Emotions are a huge part of healthy relationships and figuring out how to fix a relationship with a broken love connection can feel hopeless. But, as long as you have proper and effective communication, you can change it for the better.
You can feel very lonely and upset when you slowly realize you, or your partner, is emotionally checking out of the relationship.
How to reconnect with your partner when you’ve become emotionally distant.
You can make up all kinds of stories as to why it’s happening but the truth is you probably don’t know for sure. You know the feeling of love and connection doesn’t seem to be as strong as it used to be…or maybe it wasn’t ever there.
Here’s the thing about emotionally checking out of the relationship: It can be part of the momentary natural flow of being human and/or it can also be a wake-up call for anyone who wants a strong, vibrant, and growing healthy relationship.
Most of us emotionally check out when we get overwhelmed by thinking about a situation or a perceived problem. We don’t know what to do so we go numb.
We have fear, doubts, uncertainty, or are simply unable to respond in a certain situation or a certain moment. We instinctively pull back from people and situations when we want to protect ourselves from some real or usually imagined threat.
But, there is one important thing to remember: When someone checks out of the relationship emotionally, it doesn’t always mean the end of the relationship or they will be checked out forever — but it can be a wake-up call.
For example, Penny and Kyle are in a relationship and have been dating for several years. They recently moved in together but it seemed he had checked out of the relationship a long time ago. They didn’t have fun together the way they used to and it seemed to her that they’d fallen into a routine that was lifeless and boring.
When she brought up the fact they never did anything together anymore, Kyle would just grumble about how he was tired and there was too much to do. Penny was frustrated and didn’t know what to do next so she scheduled a conversation with us to get some clarity about her situation.
As we talked, she had a few insights that unstuck her thinking about her relationship. These gave her new hope she could really reconnect with her partner in new ways.
3 ways to reconnect with your partner when you’ve become emotionally distant.
1. Decide if you truly want to reconnect.
So often, when we’re feeling emotional, we might try to talk ourselves into something we think we should want and what’s truly in our hearts is something entirely different.
Taking an honest look within yourself is the place to start.
As Penny looked inside herself, she saw how she’d been making the situation worse with her incessant thinking Kyle didn’t care anymore and had checked out of the relationship.
She was shocked to see she’d checked out of the relationship as well by putting up barriers to connection! She realized she did like who he was and wanted to be with him but wanted their relationship to be the way it used to be.
As we talked, she saw small ways they did connect but she had dismissed them because the relationship didn’t look like it used to look.
2. Open the door with an invitation.
The door to reconnection can be opened in small ways, and the process always begins with an invitation, not a complaint. Complaints only bring defensiveness.
Penny saw how her attempt to get Kyle to talk about being checked out of the relationship had pushed him away, and he had become defensive and shut her out.
When she honestly became curious about what Kyle wanted without her judgments mixed in, she was able to ask if he was willing to have a conversation with her about what they both wanted.
3. Watch to see something new and listen to hear something new.
When you open your heart to seeing and hearing something new — inside you as well as from the other person — a non-judgmental, loving space opens up between the two of you.
A couple of weeks later, Penny told us she had invited Kyle to a conversation, and to her surprise, he was willing. As she listened, he told her he had been overwhelmed at work and was trying to decide whether to apply for another job or not.
Kyle said he felt hopeless and didn’t have anything to give her at the end of the day.
This was more information than he’d shared with her for a long time and she just sat and listened. She asked him if he wanted suggestions from her and he told her that no, he was figuring it out on his own and to be patient with him.
Penny suddenly felt closer to him than she’d felt in many months and was hopeful the conversation had broken through a barrier they had both erected.
Reconnecting when one or both of you have checked out of the relationship isn’t always possible.
Notice how powerful and dramatic the changes within Penny and her relationship were by simply noticing a few things and being open to some new possibilities she hadn’t seen before.
If you or your partner has checked out of the relationship, or you’ve noticed one or both of you check out from time to time as a coping mechanism for something going on in your world, maybe we can help.
Susie and Otto Collins are Certified Transformative Coaches who help awaken love and possibilities in your life.
This article was originally published at susieandotto.com. Reprinted with permission from the author.