Relationships go through phases, and it’s important not to confuse the weather–the storm–for the overall climate. But sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between the normal flow and progression of a phase with signs that something’s breaking down. If we miss early warning signs, it can come as a complete shock if things break down to the point of being irreparable.
Here’s the stuff to watch out for:
1. Your partner doesn’t touch you as often. It’s normal for affectionate, casual, or even sexual touch to decrease a little as you move out of the passionate honeymoon phase of the relationship and into a more long term, settled phase. But if your partner isn’t reaching for you, seldom or never initiates touching, and starts bypassing casual caresses or hand-holding, chances are, they’re not feeling the connection.
2. You don’t spend any quality time together anymore. Life can be busy and hectic, and without realizing it, days and even weeks can pass without putting in quality face-to-face time with our loved ones. But being together is important to maintain you sense of connection to your partner. Make time for each other.
3. Eye rolling. In a fascinating experiment, the degree of eye-rolling in a relationship was found to be a very good predictor of whether or not the couple would break up. Eye rolling can become a reflexive response we don’t even realize we’re doing–but it’s devastating to the other person. It’s disdainful, disrespectful, and conveys a clear message that you’re not taking your partner seriously. So the next time you catch yourself rolling your eyes – STOP! What would happen if you smiled instead?
4. The TV is always on and you don’t really talk anymore. This is more about a change of pattern than it is about a behavior. Some people are naturally quiet and need alone time to wind down and recharge. More extroverted types may want to talk almost all the time. Something’s wrong if one of these patterns changes within your relationship. If you used to talk and now you really don’t. If you used to watch TV together, but now you’re watching separate shows in separate rooms. If you used to never watch TV but are now using it to avoid connecting with each other. Heads up.
5. No sex. Put bluntly, unless you guys started out platonically, a cessation of sexual intimacy is a pretty sure-fire sign your connection is suffering. It’s normal for things to slow down as your relationship matures, but it’s also important that you still feel and express your attraction to one another. Sometimes we just haven’t made the time, or can’t get relaxed enough–these are things you can fix. If you’re getting signals your partner doesn’t WANT things to be fixed, it’s time to start talking. Like, yesterday.
6. It feels like a struggle. The relationship feels difficult, it doesn’t flow anymore. Communication doesn’t come easily or naturally when you do talk, or you always seem to end up fighting or feeling frustrated. This is a sure sign that your relationship is suffering and you need to take action (see below).
7. You lose sight of each other in the everyday grind. Responsibilities and to-do lists can zap even the most energetic among us. But when this happens, the romance of your relationship can fizzle.. Left unaddressed, you can eventually lose sight of why you fell in love in the first place.
So now what?
First, don’t panic. Most problems are fixable with good communication, but if you approach your partner buzzing with fear and anxiety, you may do more harm than good. So take a moment to regroup. Breathe. Trust in solutions.
Getting The Connection Back and Ramp Up the Romance
Remember the fun, romantic things you used to do together at the beginning of your relationship? Do more of those again. Laughing together ALWAYS builds connection, as does touch, talking, playing games, being together outdoors–even activities that take you a bit outside your comfort zone but closer TO your intimacy zone.
At the same time, do your own work on YOU. Each of you have a responsibility to yourselves as well as a commitment to each other, and that responsibility means self-care, managing your own emotions, growing and holding boundaries, and finding happiness and joy within. No partner, no matter how well-matched or amazing, can make you happy for you. It’s an inside job. When you are your best self, you are, quite simply, a better partner.
To find out more about exactly what you can do to raise your V.I.B.E., go HERE.