Updated: January 29, 2023
Although men often manage emotional intensity by seeking distance, the distant partner in your relationship may be the woman. The same advice holds no matter who is the “distancer.”
1. Don’t Take it Personally.
You may be married to a private guy who doesn’t want to debrief after every dinner party or talk in detail about the symptoms of his stomach flu. If you can see your partner’s need for privacy and space less personally, you’ll be able to calmly invite more connection rather than anxiously or angrily demand it.
2. Call Off the Pursuit.
When we’re upset by a partner’s unavailability we may automatically go into “pursuit mode,” which only makes the problem worse. If you chase a distancer, he will distance more. Consider it a law of physics.
3. Lower Your Intensity.
Getting out of pursuit mode may mean ratcheting down your level of intensity, which includes loud, fast-paced speech, interrupting, talking too much and offering help, or giving advice that isn’t asked for. It’s not that anything is wrong with you or your personality.
4. Give Him Space.
If you’re in the habit of hovering or giving advice when he’s preparing dinner, folding laundry, or putting the kids to sleep, go to a different room where you can’t observe what he’s doing. Don’t text or call him unless you need to. Remember that distancers open up most freely when they aren’t being pursued or criticized by their partner.
5. Try Out a New You!
If you know you’re going to be pressing your partner for conversation if you stay home, go out with a friend. If you’re at the movies and you feel angry that he’s not taking your hand or acknowledging your presence, talk only about the film when you leave the theater, not about your hurt feelings.
6. Warm Your Partner’s Heart.
Calling off the pursuit doesn’t mean distancing yourself or going into a cold withdrawal. Do the special things that you know will make him feel valued and special.
7. Be the One to Change First.
Even the best marriages will get stuck in too much distance or too much intensity. Rather than staying on automatic pilot (that is, doing what you do naturally) be the one to change first.
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