If there’s one thing that can kill a relationship of any kind it’s distance.
You might know this from your own experiences.
Perhaps you had a best friend as a teenager with whom you shared everything. It’s highly possible that neither of you could envision a future that didn’t include you two being as close as you were at right that moment.
After graduation from high school, or maybe even before things began to change. You still spent time together and stayed in contact, but there was a growing distance that seemed to be growing.
Eventually, the two of you fell out of touch with one another. Maybe you can’t even remember the last time you talked with or saw this friend.
This can happen with best friends, parents, children and in love relationships or marriages too.
Childhood best friends grow up and apart. Children become more independent, leave home and start their own lives. In some ways, these relationship evolutions are expected and even natural and healthy (depending on how they play out).
However, when a couple in a love relationship or marriage experiences distance, this is not something that HAS to happen.
There are certainly situations in which two people grow apart and decide to end their relationship. This is sometimes in the best interests of each person– even if it does nvolve emotional pain and grief.
If you have noticed distance in your own relationship and you want to re-connect with your partner, addressing the distance that has possibly formed is essential.
Getting closer to your partner (or anyone else) always and every time starts with you…
If your mate seems to you to be cold and distant, the declaration that getting closer starts with you may be irritating to read.
It is difficult– and sometimes feels impossible– to get closer to someone who seems uninterested in doing that. It’s helpful to remember what you can and you can’t do.
One thing you truly cannot do is to force your partner to change. If you’ve ever tried to make someone you love be a different way when he or she is unwilling, you know how futile this can be.
There are so many things that you CAN do, however.
You can start to look at your own habits and behaviors when it comes to intimacy, communication, openness, criticizing, being judgmental, closing down, opening up and more.
To acknowledge and take ownership for your role in the distance that you feel in your relationship is an absolutely essential part of getting closer to your partner or anyone else.
If you want to erase the distance in your relationship and you’re not sure how to begin, ask yourself these two questions below. Take your time with them and remember, this isn’t about figuring out who is to blame. This is about opening the doors to the improvements and kinds of experiences you desire.
#1: “How am I possibly pushing my partner away?”
Create some quiet, private space for yourself. Invite yourself to be completely honest and then think about your relationship.
Recall the specific and observable ways that you might push your partner away from you. This might happen when you are feeling triggered, vulnerable or defensive. It might occur when you are distracted, stressed out or overwhelmed.
You might realize that your mate actually does attempt to get closer to you occasionally– but it’s not in ways you were expecting or at a time when you were open and available.
Just recognizing that you aren’t the only one who reaches out and tries to bridge the gaps between you two can be a big a-ha moment. Especially if you’ve previously believed that you are the only one who wants a closer relationship, this question can help you make an important shift.
Even if you can’t think of any examples in which your partner reached out to you, it can still help you to identify the ways that you might be pushing him or her away– even if you didn’t intend to.
This understanding could prompt you to try some new ways of being with your loved one in the future. When you try (and continue) new habits and responses, be sure to notice what happens.
#2: “What could I soften yet not cave in about?”
When there’s distance in your relationship, there’s also often a feeling of rigidity present. Distance can form and grow as one or both people solidify certain thoughts and beliefs about one another or particular circumstances.
Perhaps your husband appears to be more absorbed in his career than focused on your family. Maybe your girlfriend seems to care more about the classes she’s taking than she does about you.
It could be that the differences between you two seem insurmountable.
These beliefs and perceptions may or may not be true– sometimes or any time. Nonetheless, you find yourself acting as if they are absolutely and irrevocably what you think they are.
Start to identify the beliefs that you have about your relationship that feel very solid and rigid. Invite yourself to soften and question those beliefs and perceptions.
If you and your mate have had a running disagreement about a particular issue, encourage yourself to open up to softening your own position.
Know that softening and acknowledging that things aren’t as fixed as they seem is very different from caving in. When you cave in, you are essentially giving away your power. You are squelching your own voice and your needs in a last ditch effort to appease the other person.
When you soften, however, you remember to breathe. You remind yourself about how important your mate and relationship are to you. You also expand your perspective of the situation or issue and you broaden your view.
From this broader view, you know your priorities, you honor yourself and you more easily move closer to your partner as you find a resolution together.