This just might make your head spin, but only because it's absolutely true. You can be in a long-term, committed relationship with a partner that makes you feel unequivocally secure — and at the same time, you can still feel very, very lonely. You're probably wondering: How can these two counterintuitive ideas coexist? Studies indicate that roughly 20% of the general population suffers from chronic loneliness at any given time. And in one recent study of adults, 62.5% of people who reported being lonely were married and living with their partner.
It's one of those inexplicable feelings, and left to its own devices, it can do real damage. So how do we beat it?
- Try taking the parts of your relationship that often go overlooked and turn them into shared experiences. For example, instead of letting your partner enjoy their favorite show in another room, shack up on the couch next to them and turn it into a show you watch together. It feels small, but adding experiences to your shared perspective will help you feel closer.
- And speaking of perspectives, try on your partner’s every once in a while. A few moments of truly putting yourself in their shoes and understanding their point of view will allow you to express more empathy in your relationship. And leading with empathy will not only make your partner feel good (which is always nice), but it'll also strengthen your bond — making you feel good in return. And you know what helps loneliness? Feeling good.
- Lastly, replace your instinct to say "no" with a whole bunch of "yes." Meaning, take the normal things you'd mindlessly deny from your partner and try giving them the green light. You might not even recognize your partner's attempts to engage with you, which could be juicy opportunities to build your partnership when given the chance.
Your lingering blues can only be shaken up by… shaking things up (see what we did there?). So start shaking and doing something about it today!