Are you in an isolated relationship?
Raise your hand if you’ve been there, wondering what went wrong, wondering if your partner has met someone else and just hasn’t found the nerve to tell you? Have you ever wondered if your partner is just bored? Can you feel those thoughts, reeking of paranoia, race in, smothering you with self-doubt, and those damn endless questions? “Are they really withdrawn, or am I interpreting?”
Heck, it wasn’t always like that; you can remember a time when your last thought wasn’t trying to predict the feelings of your partner. Now you just wish you could fix your emotionally isolated relationship. You just can’t figure out how this all came about, and you wonder if you should stay and work through it or use your crystal ball to see into the future.
Should you stay
and work through it?
Like most things, the answer will always depend on how profound the detachment runs and what you are willing to do to revive your relationship. So, before calling it a day, consider the actions causing your doubt.
Lack of Physical Touch
Humans store their memories contextually so when you’re sitting together on the sofa, memories come flooding back of when the two of you were entwined together, your head on their lap, or your feet resting on the ottoman wrapped under theirs. It is just how memory works. Yet recently you’ve begun to notice a real lack of physical contact, or touch. You see arms crossed, and you can’t remember the last time you felt the warmth from his hand on your leg. You felt safe and comfortable listening to her excitement over the latest project at work…right? You had conversations that felt intimately connected as he faced you on the sofa, not into the night, talking to a make-believe image on the wall. Does this sound familiar?
Research indicates that physical touch promotes the release of Oxytocin, the Hug Drug, the same chemical that is released during sex for a woman, similar in action to Vasopressin in men. This love chemical is responsible for increasing emotional attachment and an intimate connection in humans.
Regular touch in a romantic relationship, even an emotionally distant one, chemically changes your relationship for the better by affecting how your brain works. Regular touch adjusts your neural pathways affecting facial recognition and affection. Losing that physical touch is an icy slope leading to a non-intimate relationship.
Solution: If he or she isn’t touching you, then put your hand on their thigh next time you talk to them; or while casually relaxing on the sofa, rub the back of his head. Chances are good that your partner will soak that in, quietly at first but they will soon start to inch their way a little closer to you. It’s a good place to start.
Lack of Interaction and Empathy
Another sign of an emotionally distant relationship is lack of communication and empathy. You’re just not on the same page any longer. They are sitting next to you but their thoughts are who knows where. I can promise you, the longer this continues, the further those thoughts will wander away from the two of you.
Solution: Confide in your partner. Casually raise a topic that you’re a bit uncomfortable with, maybe a childhood event or some insecurities or fear. Sharing secrets in this fashion deepens intimacy in a relationship.
A Psychology Today article suggests that some of the most important characteristics of intimacy in a relationship are “compassion, trust, and empathy.” The strategy to repair an emotionally distant relationship with your partner is deepening your communication and offering empathy as well as earnest listening abilities. Be alert for when they do open up, and they will if only for a moment. We all want to feel connected to someone, but for some it’s problematic to show vulnerability, so keep an eye out for your moment.
Stress, Stress, Stress…
Men show stress differently than most women. Men are more likely to feel helpless when they can’t find an answer to a problem, particularly if it’s your problem. That sort of thing just reeks of vulnerability to most men and for many, that’s a very challenging emotion to accept. If stress is an issue, space and empathy go a long way to lower the tension level. Do your best to ensure that your partner knows that you wish you could do something to help, even if you can’t. We all manage stress differently. Being there for your partner, when/if they want to talk is one of the very best ways of helping them and your relationship.
Equally important is keeping occupied with your own hobbies and interests. Having interests—dare I say passions—is an attractive trait in anyone. According to the Huffington Post article on not losing yourself, it’s critical to feed your interests and hobbies. Sure as the sun comes up, if you do just that, a good partner will see you in a different light, admiring your independence and more likely to support you.
Being there for your partner,
when/if they want to talk is
one of the very best ways of
helping them and your relationship.
Conversely, don’t fail to encourage their individual interests as well. Just think about it; if you do everything together, what special stories of your day will you have to share? Always take care not to lose yourself in your relationship; doing so risks their feeling that they lost what first sparked their interest in you. Remember the old saying: “If you don’t love yourself why should anyone else?”
So, when you find yourself in an emotionally distant relationship, as heart-breaking as it can be to discover, does not have to equal absolute doom. If you love your partner, then it’s worth trying to get to the root of the problem. Get off the sofa, or get out of your office, and try the steps found in this blog. Keep in mind that distance can be a result of several factors; remembering that their distance may not be about you at all is the first step to moving forward. Give your relationship time, and give it patience. You didn’t get to this spot overnight and it won’t end in 10 minutes, yet by going through this process you may find your relationship growing stronger and closer than ever before.
SEE A LIFE COACH IN BATON ROUGE
Frank Hopkins is a life coach in Baton Rouge who is certified as a Professional Coach (CPC) by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC). Frank has helped numerous people to go through emotional change in a way that is positively transformative.