This post was updated on Apr 2, 2023
Do you feel like your partner is pulling away from you? Do they seem emotionally distant and you can’t tell why? Do they seem less interested in spending time with you than they used to be? You are not alone.
Unfortunately, emotional withdrawal and unavailability are common in relationships. The signs may start to show up slowly and intensify over time if ignored. Building intimacy in a relationship is hard, to begin with, but when the emotional gap becomes too wide, both you and your partner may start to feel isolated, lost, and confused.
Keep reading to learn why people become emotionally distant and what you can do about it.
Why Is My Partner Distant?
Emotional drifting can occur for numerous reasons. While it’s easy to believe that only one side of the relationship is to blame, it’s important to understand that nurturing a healthy bond takes two, and both you and your partner may have contributed to the intimacy issues.
Causes Of Emotional Distancing
Some common reasons why couples experience emotional distancing are:
- Your partner needs some time alone. When you’re in a relationship, it can be difficult to find an opportunity to spend some quality time on your own, especially if you have children. If you notice your partner is spending more time on their phone or playing video games, they may be craving some time off.
- They are under a great deal of stress. Emotional withdrawal is a common mechanism for coping with stress. Your partner may be experiencing some turmoil in their personal or professional life which may be causing them to pull away from you. Try talking to them about the levels of stress in their life.
- They may not feel the same way anymore. If you’ve been together for a while and haven’t really worked on deepening intimacy, it’s possible that your partner has mixed feelings about the relationship. Have a serious conversation about it, but give your partner some time to prepare.
- You’ve entered a pursuer-distancer cycle. Your partner may consider you to be too needy and may withdraw because of it, which causes you to feel even more worried and abandoned, and in turn needier. If that’s the case, you can try to pull back for a while and see if anything changes. If you can’t pull back – it may be a sign that you have some attachment challenges that need to be addressed.
- You’ve entered a criticism-withdrawal cycle. This relationship dynamic develops when one partner in a relationship becomes highly critical of the other, constantly making them feel inadequate. The criticized partner then withdraws further and creates a deeper gap. If you’ve been harsh with your partner, try to be more gentle and see how it goes.
What Are The Signs Of Emotional Unavailability?
Some individuals are naturally better at expressing their emotions and thoughts outwardly. While you may feel like you wear your heart on your sleeve, your partner may not be as comfortable with showing their feelings. If you feel like your partner is distant, look for these telltale signs of emotional unavailability:
- They can’t describe their emotions
- They struggle with showing affection
- They aren’t comfortable talking about your emotional issues
- They don’t give you emotional support
- They become defensive when you bring up issues in your relationship
- They invalidate your feelings
- They are often too busy to spend quality time with you
- The relationship feels one-sided
The first step towards bridging an emotional gap in your relationship is recognizing that there is a problem. If you are struggling to build a healthy relationship with your partner, consider reaching out to a professional relationship coach. With expert help, you will better understand the root causes of your relationship issues and discover ways to work together with your partner to change your relationship for the better.
What Does Stonewalling Someone Mean?
Does your partner avoid any sort of discussion or cooperation when it comes to resolving emotional issues? They may be resorting to a defense-mechanism called stonewalling. A person who stonewalls will withdraw when you bring up a problem, dismissing your words and invalidating your feelings. They may say something like “you’re being unreasonable” or “you’re blowing things way out of proportion”, etc.
You may encounter stonewalling whether you’re trying to address a concern in private or with a relationship coach. If your partner relies on deflection to render any discussion irrelevant or insignificant, it can be difficult to come at any kind of solution which can make you feel frustrated, unheard, and confused.
How Do You Deal With An Emotionally Distant Partner?
If you’re struggling to maintain a healthy relationship based on trust and emotional support because it is difficult for one or both of you to open up and work out the issues, don’t feel lost. Many individuals drift apart over time, but that doesn’t mean that things can’t change. Sometimes, a shift in the way you talk to your partner may make a world of difference. Try the following tips:
- Accept differences
Your partner may simply be more private than you by nature. That doesn’t mean that they don’t care about you, but only that your communication styles are different.
- Don’t demand connection
It’s unlikely that you’ll get your partner to change their ways if you constantly try and force them to open up. Instead, try to take their need for privacy less personally and let them communicate at their own pace.
- Give them some space
Similarly, your partner may be more willing to share their thoughts with you if they don’t feel suffocated in the relationship. Try to pull away for a bit and see if anything changes.
- Try not to criticize
If you make your partner feel inadequate by constantly pointing out their flaws and mistakes, they will only withdraw further. Approach your discussions calmly, without resentment and bitterness, and be open to your partner’s feedback.
- Focus on your own goals
Your relationship doesn’t always have to be the focus of your attention. You have your own life to live and goals to reach. If you spend more time working on yourself instead of trying to fix your relationship, both you and your partner will start to feel more at ease.
Find Peace And Happiness With #1 Relationship Intimacy Coaching
Feeling unheard and invalidated in your relationship can cause you a great deal of stress and anxiety. The good news is, you can find joy in your relationship, no matter how alone you may feel. With help from our PIVOT coaches, you can reach emotional balance and nurture a healthy and lasting relationship with your partner.
At PIVOT, we provide expert assistance to individuals and couples via carefully devised workshops and relationship-building retreats. We are here to help you find fulfillment and happiness in your relationships. Give us a call!