What causes loneliness in a relationship?

What you need to know:

It is easy to assume that being in a long-term relationship must automatically protect you from loneliness, but in reality, it is possible to be married but lonely. Here is what you can do to find common ground with your partner.

Feelings of loneliness can happen to anyone and at any point in their lives, in or out of a relationship. If you are feeling lonely in a marriage or relationship, it may be time to consider the reasons why and recognise the signs of a lonely relationship.


Loneliness is when despite being in one place with your significant other, you feel awkward in each other’s company. There are several causes of loneliness in marriage and these include lack of commitment to the marriage.

“This involves trying your best to make your partner happy and being mindful of the other’s  interests and meeting their needs,” Esther Nansubuga, a counsellor, says. 

Too many expectations

According to Nansubuga,  some people have lots of expectations from their spouse, such as, he will pick and drop me from work, he will help me with domestic chores, she will not sleep until I am home, she will always consult me before making any decision or she will stay home and raise the children. Having all these expectations makes room for contention, resentment and later, loneliness when they are not met. “It is best to have realistic expectations and create common ground to always talk about them,” Robin Kasibante, a relationship counsellor, shares.

Too many responsibilities

Marriage usually results in a family which comes with several responsibilities. However, when one is always busy with work, domestic chores, and other responsibilities, it not only robs them of time to care for self but quality time with their spouse, making them feel lonely.  “Being too busy for your significant other slowly pushes them low on your priority list to which they might get accustomed,” Kasibante says.  

Failure to understand self

The beauty of understanding oneself is that one becomes aware of who they are. They learn their strengths, weaknesses, and interests while understanding their partner eases tension and expectations towards them. 


When one’s spouse is the kind that thinks they are better than you in various ways, Kasibante says, it will cause friction, especially when they rub it in the other person’s face.  “This leads to emotional and physical abuse, which makes the affected spouse draw back trying their best to avoid instances that cause their partner to flare up,” she says.

It is important to know the causes and signs of loneliness so one learns how to work around them to avoid feeling lonely and empty in the marriage relationship. “For instance, managing expectations, finding what to do to keep busy in the absence of your spouse or in times when your spouse is present but busy, talking to the spouse about how one feels lonely in the marriage,” Nansubuga advises.


If you and your partner are struggling to work on this issue or simply don’t know where to start, experts say working with a couples’ counsellor or therapist can be a helpful way to get on the right track. There is also alot of relationship resources, such as books, online courses, and virtual couples’ events that can help couples get support.


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