We meet this amazing person who we feel knows and understands us and we feel safe with them and we share our inner thoughts and feelings with them. They respond to our openness by sharing their hopes and dreams with us. We are in love! Time goes on in our relationship and several things happen to disrupt that connection.
We spend less time ALONE with them, guaranteeing there will not be any sharing of private thoughts and feelings in front of our friends, family, or God forbid, our KIDS. Ever notice the disconnection often starts after the kids are born or after someone’s friend, sibling or parent moves in?
You stop dating because of a lack of time, energy and/or money. With no opportunity for private sharing and no FUN in your love life, you become more like roommates. You no longer have a marriage, you have a living arrangement. You open yourselves up for co-workers, old classmates or ex-lovers on Facebook to entice you into something more connected, sweeter, and more fun.
Now you have a secret going that FURTHER creates barriers to intimacy (I’m talking emotional connection here, not sex, but that diminishes with the decrease in emotional closeness too). Your partner may ask about it so you lie and say nothing is wrong. Or, they may seem oblivious but they feel the barrier at the non-conscious level.
By the way, affairs of the heart are not the only secrets that create barriers to our connection. Hiding ANY behaviors (drinking, drugging, internet porn, shopping, spending, over eating, etc.) can create that barrier.
We are social bonding creatures and our brains are hard wired for social cues of inclusion and exclusion. When our mind senses this loss of connection it lets us know that we are in DANGER. Now we are in fight or flight or freeze and our fearful (often turned to angry) reactions FURTHER push our partner away. It becomes a downward spiral of retreating and ignoring and cold-shouldering.
Now if we are afraid of rejection, we may try valiantly to get our love’s attention. They may respond, or if they are afraid of engulfment or being “smothered” they will pull away and now you have a push-pull dance of intimacy that spirals out of control.
A control drama may ensue with one partner aggressively using anger and blaming to control and the other aggressively resisting by withdrawing or shutting down passively.
No matter what the causes or context of this disconnection, it HURTS. We all have varying degrees of tolerance for this kind of emotional pain. With prolonged exposure, resentment grows. At some point it may get so intolerable that we shut down altogether and just become numb. Our partner has long since given up on us ever being any fun.
So what do we do NOW? Tune in tomorrow when I will give some suggestions to turn the tide on this cycle and reverse the downward spiral. You CAN start the spiral back up again and in the process, become considerably happier no matter WHAT your partner does.
See you there!,