"We used to be best friends and now we hardly speak."
"It's like we're just roommates living parallel lives."
"I feel more alone now than when I was single."
"We are so disconnected. He/she just doesn't get me anymore."
I hear these things often when I work with couples who come to see me. There are tears, hurt feelings, sadness, and sometimes even hopelessness when we talk about the current state of their relationship. Sadly, some couples come to counseling when it's way too late and they have grown so far apart that the distance is too great to return and reconnect. For those couples, they hoped things would work themselves out and get better with time. I'm here to caution you against this "wait and see" method. The Gottman Institute has studied many couples over the last few decades and found that people wait an average of six years to get any help for their relationship when they sense it is failing. Six years! By then, the damage may be too severe to recover from.
It is key for a couple to recognize the warning signs of a relationship that is growing apart and address them early on before they become too much to bear. One of these signs is a feeling of loneliness. Even if you've been together with this person for a while and you know each other well, if you're not properly connected and maintaining your relationship, loneliness will creep in. You'll feel disconnected and not as in sync as you used to be. Perhaps you'll even choose to be alone rather than with your partner. These are all red flags that are completely preventable!
Here are some ideas to implement and avoid struggling in a lonely relationship:
1) Choose each other more often and spend quality time together.
2) Put aside your phone, tablet, and the TV and connect with your partner instead.
3) Use your words and tell your partner how much they mean to you.
4) Show your love for your partner by speaking his or her love language.
5) Talk with each other regularly with eye contact and undivided attention.
Please contact me through phone (720-381-2755) or email (tradewindstherapy at gmail dot com) if you are finding it challenging to connect with your partner or if you've fallen into a lonely spell in your relationship. There is still hope for you to have the relationship you want!