I am in a relationship.
I am never alone.
How can I feel so lonely?!
We have all heard the old saying “Sometimes the loneliest place is in the middle of a crowd…”. And whether you are straight, gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgendered, you may find that even in your closest, most intimate relationships you experience a sense of disconnect, a lack of the warmth or belonging you truly desire. This feeling leads to thoughts and questions about yourself, those around you, and about the relationships themselves.
Isolation and loneliness in a relationship typically have many roots:
- Childhood experiences that undermine your self-esteem
- Personal difficulties in communicating thoughts and feelings- particularly anger and/or disagreement
- Unspoken wants, needs, desires, and interest
- Choices of relationships that recreate painful childhood or past experiences in the hopes that ‘this time it will work…this time I will get it right…’
- Unwillingness, inability to accept that those around you are not who you want or need them to be
- Expectations that others will just know what you want/need and anger when they do provide for us
- Spiritual and/ or religious abuse that left you feeling sinful, wrong, and unforgivable.
Communication is key in creating a successful relationship and- yet-one of the most difficult activities if you are struggling with anxiety, loneliness, low self-esteem and/or depression. Past experiences may have led you to believe that you will not be heard or that your words and feelings will not be respected. Given this you either remain silent even when you have important thoughts to share or you fill your conversations with trivial, pleasant, or humorous words to avoid topics that would cause you to reveal your true thoughts and feelings.
Relationships under these circumstances become a ‘double-bind’. You are dissatisfied with what is happening but at the same time you would not risk angering those around you for fear of being left alone. Resentment and fear grow and you feel more and more alone even while you may be working harder and harder to prove your commitment to the relationship. Removing yourself from this double-bind requires patience- first with yourself and then with person(s) you are relating to. You most likely have lived in isolation from yourself for many years. You must first allow yourself time to identify who you are and what it is you are truly looking for.
In the next entry we will consider how to begin breaking through these blocks to intimacy. Need help today? Contact Jim Walker, LCSW @ 502-494-6631