In a Relationship, but Lonely All the Same

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When we view someone as lonely, we almost always imagine the individual as literally alone, but for many, loneliness is an experience that they feel despite being with others or even in the context of an engaged relationship.

Clinical psychologist Ami Rokach says loneliness is an experience we go into when we don’t feel cared for or are not important to the people around us. It is something that many experience but do not pass on to others, although it is so common. Two in five Americans report that sometimes or always they feel that their social relationships don’t matter, and one in five says they feel lonely or socially isolated.

Two arms look at a round table and hold coffee cups

While loneliness is difficult for anyone to deal with, it is in itself difficult to feel lonely in a relationship. In an interview with the Trauma and Mental Health Report, Rokach describes what loneliness looks like in serious relationships:

“Marital loneliness is a very painful experience. In Western culture, marriage and serious intimate relationships are supposed to protect us from loneliness. The feeling of being estranged from our closest person, the person who should be our lover and friend, is very painful and sometimes even scary. When a couple cannot trust each other emotionally; when they are constantly afraid of being judged or ridiculed; When they cannot share freely with one another without being attacked, they feel lonely and that can lead to anger, depression, and frustration. “

Rokach goes on to explain why loneliness happens in relationships, even when it seems unexpected:

“Loneliness can occur in relationships for a number of reasons. People may originally have entered the relationship because they were lonely. A relationship that emerges from loneliness usually ends in loneliness. Another reason for loneliness can be that one or both members feel they cannot share and safely discuss problems with their partner. This can lead to anger and upset, and these feelings can build up if not resolved. In addition, a lack of trust can develop, as it is often criticized that the couple equals each other. After all, taking each other for granted is an important source of loneliness. ”

Loneliness is often confused with depression because of its properties similar to emotional pain and helplessness. The key difference, however, is that once they start building relationships with others, those who are lonely often hope that their pain will ease.

A couple hold hands while kissing, faces outside the frame

Still, depression and loneliness are linked, and lonely people are more likely to experience depression. This is especially true for people with insecure attachment styles, as they often struggle to establish relationships, making them prone to loneliness and depression.

Indeed, loneliness is beginning to be seen as generally detrimental to physical and mental health. Studies have found links between loneliness and obesity, cardiovascular problems, increased stress, and immunodeficiency. In addition, loneliness can cause not only everyday stress, but also chronic stress.

-Llewellyn Boggs, contributing writer

Feature: Etienne Boulanger at Unsplash, Creative Commons
First: Joshua Ness at Unsplash, Creative Commons
Second: Priscilla Du Preez at Unsplash, Creative Commons

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