.

Step up the PDA

Physical and emotional connection are so important in a relationship. Although in times of loneliness you might feel more inclined to pull further away from your partner, you should fight against this and lean into what you have together. In other words, it's time to make-out in public — or at least hold hands more often. 

"Not only can PDA help strengthen your physical connection and increase libido levels, but this type of unspoken communication can help you to express reassurance and support for your significant other in social situations," couples therapist Dr. Katherine Hertlein tells Cosmopolitan. "PDA can also help couples improve their intimacy levels. For example, when we touch our partner it releases a chemical called oxytocin."

Maintaining high levels of satisfaction in any relationship takes work and it's only natural that this feeling ebbs and flows. But acknowledging when things aren't as satisfying as they should be and taking steps to remedy it is the stuff that not only makes for healthy relationships, but can save it. 

Look after yourself

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, self-care means taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental health. Although what constitutes self-care varies from person to person, when it's practiced regularly it can reduce depression and anxiety, lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), strengthen the immune system, and increase happiness and energy. "A sustainable self-care practice is about creating moments within each day, week, month, season, and year to practice the kind of meaningful self-care that makes you feel healthy and joyful in mind, body, and soul," self-care expert Shel Pink tells Real Simple. "When practiced over time, these small rituals add up to a healthier and more joyful life."

Ways you can practice self-care include engaging in regular exercise (even just 30 minutes a day can improve your mood), sticking to a sleep schedule, eating a balanced diet and staying hydrated, practicing gratitude, and doing little things for yourself. If you're someone who finds deep relaxation in meditating, then meditate. If you're someone who feels most connected to themselves during yoga, then make yoga part of your daily routine. It's hard to show up to and be completely present (and satisfied!) in a relationship if you're not taking care of yourself.

Work on your life outside the relationship

People need various interests to keep them feeling good. If you sit at home devoting all your energy to your relationship and your partner, then of course you're going to feel alone and maybe even resent your partnership for it. According to PsychCentral, having three to five friends is the ideal amount when it comes to life satisfaction. However, it's not just about having friends; you need to spend time with them too. You have to get out there and experience other people and pursue other interests.

​"It's very important to have independence in a relationship," relationship etiquette expert Mara Opperman tells Bustle. "Successful, healthy relationships allow for both people to form a bond which lets them to not only grow together but also to grow independently as people. It's essential to have your own sense of autonomy while feeling you can depend on each other. Also, if you give up your independence and abandon the things that used to make you happy, it will be reflected in your relationship."

Letting a relationship consume you to the point where you lose your individualism isn't doing anyone any favors. It's paramount to allow yourself the space and time to flourish outside the relationship, just as much as you flourish in it. If you're feeling alone, make plans with friends or look into events going on in your city that interest you, and get out there and be part of the world.

Don't rely on your partner for everything

No one should expect their partner to be all the things they need, and to do so isn't just burdensome to the partner but can leave you feeling unfulfilled. It's one thing to expect your partner to be your friend and lover, but expecting them to fill every other role just isn't fair for either one of you.

"Marriage was an economic institution in which you were given a partnership for life in terms of children and social status and succession and companionship," psychotherapist Esther Perel tells NPR. "But now we want our partner to still give us all these things, but in addition, I want you to be my best friend and my trusted confidant and my passionate lover to boot ... So we come to one person, and we basically are asking them to give us what once an entire village used to provide."

If you take a step back and realize that you're placing too much responsibility on your partner, then it's time to evaluate why that is and where those expectations came from. When we first start seeing someone, it's natural to spend a lot of time with them, but as the lust stage of falling in love starts to burn out, the familial and platonic relationships should become a big part of your life again. That way your partner doesn't have to be your source for everything.