We've all been there before. Sitting across the table from our partner, wondering where they went. They look like that person you love, they speak like them, they smell like them. But when you look at them, you can tell they've gone elsewhere. Gone are the days of routine "goodnight" text messages. Hello to excuses like "sorry, I fell asleep," "worked late," "didn't want to wake you,". Gone are flowers for no reason and kisses just because. Gone is the security of trusting that a night apart isn't just a step towards many more. Hello insecurity. Hello restless nights. Hello heavy heart.
When the dynamic in a relationship changes, it's hard to ignore. The imbalance makes itself known. It stamps its feet in your chest and your subconscious. It keeps you awake as they sleep beside you, but yet millions of miles away. Sometimes changes are normal. Sometimes they're just natural steps in the evolution of a relationship. Relationships ebb and flow. They oscillate, they vary, they morph.
But change doesn't always mean the end is near. So it's important not to panic and jump to conclusions when you notice differences in your partner. The best thing you can do is stay calm and keep your rational sense intact. Chances are your partner is going through something, and if you prove yourself to be a fair weather partner, who is only comfortable in the relationship when things are great, you might be opening the exit door for yourself. Here are a few things you can experiment with when you first notice that distance between you and your loved one:
Though you might be feeling neglected and even bitter, try to muster some warmth and kindness to offer your partner. Find ways to offer genuine compliments and encouraging words. It's possible they're feeling low, this is a good time to offer a hand. But don't be overbearing.
If your partner asks for space, give it to them. Take a step back, focus on yourself, and show them that you respect their wishes. Don't challenge them or take it personally. Don't make them feel guilty for asking for it.
Make sure you let your partner know that you're ready and willing to have a conversation. Don't be confrontational or come into the conversation with a chip on your shoulder. Shake off whatever frustration you have and try your best to offer a supportive space for your partner.
Don't get discouraged and unplug. Try your best to stay busy and focused on your own goals. If you check out prematurely, you'll regret it. Do whatever you can to find patience within yourself. Be a constant for your partner who is obviously going through something.
While it's important to take the time to consider what your partner is going through, it's even more important to check in with yourself. Ask yourself the hard questions. Is the relationship healthy? Is it lasting? Are you satisfied with your partner? Are you a good partner? Why are you holding on to the relationship? Because sometimes it just it was it is: your partner is distant because the relationship is fading. If that's the case, be honest with yourself, be graceful and be kind. But if it's not over for you, there's a chance it's not over for your partner. Patience, patience, patience.
Want more of Bustle's Sex and Relationships coverage? Check out our new podcast, I Want It That Way, which delves into the difficult and downright dirty parts of a relationship, and find more on our Soundcloud page.