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Why Do I Feel Like Something Is Missing in My Relationship?


Glenn Stok studies emotional self-awareness, and he writes about it to help his readers understand its importance in relationships.

Do you feel your relationship is lacking something? I'll discuss how to get in touch with your desires and find what's missing.


Why do we sometimes get involved with someone who doesn't quite fulfill our needs? As a result, when something is missing in a relationship, we tend to hold off with making a permanent commitment to that relationship.

We may still live, love, and laugh, but both partners may feel some emptiness. We may be so uneasy about it that we fail to communicate our needs, especially if what's missing is some strong need that we may be ignoring.

Let's begin with getting in touch with your needs.

Get in Touch With Your Needs

Some people think we are commitment-phobic. In reality, we have no problem building and holding on to long-term relationships. But they go nowhere. Something important is missing.

What's missing may be some strong need of ours that we don't realize we have. It's something we would miss not having.

It’s important to know what this strong need is or else we may remain stuck. We need to either accept not having it or recognize that we can’t live without it and stop wasting time with an unsuitable partner, especially if it's not contributing to the life we want.

If you are generally happy with things and you just have that feeling something is missing, the first thing to do is understand why that feeling is there. It may be an easy way to determine what you need to change and how to change it.

Some people are powerless; they can’t make the required changes because they never get in touch with what's wrong.

What Are Your Gut Feelings?

Give this some thought. Do you end up always feeling that something is missing, but you can't quite figure out what it is? Do you have a strong need for something so vital that you can’t imagine living without it?

That might be what's in the way, but to have a better relationship, you have to know what it is. You might keep searching for a perfect partner in vain if you don't know what your absolute necessity is. That is something you would feel deep inside—your gut feelings.

You'll never know what’s preventing your success for a healthy relationship if you don't focus on this need. You’ll end up going from partner to partner without fully involving yourself in any relationship. Does this sound like the pattern of your life?

Find What's Missing With Honest Communication

If you find someone with whom you share the same understanding, someone who you can appreciate for what he or she is, and you trust one another…then you’ll find it easier to get involved emotionally, and you’ll know it. Better yet, you’ll feel it.

Use that trust and understanding to discuss the issues you might be having. Open and honest communication will help you both work on a compromise and find solutions to relationship problems. At least it may help you both recognize the limits of the relationship and accept it or avoid throwing away years with an incompatible partner.

Failure to communicate can disrupt the possibility of success with a relationship. Sometimes something is just plain misunderstood. Talking about it can clear things up.


Are You Emotionally Available?

There are two concepts of emotional availability in relationships:

  1. You give your full attention to the relationship.
  2. You know when you're in an undesirable relationship.

In the first case, you'll want to be fully emotionally involved. In the second case, you need the courage to move on—to be available when the right one comes along.

Of course, you want to work on your relationship, and therefore you need to pay attention to it. Paying attention helps the relationship grow and enables you to make a permanent commitment.

Paying attention also helps you realize if you’re in an undesirable relationship that doesn’t fit with your life plan. You become available, or free, to get out there again and hopefully find a better match.

What Kind of Relationship Do You Want?

We need to be emotionally available to commit to a permanent relationship.

If we don’t recognize when we are with someone who is not right for us, then we stay anyway for any of several reasons: For sex, for companionship, a travel partner, whatever. In this case, we are not allowing ourselves to become available for the right person.

Looking back on my experiences, I've noticed that I have had relationships where we just never discussed and shared our dreams. We enjoyed being together, but we didn't work at creating growth towards a common goal—the goal of marriage.

Why I kept finding women who were so patient, I do not know. I must have been subconsciously selecting women who were so patient that they just went along with being in a relationship without needing to discuss making a future of it.

We were fooling ourselves. We were in a relationship, but we didn’t examine any plans for the future. There was physical intimacy but no emotional intimacy.

Learning what the collective needs are and what we both want from the relationship is essential. Sharing this knowledge only works when we have open communication and emotional availability. Otherwise, there may be a lack of commitment. Or worse, both partners may indeed want something different out of life, but they are comfortable with the status quo of the existing relationship. Can a thing like that last?

Consider the Things You Might Be Overlooking

What’s missing? Is it a goal for a particular kind of relationship that you never went after? Is it a dream that you never pursued?

Many feelings can get in the way of moving forward. Some of those feelings may be fear that things will turn out differently than we want. Many times we lose sight of other things that are more important to us.

Is there something you were passionate about and planned how you were going to achieve, but then never completed the mission?

Maybe you just got comfortable with the status quo and were happy with whatever came your way in life. There’s nothing wrong with that. Happiness is a good thing.

However, if it stands in the way of something significant that you know you want, then you need to stop overlooking what's standing in your way. That’s called denial. And that is one of the most common methods of avoidance.

Make a Difference With Specific Goals

Some people find their lives turning out miserably and not at all what they had dreamed of as a child. How many people do you know who blame their misfortunes on the world? They don't own up to taking responsibility for how their life turns out. I know many people who say, “That’s just the way it is.”

The problem is that many people don’t know how to focus on a dream and make it a reality. It takes a certain amount of goal setting and communication to avoid confusion. After all, each of you may have conflicting dreams. That can make it seem that something is missing or that something is wrong.

If you want your dreams to come true, you need to understand what it is you really want. You also need to know how much you want it and why you want it. That will help you get over any reasons for avoiding the goal.

Then you need to make a plan to get from where you are now, to where you want to be. Make specific goals and write down a list of steps to follow to achieve those goals. A written list is helpful since it can be reviewed from time to time.

Goals need to be specific, so you know what you want to accomplish. You need to get in touch with your passion, so you know where to put your focus.

However, each step of the way has to be attainable, or else you’ll lose your motivation to continue. You can't just make a goal and forget about it.

Confusion Causes Feelings That Something Is Missing

Feelings of something missing can be due to being disconnected from our heart's desire. We can only become emotionally available when we understand what we think is lacking.

We need to focus on what is really important to avoid being confused. We need to know when we are wasting time in an unacceptable relationship, and we need to have the determination to end it or to fix it.

We shouldn’t give too much thought to the issues though. By overthinking about it, we find all the reasons why it's no good. Sometimes that may be important to do. But if we do it all the time, we may end up missing out on a lifetime with someone we can get along with well.

We’ll know it’s right when we accept the other person as they are, despite our fears and uncertainties. When we do realize we’re in an incredible relationship, we need to maintain the concept that this is the one, and that we want the relationship forever.

Get to Know What's Important to You in a Relationship

We often think about what’s important to us, but how many of us make good use of these thoughts and actually do something about it?

That’s where goals are essential. Goals can include changing bad habits. Discontinuing doing something detrimental to our future is just as important as starting a new venture.

Many of our less critical goals tend to become forgotten. We not only fail to keep up with it, but we even forget the commitment we made to achieving that goal.

Don’t make that mistake with relationship goals! It may be the reason why you feel something is missing.

Look where you are today. Losing sight of past achievements can cause you to lose the motivation to keep pushing for more.

If you don't do anything about making all your dreams into reality, you may eventually lose the desire, and you’ll forget about them. However, the feeling that something is missing will remain with you, haunting you. It may even affect your relationship with your significant other.

I know many people who are very successful and achieved a lot in life. However, there were other things they had wanted, and they feel a void in their personal life.

They tell me what they missed out on, and I ask what they are doing about it. They say they are too busy with other things.

At that point, I ask what is more important? The stuff they are busy with, the goal they didn’t pursue, or their relationship with that extraordinary person they are grateful to have in their life.

That’s something to think about!

© 2009 Glenn Stok

What do you think about all this?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on August 12, 2020:

Carla3210 - Lockdown has caused changes with many relationships. I think the cause of situations such as yours is that there was already an underlying issue that was never addressed.

Lockdown merely gave him the time to think and come to a decision without input from you. I know it’s unfortunate, but if he has no interest in discussing it, it’s time to move on.

Four months does not make a relationship. You were still in your honeymoon stage where everything seems great, but reality hasn't set in yet. Lockdown just speeded up the eventual realization on his part.

That doesn’t make you the bad one. It simply means that he had something else in mind.

Carla3210 on August 12, 2020:

Hi, your article makes so much sense. I have been getting to know someone for 4 months and he was lovely and very into me and we talked everyday. I felt a great bond. During lockdown we could not see each other anymore. One day out of the blues he told me that there was something missing between us and he could not carry on. It hurt him but could not carry on and could not explain his feelings. When I tried to reason with him he got angry and stopped all the communication. He said there was no other woman in his life. Now I write to him once a month maximum because I have given up and although he is kind to me and always replies he makes it a point that he ends the conversation and never initiates one. He keeps the conversation brief. Maybe I overanalyze but his words and anger came as a shock to me and a stark contrast to his usual self... I cannot get him out of my head and move on. I am also terrified of asking him to meet and talk fearing rejection again.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on April 12, 2020:

Lucy - The keyword in your comment is “mindfulness.” I think it’s the single most important ingredient to recognizing the value of what we have, and what we are doing with our lives and our relationships.

Lucy from Leeds, UK on April 12, 2020:

Really good article. I totally agree that most people slip into staying 'asleep', moving through life incapable of putting their dreams into action. However, I also feel like people who decide to stay in long-term relationships have to accept that things will never feel 'perfect' permanently; it's about distinguishing between a). the natural transition of a relationship into something quieter, calmer and less exciting (which happens with any partner, as the love matures) and b). someone actually not being an interesting enough partner for you and you becoming aware of that over time.

Often, human nature has us experiencing a mixture of the two. As a neuroscientist who is very interested in the psychology underpinning human relationships, it always strikes me as a shame that humans are wired to crave what we do not have and underappreciate what is right in front of us! Mindfulness and spirituality can help, but a mild uncurrent of unease regarding relationships/life/anything is, unfortunately, a consequence of the human condition.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 17, 2020:

Matthewwright1 - You and your girlfriend are both very self-aware, and the two of you communicate well. Those are good traits that few people appreciate.

For that alone, I would try to stick with the relation, if it’s a mutual decision to do so.

There are all kinds of love. In my opinion, deep caring is one form of love. Even if you feel you don’t love one another, pay attention to the way each of you care for one another, what you do for one another, and how you get along. You may discover that you do love one another with a special bond that’s not felt, but is present nonetheless.

Once you get in touch with knowing that special bond, you’ll be able to determine if it’s worth holding onto. You may never have that with another person.

Matthewwright1 on March 17, 2020:

I have been dating a girl for 5 months. We are now in a relationship for 1 month, but both of us don't really have the feeling of LOVING each other. We get along really well, and we have a lot of common values. We always have a good time when we are together. We are both sexually attracted to each other as well. However, we both don't have this special feeling. When we discussed this, we both cried. It then came clear how much I cared about her. I don't know if this is a sign to keep continuing and hoping that love will come. Or just accept the fact that we are better off as friends.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on November 04, 2019:

Nina, You’ve accomplished the first step, by recognizing the problem. The next step is to try to talk about it with him.

It may be difficult to start the conversation because it would be admitting how you feel. But think about this—would you rather keep it in and suffer with it? That only leads to the relationship eventually ending anyway.

Believe me, I’ve been there. I failed to open the door to a conversation, to the demise of the relationship.

You’ve got to be willing to talk about it and share your feelings. You might even discover something about his feelings that you never considered.

Nina on November 04, 2019:

This article is very well written and a good read.

I'm dealing with something like this myself. I'm in a relationship with a great man, he has a kind heart and is good to me and my daughter.

But there is one problem, and its me. I'm so lost, i feel like somethings missing even though this is all that I have ever wanted, to find someone to spend my life with and be with someone that wants the same things in life as I do. I love him i really and don't want to loose him, but this feeling I have of some kind of emptiness or wanting something more, is a horrible feeling that is a major problem in my relationship and in me.

I just cant figure it out, why these feelings are there.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 16, 2018:

Annie - It sounds like you have your head on straight. You’re right that there’s no point waiting if he can’t make up his mind, especially if he can’t express why he is confused.

Annie on December 16, 2018:

I read this article as I'm dealing with someone right now who said he can't take the relationship further because something is missing. He's not even sure why he's ending it, but he has had doubts. He's unsure if it's about not being ready to commit or that I'm not 100% the one for him. He said he's confused and needs space. I personally have believed that even if you have the one in front of you, if you aren't in the right mindset, they may slip you by. I've been trying to evaluate my own feelings about doubts about him as well. I think certain doubts are healthy, but if they are very serious doubts, then of course you should move on. His doubts, he doesn't even know what they really are. It's just a feeling. I'm giving him space and letting him come to me in a few weeks to see if he's had a chance to focus on what the doubts are or if he even has missed me. If he doesn't miss me, that's easy to walk away from. If he's still confused, I'll just move on anyway because I don't want to be with someone who I'm waiting for to commit and may never.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on June 24, 2018:

Alyx, Your comment is very meaningful. Both confusion and understanding coincide with lessons learned in life. Thanks for expressing your thoughts about this. It’s good that you are finding your true answers.

Alyx on June 24, 2018:

I find it all very true and reasonable. It helps me put an understanding to my missing feeling... Confusion with change in habits, reaching the goals I’ve made, and also my current relationship.

I believe the advice on this page is truly remarkable. I too have gone through some of the steps, but learning in a much more harsh manner, alongside with the confusion and understanding.

I always did feel like I was missing something. I still do now. But I think I can figure out when I began to find my true answers. Thank you for the article.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 14, 2013:

3amigos - You have to go with your own feelings. But since you are asking I can only give you my own viewpoint...

Since you already have a family (I assume you mean you have children) then it is important to consider them in the decision.

I would try to discuss your emotional needs with your husband. Since he is good in all other respects, I am sure he would be open to hearing what you have to say. Who knows, he might be having the same thoughts and not knowing how to present it to you for fear of hurting you. Communication is a great healer.

3amigos on February 14, 2013:

What do you do when you have made a marriage and family with someone who doesn't fill your emotional needs, but is a good husband in all other aspects?

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on May 10, 2012:

Barbara, Thanks so much for your insightful explanation. Yes, that is very true. We tend to repeat our "life story" over and over hoping that somewhere along the way it works, to achieve a different and positive ending, as you put it. Psychologists explain this as repeating our mistakes until we get healed from the pain inflicted upon us in the past.

Your comment is a very important addition to the understanding of this situation. There is so much to it that I wrote other articles on the subject as well. Thanks for stopping by. I really appreciate your input.

barbara wyckoff on May 09, 2012:

Glenn- You hit on some interesting points. Fruedian thinking leads me to believe that sometimes it is also quite deeper than this article leads one to believe, Often one can not merge into relationships because of a pain inflicted upon us in the past through a past hurt or abuse, be it emotional or physical. Seemingly innocent and unrelated we often project ones feelings anew as if relected back on ourselves- like a mirror- hoping that in the replaying of the story one can ensure a different and positive ending.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on February 27, 2012:

Sue, That concept of availability I had learned from a therapist. It took a while for him to get me to understand it. Thank you so much for your kind comments about this Hub. I'm glad you find my book interesting. Not sure if you picked up a copy or if you are referring to the Amazon description. If you don't have it, I'll give you a copy at the next HubMeet next month.

Sue B. on February 27, 2012:

I really liked this hub. You are very honest and open which I think will help a lot of people.

I liked your concept of "available."

This hub made me think of how important it is to resolve the relationships we have within before we can expect to resolve any relationship issues internally. This is part of the reason why I am so interested in dreams. I find dreams set the stage and perform these inner relationships for us.

It is powerful to discover that what is going on within us really affects our social environment. When we are not honest with ourselves, we simply have trouble connecting with others and being genuine.

Your book looks interesting. I find books about the mistakes people have made who are honest enough to share with them the world are the best books to read!

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 18, 2011:

Jeyaramd, you comment was very insightful and very informative. In addition your review of my hub was very kind of you. Thank you.

jeyaramd from Mississauga, Ontario on December 18, 2011:

Thanks for posting this. Sometimes, when we find that there is something missing in our relationships; its important that we don't leave these ideas dormant. We should think them through and ask ourselves questions of whether we are happy and what we would like to happen in our relationship. We do this all the time at work; where we judge where we are heading as an organization. Similarly, at home we should see if our values as individuals are being met as well as a married couple being met through our union. Its kind of like having a reflective moment from time to time to see if you are both headed in the direction that you want to be taking. That's important. Your hub post was thorough and a delight to read. I wished most people would take the advice of follow hubbers. We can learn so much from life if we read material like this. Relationships are to be savored. Thank you so much.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on December 06, 2011:

GClark, That is very interesting and insightful. That is done by both men and women. It's sad that there are relationships where the parties involved never really get to know one another, or understanding what the other is reacting to. Thanks for sharing.

GClark from United States on December 05, 2011:

A great thought provoking hub. Relationships can be difficult for many reasons. I experienced marrying someone I thought I knew and communicated with only to realize many years later that I didn't really know this person. Discovered that since I was very open about what was important to me that he either intentionally or subconsciously mirrored what was important to me. Women are often very guilty of doing the same thing such as pretending an interest in something that doesn't interest them at all just because their boyfriend likes it.

Glenn Stok (author) from Long Island, NY on March 02, 2010:

SEO IT!, We all see things differently as time goes on. I could not have written my book 20 years ago as that is when I was making all the mistakes. That's why I call it "What Was I Thinking?" I wish you success with working on reconciling your relationship. If you loved him then, you'll respect him now for what he is. If that makes any sense. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

Karla Domanski from Cadillac, Michigan on March 02, 2010:

Wow. This hub really hit home. After 19 years of marriage, things came to a screeching halt and when we reconciled a few months later, the biggest issue was honoring each other's values. We're working on it and through it, but I have to say that we could not have done so 10 years ago and I'm not recommending that people put themselves through the same situation. I needed to read this 20 years ago, but the kicker is that if I had, I would have discounted it. At 19, all that mattered was "looooooove..." Great excerpt! I think many people will benefit from it.

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