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Feeling Disconnected In Love? 3 Ways to Build a Bridge

Ancient arch bridge

Committed relationships are about two people connecting, forging a life together, and interchanging thoughts, feelings, and intimacy on a regular basis. While initial love might feel like it “just happened,” over time both partners can start feeling disconnected if they don’t take steps to fuel the love. All too often, we mistakenly think that the love will last on its own, and that it will carry us as a couple. But really, it’s through continually working for connection that we deliberately carry ourselves through. Long-term love means taking action to connect.

There is much to keep individuals busy in the modern world, which can negatively impact the connectedness of a couple. Work, social, and family responsibilities can take their toll on our schedule such that our days might have little room for downtime. Especially with the advent of internet, and individual smart phones and tablets, each partner can easily retreat into his or her own world at any time. This can take its toll on a relationship over time. Relationships need attention, too.

Couples who are feeling disconnected from each other often equate the disconnectedness with feeling misunderstood. For example, they’ll say they can’t remember the last time they had a real conversation. Some couples are only sparsely intimate, while some have ceased intimacy altogether. They are silently lonely for their partner, and their lack of communication can lead to a full breakdown of the marriage. Left unchecked, feeling disconnected can transform into a sort of benign neglect, even leading to an air of apathy. We end up living a dichotomy because we want the connection, yet we don’t do anything to keep it up, nor regain it if it’s lost.

Thankfully, there are ways to stay connected in the first place, and return to connectedness if one is feeling disconnected. Here are three main ways to bridge the gaps of disconnect.

1. Building a Bridge. Think of your connection like a bridge between you and your partner. Building the bridge is easy at the beginning of the relationship – we want to be with our partner, and together we feel invincible. We love seeing how our partner does things, how they think, how they feel. We build that bridge and we stay on the bridge together easily. We actually prefer being on that bridge than we do on our own shores, alone. Like a bridge that supports safe passage between two shores, our connection makes us feel supported and unafraid. The bridge is strong, the bridge is safe, and the bridge is fun.

As time passes, we recognize that we can’t be on the bridge all the time as there are responsibilities we have to take care of on our own shores. So we learn that the bridge is always there, but we can’t stay on 24/7. That’s ok though, because we have built the bridge to be solid and we can walk out on it anytime. But if the tasks of our shores become too engaging, or we forget to walk out on the bridge now and then, or we start to doubt the safety of the bridge, the bridge starts to show signs of neglect, losing its integrity, even becoming scary for some.

2. Reinforcing the Bridge. In order to keep the bridge strong, we need to remember to do things in order to reinforce it. For example, we can fuel the intimacy in our relationship regularly in order to ensure we are in line with each other physically, mentally, and emotionally. When we are too focused on how our relationship isn’t meeting our needs, we risk missing our role in it. To be connected, we have to be on the bridge. Connection can’t happen by our partner doing all the work to come to our shores. Avoiding the bridge is avoiding connection.

One way to jumpstart a connection is to reinforce the bridge. Ask yourself what you can give to your partner, or to the relationship. Specifically, ask: “What can I do today to reinforce our connection bridge?All too often, we feel disconnected because we’ve become complacent in giving to our partner, and instead expect them to provide for our own needs. To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, ask not what yourpartner can do for you, ask what you can do for your partner. In the end, this giving is an investment, because by giving, you will both feel more connected to each other.

Direction Communication

Practice Empathy

3. Getting on the Bridge Every Day. In order to feel close to our partner, we need to walk out on the bridge every day, and one of the best ways to get on the bridge is to practice good communication skills, and empathy in particular. Empathy is the experience of being able to put oneself in another’s shoes to the point where one can truly understand, and even feel, what another is feeling. Empathy occurs when you allow yourself to appreciate what your partner feels and why they feel that way to the point where you “get it.” Expressing this understanding to your partner allows them to feel understood, and builds a sense of connection. Empathy takes time to master, but with practice can easily become a habit.

Once you’re in a rhythm of feeling empathic to your partner, and understood through their empathy, you are on the bridge. Sometimes one of you retreats backward, or you both do. But no matter what, you keep getting back on the bridge, navigating interconnectedly about when and how to make the move toward each other. This is your connection bridge, where you inherently feel a kind of magnetic pull no matter where you are on the bridge. If your relationship is already at the point of feeling disconnected, then there’s one solution: Move in closer until you meet in unison, and feel that connection.

When we are feeling disconnected in our relationships, it helps to take stock and figure out how to implement actions to get back on track. Think of your connection as a bridge that needs active construction and reinforcement, with regularly-scheduled strolls to converse and just be together on this bridge. By staying on the same connectedness bridge, practicing empathy, and choosing to give to our partners rather than just take, we carve the way for long lasting love.

 

For more help with relationships and anxiety, check out my new book, Hack Your Anxiety:Making Anxiety Work for You In Life, Love, and All That You Do (debuted as #1 Amazon New Release), register for my free mini-ecourse by signing up for book bonuses, or check-out my anxiety and relationships blog.

Alicia H. Clark, PsyD

4 Comments

  1. Kendra Thompson on March 9, 2015 at 2:05 am

    This article made me understand the importance of communication as well as balance. It also made me fully understand that it’s a way to fix it.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on March 9, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      Thanks for your comment – I’m so glad you found it helpful.

  2. Saloni on October 23, 2017 at 6:40 am

    Great tips to help rebuild connection. It’s the simple things that usually have the biggest impact.

    • Alicia H. Clark, PsyD on October 23, 2017 at 9:36 pm

      So glad the post resonated for you. Yes, I agree the simple things are sometimes the most powerful!

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