If you and your partner have been going through a tough period in your relationship, you may start to notice
signs that you're growing apart. This can take many forms, including being a little less excited to see each other, or wanting to spend more time on your own. And it can leave you wondering if you're headed for a breakup.
The situation can improve, though, if you know what to do — as well as what
not to do. The first step? Don't immediately assume the worst. "It's normal to go through periods of drifting apart from each other," Kait Scalisi, a sex and relationship educator, tells Bustle. "The most important part is that you notice it, take steps to course correct, and come back to each other." This is something all couples have to do, since it takes work to maintain a healthy relationship. But it's even more crucial for partners who seem to be drifting apart.
If you can both make a few changes, and put effort into
reconnecting each day, your relationship has a chance of getting back on track. But during the process, you'll also want to avoid certain bad habits. When things are rocky, for example, you won't want to blame each other for the disconnect you've been experiencing, since doing so will only drive you further apart.
With that in mind, here are a few things you and your partner can do, as well as a few things you should avoid, in order to
improve your relationship.
Do Share What You're Feeling
While you won't want to have a super serious, heavy conversation every single day, you should find time to reconnect and chat about how you've both been feeling.
Is your partner noticing the disconnect, too? If so, discuss what you're willing to do to make things feel better. After all, "it may not work with only one of you at the helm," Caleb Backe, a health and wellness expert for
Maple Holistics, tells Bustle. You'll both want to be on board to make changes, if this is going to work.
It might even help to
see a couples therapist, especially if the problems run deep, or have been going on for a while. With some outside support, you may be able to better navigate your feelings, and decide on the best course of action.
Do Spend More Time Together
Once the honeymoon phase of your relationship is over, you might have to put in a bit more effort to keep that spark alive. And that's totally OK. This is what couples do in order to maintain their connection, especially if their lives are getting busy, or they've noticed a disconnect.
To fix it, "commit to carving out at least 15 minutes a day to really communicate and connect with your partner," therapist
Hilary Cobb, LCSW, tells Bustle. You might want to snuggle up to watch a movie. Or make dinner together. Or kiss more often. All of these things, even though they seem so simple, will make a big difference in bringing you closer together.
Do Something Special & Unexpected
In the same vein, you might want to up your game when it comes to showing the love. "Go out of your way to do something unexpected and nice for your partner,"
Davida Rappaport, a relationship expert and spiritual counselor, tells Bustle. "Plan a romantic evening, leave love notes, send flowers just to say 'I love you.'" Or whatever else your partner might like.
If you show your significant other how much you care, it can help bring you back together.
How often do you and your partner touch, outside of having sex? If you sort of sidle around each other in the kitchen, or sit far apart on the couch, it may help to get a little closer.
You may even want to touch more as you talk,
couples therapist Theresa Herring, LMFT tells Bustle. "Human beings are wired to connect and touch is a big part of that," she says. By simply making an effort to touch again (because you likely did this a lot in the beginning of your relationship) you're pretty much guaranteed to feel closer.
Don't force it, though. You don't have to hold hands while eating breakfast in order to reconnect. But if you're both intentionally
being more affectionate, it can make a big difference.
Do Say Hello And Goodbye Every Day
If you live together and
you're both in the habit of rushing out the door each morning and ignoring each other when you get home, now's the time to make a change.
"Greet each other (and say goodbye) with a hug and a kiss," Herring says. "It's an easy way to start
prioritizing the relationship again."
And if you don't live together, send a quick "good morning" and "goodnight" text their way, to kick off and end the day.
It may sound so simple, but it really is the easiest way to feel more like a couple again, and less like pals who are drifting apart.
Do Reminisce About What Brought You Together
To change the negative mood in the room, make an effort to remember why you got together in the first place. "Pull out the photos or the falling-in-love texts and spend some time with them," relationship expert
Patty Newbold, tells Bustle. "Or write about something wonderful you did together." It really can help to shift the mood to ones that's positive again.
To take it a step further, you can even try bringing some of these elements back into your life. If you used to go on dates to a favorite restaurant, bring that tradition back. It's so easy to fall into a rut as a couple and drift apart, but especially so if neither of you is making an effort.
Don't Make Other Things A Priority
Right now, one of your main focuses should be
repairing your relationship — not necessarily going out with friends, or giving attention to somebody else. "It takes time to reverse drift," Newbold says. So for the time being, make it a top priority.
"Give your relationship the time and attention you’d give a brand new relationship," she says. Text throughout the day, call in the evenings, plan fun dates, have sex, get excited about vacations — and things should start to feel better.
Your partner is there to support you, and you should feel comfortable venting in front of each other. But if you're drifting apart, Newbold says it may be smart to pump the brakes on the complaining sessions, and instead try to keep things light and fun for a while.
This can be especially helpful if you're going through tough times, and don't want to add to the heaviness in your lives by bringing up petty things, or venting about unimportant things. Once the
relationship is back on track, it'll be fine to ask each other for support and advice. But until then, focus on keeping things positive.
Don't Argue Constantly Or Put Each Other Down
not the time to point out all each other's flaws, pick little fights, or give into passive aggressive urges. "Even if your partner does things that drive you crazy, resist the temptation to complain or argue with them," Rappaport says.
It's certainly not up to you to fix the relationship all on your own. But if you have the choice between building each other up and tearing each other down, you should always choose the form, but
especially so when things are rocky.
Now's the time to have patience with each other, listen instead of argue, and look for the good side of things. This may help change your perspective, and may even prevent relationship-ruining arguments from forming.
If the mood has been weird between the two of you, you might be tempted to blame each other, or argue about whose fault it is. But the last thing you want to do is blame each other.
"In the end who started drifting away first, or who caused who to drift away, are useless arguments," life coach
Kendra Davies, tells Bustle. "If you both want the relationship, focus on solutions."
Instead of pointing figures, talk about why you've been drifting apart, and the best ways to come back together again. Stay on the same team, even if you're upset, and it may be possible to get through this.
Don't Ignore the Elephant In The Room
If your partner is doing something that indicates
they're drifting away — like, maybe they are sulking off to another room, when usually you'd be hanging out — say something about it, instead of ignoring it.
"If you and your partner are drifting apart, ignoring the problem and hoping it will go away will not only make the situation worse," Rappaport says, and at some point down the road, things may blow up into an argument, which could also increase your problems and speed up the end of your relationship.
So speak up. Let your partner know you'd like to reconnect and put more effort into creating a better relationship. If you'd
both like to feel closer, it's certainly possible to do so.