Couples have their fair share of ups and downs, but if you've been
feeling distant in your relationship lately, it might be due to a few tiny habits that are driving you apart — without you even realizing it. Sometimes, a loss of connection is due to something that seems trivial, like leaving for work without saying goodbye, or going to bed at different times. And yet, experts say it doesn't take much to erode your connection over time.
Little habits like these, if they happen infrequently, are hardly ever a big deal. It's perfectly OK, for example, to rush off to work one day and not say goodbye. Your relationship will
surely survive. But if things like this are done every day — these little habits that might say "you're not a priority" — the ripple effect can have a profound impact.
The good news, though, is that once you're both aware of any habits that might be driving a wedge between you, it's usually easy to change. And your relationship can be better for it. As
certified counselor Jonathan Bennett tells Bustle, "Keeping connected to your partner is essential for a successful long-term relationship." Here are a few habits to avoid if you'd like to maintain your connection, and have a healthy, close relationship.
Leaving For The Day Without Saying "Bye"
It sounds so simple, and yet leaving for the day without saying goodbye to each other can have a profound impact on your relationship. "This can leave [them] feeling like you don’t matter enough to acknowledge,"
couples consultant and coach Lesli Doares tells Bustle. And the same goes for coming back home again, and not taking the time to greet each other.
Just a quick "hey, how was your day?" or a hug or a kiss is all it takes to prevent that feeling. Without a quick greeting, it's all too easy to feel ignored and unimportant, and that can foster a lack of connection over time.
Not Being Fully Present, At Least Some Of The Time
While it's impossible to give each other undivided attention 24/7 — and hey,
you shouldn't be doing that anyway — it is important to be fully present with each other when you're say, eating dinner, going on a date, or simply updating each other about your day.
By being present, you're showing your partner that you hear them, and that you're
there. And in doing so, it can prevent some unwanted side effects of inattention. "Forgetting important dates or events. Forgetting things that they have said, especially things that were emotionally charged. Disregarding the wants and needs that they have expressed," licensed psychologist Dr. Tanisha M. Ranger tells Bustle. These all foster disconnection." "
Going To Bed At Different Times
While this can't always be helped — especially if you work a late shift, and your partner gets up early — going to bed at the same time is something you should strive for.
"Studies show the importance of being in bed with your partner," Chris Brantner, the Certified Sleep Science Coach from
SleepZoo, tells Bustle. " 75 percent of couples don't go to bed at the same time. This robs them of intimacy and connection. Couples who don't go to bed at the same time have less time in serious conversation, shared activities, and sex. The fact is that time spent in bed before going to sleep can be the most relaxing. In fact, research shows that this cuddle time can leave couples feeling more nurtured and relaxed."
Even if you don't to actually fall asleep, it can be helpful to cuddle with your partner before they nod off. These moments of closeness can help you bond — not to mention, it's simply a nice way to end (or start) your day.
Only Communicating Via Text
Whether you live together, see each other a few times a week, or are dating long distance, make sure that you find the time to hang out and/or talk for real — and not just via text.
If you only chat via text, "you miss nuance, facial expressions, body language; all of which connect you," Doares says. "When you only get words, especially when not spoken, it's rather cold and opens up the chance for serious misunderstandings."
And when that happens, arguments can spiral out of control, and even "lead to feeling a need to hold back," Doares says. By seeing each other's facial expressions, and spending phone-free time together, you'll definitely feel more connected.
Hey, if you need to work late, or bring a few papers home with you, that's obviously fine. But having a work/life balance is important for a healthy relationship.
"If you give most of your time and energy to your job, then it’s hard to have enough left over for your partner," Bennett says. "This isn’t just working overtime, but can occur when you constantly take the stress of work home with you."
So make sure you find time to do both. You might, for example, decide that 8 p.m. is the cutoff for checking emails — for both you and your partner — so that you can spend some quality time together.
You're both entitled to boundaries in your relationship, and sometimes that'll mean saying the word "no." But it shouldn't become a knee-jerk habit. "Not being willing to accommodate each other ... can leave you feeling lonely within the relationship," Doares says.
Whether it's helping each other with a chore, agreeing to see a movie you don't really want to see, or listening to each other even though you're tired, little things like this — that are often so easy to say "no" to — can make all the difference.
Turning To Others To Meet Your Emotional Needs
If you're going through a tough time, or simply want to talk, it's perfectly fine — and healthy — to reach out to your network of friends and family members to chat, vent, etc. Your partner can't always be your best friend
and your partner and a shoulder to cry, so it's great to have others to turn too.
But be wary about skipping over your partner, and going straight to others for all your emotional needs. "When you find yourself leaning on people outside your relationship all the time, that is a sign that you and your partner are not connected," says Ranger. "It's hard to know what came first, the disconnection or the turning to others for emotional support, but the outcome is the same."
To work on it, give your partner a chance. You might not realize that they're chock full of good advice, too. And by giving them
the chance to support you, you'll both feel more connected.