by: E.B. Johnson
The connection we feel to our partners is important, and it becomes even more important when we face moments of adversity or any of life’s many challenges. But what happens when this sense of connection fades? What happens when we get so caught up in the pressures of day-to-day life? Well, quite simply, we find ourselves becoming disconnected or divided from one another in a number of ways. Want to get your relationship back on track? Focus on rekindling your connection — the right way.
Signs of a disconnect in your relationship.
When we’re struggling with disconnect, there are always a number of signs to look out for. From failing communication to shattered intimacy, if any of these symptoms sound like your partnership — it might be time to re-focus on what matters most.
Loss of intimacy
Intimacy — just like communication — is a crucial part of a serious relationship. This doesn’t just mean physical intimacy (ie sex) it also means our emotional intimacy, or our ability to be open and vulnerable to our partners. Don’t ignore a loss of intimacy. If you and your partner stop getting close in the bedroom, take a note of it. When you stop being intimate in feelings — sit down and prepare for a serious conversation.
Are you disappointed by your partner time and time again? Do they seem disappointed with you? Or have they expressed the belief that your relationship (or ability to grow within it) might have come to a dead end? When we feel disconnected to our partners, we can start to resent them or see them in a different light. This casts shadows on our expectations of them and creates a sense of hopelessness that can seem more like the end-of-the-road than a new beginning.
Increased conflict is always something to look out for when it comes to our intimate partnerships. When we argue, confront, or disagree with our partners on an increased basis, it can be a sign of something serious going on in our own personal lives. Likewise, if we’re hurting or struggling to be vulnerable with someone, we might use conflict as an avoidant tool to push them away before they can cause more “damage”…or see us for who we are.
Have you and your partner stopped talking to one another? What happens when things go wrong? Do you fight? Or does one of you shut down completely and rely on the silent treatment to avoid resolution? This failing communication is often a sign that there is a major disconnect happening between you and your partner. Perhaps there’s been a shift in expectation, or a change in needs. Whatever the reason, when you stop talking it means something is broken between the two of you.
Making different plans
As partners, we should have individual lives and identities, but we should also do things together (and out of a mutual desire). Have you and your partner stopped going out and making plans together? Do you stay strictly to the realms of your own friends, groups and social circles? Avoiding one another in this way (or mutually blocking your worlds from one another) can be a serious sign of a growing divide.
Is your partner turning into someone new? Do you feel as though you don’t recognize them, or don’t know what them want anymore? These changing desires are traditionally a sign of someone who is growing or transforming through a major event. As humans, we’re always growing, learning and changing. It’s one of the beautiful things about us, and one of the most beautiful things about our relationships too when we learn how to go with the flow and appreciate the journey.
Chasing a sense of loss
Do you feel as though you are constantly on the losing end when it comes to your partner or your relationship? Do you feel as though they are moving up and you’re stuck in the same old places? These ideas and feelings can generate a sense of loss that causes us to chase maladaptive behaviors in an effort to soothe ourselves. Feeling your partner grow away from you, you begin to chase anything and everything you think will bring back a sense of happiness — but the only thing that can do that is honest assessment and communication.
How to create deeper connection in your relationship.
Do you want to go back to those early days? Do you want to re-inspire the passion and the appreciation you had for one another? You can reconnect with your partner and bolster that sense of belonging again, but you must reshape the way you see love and action.
1. Lean into your curiosity
New relationships are exciting and exhilarating, and this excitement drives us into curiosity when it comes to our partners. We want to learn more about them, and we want to know what makes them tick. We want to celebrate their interests, and we want to meet their friends and their family. That changes as time goes on, though, and we become more disconnected from one another. Want to be closer again? Trying being curious about your relationship and your partner again.
Ask questions. Look to grow within your relationship and outside of it too. Encourage your partner to grow and change and celebrate as they become a new and even more beautiful version of the person they were before. Get excited about seeing where your relationship will be in 10 or 20 years and get excited about the way it will shape you.
Want for your relationship to change, because that change indicates movement toward the future you are both trying to build. You can’t stay in the same place and hope to end up somewhere new. Your relationship has to change, to becomebetter and stronger. Be curious about that change and seek to establish a partnership that is as comfortable with transformation as it is with any other facet of love and life.
2. Remember to communicate mindfully
There can be no denying the power of communication when it comes to rebuilding connection within our partnerships. Communication (of both the verbal and non-verbal type) allows us to open up to one another, express our needs, and align our values, intentions, and visions in powerful ways. The better we become at communicating with our partners, the closer we become in love and connection. It’s a sharing of self that brings us together.
Make a conscious effort to communicate more openly and more honestly with your partner. Find a good time to sit down and work out a “love map”. Figure out what you need from the relationship, then allow them to do the same. Ask a lot of questions and really get down to the root of what makes you each tick in love.
Listen to them (really listen) and try to understand where they’re coming from when they express their needs, or their preferences. Share your own perspective and don’t hold anything back out of fear of displeasing them. The more comfortable you each get with opening up, the easier the process will become — no matter the topic. Communicate, communicate, communicate. Then communicate some more just in case.
3. Incorporate gratitude and respect
So much of the disconnect we feel from our partners comes from our own loss of gratitude and respect for self and our spouses and loved ones. We get so caught up in the mundane details of our own lives that we lose sight of all the benefits our partners offer us. When gratitude goes out the door, respect is often soon to follow. Failing to be grateful often lands you square in the lap of resentment, which is a driving force behind disconnect and breakup.
Rather than focusing on all the things that are going wrong, look for things you can appreciate in your partner and your relationship. Look for small acts they do that help you, or think of all the times they supporting you through a challenging moment. The more grateful you become for them, the more you will come to see them in a soft and compassionate light.
Use this gratitude to cultivate a greater respect for both yourself and your other-half. Consider where they’re coming from and think a little about the wide expanse of experience, thoughts, and emotions that are influencing their own journey and the actions they take within that journey. Consider what your life would be without them by your side. Would it be less enjoyable or less fulfilling without them in it? Then be grateful for the layers they add (and communicate that gratitude).
Putting it all together…
When our relationships become disconnected, can find ourselves struggling with a number of troubling symptoms like failing communication and a total lack of intimacy. Getting our partnerships back on track takes a concentrated effort from both parties to recommit, re-engage, and re-envision the way they see one another and the lives they’re building together.
Look for love in the little moments between all the action and all the drama. Stop designing your relationship and the affection and closeness you share based on grand gestures. Use small signs of support and care to reinforce the bonds you share and focus on creating more gratitude and respect for one another. If something has gone wrong or you’re facing adversity, stand up for yourself and start communicating with one another again. Share your needs and leave for room to share theirs. Work together to create an air of openness that allows you both to thrive. Beyond that, look for opportunities to create happy memories together and seek to share more joy in common than heartbreak. The more positive experiences you share, the easier it is to bond and share with one another. Be curious about your relationship and curious about the journey you’re on together. Change is coming. Embrace it together and grow in strength as one.
- Prager, K. J., & Roberts, L. J. (2004). Deep Intimate Connection: Self and Intimacy in Couple Relationships. In D. J. Mashek & A. P. Aron (Eds.), Handbook of closeness and intimacy (p. 43–60). Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Publishers.