When you entered your relationship, you wanted to find someone you connected with to keep you from ever feeling alone again, but as time has progressed you’ve found that distance has replaced your former intimacy. Ironically, although it may feel this way, you’re not alone. It’s quite common for couples to drift apart as contentment replaces the bite of initial attraction and passion. Although there could be something amiss in your relationship, there may be other more personal elements at play, as well.

Causes

Although time and familiarity can cause couples to disconnect and become lonely, there are myriad other causes to consider. Margaret Paul, Ph.D., states in her article “Are You Lonely in Your Relationship?” that you may experience loneliness in relationships that contain one partner who is withdrawn, controlling, emotionally unavailable, or dealing with his own personal issues and stresses. All of these relationship problems share a common thread: communication. Address a communication breakdown by being upfront about your feelings and concerns. You must be willing to address your own shortcomings while refraining from blaming or attacking your honey. If every conversation leads to more withdrawal or fighting, enlist the help of a professional.

Seeking Balance

Before you pin the blame for your loneliness on your honey, think about what might be out of balance in your life. Maybe your loneliness is rooted in a lack of close friendships. Loneliness may be rampant if you’ve recently lost a loved one, or moved away from your family and friends. Your feelings may have nothing to do with your interpersonal relationships at all: An AARP article titled “Understanding Loneliness” states that worthlessness and a lack of control can contribute to feeling lonely, meaning job loss, financial stress or a physical ailment may make you feel secluded or unloved. Examine your circumstances and begin setting goals to tackle your major causes of stress. Once you have identified and addressed the reasons for your loneliness, the joy in your relationships may return.

Consider Your Partner

Psychology Today states that when we’re lonely, we tend to highlight all the negative aspects of our relationships and completely disregard the good ones. If you’re still in your relationship, you’re probably not interested in breaking up, but simply floating along isn’t healthy. Additionally, there’s a good chance your partner is lonely, too, so take the initiative to change the dynamic. If your boyfriend is playing video games, sit down with him, watch and ask questions. Suggest making dinner together, or doing something completely out of the ordinary. Stop and consider what life is like from your partner’s point of view. Perhaps your girlfriend only seems cold and distant because she’s focusing on studying for the GRE. Maybe your boyfriend is acting insensitively because he’s still grieving his grandfather’s death. When you’re honest with yourself and truly try to take your honey’s perspective, you will both feel closer and you will actively combat the loneliness in your relationship.

Loneliness or Depression?

Though it is completely normal to suffer from loneliness, be aware of the warning signs that may indicate you have a deeper problem at hand. While loneliness may make it difficult to call friends and make changes in your life, clinical depression actually puts a damper on all activities – even those you enjoy, like hobbies and games. If you have aches, frequent crying spells, an inability to focus or “chronic loneliness” (which lasts for months or years), seek help from a psychologist or psychiatrist.