No matter how much you try to be a good partner in your relationship, there will be times when you feel yourself drifting. You may be preoccupied, feel out of sync, or just not quite right. Don't beat yourself up, it happens to everyone— especially when life gets busy. But the most important thing is to take some time to reconnect with your partner. And you can start with the little things.
"Couples try to get each other’s attention throughout the day, whether it’s for support, conversation, interest, play, affirmation, feeling connected or for affection,” relationship coach and therapist Anita Chlipala tells Bustle. “Each of these moments is an opportunity to connect with your partner. A person should look for someone who responds to them, or at least acknowledges them when they try to get their attention, because it shows that they are meeting your emotional needs —or at least trying to.”
So, with the little things, it might be easy to see when and how you can be more connected— or at least more responsive. But sometimes the problem is bigger and it can feel like you're still just not present in the relationship. Here's what you can do to bring it back:
1. Work Out The Kinks
If there's anything on your mind about your partner or your relationship, any irritating questions or problems, it can make you feel distant. It's why the beginning of relationships can be so uncomfortable. “Relationships are awkward in the beginning because trust has yet to be established,” Darren Pierre, educator, speaker and author of The Invitation to Love: Recognizing the Gift Despite Pain, Fear, and Resistance, tells Bustle. “When we trust another, we reduce fear, when we reduce fear, we alleviate the anxiety of being rejected.” And it's not just true in the early days. Even if you've been together a while, you can feel preoccupied from your partner if your not resolving your issues. You need to comfortable to be really present.
“To help move the awkwardness, have the courage to be yourself, have the courage to be honest, and have the courage to trust your intuition about the person you are deciding to spend your time with." It helps to talk things through and work out any lingering issues — it always makes me feel immediately relaxed and more settled.
2. Try Something New Together
Shaking out of your comfort zone is a great way to make yourself more present, because it automatically takes more mental energy than your same old routine. “Learning something new together is a great way to bond and learn about how the other one takes in new information and whether or not they’re a good sport,” life coach Kali Rogers tells Bustle. “I once took an ‘intro to DJing’ class with my current boyfriend and it was a blast! We were both terrible, but it was a lot of fun.” Even going somewhere new can make you more engaged — with your surroundings and your partner — almost immediately.
3. Deal With Your Own Sh*t
Just like you need to work out your relationship issues, figure out if there's anything going on with you, separate from the relationship, that might be affecting how you are with your partner. Work problems, family, or just general anxiety can all make you feel not like yourself and not as present. Do some emotional spring cleaning.
4. Put The Phone Away
We're all at least semi-distracted if our phone is in our hand— or even in our bag. You need some proper phone-free time to prevent phubbing, which is when you ignore whoever you're with because you're glues to your phone. "Try to cut back on using your phone gradually," David Brudö, co-founder and CEO at mental wellbeing and personal development app Remente, tells Bustle. "Try simply not checking it unless you actually need to use it. Or, leave your phone at home when you go out for dinner or grocery shopping. This way it will help you to change your habits in small dosages." If all goes well, pretty soon you won't even miss it — and your relationship will be better for it.
Don't worry too much if you're feeling distracted or not quite present in your relationship — it happens to the best of us. Just make sure you're putting in the time and the energy to reconnect.