Distance in a relationship can be a sign of trouble — even more so when you feel like your
partner actually has one foot out the door. So are their ways to reel your connection back in? According to experts, there are a few clever things you might want to consider trying to get things back on track.
partner who is 'checking out' often does not have the self-awareness required to work on a relationship," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, clinical psychologist and relationship expert, tells Bustle. That's because the very nature of the “checking out process" is avoiding communication and the intimacy that results from healthy communication.
If you feel like your partner has
one foot out the door, you may be right. For the most part, the signs are fairly easy to spot. According to Dr. Manly, your partner may avoid connection in a variety of ways by working overtime, spending more time with friends, and starting unnecessary arguments with you. They may even agree with you about everything, which can indicate a lack of passion.
But don't worry just yet. If things haven't ended completely, there is still hope. So if you feel like your partner is checking out, here are some ways to kickstart your relationship again, according to experts.
Make It A Point To Say, "Tell Me More"
The three most important words in a relationship may not be what you think. As
psychotherapist Tina B. Tessina, LMFT, PhD, tells Bustle, the phrase you should be saying often is "tell me more." When it feels like your partner is checking out, try to be more present. It's important to figure out what they're really saying in order to fix any problems you may have. A simple tool known as "mirroring" or "reflective listening" can be helpful. Mirroring is basically reflecting or matching what the other person is doing and how they're speaking. It helps people find common ground. "This accepting, nonjudgmental communication method can work wonders when used properly, for it allows partners to 'check in' rather than 'check out,'" Dr. Manly says.
Give Your Partner Something To Get Excited About
One of the best ways to keep someone close is to put things down in the calendar way ahead of time. This could be a weekend getaway, a party you're hosting, tickets to a concert, or anything that you and your partner both love. "Essentially these dates will have been commitments the couple made early on in the year," Kevin Darné, author of
, tells Bustle. "The benefits of having major scheduled activities is it keeps the couple physically connected by spending time together." It also gives you something to look forward to, so the excitement level will be there. My Cat Won't Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany)
If you want to get your relationship spark going again, do the unexpected. More often than not,
it's the little, thoughtful things that make the biggest impact. "Writing a letter to your partner on how you feel and the reasons why you fell in love with them is always a positive thing," Michael Bouciquot, Registered Marriage and Family Therapist, tells Bustle. Sometimes we take our partners for granted. Expressing our feelings on paper can help them realize that you are still in love with them. m
Enjoy Old Hobbies Together
Do you remember how you felt when you first met? How excited you were on your first date and how it felt to realize you were falling in love? If you want to bring your partner back into the relationship, take it back to the very beginning. Remind them of what made you two fall in love in the first place. "You’re obviously not the people you once were, but sometimes it’s fun to throw it back and embrace old habits,"
Bethany Ricciardi, Sex and Relationship Expert with TooTimid, tells Bustle. "If you used to play soccer together, sign up for something similar but more simple like kickball and have active fun together again."
Create Opportunities For Relaxation
Oftentimes, the stress of life can get in the way of closeness and intimacy. When that happens, one or both partners may check out of the relationship and your relationship can suffer. If that's the case, Dr. Manly suggests creating opportunities for fun and relaxation. "When time is made for exercising together, date nights, and weekend outings, the couple can connect on positive levels," she says. Of course, it's also important to stay kind, affectionate, and positive with each other throughout the week. Otherwise, those fun outings together will just be "band-aids on top of any unresolved issues."
Treat Them To Something Nice
It's hard to ignore being treated special, especially by the one you love. "The more time you have together, the better your odds are that your partner might recommit to the relationship," Darné says. So surprise them. Make them feel special by treating them to something they wouldn't expect. "Having good times together can give a person second thoughts about whether or not they truly want to walk away," he says.
It may seem counterintuitive to give your partner space when they're already distant. But pushing them to get closer will only push them away even further. "You want to avoid the pursuer-distancer pattern," Bouciquot says. The pursuer will only add more stress to the relationship by constantly trying to "fix" it. As difficult as it may be, your partner may just need some alone time in order to figure things out in their life.
Although there are ways to reel your partner back in when you feel like they're checking out, it's important to remember that you can't make them do anything. One of the best things about being in a relationship is knowing that someone is choosing to be with you. So keep being the wonderful and loving partner you can be. If it's meant to be, your partner will come back.