Many of us believe that if we feel lonely, we are searching for love. We think that love is the most profound feeling possible; it is the glue that holds us together. It is the greatest joy we can experience.
While this may be true under the right circumstances, love also is fickle. We have the capacity to fall in love with someone who is unavailable. Maybe the person we love doesn’t love us back. We might fall in love with someone who is incapable of expressing emotions or affection. In fact, falling in love with the wrong person can be the worst of all heartaches.
Is love really the antidote to loneliness if it can so easily go awry?
In my work as a relationship coach, I help people foster closeness, not necessarily love. Closeness is a reliable method for helping two people know each other and care about each other. It solves the problem that love lets linger: reliability. Sometimes love makes us less lonely, sometimes it makes us more lonely. Closeness always reduces feelings of being alone in this world.
Many relationships fall into the category of love but don’t fall into the category of closeness. To figure out whether you and your partner have a good amount of closeness in your relationship, consider these questions:
- Do I feel like my partner understands me well, especially my life goals?
- Does my partner consistently behave in a way that I can’t relate to?
- Am I withholding any major information from my partner?
- Do I believe that my partner considers me a priority?
- Is my partner genuinely excited for me when something good happens?
These are not simple yes-or-no questions. Notice any uncomfortable “maybes” or “maybe nots?” These indicate that, though you may very well be in love with your partner, the relationship still may be lacking closeness.
To get closer to your partner now, try these easy suggestions:
- Welcome support
Set aside time with your partner to discuss a difficulty you are having outside of the relationship. Doing this allows him or her to be there for you and to learn more about what types of things are a struggle for you right now. This works because it’s much easier to support someone if you know specifics about his or her challenges. Also, keeping the topic outside of the relationship (for now) is key to generating support and avoiding defensiveness.
- Plan date swaps
Date swaps are dates that one partner plans around the other partner’s interests. Doing this regularly (alternating between who’s planning and who’s receiving) gives both people a chance to actively recollect what the other person likes. Date swaps are almost always received as being very thoughtful and sweet (even if you miss a nuance here or there) and are pretty fail-proof for generating closeness. They are also fun!
- Use non-love language
“I love you” is the hallmark of romantic language, but to build more closeness, try using phrases other than “I love you” to describe how you feel about your partner. While “I love you” feels amazing at first, over time it can easily lose some of its meaning and power. Think about other phrases you could use to describe your positive feelings toward your partner, such as: “I admire you,” “I appreciate you,” or “I’m proud of you.” Mixing these in will remind you that you do indeed feel more than just love for your partner.
Use this simple closeness assessment and list of tips to stop feeling lonely in your relationship once and for all!
© Copyright Kira Asatryan
Couple on bench photo available from Shutterstock