How To Rekindle A Relationship
Sometimes the person we feel the farthest away from is actually the person we are the most involved with. What do you do when the lengthening miles are emotional and not physical? How do you deal with a partner who is still with you but seems emotionally detached?
Stephanie from Buffalo, NY writes:
“Your advice to Michael sounds great, but I wish I knew how to apply it to my situation. My boyfriend and I have had a good relationship for four years, and we’re still together, but it feels like we’re emotionally divided. When my feelings get hurt and I need to talk, he gets mad at me and tells me I’m annoying. He’s not really there for me. If I tell him I feel lonely though, then he lashes out at me and I feel lonelier still. How do I get my boyfriend back, even though our relationship is still technically ‘together’? It feels like he’s left me emotionally.”
That’s a tough situation, in some ways even more so than if you had actually ‘lost’ your partner. While losing a partner physically is difficult, at least you get some space to yourself and the chance to try and move on. When you’re with the person still and when other aspects of the relationship are great, you can feel confused and disoriented, wondering if the problem is him or if it’s you.
It’s hard to deal with something like this if you don’t have the space or time to get away from the situation and evaluate it after you’ve had some time to clear your head a bit. If it’s possible, I’d suggest you take a weekend away somewhere, maybe visit a friend out of town—even take a whole week if you want. Some people take breaks in relationships to deal with problems like this; that can have mixed results. It’s easy for the other person to misunderstand, so if you do choose to take a break from the relationship, treat the option with caution.
If you’re unable to get any time or space to yourself, you’ll ultimately have no choice but to face the problem and deal with it directly. I’m guessing your boyfriend has no idea what he’s doing wrong, and/or takes your remarks as slights instead of as constructive points. He may be jumping to the conclusion that you’re unhappy with him and getting hurt himself when you bring it up. Does this mean you shouldn’t bring it up? Absolutely not, you have to say what’s on your mind or it’ll only eat at you in silence and then one day it’ll explode.
So how do you tackle this? On one hand, you can’t force him to be reasonable, but on the other, you can try and appreciate that he may be struggling with misperceptions of you which are perhaps not so different from your own issues with him. When you say you feel lonely, he may feel lonely too. So start out by telling him everything which you think is wonderful about him; convey how much the relationship means to you, and all the great things he’s brought into your life. Let him know that it’s because of those things, those positive things, that you want to try and address the issues you have with him. Ask him if he’s snapping at you because he feels hurt in some way. Try and get him to open up a bit. If he feels like you are there for him and that you want to resolve the issue for his sake as much as yours, he’s more likely to change his pattern. Let him know that you’re also willing to make adjustments if he can explain in a reasonable way what you might be doing to upset him. Remember that couples’ counseling is available for situations like this too. Maybe a third party with a less biased view of the situation will be able to provide some perspective to both of you and help you to bridge this communication gap. Good luck!