"Loneliness is bad but ( feeling lonely while being in a relationship ) is worse."

I would like to replace what's in the parentheses.

The situation is the following: Someone decided to enter a relationship with someone he/she doesn't even feel attracted to in the first place. The only reason for having done so was just so he/she doesn't feel lonely. Then the person realizes he/she feels even lonelier because he/she is in (...)

In Italian it's: solitudine nella coppia In Hungarian: Társas magány

Maybe if you know one of those languages it can also help!

I am looking for the word in the parentheses.

Thank you!

5 Answers 5


Alienation, is appropriate but there usually needs to be context or a qualifier. As in Italian and Hungarian, I don't think that there is a single English word for this.

OED: alienation, Also with from, n.

1.a. Estrangement; the state of being estranged or alienated.

1966 J. Cheever Jrnls. (1991) 216 He explained that I had developed a social veneer—an illusion of friendship—that was meant to conceal my basic hostility and alienation.

1971 B. Sidran Black Talk v. 152 This alienation from mainstream culture, then, remains basically a circular and unresolvable problem peculiar to the Negro.

2004 N.Y. Times (National ed.) 4 Jan. ii. 32/2 Punk is a vast support group for misfits, a community united by alienation.


alienation noun

1 : a withdrawing or separation of a person or a person's affections from an object or position of former attachment

Alienation … from the values of one's society and family— S. L. Halleck

Study Sociology

Alienation is defined by the text as: The condition in which the individual is isolated and divorced from his or her society, work or sense of self.

  • Thank you for the very extensive and accurate answer! So I guess in my example I could say. ( ... because he/she has become alienated from his/her partner due to lack of real initial interest and fake initial commitment ) ?
    – Ryepower
    Dec 13, 2020 at 12:57
  • ... because he/she has become alienated from his/her partner because of their ... But lack of real initial interest and fake initial commitment needs rephrasing to make it idiomatic.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 13, 2020 at 17:39
  • Thank you! I'll look up how to make sentences idiomatic first!:) Did you change "due to" on purpose?
    – Ryepower
    Dec 14, 2020 at 8:23
  • 1
    @Ryepower Did you change "due to" on purpose? Yes. "Due to", and its close relative "owing to", have been the subject of pedantic (and pointless) debate for centuries. The result is that nobody knows when, or if, to use them but nobody objects to "because of". Have a look at english.stackexchange.com/questions/10325/… - particularly the exhaustive answer by Sven Yargs, and you'll see what I mean.
    – Greybeard
    Dec 14, 2020 at 11:48
  • Alienation seems to have a stronger connotation.
    – RonJohn
    Dec 14, 2020 at 22:05

The single word that you are looking for might as well be loneliness itself as it doesn't apply only to a context of seclusion. However a term that might be more apt in your case is "emotional isolation". The phrase can then be: "Loneliness is bad but emotional isolation (in a couple) is worse." It is neither much shorter nor necessarily better than the original one.

  • 3
    @Ryepower - In keeping with the first part of the answer above: "Being lonely on your own is bad, but being lonely with someone else is worse." or "Loneliness on your own is bad, but loneliness with someone else is worse." Dec 14, 2020 at 10:32

The commonly used phrase that suits such a description is unrequited feelings/love.

Where unrequited, as defined by AHD, means—

Not given, rewarded, or felt in return: unrequited love

Thus, you could say— Loneliness is a bad thing, but unrequited feelings/love is even worse.

EDIT— The OP has significantly modified the question, which now calls for altogether a different word or expression. Going through the rephrased version of the question, I suggest a wrong relationship ,which fits the bill nicely.

  • 1
    Thank you! It's a great expression and I will remember it! What I am looking for is different but I was not expressive enough in my question so it could be misunderstood this way. I have corrected my mistake and I hope that now it's clearer which word I am searching for:)
    – Ryepower
    Dec 13, 2020 at 11:50
  • 6
    This is just throwing a word out there to get an upvote. It is in the same ballpark but on the other side of the field as far as word choices for the question. Even in the example, it kind of means the opposite (I know not exactly opposite). It is like someone asking for the name of a dark blue color and someone saying turquoise. Dec 14, 2020 at 6:10

Loneliness is already perfect. I'd say you have used the specific word for the general case. You should rather replace the word in the first part. If it has to be a substantive, you can say: "Solitude is bad but loneliness is worse." or "Soleness is bad but loneliness is worse."

If you can be flexible with the structure of the sentence, "Being alone is bad, but being lonely is worse" sounds more natural to my ear. The message is subtle, but the distinction is there.

However, I'm not a native speaker.


I found more than one song called: Lonely Together.

However, I would say:

Loneliness is bad but feeling lonely in two is worse.


Loneliness is bad but loneliness in two is worse.

Sometimes such repetitive sentences "catch" and sound more powerful than if you try to explain too much.

Note: you may want to add a comma before but.

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