Do you remember when you and your partner were getting to know each other?
I bet that, when you think back to those early times of your love, you remember what you did together: perhaps you both liked the same music and went to concerts together; or you liked the theater, and went to many plays; or you had meals at favorite spots, or you cycled, hiked, walked, worked out together, sailed or went out for happy hour and these turned into whole evenings of conversation and fun.
Whatever you did, you did things together. Doing so allowed you to deepen your knowledge of each other, mostly noticing and emphasizing the similarities and ignoring or minimizing the differences between the two of you. This process greatly contributed to the development of an emotional bond between you two that grew deeper as you continued to come up with ideas of doing things you both liked, and enjoying the experiences of engaging in activities together.
Fast forward to now: what have you and your partner been doing together lately?
Chances are you both have been so busy that you may not have had much time to do things together; assuming other priorities came first for one, the other or for both of you, and no longer being sure that what you liked to do your partner would like as well. In fact, you may be convinced that your partner has changed since those early days. While you see yourself as having stayed basically the same, your partner in your view is like another person. You no longer can guess what he or she likes or doesn’t. And, actually, it looks to you like your partner is moving further and further away from you and who the two of you used to be in those early times together. It almost feels like your partner is doing this progressive distancing on purpose, to upset you, or to give you the message that he no longer sees you as the attractive, intelligent and fun person you used to be in his or her eyes. He or she doesn’t seem to be making any effort, these days, to let you know how much you are valued, appreciated and loved… so what’s left?
Let me offer an alternative view to yours, that your partner no longer loves you because he or she has changed so much that the two of you no longer share much anymore.
Is it possible that your partner may be exactly in the same situation you find yourself in. Perhaps he or she is convinced YOU are no longer interested in the relationship; YOU have changed and are now a different. Do you know that this is actually what often transpires when couples go to couple counseling, each partner stating that his or her position is based on what he or she thinks is going on with the other partner?
Of course, in such a situation neither partner can get their needs met, as each feels insecure about the relationship and the other partner’s feelings.
What is there to do? Invite your partner to go for a walk with you; send him/her a text in the middle of the day, with a suggestion about setting up a date for a movie, or a dinner out to one of your favorite places. When you reach out to your partner with openness, love and interest, an invitation can go a long way toward beginning to heal the rift and web of miscommunications and fears that enwrap your relationship like a spider web preventing your relationship to grow and expand. Be the first one to reach out: you will be surprised by what you might discover!
Daniela Roher, Ph.D. has been a psychotherapist for nearly forty years in a career that has spanned three countries in two continents. Dr. Roher’s passion for her work stems from a deep interest in human interactions and connections and keeps her at the forefront of the new science of relationships. She continuously studies and applies treatment models that best help couples identify, understand, address and resolve interpersonal issues, in order to bring intimacy and deeper connection back into their love relationships.
Born in Italy, Dr. Roher attended the Universities of Torino in Italy, Cambridge in England, Wayne State University in the US and the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. The experiences she gained from her studies in different countries nurtured her discipline and love of knowledge and her appreciation of the many ways in which different cultures affect and shape the human mind. From her many years of studying and practicing as a psychoanalytic psychotherapist, she brings an ever deepening understanding of the human journey, with all its challenges and rewards.
Dr. Roher lives in Arizona where she has a private psychotherapy practice counseling individuals and couples. When not in her office, her love for the desert keeps her outdoors, not wanting to miss any opportunity to be in touch with nature and observe the miracles that constantly unfold. She is also an avid blogger on various psychological topics, with a special focus on couples’ areas of conflict.