April 24, 2018

How To Give Him Space Without Drifting Apart

How To Give Him Space Without Drifting Apart

“Better to put your heart on the line, risk everything, and walk away with nothing than play it safe. Love is a lot of things, but “safe” isn’t one of them.”

~ Mandy Hale

# Follow the 6 tips below
Kavita A. Hatten

"Everything flows and nothing abides, everything gives way and nothing stays fixed." ~ Heraclitus 

There is a natural ebb and flow to relationships. Sometimes you will feel closer to your partner and other times distant. A natural rhythm exists in relationships and the sooner you begin to accept this, the better you'll cope with distance when it occurs. 

Relationships always "feel good" when we are close and connected. It reinforces are need for comfort, security and validation. In close encounters, our "feel good" hormones (oxytocin) kick in which help us feel happy and satisfied. 

But once there is any distance, suddenly we may feel something is wrong - like there is a bear lurking. Similar to the fight-or-flight response, the stress hormone (cortisol) is released and we are ready to attack or retreat. Our fear tells that our security has been taken away and that we must take control. The only problem is, often it is not a bear at all. Maybe it's just a rabbit, hopping around and sometimes it has gone too far. 

Inherent in close relationships is the desire for closeness and distance. Being able to negotiate this is a challenge for all couples. In a pursuer-distancer relationship (an unhealthy relationship dynamic), one individual is primarily the "pursuer" in the relationship and the other the "distancer." The pursuer-distancer dance can wreak havoc on a relationship if the couple doesn't understand what's happening or what each individual is trying to avoid and how to correct it. 

But, in a healthy relationship both people are coming from a grounded place. Each are being vulnerable and authentic, and allowing intimacy to occur. 

If you are struggling with space in your relationship and want to learn how to navigate distance in your relationship, here are specific ways you can allow for this and also have peace of mind. 

1. View space as positive 

Keep in mind, anytime there is attachment there is a potential for loss. There is no way around this. But focusing on the fear of loss only exacerbates that fear. Instead, begin to view space in your relationship as positive; an opportunity to grow, an opportunity to reconnect, not necessarily to lose. If you can change your mindset, you can open up vastly to your relationship possibilities. 

2. Ask for clarification 

It is easy to react when you don't have all the information. Refrain from making assumptions or accusations when there is distance in your relationship. Instead, express how you feel and ask for what you need. If there is something you don't understand, ask for clarification. 

One way to let your partner know how you feel is, "I notice there is distance in our relationship and I've been feeling this___." And, "Is there anything I need to know?" 

3. Discuss your differences 

Individuals have different "space needs." Couples will have to regulate their needs for closeness and distance. An introvert will need more space to recharge and reconnect, while an extrovert may need to vent or talk to feel more connected. 

Discuss with your partner what your needs are. Respect each other's needs. Just this conversation alone will help you feel more close. 

4. Self-soothe 

The immediate sign of distance can trigger fear that something is wrong. The fight-flight response kicks in and interferes with the natural rhythm of the relationship. 

In this situation, practice the following steps: recognize when fear is taking over; learn to tolerate discomfort when your partner wants/requests space; practice relaxation techniques (deep breathing, visualization); reassure yourself that there is nothing to be afraid of; ground yourself; and practice being in your "center." Trust that your partner will reconnect with you. Look at all the times in the past that he has. 

5. Let go of expectations 

When you get in a routine about what your partner will do or how you will both connect (i.e., weekly date nights, daily phone calls/texts etc.) you get used to how things will be. When the flow changes or is interrupted (often due to the normal course of life), you can hardly cope because you feel something must be wrong. 

This is because, how you feel has been continually reinforced by someone else's behavior; i.e., "I am happy only because he called," vs. "I am happy." 

Try to appreciate what is happening at the moment, but let go of the expectation that it should happen or you'll only be happy if it does. Let your partner know that you like it when he calls/texts and connects with you. Reinforce what behavior you like, but don't hold on to what you expect. 

6. Enjoy time for yourself 

When your partner needs space or when schedules don't allow for as much connection, spend time doing something for yourself. Do something you enjoy. Practice solitude. Sit quietly and take in the quiet time. Remember that when you take time to rejuvenate, you'll be refreshed and more appreciative of the time together. 

The challenge in all relationships is how to balance being an individual while being a couple. Our interdependence requires a delicate balancing act; knowing that we can remain ourselves and walk our path, and trust that our partner is not that far away. 

Kavita A. Hatten, MS, LPC, NCC- www.phoenixcounseling.net

# Tap into your own creative spaces and desires to fall in love with life again and again
Kate Houston

Space. What does that mean?

Do men want more alone time? More time to pursue one of their passions that is theirs alone, or do they desire their own man cave or space for working in their shop to leave as they’d like with messy, in progress projects awaiting their return?

You will only lose him if he loses himself. And the same goes for you, too.

It’s easy to focus time and attention on the relationship especially when it’s new and unique. But as time moves on, it’s important to retain your sense of self. That doesn’t mean you have to spend less time together, but it does mean you have to spent more time with yourself, pursuing your own passions, so that you may come back together and celebrate each other’s wonder and creativity.

Tap into your own creative spaces and desires to fall in love with life again and again. And he will continue to fall in love with you.

And make the time you do share together special. Not every time but with a little intention, you can periodically plan an experience of something new to both of you together, whether it’s a new hiking trail, a new hobby, or a new country to explore. By peppering in new and exciting experiences into your relationship and regular daily life, you will inspire close bonding.

Can you imagine the triumphant feeling you’d have together if after both being lost, working to navigate the rural roads of Thailand together, you reached your thatched hut three hours later than planned but just in time for a beautiful sunset together? 

Everyday life often offers up opportunities to create closer connection.

Imagine how you both handled getting a blow out along a rural country highway only to inspire an intimate camp out until sunrise and help arrived? That’s bonding material right there.

Space offers each of you a sense of grounding in who you are as an individual, and it’s often the juice of what led you to fall in love with the person next to you.

With space each of you can grow into the best version of yourself so far. As a partner, what a wonderful thing that is to get to witness.

Kate Houston, Love Coach - www.fabulousandfearlessover40.com

# Explore the real reason that you feel uncomfortable when he is away from you
Margalis Fjelstad

Being constantly together is a sure-fire way to get annoyed, irritable, and ungrateful towards your partner.

The primary reasons that a couple feels a constant need to be ceaselessly together are:

  • The relationship is very new
  • Fear the partner wants to leave
  • Insecurity about whether you are loved
  • Intuitive warnings that your partner is likely to stray
  • Extreme emotional neediness
  • Having a borderline or narcissistic partner

When you have the sense that you and your partner are securely together, then it becomes easy, enjoyable, and even beneficial to the relationship to spend time apart with individual friends, following personal hobbies or activities, or just having alone time.

No two people are exactly alike. And doing everything together ends up eliminating and ignoring unique interests that could actually contribute to making the relationship more stimulating. When couples believe they have to do everything together, the result is that both parties give up other enjoyable activities and interests. This inevitably leads to a narrowing of the relationship, resentment, hostility, and a battle for control of what events, friends, and activities the couple pursues.

When you can give each other space, it can actually strengthen the relationship as well as make it more interesting.

If your relationship is new, you’ll probably want to share a lot of activities that you used to do alone. You’re getting to know each other’s friends and getting a chance to try new pursuits, which may even open up new interests. As the relationship matures, you’ll have decided which activities and friends your partner enjoys and you don’t. Demanding that he stop any and all activities or friendships that you don’t enjoy is a sure way to convey that you don’t care about him.

It works the best that when your partner is off on his own activities, that you spend time with your personal friends, hobbies, etc. When you come back together, you can share your experiences and energy with each other. This expands your relationship, while allowing each person to be an individual.

If you’re uncomfortable being apart because of any of the other reasons listed above, then the real issues need to be addressed through conversations and even therapy if necessary. Keeping him on a tight rein will never solve the problems that are brewing underneath the surface.

A good relationship is one that is built on both people knowing they are loved, accepted, and important to the other partner.

If you don’t have that level of trust, then look into why that is. Do you have trouble trusting in a relationship? Is the relationship unstable enough that you aren’t able to trust it? Do you not see enough evidence that he is at the same level of commitment as you are?

Explore the real reason that you feel uncomfortable when he is away from you.

You can’t force a relationship to be in the exact place you want it to be. That is a process of mutual construction.

Margalis Fjelstad, Ph.D., LMFT – www.margalistherapy.com

# The answer is simply - communicate

We all need space to be ourselves, to explore new things, to learn and to dream

When you are in a relationship, it doesn’t mean all this should end.  In fact, in healthy relationships you should encourage and support each other to be all you can be.

With that being said, how can you give your partner space, but not enough so he drifts away from you?

Healthy relationships allow both parties to grow.  You can explore your own interests, spend time with your friends, nurture your personal growth and still maintain a healthy relationship with your committed partner.  While you are both different in so many ways, you share a common thread that keeps you together, both physically and emotionally.

So, the key is to be sure you enjoy doing things together.  Laughing, playing, sharing common activities, all the things that nurture a good relationship, keep you thriving.

How can you balance this togetherness with the space you need to be yourself?

The answer is simply - communicate.  Let him know your interest in taking guitar, cooking or tennis lessons.  Let him know that he can join you, but if not, these are things you've always wanted to do.  These activities are what make you unique and special and you are entitled to enhance your life any way you see fit.  He, in turn, can do the same.

A relationship that is based on boosting each other, rather than depending on each other is the best kind of relationship.

When your interests are diverse, you become a more interesting person and someone who becomes more attractive and desirable to your special love.

Amy Sherman, M.A., LMHC – www.yourbabyboomersnetwork.com

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