When we start to think about the reasons why we need a romantic relationship, we may come to the conclusion that we are absolutely fine without one. We have more time and energy for ourselves, we don’t have to adjust ourselves to anyone. The more independent and successful we are, the less we need someone to make our path through life an easier one.
Then again, what about love, do we need it?
Love is needed by children, who are helpless, who can’t take care of themselves, and can’t live without it. Later on, when we grow up, we don’t need love, but still want it. We want it because it fills our life with joy. We accept someone as they are, and emotionally attach to them, without any expectations. He/she is not here to fulfil our expectations. He/she accepts us as we are and bonds with us, not expecting anything. We are happy and joyous, and don’t need anyone to make us happy. But we are happier when we are with someone, who we perceive as a valuable human being we get to share our joy and happiness with. That’s love.
Sometimes we are not with the person we perceive as valuable and important. Even though we are surrounded by a number of people, we feel lonely. We are lonely even though we are not alone.
Romantic relationships aren’t the only kind of relationships where we can feel lonely if we aren’t with someone. We can miss our friends, parents, children…Any person we perceive as important and valuable, but is not with us at a given moment in life.
Physical distance isn’t the only kind of distance that can contribute to the feeling of loneliness. Sometimes we can feel distant in an emotional, intellectual, spiritual sense. These kinds of lineliness may seem even harder to bear, because sometimes it is harder for us to overcome them. It can be harder for us if a person, who is important to us, is emotionally distant, than if he/she were thousands of miles away physically. Of course, if we are aware that not every distancing from the person we love is a potential threat, in the sense that we fear losing that person, we can develop a certain tolerance to the feeling of loneliness.

When we face these difficulties, we are usually dealing with unfinished business from the past. This refers to certain experiences in our childhood, when we were hurt because the person we needed wasn’t there, which cause us to perceive every distancing from the person we love as a great threat and suffering. The solution isn’t to make sure we don’t get “hurt” this way. If we don’t expect anything, no one can hurt us.
Sometimes, people who have experienced early separation from people who were important to them often choose to (in most cases this is on an unconscious level) emotionally bond with people who are physically distant as well. As if, in a way, they have the need for closure regarding an unfinished childhood story.
The solution is to become aware that the suffering we are experiencing now is actually an old story. No matter how real the problems we are experiencing with our partner now may seem, or how situationally adequate they may seem, they are actually a reflection of unresolved childhood issues. It is important to realize this, because once we understand the cause of our hurt, we stop suffering (even though the original wound will still be a part of us until we integrate our emotional traumas from childhood, there will no longer be any unnecessary pain which results from us not being aware of this).
Where there is love, there is loneliness. We can’t always be with the person we love. Even if we could, everyone has the need for occasional solitude. In romantic relationships involving two people who love each other, this need may occur at different times, leading to feelings of loneliness in one partner. Nevertheless, the more fulfilled and joyous our life is, the less this becomes an issue for us, and the more we are able to adapt to the continuous cycles of life: in order to really be with someone, we must sometimes be alone.

Danijela Stojanović, clinical psychologist and therapist

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