What You Can Do When Your Partner is Being Distant

Posted by on Aug 30, 2020 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on What You Can Do When Your Partner is Being Distant

Is your partner is more reserved with you now? Are they less engaged than they were in the past? It might be that you notice less closeness between you or that they are being distant.

Distancing happens when one partner physically and/or emotionally withdraws from the other. There are many reasons why a partner might become distant but, as I discussed in a separate article, it might be that you are doing things to contribute to your partner’s pulling away.

If this is true, all is not lost. The good news? You can make things better. Being distant in your relationship can be bridged with work and commitment and the relationship can be healed. Here’s how to make it happen:

Consider Your Role When Your Partner is Being Distant

Take some alone time to look at how you treat your partner. This isn’t always the most comfortable thing to do. However, it’s important to do by yourself in order to find a path forward towards healing. Consider these issues and whether they apply to you:

  • Have you neglected or ignored your partner?
  • Do you overly criticize your partner or dismiss their ideas and thoughts?
  • Does your partner feel misunderstood by you?

Reflect on whether these issues have come up between you and your partner. Also, what was your role in these situations? They may have contributed to your partner being distant from you.

Start a Conversation

The next step is to start a conversation about being distant. Talk with your partner about how you have noticed their distancing. Let them know that you miss feeling more connected. Share your perceptions with them; however, don’t judge. That’s part of the problem and likely why your partner is being distant in the first place. 

Instead, ask questions. For example, ask “ how am I contributing to the problem?” Get their feedback and remain open to what your partner says. Use this process to start a dialogue with your partner about distancing and your relationship. Realize it might take more than one conversation.

Also, use this moment as an opportunity to take responsibility for your actions. Accept and own how your behavior contributes to the distancing.

Be Persistent

If you realize how your actions contribute to your partner being distant, (and your partner agrees with your observations) figure out what to do differently. Then, be willing to follow through with action. This is important because it demonstrates that you are committed to change.

Come up with a few specific things you can do differently. Although you are ultimately responsible for changing your behavior, you can enlist your partner’s help with this. For example, ask them to gently remind you when you slip back into old behavior. 

Be Patient

Finally, if your partner’s distancing has been going on for a while, remember that change is not going to happen all at once. This is going to take time. However, your commitment to your partner, the relationship, and change is key. This helps your partner recognize that you want to make things better.

Don’t expect that, after a single day of new behavior, your partner will all of a sudden believe you. Everything will not be magically different. Instead, understand that it takes time for your partner to trust that you are committed to a new way of doing things. With continued dialogue, persistence, and patience, meaningful change will happen.

The reasons for your partner’s distance did not happen overnight. If you have contributed to your partner’s distance, they may have found that the best way to protect themselves emotionally is by being distant towards you. But this doesn’t mean things can’t be different.

If you are willing to go through a process of change, you can potentially improve the situation with your partner, and once again have a relationship that is built on closeness, trust, and friendship.

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