How to confidently respond if a significant other is being distant

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Last Updated on March 1, 2023 by the thought method co.

Relationships ebb and flow. And if someone is spending a lot of time with their significant other, it’s natural to want some space. If you are that significant other, you might be freaking out.

Because people also become distant when they are having second thoughts, being sneaky or don’t know how to end a relationship. 

So what do you do if your partner seems distant? How do you find out if they just need some time alone, if they are trying to end the relationship or if you are reading things wrong? 

Common advice 

Common advice here is lacking. And if you follow it, you’ll likely get anxious and stressed. Because common advice encourages you to focus on your partner and what you can’t control. It lets your mind wander and make assumptions. We need to lasso that shit in.

Since common advice is reactive, it suggests you focus on your partner and the cause. When really you need to be proactive, and focus on the resolution. When your mind is too busy focusing on growth and what you want, you’re not making assumptions and you are more likely to get what you want.

The idea of, think about a yellow car and start seeing yellow cars, is here. Think about what you want and then you will start to get what you want.

So instead of going to your partner and saying, “hey, I feel you are being distant and it’s making me upset, what is going on?” like common advice would tell you to do, you need to say something different.

What you need to do

Instead of focusing on your partner (and them being distant), focus on you. Focus on your thought patterns, what you want and what will make you happy instead of focusing on what is making you sad. 

It would look like asking yourself, “are they really distant or is this my anxiety?” 

And then asking, “what do I need from them to feel more connected?”

To then ask, “I felt connected to them when they were doing xyz. Am I OK if they stop doing xyz?”

From there you can talk to your significant other. And instead of coming from a place of negativity and judgment: “you used to do xyz and now you don’t.” You are coming from an empowered place and effectively communicating your needs. You’re also giving your partner a chance to speak their side in a non-judgmental conversation.

You can do that with a simple equation:

Hey, I love when we/you [action you and or parter is not doing that is making you feel distant], it makes me [positive emotion] would you/could we do that more?

It looks like:

  • “hey, I miss you and I love when we go out to dinner. Can we do that soon? When are you available?”
  • “hey, I love when you text me and ask me how my day is. It brings a smile to my face, do you mind texting me more?”

Related article: The Art of Asking Questions

Benefits of communicating confidently

Communicating your needs is effective communication. Because instead of focusing on the issue, you are solutions focused. It strips away finger pointing and makes the other person feel more at ease. It reduces emotions and helps you think with an objective view.

Effective communication also gives your partner the opportunity to correct, put in effort and show they care. It sets a tone of safety where your partner will be more comfortable talking and discussing what is going on.

Communicating your needs also builds your confidence and empowerment. Because when you communicate your needs, you are better able to gauge if others can meet them.

So if your partner is being distant because they feel communication doesn’t need to be daily. But you prefer daily communication, then you have the information and can decide, “do I want to be with someone who communicates differently than me?” “Is this a deal breaker for me?”

Instead of focusing on your partner (the external) and what they are doing (what you cannot control) you shift your focus to you (internal) and your needs (what you can control). 

And instead of trying to figure out what your partner is doing (making assumptions) you are focusing on your needs and how to have them met. 

You are coming from an empowered and confident place and you are focusing on what will make you happy instead of what is making you sad. This skill will benefit you in every area of life.

Real Life Example

I was seeing someone and the communication went from daily to a few days in between responses. Instead of wondering why he was being distant, I focused on my needs. I need communication and consistency. 

Already on the fence, the lack of communication helped me realize I did not want to continue. I let him know I was no longer interested on a Wednesday night. That Friday he responded with “just busy with work.”

My needs were not being met. I don’t find my want for consistent communication unreasonable. And I need someone who is more responsive. It’s not personal. 

If I followed common advice I would have focused on him and why he was being distant. But since I focused on what I want and need, I ended a relationship that I felt was a dead end. 

A few days later I found out that on the same Wednesday night I told him I was done, the guy I cut off was at my local bar making out with a woman who was once on an early 2000s reality TV show. (I shit you not—couldn’t make this up if I tried.)

Definitely dodged a bullet there. But even if he didn’t lie, I still would have ended the relationship. Because he wasn’t able or willing to give me what I need.

On the other hand, if I wasn’t already on the fence and still had interest in exploring where the relationship could go, I would have said, “Hey, I love hearing from you everyday, will you text me more like you did before? Just once to let me know how your day went will make me really happy.” And I would have let it play out.

Because you don’t want to be too rigid. When someone is distant they could just be overwhelmed with life. And if you let them know your needs they might put in effort. But you won’t know unless you give them that chance.


  • If you are not used to asking for what you want, this can be nerve-wracking. It is all part of the process and like everything else, the more you do it the easier it becomes.
  • It might be scary to ask for what you want because you might be scared to lose the person. But if they can’t give you what you want then the relationship isn’t for you.
  • Make sure you are being realistic. It is not realistic to want someone to text you immediately back. But to me it is realistic to get a timely response within a day. Your preference may be different.
  • Sometimes we may think we are being needy when really the person can’t give us what we need. Consult with a friend and ask their opinion. Consider their opinion but always follow what you think is best for you.
  • Some people genuinely care and if you tell them they are being distant they may get upset or defensive. Go into the conversation of expressing your needs with compassion and curiosity.

Final thoughts

If your partner is what you want, and you do not resolve the distance, then it will feel like you failed. But what that actually means is that you are getting closer to a partner who can give you what you want.

In this case the distance was a sign of incompatibility. And it is better to see that sooner than later. Because if you are with a partner who can’t give you what you want, you won’t meet the one who can.

Other times, people can be absentminded or lose focus. So if you like someone, tell them your needs and give them a chance.

As always, thanks for reading. I hope you found this article helpful. Please like, share and leave comments.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema


About the author

Hi! My name is Lyndsey Getty, the founder of The Thought Method Company. In these articles I use my unique experience and knowledge to explain complex topics in an accessible way so you can improve your thoughts. Likes, shares and comments are greatly appreciated ❤️

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