narcissist videos

Emptiness and Living Invisible in Relationships

In this video, Alan Robarge, Relationship Coach and Psychotherapist talks about growing up feeling invisible within one’s family and how that same feeling pervades our adult relationships. An explanation is offered about “two separate worlds” in order to make the distinction of dropping into deeper emotional awareness and exchange.

Many people only operate and communicate on the surface and about the external world of happenings. These types of conversations are about the reporting of events and external experience, but fail to reveal what is actually going on internally for the person telling the story or for the listener.

We also have an inner world. This is our world of dreams and aspirations and feelings and likes and dislikes, etc. The experience of not being seen and known comes when parents and family members do not take an interest or are not curious about the complexity and richness of the child’s inner world.

The child who is not asked questions about how they feel about something or asked about what something means to them will feel disengaged. Repeated missed opportunities of not being engaged means that child grows up living with a sense of emptiness.

Also on this video is an exploration between personal emptiness and existential emptiness. There needs to be awareness that the emptiness is not going anywhere as human beings. We will always be able to tap into these difficult feelings of isolation and aloneness. However, we can heal our personal grief around these feelings and can also change our relationship to the emptiness itself.

The emptiness and loneliness do not necessarily change but how we relate to them does. We cultivate the skill of being able to tolerate not feeling so personally crushed by these very challenging feelings. Developing this skill is about maturity.

Also there is mention on this video about how we usually will pick partners who do not have the skill of curiosity to inquire and take an interest in our inner world. We generally seek out people who are familiar. In this case, people who do not see us.

Thanks for watching this video.

To learn more about working together go to

I offer Attachment-Focused, Trauma Informed Relationship Coaching and Psychotherapy for Individuals and Couples. I work with adult clients dealing with relationship challenges or failures, lack of purpose, emotional-developmental trauma, and loneliness. I help clients solve problems, feel feelings, and get unstuck. I work with clients via telephone and video-conferencing.

I also offer a membership community called Improve Your Relationships. The community provides a structured and reoccurring 8-week program of helpful conversations, learning, and support; it offers resources, worksheets, and videos. It promotes a model of self-directed healing and invites self-accountability. To join us and learn more go to

Remember… emotional connections matter!

Alan Robarge, LPC
Attachment Focused, Trauma Informed
Psychotherapist and Relationship Coach

Emptiness and Living Invisible in Relationships



  • Tom Miller

    Bingo! I've spent my life mostly alone. I've never had a relationship in 65 years. When I did bring up issues, I got lines like, "Why do you have to make a big deal out of everything?" or "I can't deal with this right now."

  • angryfirefly

    I experienced having a rich imagination even though it wasn't mirrored. The fact that it wasn't mirrored was due to I having one parent that was always at work. Being ignored leaves one with a lot of time to think. When no one is interrupting you, you can engage in all kinds of deep thought for what can go on for hours. It can lead to some very insightful epiphanies.

  • Anna Jones

    I love your videos Alan Robarge. You totally put into words how I'm feeling inside which helps me to understand it so much. I've gained a lot of clarity watching your videos in why I go for these surface level partners when all I want is a deep connection with somebody who wants to relate on the same level too. Thanks for all your help and wisdom!

  • Belly Button Lint

    Wow. I wish when I was younger to have had parents who were interested in hearing about my day. So I didn't even have the basic saran wrap as someone else mentioned below. People always commented on how quiet I was. Next to no dialogue at home so I didn't think of it as anything out of the ordinary back then. I grew up in a very rural area. I continue to feel blessed to have a grown up friend across the street who I spent time with. If I didnt have her, only God knows where I'd be today.

    These videos are both enlightening and deeply saddening.

  • Stephanie Smith

    Thank you Alan for this very introspective take on childhood loneliness and it's affects on relationships as we grow up and grow older. I just recently started understanding what I had endured within my childhood family unit and the impact it has had on many areas of my life. The video spoke of things I have just now started to verbalize to a few of the people I most trust with whom want to go to the deeper places with me…an inner emotional world. Neglect and loneliness are really hurtful aspects to be vulnerable enough to explore and speak about to another person.

  • ladytr0n

    What kind of therapy do you recommend for people who have grown up like this and are experiencing severe repercussions in their adult life? Should it be based on some kind of trauma therapy or can cognitive therapy or psychoanalysis also be effective?

  • Stacey S

    I was raised in a home where I was painfully invisible and emotionally neglected. My parents didn’t even ask about superficial topics growing up. There was only the bare minimum communication about logistic things or to be critical. They never knew me. I currently met a partner who seemed wonderful and attentive at first- I fell so hard for him, finally having love like I’ve never known. Six months into the relationship he had proven himself to a fearful avoidant who broke up with me. He will now only see me for one reason- so painful how someone can push you away and turn off all feelings.

  • Angela Lorenz

    Hi Alan I'm grateful for your engagement and your capacity to explain these complex issues. Besides the fact that it is hard stuff and from a practical standpoint, you pushed my analytical work far forward! Warm greetings from France

  • Sandra Tashi Longthorp

    I have been aware of my existential loneliness since my late teens, but thought it was something unique to me, even though I found some books to read on it. I was not ready or capable then of really comprehending it, but the feeling has stayed with me all my life. I think that compassion develops from realizing that we all feel this loneliness, whether or not we realize it as such, and that, as you mentioned in another video I recently viewed, Alan, we are all "going to hell together." Or to expand on something else I've read recently, we may all be lost in the woods, but we are (or can be) lost in the woods together. Thank you, once again, for touching something real within me and helping me to understand my world in a larger, more realistic way. Emptiness is terrifying, but It helps to know we can be terrified together, and learn to lessen the pain of it.

  • Jopee do Sib

    O my, I don't think my parents have that inner world and certainly weren't interested in mine. I feel invisible all my life, I always think that people don't know who I am although I have seen them a lot. Like if I don't leave a footprint on the world.


    Paradoxically I’ve had too many experiences where I offer my inner world and it gets judged or used against me or a deeper misunderstanding happens.

    Also, I attracted a man who had adhd and autism. Left him after THIRTY YEARS of emotional deprivation.

    I’m literally dying from lack of emotional disconnection, deprivation, loneliness etc. on a UNIVERSAL level! I can’t stand it anymore 😢

    I wish I could get more deeply what Alan is talking about how to heal the non connection. I don’t know how to depersonalize the loneliness and emptiness.

    I feel forever in the wasteland! Damn I feel like I try so hard. I don’t know if I can become neutral about it. Lord knows I’ve dove in so many times and have come up even more empty.

    What the hell????!?

  • JazGem

    We often develop rich inner worlds when we are left alone for hours on end with nothing to do. Feelings of emptiness and lonliness become a source of pain that we imagine will go away if we figure why it's there in the first place. Our inner world becomes a source of hope, as well as, the only safe place to exist. Since we have no other options, we continue to focus on the how/why/who's of our hurt and how we might get rid of it. Thus, leading to our a strong sense of self awareness, emotional awareness, imagination and creativity, from a much younger age than usual. Our inner existence tricks us into feeling as if the answer is just around the corner, allowing hope to fuel our existence and keeping us moving forward in life.

    The lie is, that our lonliness will be cured by companionship, or love and acceptance from our parents. I believe the real answer lies in discovering the false beliefs of what we were told, and lead to believe what love is. As well as, accepting and grieving the reality that our parents (probably) didn't love us. Our parents may have cared for us, or had an attachment to us, but they never knew us well enough to love us. How can you love someone you do not know, or are interested in knowing?

  • Queen ofHearts

    Alan. I don't know if I'm capable of this work. I am in so much pain in the first 2 min of this video. Your ability to put my pain into words… all our pain… its healing its painful its powerful. The more I have learned myself, the more isolated I feel and unable to connect to most of the people ive known. I am absolutely unfulfilled in my social and familial relationships bc now I have come in to some new knowledge of self. I don't relate the same anymore, it hurts a lot. I have NEVER felt seen in my family. never.

  • Queen ofHearts

    omg … omg!!!! Overcompensating… self reflections day dream fantasizing. And internalized false reality. omg. Living in fantasy due to overcompensation. Knowing that your parent does not want to know you on that level is so SHOCKINGLY DEVASTATING so DEBILITATING it is no wonder I struggle in every adult relationship I have ever had. I don't know if I can do this. I don't know if I can process it, I've been running for so long. My feet are tired. My soles are tired. My SOUL is tired!

  • Leisa Goldsworthy

    Yes, I grew up with that. I am healing that. I do disagree in that the ongoing emptiness stays there and that only our perception of it changes.
    I believe a spiritual awareness of a loving energy that created the world and us, is within us if we can only recognize this. You might call it imagination, I call it a deep profound love and appreciation of self and that the creator is love energy already within us.
    I believe connection with this heals us and we can start to recognize that we deserve people in our lives who can relate on these deep levels so we feel connected when in relationships.
    Thank you for your videos. I really like your attention to detail; your commitment to explaining clearly how it feels to be experiencing each subject in your videos. In essence, you are validating our experiences.

  • LinYouToo

    I have a couple of people in my life whom I treasure including a woman I’ve known for 25 years who is old enough to be my mom. She has offered the kind of emotional support my own mother can’t. I feel seen, heard, and understood with her. And I offer the same to her. And then there are my “friends” and some neighbors who talk at me like their conversation style sounds like a static facebook post. I have to limit my time with them. They’re not listening to understand. They’re listening to respond/talk. I love deep connected conversations these days which is a stark contrast to my formative years where I was told children are to be seen and not heard among many other things. It’s so special when I have it but I always accept not everyone is capable. Most stick to superficial stuff which doesn’t require a lot of empathy. I’m learning to set better boundaries with those who want me to do the listening to their “reporting “ but who cannot and do not reciprocate. In one case I was there for someone who really needed a friend to lean on and yet when my own father passed away I never got a call, a card, or even a respectful visit at the funeral home. No, what I got was a text that said “prayers.” 🤦‍♀️ and when I saw her she told me she was baking bread and making homemade pickles for a bartenders wife who was recently laid off (to make her feel better). I decided to demote this “friend” to an acquaintance with whom there will be no further investing in our relationship. It’s over. I deserve so much more and I have it with others who have been so supportive. They’re the ones I want to focus my attention on instead of chasing the unavailable people who will never be able to offer a mutually satisfying relate — they just happen to also look like my family of origin. Fortunately I like spending time by myself and I’m an introvert and INFJ too. I totally get what you’re saying with the “rich inner world” and simultaneous loss without connection. I was invisible in my family of origin and my mom gaslights real history with denial. It’s been such a journey to grieve, heal and grow. God bless the angels on earth who work in therapy practice to have the grace to hold a space for our experiences without blame, shame or judgment.

  • Penelope Lambson

    This video triggers such a profound awareness of what is missing and the deep, soul longing that exists as a result.
    Your words “ we feel we are not worth being known” really hit me. That is precisely the vague, subliminal messages that shallow, “events focused” relationships/communications with significant people in our lives deliver.
    After listening to many of your excellent videos I see how emotionally unavailable people are more comfortable with surface interactions.
    I’d like to know how one moves beyond that comfort zone.
    Is the deeper inner world level of relating really possible for anyone?

Leave a Reply