I Thought Love Would Cure My Loneliness; Now I Know Better
Whether you’re single, or in a relationship, love is not enough to cure loneliness — no matter how great it is. Here’s how to deal with each circumstance.
Watercolor Illustration Of A Surreal Landscape With A Woman Rowing A Boat Towards A Heart Signifying Single Loneliness
Saprina Panday
Christie Hartman

During my early twenties, I was in a very intense relationship and passionately in love.

It should have been complete bliss.

It wasn’t.

For three very long years, I constantly battled feelings of emptiness and loneliness.

I finally had to admit to myself that the relationship overtook all the space that should have been balanced between my friends, family, and personal passions.

It was eating me up.

Love, as I would learn, is not enough to cure loneliness — no matter how great it is — if it takes you away from the parts of your life that also bring you meaning and joy.

I’ve come to realize that this feeling is a very common one, even if it may be too embarrassing to admit.

Editor’s Note: This article is part of our ongoing series The Roots Of Loneliness Project: Unearthing Why We Feel Alone, the first-of-its-kind directory that comprehensively explores the phenomenon of loneliness and 80+ types that we might experience over the course of our lives.

Click the link to find resources and information on virtually any form of loneliness you may be personally experiencing.

Feeling Love Loneliness While Being Single

When I broke off the relationship and became single again, I embraced my freedom and I no longer felt lonely — at least for a while.

I moved to New York City, secured my first job, and went on many adventures with a close-knit group of friends.

I was living my dream and I was not looking for romantic love.

One day, I felt a sudden pang in my chest. It took me a few minutes to realize that what I was feeling was loneliness.

It had returned with a vengeance.

All at once, I desperately missed the passion of my past relationship and I longed to find someone with whom I could share myself with.

I wanted to feel that familiar closeness again.

I went on a winding journey of self-discovery and began dating, but following another breakup, I became convinced that I would always be single and lonely.

Feeling Lonely In Love When The Honeymoon Period Ends

Six years later, I found someone new.

The first few months were bliss.

As time passed, however, I was surprised to discover that I felt lonely yet again.

This time, it was for a different reason: I missed the hormones and passion that seemed to exist so effortlessly at the start of our relationship.

Biological anthropologist Dr. Helen Fisher explained that the brain signals the release of different hormones and neurotransmitters depending on whether we are experiencing lust, attraction or attachment.

As a relationship progresses, attachment becomes more and more powerful while lust and attraction take a back seat. When that happens, the wild passion that once existed within the relationship may begin to calm.

My own desire for — and memory of — “crazy stupid love” and passionate romance did not dutifully take the same back seat.

Despite finding myself in a romantic relationship again, I had to manage unexpected feelings of loneliness.

When I first began to tackle the subject of love loneliness, I discovered the different ways it can manifest.

I also realized that I have experienced every single one throughout the course of my life.

How Do You Overcome Love Loneliness And Feeling Lonely When In Love?

What To Do When You’re In Love And Lonely

If you are someone who wants to understand how to deal with loneliness while you’re in love and in a relationship, here are some tips that I’ve found really help.

  • Understand that there is nothing wrong with feeling lonely while in a relationship.

While the media has made us believe that romantic love is all we need, the reality is that we are social creatures and need more than just romantic love.

As a remote worker, I found it very lonely to be at home all day while my partner went to a physical office and interacted with his colleagues.

When he returned in the evenings, I often felt starved for companionship and I would pester him for attention even though he was tired after a long day at work.

I came to realize that I’d also really benefit from working in an office environment because having such daily interactions with people would enable me to feel connected to others.

If you are feeling lonely in your relationship, ask yourself whether you have enough connections with other people in your life. Take stock of the activities that truly matter to you and take steps to realign with them.

It’s important to remember that beyond a partner, we also need friendship, family, and meaningful work just as much — if not more — in order to feel like we really matter.

Make sure that your relationship isn’t in an unhealthy codependent place — which can also create its own form of loneliness.

  • Accept and understand that your loneliness is your own.

As a creative person, I have intense bouts of loneliness that are often not even related to my relationship.

I used to lash out at my partner because I expected him to fill that void until I realized it was never his to fill: I had always been prone to feeling very lonely.

It’s in my personality type to struggle with loneliness.

So whenever you feel lonely, remember that your partner cannot cure your loneliness.

That is your responsibility.

Take some time to understand and learn more about yourself.

You can begin to do this by exploring personality tests like Myers Briggs and Enneagram, and also by focusing on yourself internally through meditation techniques.

  • Accept that relationships change.

It can be hard to flourish within a relationship as it undergoes change.

In my own relationship, for example, I struggled to accept that continued passion needed to be rekindled through intentional effort — it doesn’t just keep happening.

What I was feeling at the time was fear — because the relationship was not what I knew before, I was afraid that there was something inherently wrong with it.

Sometimes we get stuck on an idea of what a relationship should look like.

In my case, I attended therapy and meditation.

I came to understand that I was having commitment issues because I had never been in a relationship long enough to witness all the changes that come with it.

So if you are feeling like your relationship is not exactly how you imagined it would be, listen to that feeling and make note of it.

It may be true that you are not in a relationship that you want.

On the other hand, it may also be true that you are simply scared of something you have not experienced before.

Remember that relationships, like most things in life, change over time. It’s important to understand the difference between change that equates to positive growth, and change that signals something is indeed wrong.

In my case, I’m grateful that I went through the process of questioning the changes in my relationship because it made me appreciate it all the more deeply.

  • Communicate how you feel with your partner.

Sometimes, loneliness can come about from the dynamics in a relationship.

During my first serious relationship, I was very young and my partner was seven years older.

We wanted extremely different things from life, but for a while, we pretended otherwise because we didn’t want to face the idea of breaking up.

Ultimately, we were both very lonely because we knew that our futures likely held divergent paths. At the same time, we were both afraid of being single and facing loneliness.

When things eventually did break down and we went our separate ways, the loneliness I experienced was painful — but it was also instructive.

I knew that I preferred to be alone and lonely rather than lonely and in an impossible relationship.

That level of deep self-understanding comes down to simply knowing yourself and the root of your loneliness.

So if you are feeling lonely because you are not communicating important things with your partner, take steps to communicate your feelings to each other with honesty and integrity.

  • If you are struggling to communicate with your partner, find communication techniques that help you.

I have benefitted from the advice of relationship coach Kira Asatryan, who suggests that closeness — and not love — is the antidote to loneliness.

To create closeness, one needs to understand another person through their perspective, and to be able to feel and show that the other person’s well-being matters.

Much of this is done by asking questions that are open-ended and expansive, as well as noticing the things that are not being said.

What To Do When You Are Single, Feeling Lonely And Want To Be In Love

You have probably heard it time and time again, but it is the advice that seems to work best:

  • Focus on yourself and fall in love with yourself first.

That is what I did throughout my own singledom. I pushed to get to know myself better and to become my own best friend.

This is also the lesson that bestselling author of Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert, whose own life journey has been one of trying to run away from loneliness, echoes wisely.

What To Do When You Are In Love But Single And Feeling Lonely

When I fell in love with someone who didn’t want to have a relationship with me, it was extremely painful and I felt very lonely.

I tried to distract myself by going on dates with other people, but the truth is that I wasn’t interested in anyone else. Instead, I was only trying to run away from the pain of heartbreak and rejection.

And even if there were potentially compatible people along the way, my heart was elsewhere.

I learned that to love someone means also risking getting hurt — and that is an act of courage.

I also came to the realization that I could not run away from my pain.

So, I decided to embrace it, acknowledge that I was grieving, and make space for this new kind of loneliness.

Eventually, I met other people and I knew how to manage the pain that came with taking chances.

If you are struggling with the loneliness of heartbreak from an impossible love, here are some tips on how to navigate through this painful time.

In Conclusion

For me, loneliness and love are part of the same package.

Bearing that in mind, it shouldn’t feel taboo to speak about loneliness in our relationships or when we’re single and longing for love.

If you are in a relationship and feeling lonely right now, you are not alone. The answers await just around the corner if you tap into what your loneliness is telling you.

There is unlimited potential for personal growth if you allow yourself to feel love loneliness, recognize it for what it is, and deal with it in a healthy and authentic manner.

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