7 tips can help you to reconnect with your partner
Khaled: "How many times you told me we're going to talk and we didn't?"
Raya: "Talk about what?"
Khaled: "About what!.. about us.. about you ignoring me all the time!"
Raya: "This is not true, we are okay and there is nothing we need to talk about."
Khaled: "Bravo! this is what you do.. you run away! let me tell you dear.. No! we are not okay and our relationship is no longer like before."
Raya: "I really don't want to talk about this right now! I need to go shopping... I need some clothes... bye"
In the previous article, I discussed how Pursuers experience more distress about the distance in relationships and feel more compelled to change the patterns to attain more closeness. I also outlined ways to connect with a distancing partner without aggressively pursuing.
But what about the Distancer?
As discussed previously, even if the Distancer is unhappy with how the relationship is going, he/she will not move towards a Pursuer and would rather maintain the status quo.
The Distancer usually handles conflict by shutting out others, pushing feelings away below the surface, withdrawing from conversations, and avoiding discussions about emotions and thoughts (by saying “I don’t know how I feel” or “I don’t want to talk” or “Everything is fine. I don’t know what you’re talking about”.
Therefore, the Distancer usually has power in the relationship and builds fear and weakness in their partners by choosing whether or not they want to connect with the Pursuer.
Moreover, Distancers have very closed personal boundaries, share feelings with a very limited circle of people, prefer alone time and may find face-to-face contact draining. When feelings are expressed, they seem uncontrollable.
Distancers are generally cautious, cool, rational, steady, and calm and prefer efficiency over relationship quality. However, fundamentally, they need acceptance and approval and they lose the opportunity to experience fulfilling and rewarding relationships.
A Distancer can foster healthier relationships by:
- Building trust. While it may be understandable that Distancers protect themselves by holding back, however, they can miss out on having loving and thriving relationships.
Distancers need to learn to trust their partners and treat them with compassion when mistakes come up.
- Learning to deal with disappointments. Not everything has to be perfect and pain is part of life. So, if a relationship doesn’t work out as desired, its ok, and it’s all part of our learning experience as humans.
- Sharing your feelings and putting yourself out there. Take a risk and be vulnerable by taking baby steps to turn toward your partner.
Reveal more about who you are gradually so your partner gets to know you better and be able to support you. Self-disclosure helps to build closeness and intimacy.
- Expressing affection openly. Provide verbal affirmations by letting your partner know you love and appreciate them. Hug your partner when they come home. When talking, maintain eye contact, listen attentively, and ask questions to express interest in what he/she is thinking and feeling.
By being more expressive, our partner would feel more secure, confident and relaxed and less inclined to be pushy, clingy, desperate or intrusive.
- Setting aside time. Spend quality time doing activities you both enjoy. Have a romantic dinner without technological devices, go on a holiday together if possible, take walks or cook together. Make sure the activity is something you both enjoy.
- Communicating more openly so you can both enjoy more love in your relationship. Reflect on yourself and your behaviors and hold yourself accountable for your mistakes or your part in the dynamic rather than constantly blaming your partner. Be responsible for your 50% share of the relationship.
- Asking for space if needed before talking about a subject by saying “I need some time to collect my thoughts. Let’s talk tonight after 7pm.” The Distancer should take the time away to plan what he/she wants to say and get some alone time. Moreover, the Distancer is responsible for purposely and deliberately approaching the Pursuer and initiating contact rather than waiting for the Pursuer to connect.
Scheduling a specific time to communicate through that commitment is critical because the Pursuer would back off and refrain from pressuring for more attention knowing that connection will happen at the agreed-upon time. This may help balance the relationship where both partners are responsible for the relationship and resolving any conflict that arises.
When breaking our habitual patterns and relational styles, we should treat ourselves and our partners with love, compassion, respect and appreciation. Neither pattern is wrong, and sometimes we take turns adopting one role or the other.
Change your style of relating to balance your needs for autonomy and intimacy and give your relationship a fighting chance. Start with yourself.
Do not wait or expect your partner to do their work at the same time to escape the pattern, as this will have a negative impact on your ability to start making your own changes.
Be the best partner you can be instead of focusing on getting instant results. Drop any expectations or stubbornness because when you consistently make a commitment to change your own approach and responses, your relationship will ultimately change.