Last Updated on December 7, 2023 by the thought method co.
Relationships ebb and flow. And if you are spending a lot of time with your partner, it’s natural to need some space. But if you’re the partner who doesn’t want space, you might be a little concerned. Maybe you are full on freaking out.
So what do you do if your partner seems distant? How do you find out if they just need some space, if they are trying to end the relationship or if maybe they got a little too comfortable?
Common advice tells us to focus on your partner. Did they show any signs that they lost interest? What does it mean when they took hours to respond to a text? But that only creates anxiety.
So let’s talk about what you should actually do when your partner seems distant.
First Do a Check-in
If your partner seems distant, it’s normal to feel worried. Instead of worrying about your partner or what might happen, take a moment to calm your thoughts down and take some time to focus on your feelings. I understand it’s tough to slow down and pay attention to yourself when you’re anxious, but practicing this can be helpful in many parts of your life. Consider this a chance to develop a good habit.
Ask yourself how you are feeling and why. Here are some examples:
|I feel upset||We typically text everyday and hang out several times a week but now they seem distant and haven’t messaged me in 3 days.|
|I feel concerned and anxious about our relationship||I like them and everything seemed to be going well but now their texts are short and they haven’t asked to hang out this weekend like they usually do.|
|I’m nervous and upset||They are distant and I don’t know why. I think they might break up with me.|
Pay attention to your feelings and try to understand where they’re coming from.
Does this situation remind you of a previous bad experience? Have there been times before when a previous partner was distant, and it feels like the same thing is happening again? It is completely normal to feel concerned when your partner is distant. Is this just a natural reaction or is this something else?
Maybe you care a lot about your partner, and you just want everything to be perfect, so this seems bigger than it really is. Do you just need some additional reassurance? Are you stressed in other parts of your life and just need some more support from your partner?
Did you have a disagreement, and now the distance is making you worry that they might want to end the relationship? Have they been acting strangely lately, and the distance is making you concerned about their behavior?
Our thoughts can sometimes deceive us. Gathering evidence helps you gain clarity. Is your partner truly acting distant, or does it just feel that way? (Confusing feelings for facts is called emotional reasoning, more about it here.)
How often you were actually spending time together? Were you seeing each other multiple times a week, or did it just feel that way? Are their messages really short, or have they always been a brief texter who only writes something lengthy every once in a while?
Life events like work schedules, holidays, and other things can mess up our usual routines. Ask yourself, are they genuinely being distant, or are external factors like schedules, uncontrollable situations, and bad timing playing a role?
Consider situational factors, too. Think about why you might have spent a lot of time together before and not as much now. Does your partner usually only have a couple of days available to hang out each week, but in the past two weeks, their schedule was more open than usual?
What Do You Want?
Now, think about what you really want in a relationship. It might seem nice to imagine our partner showering us with gifts and doing things we see in movies, but let’s be realistic. A partner is someone with their own life, just like you have yours. So, what would your ideal, realistic partnership look like?
Consider things like how often you want your partner to text you. Do you want someone who give you extra reassurance? Do you need someone who has more availability? Someone who is more consistent?
We are sold this idea that if we need reassurance or consistency from our partner then we are needy. But having needs does not make you needy, it makes you human. As long as your requests are reasonable, there is nothing wrong with prioritizing your needs in a relationship.
Think about it, if your partner asked you for some extra reassurance, I am sure you would be happy to give it to them.
For me, consistency is really important. So if I feel like my partner is being distant I would do a check-in and see if they are being consistent. If I find that they are not, then I would want to talk to my partner about consistency and my need for it.
Time to Take Action
Now that you are checked-in and centered it is time to get out of your head and into action. You know what you want, now ask yourself what you want to do.
If you’ve previously messaged your partner and they haven’t responded, or if your partner asked for space, it is best to let that rest. Is there a hobby you enjoy that you can pick back up? Do you wish you were going to the gym more and now is a good time to start? What were you doing with your time before you met your partner?
This is also a good time to learn more about your thoughts and how to build a healthier thought habits you can find some more articles about that here.
Or maybe you want to open the conversation with your partner, let them know you think they seem distant and express your needs. Up next we will talk about the best way to approach this.
Things to Avoid
Common advice is to be reactive. It suggests you focus on your partner and their actions. So you would say something like, “I feel you are being distant and it’s making me upset, what is going on?” But this way of approaching the situation can come off accusatory and put the most level headed person on defense.
If you want to approach this with assertiveness and confidence, you need to be proactive, and focus on the resolution. You would focus on your needs and say something like, “hey, I love when we text throughout the day, and I miss it. Can we start that back up again?”
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?
- “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 will help you build boundaries and confidence. It will also help you gauge if the relationship is adding value to your life. When you communicate your needs, you will see if others can meet them.
This 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.
So if your partner is distant because they do not like texting everyday, 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?”
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. 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 realized that while we had fun, this relationship was a dead end. I needed to end it.
I let him know I was no longer interested on a Wednesday night. That Friday he responded with “just busy with work,” showing me I made the right call. 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.
Then, and I promise you I could not make this up if I tried, 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.
Definitely dodged a bullet there.
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. Why waste time in a dead end when you could be making space for something better?
- 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.
If you’ve been spending a lot of time with your partner but now they are being distant, it’s normal to feel a bit worried. People need space for various reasons. Instead of focusing on them, focus on what you want and check if the relationship is still making you happy
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 support with likes, shares and comments.
Photo by Kelly Sikkema