All By My Lonesome

Most people associate the word loneliness to someone who does not have a companion, a Mate or a Quaint with whom to spend time. What happens when you are lonely with Mate lying in bed beside you?


Abductee...not alien.

We have already been over the fact Mate is not an alien. But in the last few (weeks, months, years), you have become to realize you do not speak Mate’s language. Now, we could chalk this up to the whole Venus/Mars debate, but that would be a fallacy. You share a language, even if one of you has a different native one.

Taking Turns

During a relationship or marriage, one of you will go through times which are tougher to handle than the other is experiencing. This does not mean you are living separate lives, but what is does mean is you need to share the load.

When one Mate is saddled with a personal problem, like job loss or death in the family, the other Mate answers with sympathy or empathy. What is the difference? Good question.


“I have walked a mile in those shoes before you put them on your feet.” Depending on the delivery, sympathy can often sound a lot like I told you so.

Empathy Definition



“I saw those boots in the window, but know my feet would never be big enough to fill them.” Depending on delivery, empathy can often sound a lot like I would hate to be you.

In some marriages, one Mate takes the turn in the shoes more than the other. When this is the case, one or both Mates can feel the loneliness creep into their psyches.

Stop the world.

When you have been under the gun of stress for too long or too often, it is isolating. The feelings of persecution can lead you to believe Mate is not carrying the equal end of the stick. To get it back into balance is not as difficult as it may first seem.

Ask for Help

Just Ask

One of the hardest things for humans to do is ask for help. Deep down, we all want to believe we can handle it. Just stop it. There is nothing wrong with asking for help, even when you do not feel like you need help.

The fact is, during times of stress or grief, we often do not realize we need help because we are so busy coping with the issue. By asking for help, we can eliminate some of the emotional capital drain to better focus on the problem at hand.


Every once in a while, we ask Mate for help, and Mate simply cannot help. This does not mean Mate is not empathetic (or pathetic). It simply means mate may be having a turn, too. Rather than be disappointed in not getting help, see if you can help.

There is a sense of satisfaction in the distraction offered in helping someone else handle it. Often, enough healing happens to make your issue come squarely into perspective while you help Mate.

Help With The Hole

You do it.

When Mate is the one asking you for help more often than you do, it is isolating on the opposite end of the spectrum. You seem to be investing more in the marriage than Mate is. Before you burn up all of your emotional capital, ask for a bail out from Mate.

When a new problem arises, rather than immediately giving into the request for help, simply ask Mate what ideas come to mind. Try asking: How do you think we should handle this? Mate may not even know it, but may be perfectly able to navigate the problem without your usual kind of assistance.


Do It Together

Are both of you facing similar issues? Decide together to be a team. After all, this is the definition of marriage. Face your problems as an united front. Draw strength from one another. Overcome.

Lonely Work

Feeling you are alone in a marriage is most often a sign pointing to lack of communication. Do not spend time contemplating loneliness. Talk to Mate about your feelings. Mate may have completely misunderstood the signals you were sending about needing or wanting assistance and comaraderie.

Something as simple as I do not want to do this by myself, is enough to let Mate know you are feeling alone in the home you share.


We will be discussing the types of loneliness in relationships over this series. Have you ever felt this kind of loneliness? How did you work it out? Do you know of a different type of loneliness in a relationship? 


(c) Ann Marie Dwyer 2012
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  1. The “mate beside you but not there” loneliness is the worst kind. In some relationships it seesaws back and forth. It’s worse than being completely alone, period. Communications can totally fail. There’s the old adage that the fix for a rusty broken-down vehicle is a nice shiny new one, yet that is not practical either because of the costs involved, emotionally, socially, physically or financially . If you can solve that very common dilemma Red, you’re a genius!..Well, we know you’re a genius anyway…. “:)

    • We are going to talk about all the variations of this particular breed of loneliness. Simply put, I do not subscribe to the “just get a new one” philosophy. I am probably the only woman you know who has (and wears) a 70 year old sweater…because it is beautiful. Care is not as tough as one may think. Red.

  2. Since I live alone I have to admit I prefer it to a relationship because when you have little it can be just as damaging as having too much.

    I have had several relationships, however all but one foundered because I wasn’t marriage material.

    The other one?

    Hanne died the year we were planning to get married…

    Love and hugs!


    • Perhaps, by reading more you can learn some important lessons about both marital relationships and apply them to your friendships. Remember, more close relationships are founded on friendship. The simple foundation building blocks are the same.

      And you need to have others in your life, Pren. Even if there is not a Mate readily available, keep the loneliness in the fringes is still as important.


      • That’s why I have the internet, email and good friends who may have sold me out, but still see me as being wonderful… 🙂

        Love and hugs!


  3. No mate myself so can not comment on that part, however I really like the section ‘Ask for help.’ Yes in times of extreme stress it doesn’t occur to many people to ask others opinions or they are too proud to do so. Thinking outside of the current circumstances can be blinded by fear or even anger. Thanks for bringing that point to the table!

    • Christy, many readers see the word marriage and instantly stop listening. I am glad you did not. One of the concepts you will find throughout all of the M3 relationship advice columns is this: Friendship is the basis for all other healthy relationships. To that end, the majority of what you will read is applicable (even if to a lesser degree) to friendship as well.

      For me, the hard part is identifying with the ones who need help. I am a fixer. I am one of those who never asks for help. E.V.E.R.

      • Yes we often want to help or ‘fix’ other people’s problems. Our own problem then becomes that we can not control anyone outside of ourselves. As much as we may want to do so. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness, and you would have much support if you did ask for it. Nice chatting with you Red!

        • Any time. And I do not fail to ask out of any sense I would not receive help, as I have always received when I asked. Instead, I get caught up “fixing” and forget there are probably 100 people better at it than I am TO ASK. Not to mention I am wholly obstinate. *Grins* Red.

  4. Of course. We communicate loudly or softly until the points are made. OR We get out heads out of our backsides and realize we are the ones making it difficult and we can only make change for ourselves, not others. Sometimes a change in yourself will create/force another to look at themselves. Somehow it works out.

  5. I frequently counsel those who think that they “must have” a mate or that think married (in a relationship) people are somehow immune from loneliness and a host of other issues singles suffer. Loneliness in marriage, especially the kind where both are lonely at the same time, is particularly difficult. Having a special someone does not guarantee you will never be lonely or never have to handle your own problems, etc.. Relationships, no matter what kind, are difficult and take work. It is better to be alone than be married to the wrong person or in a bad relationship. Unfortunately, so many have to find this out the hard way. If you approach marriage (relationships) with the idea that your mate is a magicician that will meet all your needs, you start out in huge trouble from the get go. Love this, Ann Marie, and look forward to the sequels. Angie

    • The loneliness of marriage is far more real than many realize. Partly because we get comfy and fail to do what it takes to keep the loneliness on the fringes. Either way, the steps are simple, but most of us need to be reminded what they are. The devil is in the details. Hope you like the rest of the series! Red.

  6. Years ago Tracy and I had some loneliness issues (it was me). We talked and worked it out. That was a different me.

    More recently, in the aftermath of my brother Michael’s passing in 2006, I was under some extreme stress handling Michael’s so called estate. The fool died with zero life insurance. Guess who paid for the funeral with money they didn’t have? Two of my siblings didn’t get it that I had to sell a lot of Michael’s stuff before the credit card bills showed up.

    I did not have to ask. Tracy was a combination of quiet empathy and the wrath of moma bear rearing to her full height. We got through the stress together.

    If a person embraces their true self, recognizes and respects mate for who mate truly is, then they have discovered the secret of marriage.


    • Very true, John. There is a power in letting Mate take the anger out for a drive. The value of being your truest of self cannot be overstated.

  7. bear

     /  January 20, 2012

    The absolute worst is the blank stare I have gotten when I needed help or understanding. And trying to explain the situation, and getting “I know how you feel”. My reply: If you truly understood, you would be able to understand/help. Blank stare blink blink.

  8. New fletches and shiny buttons can take many forms, it’s just a matter of degree isn’t it? Bear has it right,sometimes there is no ‘fletch fixing’ and sometimes 70 year old sweaters, no matter how well cared for, are still 70 year old sweaters and for whatever reason, shrink, develop holes, and are misshapen. Sometimes darts out of balance don’t respond to fletch-fixing by Dumbo.. Blank stare, blink blink and blink. When Mate knows what problems exist and does not bother to respond, that doesn’t mean one should not continue to try depending on if Dumbo is an idealist bear for punishment or not. Red, I think you’re about to start a Dear Red ” Ann Landers column.

    • I think I already have, my fine sir. There have been a few I suggested the new feathers rather than the smoothing of the fletching. Every situation can only be as good as the participants are willing to make it. For some, there is no emotional capital to spend. Some merely exist as a depository, taking endlessly from Mate. Some are the printing press, continually giving until the ink runs dry. Both scenarios are lonely and, unlike Jack Spratt, have no happy medium.

      While I would love to be the optimistic one to say, It will all work out in the end, truly, it is a pipe dream in some cases. Some marriages simply fail (insert because and any number of reasons). Until both parties are cognizant of the problem and committed to change, the definition of insanity reigns.

      A time and place comes in these marriages where emotional bankruptcy occurs or is in close enough proximity to be recognized by one or both Mates. It is all too often the point of no return.


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