The importance of emotional connections
One of the essential elements which hold partners together in a relationship is the emotional connection they establish between each other. Actually, a weak emotional bond is among the most common reasons for problems between the partners. Drifting apart from your loved one is not a thing that happens in a day or two though. It’s a continuous process that might be lasting for a very long period of time And the worst part is that a lot of couples just don’t realize they are becoming emotionally disconnected.
When are emotional connections formed
The way we would attach to our loved people in a later stage of life had been modelled as early as our childhood. If we had had a secure bond with our first caregivers, the chance of establishing closer emotional connections in future relationships is bigger. On the contrary, If we didn’t establish strong and secure bonds while growing up, our adult relationships tend to be more or less problematic.
The process of emotional disconnection
The reasons for this problem may vary. So may the explanations. According to Attachment theory, we expect from our loved one comfort and security. If the partner gets emotionally distant, we could feel lonely, sad or even rejected. We might start doubting the trust in the relationship or feeling it is at risk. We could even decide the situation is helpless. At this moment we become overwhelmed with the fear of losing our partner and our body reacts through the part of the midbrain called amygdala. It acts as a built-in alarm which responds to the negative emotions by giving us a sense of panic.
How different couples react
Problems, controversy and conflicts are normal for every relationship. But if the emotional connection with the partner is strong, these feelings causing insecurity are perceived as temporary and not menacing. We know there is no reason to feel afraid of losing our loved one. On the contrary, when it comes to partners whose emotional bond is not that close, the feeling can be destructive. It might provoke a strong sense of uncertainty and lead to panic. All of these processes actually happen on an unconscious level and are there for a long time before we start understanding what’s going on and try to change it.
Why we get emotionally disconnected
In the beginning, the partners are overwhelmed with positive emotions. They are dedicated to making things with their loved one work out. They put a lot of effort into building the relationship. At this stage, the emotional connection between the partners is very strong. Later, however, everyday responsibilities take us to different paths. The focus of the emotions shifts. Some stress factors might also appear. People become more involved in things such as career or rearing kids. They’re struggling to find a balance between home life and their job. This influences negatively the connection with the partner. It inevitably weakens it. The bond becomes less emotional and people slowly drift apart.
As life goes by we tend to spend less and less emotional reserves on the partner. This is when emotional disconnection starts taking hold. Unfortunately, often people don’t realize what’s going on until the distance between them has become huge.
Below are three important steps to reestablish your emotional connection with the partner:
The first thing to start with is to become aware of what is going on and understand the signs of emotional disconnection.
Here are the most common ones:
- You feel insecure when you talk to your partner.
- You spend less time with your partner than before.
- The communication is not as it used to be.
- The relationship brings loneliness instead of satisfaction.
- You need things your partner can’t give to you.
2. Talk about your problems
Discussing the problems is the key to a successful relationship. Whenever you realize there is one, you should find a good time to talk about it.
Let your partner know that you’re experiencing emotional disconnection. That it’s necessary to reestablish your bond on a deeper level. Ask them if they think the same.
3. Reconnect with your partner
Dr Sue Johnson, a psychologist and primary developer of Emotionally Focused Therapy explains how to reconnect with your partner. According to her, the three most important moments in the process are:
1. Be accessible:
You should become aware of your own feelings. Find out how they are influencing your partner. Check what their feelings or attachment injuries are. But most importantly act openly and be ready to talk about it.
2. Be emotionally responsive
Pay attention to your partner’s needs. Behave with sensitivity and empathy.
3. Acknowledge your partner’s emotions
Pay attention to their emotions. Find out what they are and needs are. But do it in a deep and loving way. Be emotionally there for them.
If the relationship with your partner has become emotionally distant, these three steps are a good way to reestablish the closeness. Sometimes couples just avoid talking about their feelings with each other. They live stuck in the negative pattern of emotional disconnection. In such case, a good option would be to consult a psychologist or therapist.
Finally, what we need to remember is that love is the reason to get involved with our partner. But it’s not a reason good enough to stay attached forever. People are different and so are their point of views and needs. A long-lasting and happy relationship is based, more than anything else, on a close emotional bond between the partners. And as the Lebanese-American writer, poet and visual artist Kahlil Gibran said:
…Love one another but make not a bond of love: let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.