Feeling closed off in a relationship might be more common than you think. We often feel disconnected from our partners. We all sometimes wonder why they don’t feel connected to us as well. It’s especially common among people who love each other.
Many of us seek love from another person. That kind of explains why we couple. We look for the right kind of mate so we can feel good about ourselves. This is very human. But the more I learn about myself and other people, the more I understand that when we are fully ourselves, and only ourselves, that is when we can feel love.
Let me explain. When we find our partners we feel complete in some way, as if we have been missing something and after finding them we now feel whole. But if we always need to feel this feeling with our person, when we don’t feel it, we might start to feel less than—like we lost something important.
All of us at one time or another will feel as if we are the only person in our relationship. This is a feeling that many of us have and it is very common. But it doesn’t feel good even though lots of us feel it.
And it can come upon us in a flash. We are just humming along in our relationship and then wham! We are struck with thinking and wondering if our partner even cares for us. We might have had a disagreement and feel all alone and don’t know how to get back to the connection.
All relationships include someone being disappointed at some time. There is no escaping this feeling. This happens because you and your partner are different. You may want to do something that you like and your partner will say NO.
This leads to disappointment. I have experienced this feeling so many times I could not count them. And I have had to understand some of the things about this interaction to not take the experience personally.
I met a new couple recently. They wanted to see if I could help them “fix” their relationship. They had been estranged for a while, but were hoping they could work through their issues for the kids.
I listened to each of them and I was struck with the hardness they both felt for each other. Each had been holding on to what was done to them in the years they had tried to make their relationship work. She felt betrayed. He felt attacked. Both were sad and disappointed.
I hear couples talk a lot about connection. In fact, feeling disconnected is probably one of the biggest difficulties couples face. Often one of the partners will say something like, “I just don’t feel connected to him.” But it could be a man saying this too. Feeling connected is something we all feel inside our body, and it is different for every one of us.
Some of us live inside our feelings and literally feel everything that happens to us. That’s me. I am a right-brain-dominant person, which means that I experience the world through my feelings. Imagine how frustrated I felt when I coupled with a person who is left-brain-dominant. That means he interacts with the world through his thinking mind. He thinks first. I feel first. We are different.
When we find our special person and we feel connected to them in ways that seem magical, we begin to believe, in parts of our body, that this is what we have been looking for all our life. This feeling we have with our person is the real thing. We want it to last. We all want our relationships to go on and be this way forever.
All relationships begin this way. Then other things start to happen and people wonder where that beautiful, wonderful feeling went to. Couples still say they love each other, but sometimes they don’t feel loved by one another. Sometimes, people wonder if their partner—the one who loves them—really loves them.
Many times when I work with couples I hear them wishing they felt better. I feel their discomfort when they tell me about their partner and how they don’t feel loved. I empathize with the individuals who tell me how unhappy they are about feeling distant in their relationship.
These feelings are pretty common. And there are reasons why. When we fall in love with our special person everything feels better than it’s ever felt. We fall in love with that feeling and we hunger for it when it goes away.
I was visiting New York recently and it was cold. Standing in a store to get my coffee I noticed an older man wearing a thick winter jacket holding a little doggy in a coat. It was a small dog, about 10 pounds, held close to this man’s breast. The animal’s little head was shaking.
I asked the man the name of his puppy, and in a second his hardness in his face turned into a little boy as his eyes softened and he said in the sweetest voice, “Sprinkles.” My heart felt his heart. I could feel his sincere devotion to his little dog. It was like a melody of a beautiful song the way he spoke of his pup, sweet, pure, wonderful.
All of us carry around a lot of feelings all the time. That’s just a characteristic of being human. Many of us carry around some deep love for our partners yet we don’t tell them about it. I am sometimes amazed during counseling sessions, when I will ask a man if he loves his girlfriend or wife and he’ll say, “Of course I do,” and then look over at her and say, “She knows that.”
He doesn’t tell her he loves her. He tells me he does and that she knows it. He accepts the fact that she already got his love declarations and assumes that’s all she needs. He already told her this and so it will always exist.