“Hope for love, pray for love, wish for love, dream for love… but don’t put your life on hold waiting for love.”
~ Mandy Hale
As a woman who has been in different relationships in my life and a psychotherapist who primarily works with women, when I hear the complaint:”
He does not miss me when we are apart”, the first thing that goes to my mind is:
“And how do you make sense out of that? What is the story you tell yourself when you hear this?
We are meaning making organisms and oftentimes we try to understand the meaning behind behaviors or declarations.
Whether we are aware of it or not, we are constantly making assumptions and telling ourselves stories to make sense of our lives and of the people in our lives. So my first inclination is to ask did the man tell that to you or is this an assumption you are making?
Let’s say the man actually has said that to his partner, then my question is:
- When you hear this, what is the story you are telling yourself?
- Are you feeling less lovable?
- Are you feeling less valuable or worthy of love?
If that’s the story you are telling yourself, you will no doubt add suffering to the original pain.
I once read a quote that said we are all born with two needs: “ Hold me, love me.”
The desire behind wanting to see your partner is not pathological. We are all born with a need to connect and to belong. Oftentimes I hear women blaming themselves for wanting more connections, they are often labeled as needy.
If as women, we embrace ourselves and our natural needs then we do not need to apologize for them.
I have seen many women feel bad about themselves after hearing that their man does not miss them as much. As women, we have a tendency (have been taught) to internalize everything. That’s the main reason the stories we tell ourselves usually condemn us for having needs.
So my first inclination after hearing that statement is to unearth the meaning the woman is making,
If she is not blaming herself and her sense of self in not damaged by that, then we move to how can she negotiate with her partner so he can make more efforts. It’s a lot easier to negotiate needs once we are clear about our need and we are not feeling bad about ourselves.
The truth of the matter is people do have differing needs for connections.
It always feels better when we are aligned with our partner about issues that matter to us. If frequency of connection is important to you but not so much to your partner, this could become a perennial topic. The two of you can choose if this is a deal breaker or not.
In summary I would like to emphasize that asking yourself this question:
“And what does that mean to me that he does not miss me when we are apart?” is a very important question to ask yourself and please be honest with yourself.
The truth will set you free.
Caroline Sabi, MA, LPC – www.carolinesabi.com
Struggling with a partner that wants more alone time then you do can cause lots of confusion and tension.
You might be looking for a sign when you are apart that the relationship is still in good standing. Being missed brings a lot of reassurance, but over-emphasizing this can breed more insecurity.
Being apart does not have to feel like disconnection.
Alone time is good and necessary in relationships, there is a healthy and an unhealthy version of “space”. I like to look at the healthy version first. Relational Space refers to the flow of connection and separation between two people.
Connecting and Separating are the yin and yang in relationships.
The importance of connection is easy to understand and everyone in a relationship craves that feeling of closeness and union with another. We all want to feel special to someone.
Separation can be a harder pill to swallow because we have a lot of romantic myths floating around that push for merging with another person.
There is an idea that being joined at the hip and having all of the same wants, needs and desires is what true love is. People tend to build relationships on similarities and often ignore the differences. I hate to burst any bubbles, but this is not a realistic view of love. The differences will eventually catch up and cause a lot of problems.
Separation doesn’t have to be a threat.
Think of it as self care that can blow fresh air into your relationship. It’s kind of like going off on a solo adventure trip and then you come back to the people in your life and you have lots of stories to tell and everyone gets to share in the excitement.
If you can think of the space your partner is taking as good self care that will benefit the relationship, then you won’t react to it as a threat.
If you don’t make it a negative, most likely he won’t become defensive and shut you out. Instead of defending his need for space, he will stay open to you.
Keep in mind that space allows creativity and erotic energy to thrive.
Now, let’s look at the unhealthy version of taking “space”. This is the partner who is withdrawing and isolating. Who is keeping you at bay because he is a love avoidant. In this case, your distress around the situation is pointing to an actual problem. There are lots of nuances and greys in relationships.
You have to be willing to look at the reality of the situation and own your part.
- Are you reacting from your own insecurity and smothering your partner?
- Are you needing too much reassurance in the relationship or are you picking up on a red flag in the other person?
Just remember that healthy relationships have a “me”, a “you” and a “we”.
Lisa Brown, MA, LMFT- www.lisabrowntherapy.com
If a woman is concerned that her boyfriend does not miss her when they are apart, I would suggest that the woman may be putting her self-worth into one basket, the basket of, “I am only ok if he cares about me.”
I would ask this woman to ask herself two questions.
First, Is the time she spends with her boyfriend, quality time?
That is, does he show her he cares by asking her about her day and then does he listen.
AND, does he try to understand her needs and meet them if he can or does he supports her in getting her needs met in other ways?
In modern day relationships, a major way we show the other that we care is by being aware of their needs, meeting the ones we can and then supporting them in taking action to meet the other needs.
Needs are normal & healthy.
How your caregivers responded to your needs definitely taught you whether to take care of your needs or ignore them.
- If your caregivers met your needs with love, you will have NO problem asking for and getting your needs met.
- If your caregivers resented meeting your needs you will have a hard time getting your needs met. You will also attract people who cannot meet your needs.
The way we learned we were worthy of love as a child is by having our needs met.
If you are having trouble meeting your needs now, it is highly likely that you learned that your needs are unimportant and therefore you are unimportant.
Here are some examples of Needs:
~ Intimacy: Sharing your physical, intellectual, emotional & energetic experiences with others
~ Meaningful work
~ Compensated for work/efforts
~ To grieve pain
~ Space (freedom to be with yourself)
~ Connection to Earth
~ Safety to be vulnerable
I would suggest that the woman who is upset that her boyfriend is not missing her while they are apart needs to find new ways to learn to love herself by becoming aware of her needs and finding ways to meet them on her own and also in good healthy discussions with her boyfriend and all of her relationships.
Suzanne Carter, MA, LPC – www.unitywholenesscenter.com
You miss him when the two of you are not together.
You think about him a lot.
You look forward to the time you will see each other again.
But he seems just fine when you’re not together.
What I want to tell you is that this doesn’t have to be a problem.
It’s only a problem in YOUR mind. You have decided that he should have the same reaction that you have when the two of you are apart.
This is called The Relationship Manual.
You get to decide how he should act and how he should feel and how he should treat you and it’s all in The Manual.
We have these Manuals for many people in our lives, not just one’s we’re dating. We all have them. There’s only one problem.
The other person never follows them exactly!
And then YOU suffer. He seems just fine.
Is it possible that he may really care for you or even love you but not miss you when you are apart? Maybe he is very good at being present in his life and doesn’t think much about what’s not in front of him because he’s busy living in the moment.
What do you make that mean about you or the relationship?
Notice that YOU are giving it that meaning. It doesn’t mean it’s really true! Is it possible that it’s NOT true?
My suggestions for you are to
- Do a better job of being present in your life. Appreciate the time you are together and make the best of the time you spend apart.
- Throw away your Relationship Manual. We don’t get to decide how others treat us. But we do get to decide what we won’t tolerate.
- Take a look at the meaning that you are assigning to “he doesn’t miss me”. Really question the thought that you’ve been attached to around this. It probably means something entirely different. Try to understand your own mind and why it goes there. Just because you see it one way doesn’t mean that he can’t see it a different way.
Ellen Hartson, LISW, Life Coach – www.ellenhartson.com
How do you know that he doesn’t miss you? What do you mean by “apart”?
People have very different expectations for their preferred frequency of communication. Some people feel that there should be text contact at least a couple of times a day. For some people, if they haven’t heard from their friend within a couple of days, they assume they’ve been ghosted.
The problem arises when one is totally unaware of the expectation of the other and is very surprised that their frequency or lack thereof is perceived as an emotional withdrawal.
Because the expectations between partners can be so different, I think the only way to deal with the issue is through communication.
I really don’t think there is a right and wrong in this. Probably some compromise can be reached that is mutually agreeable to both parties.
That being said, communication should be a means to make a connection or to share important information.
If it’s being used to gain reassurance for an insecurity about the quality of the relationship, or as a means of distancing from the relationship, there is a bigger problem that needs to be addressed.
People don’t communicate about their needs or fears because they fear that saying them out loud makes the issues more real.
Whether or not you’re voicing your thoughts or feelings, they are there. Silence will not make them go away. As it’s been recently and famously said, “It is what it is”.
The only power you ever have in this world is to confront a problem directly and take whatever action is within your ability to take.
Let’s take the example of the woman who thinks she is being ghosted.
If that fear makes her withdraw or shut down, the fear becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
How sad if the man has no idea that she is suffering. He may think that her withdrawal means that she’s really not that into him! There goes a relationship that may have been perfectly viable if either had just spoken up.
Never assume. Speak up so you at least know what you’re dealing with.
Silence is not golden; it’s an avoidance that can tank what might otherwise be a perfectly salvageable situation. Never give your power away out of fear.
Sally LeBoy, MS, MFT – www.sallyleboymft.com
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