7 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Partner When You Feel Like They're Checking Out
You can be the very calm, collected, and playful version of yourself when everything in your relationship is going well. But all of that calm and positivity can go out the door once you feel your partner drifting away. If you're really into someone and you want it work long-term, it can put you into a major panic-mode. But according to experts, there are some things you should never do when you feel like your partner is checking out.
There are two major mistakes people tend to make when their partner becomes distant. Trying to get even closer by forcing it to happen is the first one. "When a partner pulls away, people tend to get physically close to them, cling on to them, or try to over-insert themselves in their partners lives out of fear that they will lose them," relationship coach Jenna Ponaman, CPC, ELI-MP tells Bustle. Unsurprisingly, doing so can have the opposite effect and may actually push your partner even further away.
Besides that, it's also easy to assume and accuse your partner of doing things that may not be true. "Many people have reported to me that just before a partner makes a big commitment or decides to take the relationship to the next level, they tend to take more time to themselves to really try to think things through, before taking that leap," Jane Reardon, licensed therapist and founder of RxBreakup, tells Bustle.
When you force closeness or automatically assume things are going wrong, it will change the way you communicate with your partner. Instead of approaching the issue in a level-headed way, you may resort to things like blaming. If you want to close the distance, blaming your partner is obviously not the way to go. So here are some examples of questions you should never ask your partner if you feel like they're checking out.
1. "Why Won't You Ever Tell Me What's Wrong?"
You never talk to me. You always do this. "As frustrated as we get sometimes, our minds tell us that our partners ALWAYS or NEVER or EVER do certain things," Jacob Kountz, Marriage and Family Therapist Trainee, tells Bustle. But these words can make it seem like your partner is really "always" in the wrong. According to Kountz, these "absolute terms" can be detrimental to a relationship because they aren't necessarily true. If you want to question your partner's distance, you should try using words like "sometimes" or "lately." For example, "I've noticed that you've been a bit distance lately, what do you think?" can be way more effective than coming at them with a, "Why don't you ever talk to me?"
2. "When Will You Stop Playing Games? "
If you feel like your partner is creating distance between the two of you, it's easy to automatically assume the worst. For instance, if you had an ex who ran hot and cold with you, that might cause you to lash out at your partner and accuse them of playing immature games too. But as Caleb Backe, Health and Wellness Expert for Maple Holistics, tells Bustle, you shouldn't jump to conclusions right away. "There’s a good chance they’re struggling to understand their feelings and have no underhanded intentions," Backe says. Instead of making accusations, consider giving your partner space or approaching them in a caring way to find out what’s really going on. "The worst thing you can do is make them go on the defensive because nobody wins in that case," he says.
3. "Is It Something I Did?"
When someone sees that their partner is distancing themselves, the first thing people tend to automatically think is that it's their fault. But as Ponaman says, "Let’s get something very clear right now: it is never your fault when someone else makes a choice to distance themselves or leave a relationship." People always have their own reasons that have very little to do with you and everything to do with themselves. "Asking the question of whether you did something wrong creates that victim mentality that can push your partner further away rather than bringing them closer," she says. Instead, she suggests asking questions that encourage a safe, open space to explore the possibilities of the relationship, both as a partner and an individual.
4. "What's Wrong With You?"
"Anything that puts your partner on the defensive is unlikely to work on your behalf," Dating and Relationship Coach, Rosalind Sedacca, CLC, tells Bustle. Don’t play the blame game and make your partner out to be the antagonist in this situation. Instead, Sedacca says, ask "feeling questions" to get their perspective on what’s happening in your relationship. For example instead of asking your partner, "What's your deal?" you should say something like, "I feel like things have been distant between us. Can we please talk about this?" It's non-accusatory and you're approaching your partner from a vulnerable and honest place.
5. "How Can I Fix This?"
As Ponaman says, this question implies that you want to take control, rather than be there in support. "If your partner is distancing themselves, chances are it’s actually better for the relationship if you allow them the distance," she says. They’ll talk to you when they’re ready. If they don’t, that may mean they already had their mind set and there wouldn’t have been anything you could have done to change it. "Rest assured, you did the absolute best you could have done with the opportunities you were given," Ponaman says. "Your partner was unfortunately too closed off to make it work." Again, this has nothing to do with you or your worth as a partner.
6. "Is It Someone Else?"
Even if they do have feelings for someone else, Sedacca says it’s pretty unlikely that your partner will admit to it if you’re confronting them for the first time. Instead, take the thoughts of a third party out of it altogether. As Sedacca suggests, talk about how you’re feeling more distant in the relationship and ask them how they feel as well. Then, talk about what you both can to do remedy the situation. "If you’re getting aloof, evasive responses, that may be the time to ask more pointed questions about the future of your relationship," she says.
7. "Are You Thinking Of Breaking Up With Me?"
If, for instance, you and your partner text every day and suddenly it’s radio silence for no real reason, Reardon says it may be a sign that they're second-guessing the relationship. However, you shouldn't automatically assume that they're cheating or prepping themself to end it. "This can stir up a dispute and can really bring up trust issues," she says. Instead, you may want to just check in and ask if everything is alright between the two of you. "Let them know that you feel the two of you have grown distant and ask how you two can mend the situation," she says. You may even want to communicate to them that you've noticed changes in their behavior and it's causing you some concern.
We hear over and over again how communication is necessary if you want your relationship to stay happy and harmonious. But as you can see, not any kind of communication will do. If you really want to solve problems and avoid creating more, you need to approach your partner in the right way. Staying clear of the questions above is a really great place to start.