Sam and Dina met in their late 20s and suddenly, 10 years later, they found themselves feeling almost like strangers and even enemies to each other.
“What happened to us?” They often asked themselves.
We were so in love and had fun with each other. The years of building a career and family life together, yet forgetting to prioritise their relationship, had started to show.
There were arguments over: “Who is more tired?” “Who does more for the family?” “Who takes the bins out more…?”
Sam and Dina found themselves feeling resentful towards each other and often bickering over the smallest of things. They did not really know how to bring their relationship back on course again.
When they met, they instantly felt attracted to each other and the relationship progressed quickly. They had talked about their values and shared many similar life goals.
They both came from families where emotions were not talked about openly. Whilst they shared an internal wish to create a closer relationship in their own relationship, they did not really know what that would mean and they found themselves slipping out of connection over the years.
Whilst the above example of Sam and Dina is not a real couple, the story is very familiar in my therapy room. Hence, I wanted to write a post about understanding where loneliness and disconnection stem from and how to start creating more closeness in your relationship.
The two sources of disconnection contributing to your loneliness in your relationship
The pain of being in a relationship and feeling alone is heartbreaking. You had high hopes of creating a relationship that would give you more than it would take. You had high hopes of finding a person who would cherish you and your relationship and you would feel loved and be able to love them back.
Instead, what happened was that, over time, you suddenly realized that you have ended up in a relationship where the person next to you feels so distant and you don’t know how to get back to being connected again.
So the loneliness you feel may have two sources; your disconnection with yourself and the disconnection in your relationship.
The pain of being in a relationship and feeling alone is heartbreaking. You had high hopes for creating a relationship that would give to you more than it would take. You had high hopes of finding a person who would cherish you and your relationship and you would feel loved and be able to love them back.
Instead what happened was that over time you suddenly realized that you have ended up in a relationship where the person next to you feels so distant and you don’t know how to get back to being connected again.
So the loneliness you feel may have two sources from your disconnection with yourself and the disconnection in your relationship.
Disconnection within you
How do you connect with yourself?
Does that even sound unfamiliar to you as a phrase?
What does it even mean?
When you are connecting with yourself:
- You have clarity on who you are as a person
- You are clear on your needs (download a worksheet here)
- You are clear and speak about your boundaries – what is and what isn’t ok with you
- You have practices that help you to regularly connect with how you feel internally
The roots of this disconnection with yourself may be linked with your history and what you learnt in your early relationships about yourself. If you grew up in an environment where your needs were met and you were able to express yourself, you are likely to have a good sense of yourself. If your needs were often ignored or you were not allowed to express yourself, you may find it difficult to connect with yourself. You can read more about CEN here.
Absolutely in adulthood you can learn to connect with yourself and this will have a positive impact on your relationships too. Getting to know yourself, mindfulness practices, journaling and all kinds of self-development work will help you to get to know yourself better.
The better you understand yourself, what you need, what you want, the more empowered you feel to create the life and relationship you want.
Disconnection in your relationship:
When you feel disconnected and alone in your relationship with your partner, it feels like being surrounded by darkness even when the day is bright. Our closest relationship comes so right onto our skin that a disconnection in it is excruciating.
Loneliness in your relationship signifies an emotional disconnection and not feeling emotionally safe.
Many things could have contributed to it…Perhaps you have always found it difficult to express your feelings and vulnerability to each other.
You may have or your partner or both come from backgrounds where feelings were not discussed.
Perhaps you and your partner in some ways just fell into your relationship and have been trying to figure it out since then.
Perhaps changes in the life circumstances like having children or significant loss have taken priority over your relationship.
The good news is that you can transform your relationship with your partner. You can create the love you want. Often just one person changing the dynamic makes a difference and the other starts responding to it.
Many of us did not get the basic relationship skills training in childhood and then in adulthood you are finding it difficult to figure out how to be in a relationship.
You may find it difficult to notice when the cracks are starting to appear in the relationship.
You may find it difficult to regulate and even understand your emotions which contributes often to feeling even more disconnected with your partner.
You may not know exactly how to create emotional safety again with your partner and build a bridge between the two of you.
How to start building a bridge…
Repairing your relationship starts from within. The better you know yourself, what triggers you and how to support yourself in those moments, then the better you can see when the cracks starts to appear in your relationship and you can stop the cycle of disconnection from escalating. Essentially you need to work both within yourself and on your relationship at the same time. The truth is that both of you are suffering in that loneliness of the relationship.
If you are now there recognising yourself and wondering what to do, I have something coming for you. I have created and put into a package the relationship advice and exercises that have helped my individual clients to transform their relationship. Join here for the wait list and you will be notified as soon as the program is available which will be very soon…