You are by my side, but I don’t feel you. Loneliness in love can be devastating ; It is almost like perceiving that there is an open window through which the cold enters and, in turn, the passion, the interest, the complicities that previously ignited caresses and smiles disappear. Almost without knowing how, this indifference comes from sudden hostility, reproaches and those looks that, far from being sought, are avoided.
If there is something that, without a doubt, we would like it is that all the love we profess for someone was sent back to us with the same intensity (I give so much, I receive so much). We would love that in terms of affective relationships there was always a perfect and absolute balance. To love and be loved in the same way, with the same energy, form and passion. However, each of us do it in our own way, with our own language, with better and worse skills.
However, few experiences usually bring as much suffering as feeling the progressive indifference of the couple. As striking as it may seem, the reason for this is not always in lack of love. Sometimes, this reality is inscribed in that person characterized by an evident emotional inaccessibility, also in alexithymics and in those who simply do not understand that love is something more than physical presence. Authentic love requires action, emotion, connection, and reciprocity.
“Loneliness is admired and desired when it is not suffered, but the human need to share things is evident.”
-Carmen Martín Gaite-
Loneliness in love, a very common reality
The mere fact of having a partner offers no safeguard against loneliness. This fact is demonstrated by the data obtained in the studies on loneliness that are published each year. We know, for example, that loneliness is already an epidemic among the older population ; however, in recent years we are discovering how the youngest cohort also significantly evidences this reality.
Hence, it is important to talk about what we understand as “felt loneliness. ” That is, the one that appears despite the fact that the person has a partner, family or has an extensive social network. As Robert Weiss, the social psychologist and expert in this field, told us, ” loneliness is what we experience when we feel the lack of something that we need.”
Likewise, it was this author who established the difference between social and emotional loneliness. The latter is the one that arises especially at the couple level, where we lack attachment, commitment and those affective nutrients that make up a happy and healthy bond. Also, until recently, no special attention was paid to this type of loneliness; however, from the clinical point of view, we know that these situations generate high anxiety. The implication it has for mental and physical health is enormous.
Loneliness in love has many faces
María Teresa Bazo, sociologist and expert in social welfare and quality of life, points out that “it is quite possible that the worst loneliness is the one experienced in company” (Bazo, 1989). The truth is that loneliness in love can be felt for years, and even decades, without remedying that serious fact. Now, it is important to first know what factors mediate this fact since they can be as diverse as they are striking.
- In the first place, we must know that there are people who start a relationship to turn off their own loneliness, their fears and emptiness. This is the case of those men or women who carry trauma or who simply show low self-esteem. In these cases, they will rarely feel happy or fulfilled in that relationship. They will always feel that they are missing ‘something’, the feeling of loneliness is never relieved.
- On the other hand, there are also those profiles with serious difficulties to share, to talk about their feelings or emotionally validate the partner. They don’t understand the language of affection; well because they don’t know, can’t or won’t.
- Loneliness in love can also appear due to the weight of routine. We let ourselves be carried away by the evolution of the day to day, of the pressures, jobs and occupations, forgetting to attend and nurture the most important thing: the affective relationship.
Last but not least, there is the most common element: heartbreak.
Effects of emotional distance
When loneliness appears in love and emotional distance, we experience a series of very common psychological realities. Stress arises in the face of uncertainty, anguish, the fear of not being loved and, instantly, also hostility. The fact of not receiving explanations or of being suspended in that limbo where neither the rupture nor the attempt to resolve said situation takes place generates frustration.
Reproaches, arguments and more distancing may appear. All this reverts to work and the rest of our relationships. They are undoubtedly very delicate situations.
What should we do when we experience loneliness in our relationship?
If there is something we should all understand, it is that one’s own healthy loneliness will always be preferable to a loneliness erected next to someone. We know that social or physical loneliness is painful, but emotional loneliness is deeper and more sibylline because it devalues dignities and self-esteem.
Maintaining this type of relationship where the abyss of emotional coldness and the edge of indifference extends, does not make sense. Faced with these realities, there are only two options: find the problem and solve it or end the relationship. In these cases, a couple psychologist will be of great help to us to be able to work through the difficulties and thus find the best answer.
Be that as it may, let’s be clear that loneliness in love is more common than we think. And the cost, immense.
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