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When You Want Connection and Your Partner Needs Space

Written on November 17th

November 2016

If you are either wanting more space OR more connection in your relationship, you’re in the right place.

connection and space

In our counseling practice, we regularly hear from couples who feel stuck in a conflict of one person wanting more space and the other craving more connection. While it’s rare for partners to desire the exact same amount of closeness, when the roles of Pursuer and Distancer become increasingly polarized, it can create serious issues. In contrast, when there is a HEALTHY balance between togetherness and separateness, you get to be best friends AND passionate lovers!

First, let’s look at what happens when there is too much space.

An imbalanced amount of distance creates an environment for people to grow apart, to feel unsafe, unwanted, or unloved, for affairs to ripen, and for feelings of resentment, hurt, insecurity, anxiousness, and frustration to fester.

Too much space leads to emotional disconnection — and, with this, joy, intimacy, and passion all start to fade.

If there is too much distance in your relationship, your spouse may feel like a stranger, a housemate, a business partner, or simply a co-parent. You may worry you aren’t your beloved’s top priority anymore or that they’ve fallen out of love with you.

Perhaps you both start to give up and resign yourselves to this being “as good as it gets.” Maybe you lose the motivation to try when you don’t see your partner investing in your relationship either.

When there is too much space, you also lose resilience in your relationship, little annoyances can quickly become big stressors, you more easily take things personally, and you can quickly become adversaries (rather than allies) when the going gets tough.

The partner craving more closeness may become very insecure, triggering their fears and bringing out their worst. In fact, when one partner is seen as “needy” or “clingy,” it may very well be a sign that there is too much space, not too much closeness (although the reverse can also be true).

If there’s too much space, you’re probably missing out on the beauty of your love’s potential and on the very reason most of us humans enter into partnership: to deeply share life with another person, to truly know and be known. And this is such a loss and can also be really painful.

Let’s explore what happens when there is too much CLOSENESS.

Enmeshed couples often feel like they’ve lost the ability to take complete responsibility for their own emotional state and optimal well-being and look to their partner to fix things about their own life. Couples who are too close may find themselves stuck in cycles of blame and victimization.

When there isn’t enough space, one partner may feel controlled or suffocated, and, as a result, they may distance themselves in unhealthy ways just to feel as though they aren’t losing themselves.

Sometimes, a sign of there not being enough space is when at least one partner loses the ability to discern their likes and dislikes as an individual.

If you and your partner spend lots of time together and bicker and nag when you do, some healthy space might also be just the thing you need to come back to center and reignite a desire to be close.

Ultimately, if you are the one craving or needing more space and don’t have it, you may unconsciously create space by provoking conflict or doing something dysfunctional just to get the space you crave. This isn’t fun for either of you!

What’s possible when space and closeness are balanced!

When there is a HEALTHY and balanced amount of closeness and space in your relationship, you both get to be your whole selves. You both stay connected to your unique thoughts, feelings, desires, and dreams and feel accepted for them.

You have enough space to achieve your potential at work, in your social life, with your health, and so on. You have the space to miss and desire each other but not too much to provoke estrangement. You spend time apart doing things that bring you back renewed and in ways that enrich your time together. You are excited to reunite with each other.

You feel deeply connected but don’t need to be with your partner to feel fulfilled within yourself. There is romance and passion. You are best friends and lovers. You feel both safety and aliveness. You are deeply connected to your SELF and your beloved.

And here are some tips to get there!

If there’s not enough space in your relationship, start exploring meaningful interests on your own that you can get excited about, reach out to friends, think about how you’d like to be growing as an individual, have a conversation with your beloved about what your dreams are, volunteer, or get started with a spiritual practice. Begin taking immediate action on these things, and support one another.

If there’s too much space in your relationship, its time to recommit to making your beloved your top priority. If you want to be happy, investing in your relationship is invaluable and essential. When you and your beloved know how important you are to each other, you’ll both feel inspired to give each other your best and to not hold back. That’s when life gets really good. Make time every single day to connect, be present with each other, talk about things other than logistics, have weekly dates, express appreciation, go on trips and get away together.

When you live in this dance of togetherness and space, the spark of passion and connection in your relationship will be something you can both delight in and rely on!

We warmly welcome you to be in touch with us if we can help you find the perfect balance of closeness and space in your own relationship (or with any other issue that keeps you from experiencing a wildly fulfilling relationship). Be sure to visit this page to learn about counseling and coaching services we offer anywhere in the world!

Infinite Love and Joy,
Christine and Bret


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