Emotional Loneliness: When Love Isn't Reciprocated

Emotional loneliness occurs when you feel affection or love for people who don't reciprocate.
Emotional Loneliness: When Love Isn't Reciprocated
Valeria Sabater

Written and verified by the psychologist Valeria Sabater.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

You may well have experienced emotional loneliness at some point in your life. For instance, from friends who you thought were interested in you but, in reality, were only concerned with themselves. In fact, they never cared about your problems or joyful experiences.

Equally, what about your romantic relationships that fell into an abyss of failure?  You opened the doors of your heart to people who excited and delighted you. Only to later realize that there’s no loneliness more painful than having someone by your side who doesn’t even see you. Who doesn’t know how to make you happy.

Your emotional loneliness projects certain hopes and attachments onto others. However, in reality, you only find emptiness. In fact, few feelings can be as devastating as loneliness that goes beyond the physical plane.

Emotional loneliness is a huge issue in today’s world. Even though you’re surrounded by people such as your family, friends, partner, and hundreds (or even thousands) of friends on social media. Indeed, there’s no pain more distressing than voids that no one knows how to fill

The loneliness that no one sees

Emotional loneliness can be rather contradictory. For example, you might find that others say things to you like “You’ve got nothing to complain about. You’ve such an attentive partner and they love you so much” or “You’ll never be lonely with the number of friends you have”. You nod your head in agreement and smile. Although deep down you know that appearances are only that, and, in reality, you feel very much alone.

Often, you conceive of loneliness as the physical absence of people around you, when you move through life without any ties to bind you or people to care for you and give you enriching daily affection.

Sometimes, solitude can be an intimate space where you find balance. In fact, introspection and being with yourself is a way of strengthening your self-esteem and enriching yourself.

Sad girl due to emotional dependence on her partner

Therefore, in light of this, all those people who come into your life and offer you only their selfishness or their emotional immaturity, might also take away your solitude or balance in which you find precious protection.

If you open the doors of your heart to another, you become vulnerable. That’s because you expect them to complete you, to be your companion. Not to be a cold wind that fills you with emptiness.

How to overcome emotional loneliness

As we mentioned earlier, emotional loneliness is one of the most devastating feelings that a human being can feel. Furthermore, the feeling of having someone or even a lot of people around you, and yet being aware that you feel terribly alone, can often be the prelude to depression.

So, how can you deal with emotional loneliness? Here are some guidelines.

1- Identify your discomfort, dissatisfaction, and feelings of emptiness. Sometimes, you mask emotional loneliness with other dimensions, such as low self-esteem and low motivation for your social relationships. However, in reality, it’s something outside of you that’s wrong. As a matter of fact, your pain concerns that person or those people who are around you, yet who don’t see you and don’t enrich you. In effect, they don’t know how to make you happy.

2-Reflect on and pay attention to your emotions. How are you feeling? Is it sadness that’s making you feel this way? Do you feel frustrated? If so, why? Are you afraid? If so, what of?

3-Once you’ve identified the real problem, talk about it. In fact, it’s vital that you share this with the other party. Whether it’s your partner, a family member, or a friend, tell them how you feel. Make it really clear that this relationship is causing you more suffering than happiness, and that it’s necessary to make some changes.

4- Once you’ve started the engine of change, it’s vital that you start to enjoy your own solitude again. That’s because you’ve spent a long time not being yourself, waiting for things, and longing for certain sensations and emotions. You have a series of needs that you must balance by finding your inner child again. You also need to find your inner calm.


Emotional loneliness is sometimes experienced as incoherence. You have someone, and yet you feel the pain of loneliness in an almost heartbreaking way. Solving it, freeing yourself, and rediscovering yourself again will help you in your personal growth.

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.