Lonely Wives Club
Many people -- married or single -- are alone without being lonely, while others are lonely without being alone. Which is it for you? Alone simply means there's no other human there right now, but it doesn't hurt. People who are alone often lead full social lives by staying connected with friends and relatives, as well as enjoying their time on their own. Lonely people, however, feel a sense of emptiness or rejection on a regular basis. Alone feels okay; lonely feels uncomfortable.
"Loneliness is a part of life," says Dr. Schwartz, "If people expect others to solve it for them, they'll be disappointed. Loneliness only becomes a problem when not enough is communicated in a relationship."
But how can you tell the difference between expecting too much, having a truly troubled relationship, or rooting out some other problem that's justly yours to solve, such as having unrealistic expectations of your partnership or being an isolated, lonely person generally? Copeland, who has done extensive studies in loneliness, says that "people who are lonely are often uncomfortable being with themselves. It's a sign of low self-esteem," she says. Symptoms may include desperately needing company at all times, feeling rejected when alone, and postponing decisions or entertainment until a companion shows up. If being alone itself makes you feel lonely, this could be the problem. And it often isn't solved by being with someone else. It also may not suggest that your partnership itself is in trouble. It may mean that you simply need to find ways to solve the sense of isolation you feel, partner or not.
Dr. Schwartz suggests speaking with a friend or a counselor to clarify whether or not you're suffering from other issues. "For example, it could feel like loneliness," she says, "but maybe you're depressed because the kids have left, or your job isn't what you thought."