Many people end up feeling rather lonely in their relationship over time.
Sometimes it might seem to you that your partner doesn’t really care as much anymore. He or she may not answer your text messages as often, may seem more preoccupied with work, or may leave you with most of your shared household responsibilities. You may start to wonder: Am I really in a relationship here, or are we just ships passing by in the night, two separate lonely existences?
If you have entertained this thought, you may also deep down have begun to wonder if you are really losing your emotional connection. You may have started to quietly and secretly wonder if you are ever really going to be happy and fulfilled in your relationship.
If this sounds familiar, then you may sometimes be teetering on the brink of despair, and may sometimes feel so utterly lonely and disconnected that you begin to think about ending your relationship.
How to Feel Close to Your Partner Again:
If you are going to save your relationship or find a way to be happy again, the remedy is to find a way to increase your partner’s sense of engagement with you, so you can feel once more that you and your partner are involved in a shared meaningful existence.
A Bond is a Fragile Thing:
Most relationships begin to go awry when one or both partners stop paying attention to the fragile bond that connects them. Once one person begin to have doubts about their level of emotional connection, it sows the seeds of discontent that can quickly turn into a negative downward spiral that can end in break-up, separation, or divorce.
Although the bond between two people can sometimes be taken for granted, it is actually in need of continuous monitoring and attention. If we neglect it for too long, our relationship will soon become very difficult. Fights will increase, and so will the level of criticism and contempt. We should all heed the message of a recent Facebook post that warned: “My love is like a candle. If you forget me, I will burn your fucking house down”
Anger as a Sign of Disconnection:
When one person begins to feel emotionally unfulfilled or disconnected it often manifests as anger toward their partner for being thoughtless, inattentive, for not helping out, or not participating. Angry complaints such as: why do you never start the dishwasher or take out the trash? Or: Why do you always fall asleep or watch TV? are often disguised longings for more emotional connection.
We need to feel that our partner is emotionally present, interested, and engaged so that we can feel a bond between us, and when we don’t, we become discontented and ultimately angry.
Anger: The Solution that Doesn’t Work
Getting angry about our sense of loneliness or disconnection, unfortunately often doesn’t work. You can’t yell at somebody and expect him or her to want to give you a hug. Most often, in fact, anger and criticism, or a barrage of complaints about ways in which your partner is falling short, will only serve to drive a deeper wedge between you.
The most frequent response from your partner, when you express your discontent, is to pull away emotionally so he or she does not have to feel inadequate. Your partner may begin to feel that it is more risky to open up to you or talk to you about their real thoughts and feelings, and what you therefore end up with is less intimacy – not more.
Finding a Solution that Does Work:
So what are you to do? Should you just accept your partner’s lack of involvement and lack of attention? Should you just be content with living a lonely dissatisfying existence?
The answer is: of course not.
The secret to increasing intimacy with your partner is to get in touch with your frustrated longing, to let it inform you about what you really miss in your relationship.
This longing, you will often find, is a longing to feel more connected, to spend more quality time together, to feel like your partner cares about you as a person and understands more about your feelings and intimate thoughts. It is a longing to feel that you matter, that you are important, that you can count on your partner to be there for you emotionally. It is a longing that tells you that you miss feeling close to your partner, and that you get scared that your partner is forgetting about you, not really thinking of you, and not really caring about you anymore.
If you can get in touch with your soft underbelly: your wishes, your fears, your desire for connection and for closeness, and if you can communicate those in a loving respectful way, then you stand a much greater chance of having your partner respond to you with increased affection and closeness than if you blame and criticize.
The road to greater intimacy and connection is to always lead a conversation about your relationship with your softer, more loving emotions. You have to start from a place of vulnerability, and you have to risk letting your partner in on what you are really feeling underneath your seething anger and contempt.
Remember, underneath your anger and resentment, is a very loving realization: Your partner matters so much to you that when they become distant or uninvolved, or when you doubt if you really matter to them, it hurts you and deprives you. You want more of your partner, not because they are failing you, but because they are important to you. If you can express this, which is no minor feat of courage, you may just find that your relationship will slowly grow into a more loving and intimate connection.
About me: I am Rune Moelbak, an emotion-focused couples therapist in Houston Texas. I help couples find their way out of their negative interactions and restore intimacy, love, and connection. To schedule an appointment, or download a free relationship guide, visit my website: www.bettertherapy.com