Are you feeling disconnected from your partner? A relationship disconnect is common enough, especially when you’ve spent a fair bit of time together and things maybe are going a little stale or you’ve been taking each other for granted. Maybe you’re not spending enough quality time together or you feel like your relationship is just drifting aimlessly with no goal in sight.
Maybe you’re feeling sexually disconnected from a partner because the physical intimacy just isn’t doing it for you. Or you’re feeling disconnected from your partner after a baby arrives on the scene. The reasons for feeling detached from your relationship can be varied. The question is, what do you do next?
Are you thinking about telling him you feel disconnected/telling her you’re drifting away? How do you even bring it up? And how do you fix the disconnect? Emotional wellness and mindfulness coach Pooja Priyamvada (certified in Psychological and Mental Health First Aid from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Sydney), who specializes in counseling for issues like extramarital affairs, breakups, separation, grief, and loss, shares some insights and tips.
What Does Feeling Disconnected Mean In A Relationship?
Pooja explains, “Feeling disconnected in a relationship means that there is a lack of communication and one or both partners feel that they are not being heard or understood. This could be due to actual distance (aka a long-distance relationship) or sometimes just emotional distance. A relationship disconnect can also feel like there is no joy or charm left in the relationship.”
What Are The Situations In Which Disconnect May Occur
Pooja says, “Disconnect can be physical, intellectual, or emotional. Sometimes, partners can be far away physically and yet feel connected. And sometimes, people living together can feel completely distanced and disconnected due to stress, illness, or distress. Sometimes, all other facets of a relationship can be in place, but a couple may feel sexually disconnected. It really depends on the couple and the situation.”
Top 7 Signs Of Relationship Disconnect
“Signs of disconnection in a relationship can be evident or subtle,” says Pooja. So, what do you look out for and when do you start taking feeling disconnected from your partner seriously?
1. There is a lot of conflict in your relationship
A healthy argument can be beneficial for a relationship but there’s a line between a good old clearing of the air and being hurtful on purpose or fighting over the smallest things for no reason. Of all the signs of disconnection in a relationship, too much conflict is definitely in the top five.
“I was in a long-term relationship for 8 years and I just wasn’t feeling it anymore. We were fighting over everything, and I mean everything, behaving like two people who genuinely couldn’t stand the sight of each other,” says Maria, 33, who works in industrial design in New York. Know the difference between good and bad arguments to identify relationship disconnect.
2. You’ve stopped sharing your lives with each other
Now, it’s nice to have some secrets from a romantic partner, to preserve the mystery, and also because some things just aren’t their business! But sharing is an essential part of a healthy relationship. Be it thoughts, bad jokes, and laughter, hobbies, or a Netflix account, knowing you have a bond where you tell each other most things is deeply comforting.
When you’re feeling disconnected from a partner, the shared ground between a couple automatically shrivels. Either you feel like they’re being distant and won’t care or you’re not feeling the comfort and trust needed to share.
3. You’ve become emotionally distant from your partner, or vice versa
If you’ve got that niggling feeling of “I’m emotionally disconnected from my boyfriend/girlfriend,” check in with yourself and your feelings or lack thereof. Emotional distance doesn’t necessarily mean a lack of love, but a lack of being able to express that love in the way your partner needs. Feeling disconnected from a partner can often be because of the difference in the ways you each show love.
“I’d been in a long-distance relationship for two years. My primary love languages are physical touch and quality time, and it wasn’t working. Even when we were talking, I felt far away from him emotionally,” says Melissa, 31, a restaurateur in Nashville.
Related Reading: 10 Signs You Have An Emotional Connection With Someone
4. Lack of sexual intimacy
The dynamics and importance of sex in a relationship cannot be overstated. And, the lack of sexual intimacy could certainly be a sign that your relationship isn’t as strong as it once was.
Feeling sexually disconnected from a partner is a tough place to be in. You might start wondering if your partner is having an affair, or consider infidelity yourself. A lack of interest in sex post-partum can result in feeling disconnected from a partner after a baby is born. At these times you could:
- Show yourself some love (yes, we mean sex toys, but also just taking care of you)
- Remind yourself that as a sexual being, you deserve physical pleasure and joy
- Be open to the fact that this doesn’t mean your relationship is over – you could seek counseling or just make your way back to each other
5. Lack of care and concern for each other
Suddenly feeling disconnected from a partner can be a result of a lack of caring gestures toward each other. A relationship is based on everyday acts of kindness and care, so if that’s not happening, it’s difficult to feel any sort of connection. Feeling disconnected from a partner can manifest as being too exhausted or disengaged to care.
If your partner is no longer someone you can count on for comfort after a bad day, if they don’t care about the little things that make you happy, it’s going to create a huge chasm and relationship disconnect.
6. Anger and frustration dominate your relationship
We don’t think relationships are created out of unicorn breath and rainbows and gossamer. There are all kinds of negative emotions that spring up – jealousy, resentment, self-sabotage, etc. But, primarily, a loving relationship needs to bring you joy most of the time and make you feel good about yourself.
If your usual feelings toward each other are anger and frustration, the next step will be emotional detachment in your relationship. After all, who wants to stay connected with constant negativity? Feeling disconnected in a relationship is very often linked with feelings of constant anger, helplessness, and frustration.
7. There’s a lack of effort in the relationship from both sides
If you’re suddenly feeling disconnected from a partner, it could be due to a lack of effort in the relationship from you and/or from them. Drifting apart in a relationship is common when one or both partners simply cannot muster the energy to keep the relationship effort motor going.
Maybe you’re too tired to even consider telling him you feel disconnected. Maybe he barely makes the effort to look at you properly, let alone have a proper conversation with you. Feeling disconnected from a partner can stem from a lack of effort since relationships are all about putting in the work.
Related Reading: How To Differentiate Between Love Bombing And Genuine Care
How Do I Tell My Partner I Don’t Feel Connected?
“There’s no easy way to put this across to a partner,” says Pooja. She has some tips on how to soften the blow, though.
- Be calm and kind: There’s no point in getting worked up and having a screaming match here. You’re (hopefully) trying to establish or rekindle a connection here and personal insults and loud voices won’t resolve anything
- Use ‘us’ instead of ‘you’ statements: A relationship disconnect is rarely a one-way street and making it all about your partner is not helpful. Statements like “You didn’t do this” and “You just don’t understand me” will only alienate your partner further. If you’re suddenly feeling disconnected from a partner, make it about the ‘us’, not the ‘you’
- Make it a collective issue to resolve, not a blame game: Remember, you’re not here to heap blame on your partner. The blame-shifting game never makes for a healthy relationship, so don’t do it. Drifting in a relationship can be fixed, constantly telling your partner it’s all their fault, is harder to put right and won’t help with feeling disconnected from a partner
- Be emotionally honest: If you feel you’re not spending enough quality time together or that your relationship isn’t as strong as it once was, tell your partner. Don’t be snarky or play it cool. Not having each other’s backs is certainly a sign of relationship disconnect but emotional honesty plays a huge part in healing
- Practice active listening: Maybe you’re the one feeling disconnected from your partner but that doesn’t mean you should be the only one talking. Give them time and space to respond once you’ve told them how you feel and listen, really listen
5 Expert Tips To Fix Feeling Disconnected In A Relationship
All right, so we’ve got some insights into the signs of disconnection in a relationship and how to get your feelings out there. But, how do you fix that dreaded feeling of relationship disconnect? Never fear, we’ve got your back.
1. Check in with each other often
“It’s easy in a long-term relationship to forget the little things that make a marriage stronger, like just asking each other how you’re doing,” says Pooja. “How was your day, dear?” has become a meme-worthy joke now, but honestly, it’s important to check in with your partner on a daily basis.
Ask them how they’re doing. Remember something they were worried about and follow up on it. If you don’t have the time to have an involved conversation, give them plenty of hugs and kisses and let them know you’re there for them and that you’re thinking of them, so they’re not feeling disconnected from their partner.
2. Plan date nights
We love us a good date night plan. If you’ve been feeling a relationship disconnect, there’s a good chance you’re not spending enough quality time together. So, go ahead and have regular date nights. Book a table at that new restaurant. Choose a movie or a show you want to binge and cuddle up on the couch. Have a picnic, plan a hike on a really beautiful route – the possibilities are endless.
“I was feeling completely disconnected from my partner after our baby came along and I really started thinking about not having each other’s backs in the relationship,” says Jesse, 29, a landscape artist in Ohio. “Once we started planning date night ideas, we had a little time to ourselves and it made a world of difference.”
3. Spice things up in the bedroom
Feeling sexually disconnected from a partner can be devastating and make you question everything. Reconnecting on a physical level is as important as emotional and intellectual bonding in relationships. When a partner doesn’t feel the closeness in a physical sense, it can sometimes be tough to connect on any other level.
Talk to your partner about new things you could try in the bedroom. It could be bondage, watching porn together, sex toys, or just different positions. It’s also important to focus on non-sexual intimacy. Forehead kisses, long, warm hugs, holding hands, and so on can be just as intimate, if not more. Go on, break that ‘disconnected from your partner’ ice.
4. Have the tough conversations
When you’re feeling disconnected from a partner, it can be scary to put it into words. You may be worried that it’s the end of your relationship. Perhaps, you think if you ignore it, it’ll go away. Now, I enjoy a good bout of denial myself, but trust me, it doesn’t work in relationships, especially if things are already difficult.
The first step to mitigating a relationship disconnect is to face up to it and have that first incredibly tough conversation (we’ve talked about how to do it). Don’t avoid it, don’t put it off. Whatever the outcome, it’s better than being stuck in limbo.
5. Seek professional help
Asking for help is one of the best forms of self-love, we think. Talking to a therapist, either on your own or as a couple gives you a safe space to unload all your messy feelings and find a path toward getting some clarity and structure. It’s also a great way to dig deep and find the source of this relationship disconnect and be honest both with yourself and your partner.
When a partner doesn’t feel closeness in a relationship, help is always welcome. If you are looking for a qualified, compassionate counselor, remember that Bonobology’s panel of experienced experts is just a click away.
- Feeling detached from a partner can be physical, emotional, or intellectual
- Signs of detachment include constant conflict, a lack of intimacy, and no effort in the relationship
- To heal detachment in a relationship, have the tough conversations, spice up your sex life and seek counseling if needed
As we’ve said, detachment in your relationship is perfectly normal, but telling your partner you feel disconnected could leave you a little anxious. When a partner doesn’t feel the closeness in a relationship, a little effort, time, and honesty can work wonders. A relationship disconnect is not just about not having each other’s back, but also just not making the effort.
If you constantly feel like, “I’m emotionally disconnected from my boyfriend/girlfriend”, and you want to do the work and fix things, hats off to you. But remember, sometimes connections sever for a reason and not all relationships can always be fixed. And that’s okay, too.