How Do You Disconnect?

Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Click here for part two

We all know that it feels more intimate to be connected to the person (or people) we care about and love.  Much less understood is how a couple who starts out with lots of love, erotic energy and hope—lose their close connection—and begin the painful process of falling out of love and feeling disconnected from one another.

In order to figure out how the process of disconnection has worked in your life, let me invite you to explore the various ways you disconnect.  Look at the following list of disconnecting behaviors, taken from Pat Love’s book The Truth About Love—and check the ones you use:

overworking    criticizing    interrupting    nagging    withdrawing    drinking    judging    being irritable    being distracted    clinging   being resentful    threatening    keeping secrets    being rigid    name calling    withholding your opinion    taking on too much responsibility    over functioning    being pre-occupied with your own thoughts    being uncooperative    believing you have the right answer    being a pleaser     being undependable    being dishonest    going silent    condemning    forgetting   embarrassing    lying   fault finding    being perfectionistic    shutting down    overspending    lecturing    being cynical    avoiding    being depressed    using sarcasm    bossing    being rude    shaming    assuming    coercing   being impatient    being tense    being angry    acting uncaring    yelling    raging    pushing    being perpetually late    being authoritative    turning away    controlling    withholding affection    staying preoccupied    not supporting    interrupting    withholding sex    expressing hostility    being aggressive    showing suspicion    procrastinating    always wanting more    looking for problems

Now go back through this list and circle the ways your partner disconnects.

There are several reasons why people who once felt very close to each other lose their connection and grow more distant and mechanical with each other, says Love.  Some of those reasons are:

  • If I let myself get close to you, I feel that I will lose me, and therefore forfeit my individuality and freedom.
  • The fear that you’ll leave me—and that will destroy me.
  • We don’t spend enough time together, and we have to spend a certain amount of time together to keep the connection strong. (Quick solution:  Ask yourself “What would make me want to spend more time with my partner?  Or what would make my partner want to spend more time with me?”)
  • We’re not consistently tuned into our partners, or our partner’s needs or wants.   Truly paying attention, taking an interest, showing you care.  Being empathetic and compassionate—by walking in your partner’s shoes a lot more often.
  • We’re not letting ourselves get too intimate, too close, too emotionally exposed.  We’re not revealing our inner selves to each other.  The real me—vulnerabilities and all.  The real you.
  • The fear that I’ll get what I want and I won’t feel worthy of it, or that I won’t be able to handle getting what I want, and therefore I’ll sabotage it.

The most effective way to reconnect is to take charge of your own behaviors.  Think about the partner you want to be—and the relationship you want to have—and then make a conscious choice to act in accordance with those goals.

I will continue this discussion in next week’s column.

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