What happens when you feel lonely in your relationship?

Carol felt lonely last week. Paul was in his home office; Carol was in her home office. Neither of us was hurt, or angry, or upset with the other. We had been focused on the world outside, working together  to contribute to other people having great relationships. And even so, Carol felt lonely.

If our relationship is how we feel, our emotions, where is the relationship when we feel lonely? The song, “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feeling,” mourns that the relationship is over, unless you can get “that lovin’ feeling” back.

In one of our workshops, when we pointed out that relationships have emotional ups and downs, we heard a gasp from a participant, who exclaimed “I just realized I’ve been thinking that good feelings are the relationship,” and ”When there are bad feelings, there’s no relationship.” The result: when she didn’t have that lovin’ feeling, she walked out of her relationships.

Thinking that a relationship is our emotions is a trap, because emotions – feelings – come and go, largely beyond our control.

But Carol knew that feeling lonely did not mean there was no more relationship. She didn’t have to deal with her feeling of loneliness by herself. The relationship was there; she was feeling lonely because she wasn’t at that moment experiencing being related.

So Carol told Paul what she was feeling. That opened the path for us together to plan an activity that re-awakened our connection, not to fix the relationship (nothing was wrong), but to experience and enjoy being related.

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