If you are married and lonely, you are not alone. You may share a bed, meals, responsibilities and even children, but if there is no emotional connection, there is no real relationship, and the result is a sense of profound loneliness. Dr. Hawkins points out 3 things that lead to loneliness in marriages – preoccupation with one’s own needs and wants, not acknowledging and appreciating the individuality of one’s partner, and lastly, lack of healthy attachment.
Are You Married and Lonely? Understanding the Loneliness in Narcissistic Marriages
Loneliness is a profound and pervasive emotion that can infiltrate the core of a marriage, particularly when it is marked by narcissism and emotional abuse. Dr. David Hawkins, the director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute, specializes in dealing with these complex issues. In this article, we will delve into the heart of this matter, examining why loneliness often plagues victims of narcissistic marriages. We’ll explore the three critical considerations Dr. Hawkins has identified and discuss a takeaway that offers hope for those facing this challenging situation.
Left Behind: The Dominance of Narcissism
In narcissistic and emotionally abusive marriages, the narcissist often takes center stage. They are preoccupied with themselves, their needs, and their desires. This self-centeredness leaves their spouse feeling like they are trailing behind, alone in their pursuit of connection.
Imagine being in a relationship where your partner consistently prioritizes their own agenda, plans, and life without considering your feelings or needs. This is the essence of being left behind in a narcissistic marriage. The result? Profound loneliness.
Unseen and Unheard: Lack of Empathy
The second consideration in understanding loneliness in narcissistic marriages is the lack of empathy. Narcissists may claim to love their spouse, marriage, or family, but their actions often contradict these words. Their self-absorption leaves little room for genuine emotional connection or understanding of their partner’s inner world.
Empathy, the ability to comprehend and share the feelings of another, is conspicuously absent in narcissistic marriages. Narcissists rarely ask, “How are you feeling today?” or genuinely care about their partner’s thoughts and experiences. This lack of empathy exacerbates the isolation and loneliness felt by their spouse.
Attachment Woes: The Disconnect
Healthy marriages are built on a foundation of attachment, connection, and mutual care. In narcissistic marriages, however, these crucial elements are often missing. The narcissist’s focus on themselves and their needs can result in a lack of effective attachment.
Attachment refers to the emotional bond that partners share. In healthy relationships, this bond is strong and fosters a sense of security and support. In narcissistic marriages, attachment may be superficial, leaving one or both partners feeling disconnected and unattached. The result is a profound sense of isolation and emotional emptiness.
The Takeaway: Breaking Down to Break Through
While the idea of feeling lonely in your marriage is undoubtedly disheartening, there is hope. Dr. Hawkins offers a powerful takeaway: sometimes, things need to fall apart before they can be rebuilt. The breakdown can lead to a breakthrough, but it requires courage, clarity, and conviction.
It’s understandable that you may want to cling to the life you’ve known, especially when children, families, homes, finances, and faith are involved. However, if you find yourself trapped in a narcissistic marriage marked by loneliness and emotional abuse, it may be time for a critical intervention.
Consider the possibility of a separation—a time to step back and reassess the dynamics of your marriage. This separation can provide the space needed to examine whether changes are possible or if it’s time to move on. Breaking free from the cycle of loneliness and emotional abuse requires a bold step, but it’s a step toward a healthier and happier future.
Loneliness in narcissistic marriages is a complex and deeply painful experience. Understanding the root causes—such as the narcissist’s self-centeredness, lack of empathy, and attachment issues—can shed light on why this loneliness persists. However, the key takeaway is that there is a path to healing.
Recognizing the need for a breakdown to facilitate a breakthrough is a courageous step towards reclaiming your emotional well-being. If you are facing loneliness in your narcissistic marriage, remember that help is available. Seek support from therapists, counselors, or organizations that specialize in dealing with narcissistic relationships. Your journey to healing and happiness is possible, and you don’t have to face it alone.
Also read: Are Narcissists Codependent?
About Dr. Hawkins:
The internet is inundated with hyperbole and misinformation about narcissism, leaving many people confused and hopeless. Get the facts on narcissism and emotional abuse from someone who has been researching, writing about and treating narcissism and emotional abuse for over a decade.
Dr. Hawkins is a best-selling author and clinical psychologist with over three decades of experience helping people break unhealthy patterns and build healthier relationships.
He is the founder and director of the Marriage Recovery Center and the Emotional Abuse Institute which offers education, training and counseling for people who want to break free of, and heal from, emotional abuse. Whether the perpetrator of the abuse is your spouse, partner, parent, boss, friend or family member, we offer practical advice for anyone trapped in a toxic, destructive relationship.
In addition to narcissism & emotional abuse, you’ll learn about the lesser known forms of abuse, including covert abuse, reactive abuse, spiritual abuse, secondary abuse, relationship trauma and much more.