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Feeling lonely in a relationship

Loneliness is an epidemic in today’s modern urbanized world and is further exacerbated by the ongoing pandemic with social distancing being widely advocated. While you can be connected to many people virtually, the void can still arise at any time especially when the holiday seasons are around the corner and you are disconnected from everyone around you.

Everyone is being selective about who to keep in contact with, retaining those that make them feel nourished and pruning off those that are dissatisfying. You may even realize that you are being ghosted on by your own so-called friends and loved ones. The challenge of reconnecting during social reopening can be difficult, causing tensions within your social circle as ties weakened over time.

A lot of people think that only singles feel lonely but that is not the case. Even those in romantic and committed relationships can feel isolated as well. Although a marriage is supposed to protect one against this emotional pain, you may still experience this sense of isolation and feel ashamed to admit this inadequacy due to the stigma it carries in society.

Naturally, you may expect your partner who is closest to you to alleviate those feelings. However, he or she may not be able to completely dispel those uncomfortable feelings if you are also feeling distanced from your partner.

Loneliness is not a physical state which can you observe but rather, it is the result of lack of rapport. It can be one of the most painful feelings in the world to experience as humans are not primed to survive social rejection.

Here are some signs that you are experiencing loneliness in a relationship:

- Not sharing details of your day

- Lack of physical intimacy

- Not wanting to spend time with your partner

- Making decisions alone

- Feeling unheard or not cared for

- Feeling uncertain about the future of the relationship

- Disregarding your partner’s inputs

- Feeling empty, sad and hopeless

There are ways to remedy the situation with your partner. Here are some steps to reconnect with your partner:

  • Try a gratitude exercise together: Sit down together for 10 min each night and say positive things that you appreciate about each other. This helps to build connection and you can also take the opportunity to address things that has been bothering you and make changes together.

  • Revise expectations: You may have certain unrealistic expectations for your partner but he or she is not able to fulfill due to the ongoing demands from his or her life such as work and kids. They may not be as emotionally present as you would like them to be. Reframing the situation can help you think of your relationship and partner in a more positive light.

  • Schedule more quality time together: Create rituals that both of you look forward to. It could be something as simple as making time for lunch together and make sure you remove all distractions such as the mobile devices.

  • Physical contact: Physical touch releases the hormone called oxytocin which promotes bonding. It does not have to be sexual, a hug from time to time can promote feelings of closeness.

  • Seeing a counsellor: A therapist can help to figure out what is going on within the relationship and help you navigate your way out of this sense of disconnectedness. Your partner may be reluctant but this is actually a good opportunity to re-educate oneself and improve your communication styles. Your partner deserves the best version of you.

Encourage each other to connect with others more in times like this, especially when the stressors of the pandemic is wearing you down. Remember, no friend or partner is perfect. Work through the challenges intentionally and improve on your own behavior to be a better friend and partner yourself. You may outgrow relationships around you, but you can certainly try to grow back into them. As you repair your relationship, it can be come stronger and better.

Last but not least, be gracious. Forgive and strive hard to keep those bonds that matter, and start your new year in 2022 with a renewed sense of connection and purpose!

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