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What To Do When He is Distant – 6 Relationship Experts Reveal Exactly What To Do When Your Partner is Distant

by Kate Funk – LMFT, Suzanne Carter – MA, LPC, Monica Burton – MS, LMFT, Tracy Kelly – LMFT, Rachel Elder – LMHC, MHP, Juana Rincón – MA, LPC

What To Do When He is Distant

“To effectively communicate, we must realize that we are all different in the way we perceive the world and use this understanding as a guide to our communication with others.”

~ Tony Robbins

To Effectively Communicate Tony Robbins Quote
Suzanne Carter

There is a reason that the words COMMUNITY and COMMUNICATION look so familiar.  

The words reflect a desire for humans to come home to themselves and re-unite and commune with one another. The purpose of all relationships is to create a safe community so we can communicate.

Communication is defined as:

“A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behaviors, communication is a technique for expressing ideas effectively………..”

Community is defined as:

“A unified body of individuals……a body of persons or nations having a common history, or common social, economic and political interests……..”

Whenever we are in a relationship with someone, it is very important that we feel equal to the one we are in relationship with so we can express our thoughts, feelings, perceptions, hopes, wants and needs.

Thus, if one whom we are dating appears to be distancing, there is only one thing to do. 

We need to connect to our inner truth, and speak from the “I”, about our perception. 

I say perception, because the person who seems to be “distancing”, may be appearing to be distancing but is perhaps maybe in pain, or maybe thinks you do not like him or maybe he is in fact wanting to leave the relationship. There is no way to know what is really going on unless we give voice to our perception.

As I have suggested in every communication workshop I have ever given, the feedback wheel is an excellent way to voice your perception. 

If we master the use of this tool, we are becoming a communication expert. 

I say this, because using this tool enables the speaker to be clear, to voice their concerns in love without attack and it maximizes the likelihood that the one we are speaking to will hear us and not feel attacked.

Here are the steps

The Feedback Wheel includes four steps:

  1. What you saw or heard about the event in question.
  2. What your perception is about the situation.
  3. How you feel about it.
  4. What you would like to have happen in the future.

When we use the feedback wheel, we are staying on our side of the street, which means keeping good boundaries and even if we do not get the response we had hoped for, we will in fact be able to feel good about ourselves, knowing we did the right thing. 

To not voice our concern for fear the other will “get mad”, sets us up for a long road of pain. 

If we cannot be ourselves and speak our truth and our perceptions in any given relationship, why would we want to be in that relationship.

Suzanne Carter, MA, LPC – www.unitywholenesscenter.com

Kate Funk

When a significant other is being distant it can be tempting to play games with the silent treatment or attempt mind reading and assume you know how your partner is feeling. 

These methods are a sure-fire way to put more stress on the relationship and your partner.  

I always encourage my clients to be open and honest about their concerns in their relationships, but obviously this is easier said than done. 

It can be useful to explain what you’ve observed about their behavior and how it makes you feel. 

It is important to state the facts and share your feelings, for example, “when you never called me Friday it made me feel you don’t value our conversations”. 

When sharing your observations and feelings offer a simple solution so that it feels hopeful and manageable to work through the situation. 

If you’re unsure what the solution could be, ask your partner how they feel about your observations and if they notice things feeling distant. 

Calling attention to the concern and sharing your point of view may help them express themselves in a more open way.

If the distance has been an ongoing issue without relief in sight, consider writing your partner a letter. 

Try writing a first draft and let all of your thoughts and feelings flow onto the page without censoring yourself. 

Read over your letter and you will certainly have a clearer sense of what you need to communicate to your partner. 

After creating a first draft you can use that as a map for a conversation between you or you can give him an edited version of your letter. 

I find letter writing helps my clients quickly get in touch with what they are really feeling and how they can relay those thoughts to their partner.

Kate Funk, LMFT – www.katefunkmft.com

Monica Burton

Let’s say you started to notice that there is distance in your relationship or that your man isn’t as talkative or present with you.  

Sometimes when that happens, we start to worry or question what is going on or what went wrong?  

Here are some things to do or consider when this happens. 

1. Don’t take it personally.  Remember that you are enough and when we take the distance personal, we start to make assumptions

2. Don’t make assumptions, ask questions and be curious; talk things out!!

3. Plan for quality time and ask if there is something specific he would like to do to create closeness

4. Self-Care.  When we start to notice distance, we often get anxious.  The anxiety makes us more impulsive or reactive and that is when we tend to forget about ourselves and risk compromising ourselves in the relationship.  

When you feel the distance and start to feel anxious, do something nurturing for yourself first and then make a request to talk with him about how you are feeling.  

5. Remember that sometimes we just need time to ourselves.  

Maybe your man has had a hard day at work or a hard week.  Acknowledge the distance, state how you feel and then tell him you are here for him whenever he is ready to talk.  

6. Plan for time to talk or create a couples meeting.  

It is important to have time to talk about what is going on in the relationship but we don’t want to do it late at night, when alcohol is involved or right when you both get home from work.  We also don’t have to talk about the relationship 24/7.  

We need time to talk about the relationship and we need time for playfulness, and just talking about the day to day.   

Creating a schedule time to talk allows you both to make a commitment to address what is going on in the relationship and time for playfulness.  

These are just a few tips to address distance in the relationship.  

If you notice that the distance is continuing to build it might be time to consult with a couples therapist.  

Monica Burton, MS, LMFT – www.monicaburtonlmft.com

Juana Rincón

Feeling your partner is distant can bring a lot of feelings including anxiety, insecurity and confusion. 

You may wonder if you did something that upset him and made him withdraw. Depending on how long you’ve been with your boyfriend and how much you know him, your interpretation and understanding of what is going on for him may vary. 

On the other hand, your reaction to him distancing might trigger old attachment wounds in you, which can be at times hard to manage if you have an insecure attachment style; which in a nutshell means you experience strong reactions when your significant other is not available. 

There are different reasons why a man becomes distant in a relationship, and they usually have nothing to do with something the other person did; but more with how the relationship is affecting him. 

As intimacy deepens in a partnership, protective strategies can emerge to manage feelings of vulnerability in the relationship. 

It is hard to navigate these moments but these unconscious reactions are very common, and are just part of the process of deepening the connection. 

The best approach is to bring as much curiosity as possible and as least judgment as possible, which is hard of course. 

You can inquire and get a sense if he is aware of what is causing him to be distant; and while you ride the wave, you can make some attempts to connect with him by speaking his love language, and then see if he opens up again. 

If you haven’t done so yet, you can read The Five Love Languages which is a book written by Gary Chapman, where he describes the different ways in which people express and receive love. 

The five love languages are: Physical touch, giving gifts, acts of service, quality time and words of affirmation. 

When your boyfriend is feeling distant you can play with this and see if it changes something. 

  • What is his love language? 
  • Can you bring him in by showing him that you love him in the specific way he can receive love?

Juana Rincón, MA, LPC – www.unnidocounseling.com

Rachel Elder

Noticing your partner distancing themselves from you can lead you down a rabbit hole. What did I do? What’s wrong? Is he leaving me? Can I fix it? And so many more thoughts. Instead of going down the rabbit hole, I want you to stop, take a deep breath, and be curious about why he is distancing himself. 

First, identify if there was an event or conversation that you had together that may have led him to distance. 

Maybe one of you mentioned you had a busy week, so the distancing is connected to that. Maybe you had a difficult conversation and he does not know how to re-engage without upsetting you. Think back to see if there is anything you can pinpoint to his distance.

Second, talk with him about how you are feeling. 

Share the impact his distancing is having on you and share what you need from him. Being direct is important in your relationship so that you can grow together. You get to have needs in the relationship and so does he. 

Third, ask him about his distancing. 

Be open to hearing why he distanced or whether he felt he was not distancing himself from you. He could be aware of his actions and he could not be. He has his own experience in the relationship and it’s important to hear  his point of view as well. 

After taking these action steps, have a conversation about your individual needs and your needs as a couple to help navigate your relationship. 

These occurrences can help you grow together as a couple as long as you do not let the rabbit hole take over. Be curious, be present and be direct. 

Rachel Elder, LMHC, MHP – www.rachel-elder.com

Tracy Kelly

When a partner seems distant, a woman can experience confusion, anxiety, uncertainty and loneliness. 

Sometimes women can assume the distance is a negative reflection of themselves or the relationship. 

There are a variety of reasons why a man is distant including depression, worry, anxiety, stress, sadness, introversion, or being tired. 

It can be challenging to know how to respond to your mate when he seems to be distant, or even how to connect during this time. 

Some people can turn inward when they are struggling and it is often our instinct to either avoid them and their quiet inward behavior, or become anxious and press and push annoyingly to quell that anxiety.

A sincere acknowledgement or validation of your partner’s state is an effective option for reconnecting. 

For example, you see your partner sitting on the sofa, not very talkative, maybe immersed in some type of activity on his phone or computer. 

Whereas your first instinct might be to become frustrated that he is not engaging with you, try stating something like, “It looks like you are really enjoying what you are looking at.” Or, “You seem quiet tonight, is there anything you need?” 

Both of these statements acknowledge that you see your man, and care about his well being. 

He is now able to feel more open to answer because he was not interrogated or criticized for his mood. 

This type of interaction helps to build that secure attachment, increase understanding, and pull you closer together rather than farther apart.

Dr. Tracy S. Kelly, LMFT – www.DrTracyKelly.com

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The TRUTH About Why Men Pull Away

If you want to trigger strong feelings of attraction and adoration in your man, you have to know how to get on the same frequency with him.

The key is understanding men on a deep emotional level, and how the subtle things you say to a man affect him much more than you might think.

If you’re frustrated with your man going cold, losing interest, or pulling away, then this video is a must watch.

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