Last week I started a new weekly event called Love Lounge Friday….and boy was it a busy day for me! But I LOVED it. Your authenticity, vulnerability, and desire to make your relationships work was so amazing! (In case you missed the info on Love Lounge Friday…stay tuned for this Friday! Get your questions answered, for free, by me, all day long!!)
There was a common theme in most of the texts that I received on Friday. It was this feeling of panic that everyone feels when they sense that a partner is pulling away or distancing in a relationship. Can you relate?
Many of the texts went something like this: “Things were going really well with this guy I’m dating and then all of the sudden he stopped texting like he used to, and started pulling away”. Sometimes it was subtle, sometimes it was an obvious “ghosting” act and he disappeared without a trace.
So the question is, why do people do this? And how do you handle the panic and anxiety that you feel when it happens?
Well, if you happen to be a person who needs and wants a lot of connection, affirmation, and reassurance in a relationship, any kind of distancing from a partner can cause a lot of panic. I call this type of person a Love Connector. You thrive in relationships, but have a lot of distress when you have a partner who doesn’t match your needs for connection.
The problem is, many Love Connectors often find themselves dating what I call Love Resisters. This can be a lethal combination in dating. Have you noticed that you have a history of dating people who are kind of flaky in this way? Love Resisters are usually uncomfortable with intimacy, and feel a need to pull away as soon as things get close or feel really comfortable. When a resister pulls away from you right when things feel good, It’s likely not about you. It’s about their discomfort with intimacy. But boy does it cause a lot of hurt and confusion!
So, if you are feeling the pain of someone pulling away, here’s what you can do:
You need to get out of your mind and learn to calm your racing thoughts before you do something you’ll regret. You may feel like you can’t concentrate on anything but the relationship. You may even feel sick to your stomach, because you’re so worked up with anxiety.
Getting present means getting out of your head, and into the moment with something- anything! Force yourself to do something that will distract you from obsessing about it for awhile. My top recommendations are yoga, meditation, and exercise, but it can be whatever helps you get focused on the present moment, and out of your head. Call a friend. Get some reassurance from someone who can help you.
Don’t play games.
If you’re feeling anxious about your partner pulling away, you may start to feel an urge to pull away yourself. You might be thinking of ways to “play hard to get”, like not texting or calling him back, despite the fact that you’ve been dying for his or her connection. It might look like threats to leave your partner (and hoping he or she will beg you to stay). This is your brain’s warning system notifying you that your partner has done something to distance from you (or at least you perceive it that way) and you are going to have to “up the ante” to get this person back.
The problem is that this behavior can backfire, and push him or her away even more, and leave you feeling miserable. It’s always better to take a risk and tell your partner how you feel, and let him know that you might need some extra reassurance to get your brain (and your heart) settled down. Be authentic with what’s going on with you, and trust that the right partner will hear you and respect your needs. If he doesn’t, he may not be a good match for you.
Is this a pattern?
If this distancing behavior happens once, or there seems to be a plausible explanation for it (the guy was traveling to Italy for 2 days and couldn’t use his phone!), then let it go. If it continues to present itself in your relationship, pay attention. I often hear people make a lot of excuses for someone’s crappy behavior. Remember that actions speak louder than words. Does he say he wants to be close to you, but then it takes him two days to respond to a text message? Does he cancel plans frequently, or make a lot of excuses to avoid spending time with you?
Pay attention to what you see, and to what your gut tells you. Usually most people know there’s something fishy going on, but they ignore it for way too long for the sake of keeping the relationship (or at least the idea of what you want in the relationship). Someone that continues to distance, despite your questions, or your requests for closeness is doing EXACTLY what you think he or she is doing: distancing.
There is NOTHING wrong with you if you want and need connection. Feeling “needy” with someone that you’re into, doesn’t make you crazy or weird or unhealthy. It’s just part of who you are. Own it, and trust that it’s ok to ask for your needs to be met by a partner. If they dismiss or ignore your needs, then ask yourself if it’s worth it to stay. You deserve to be loved for who you are, and there are partners out there who can handle this. Promise.