Handling Emotional Distance in Your Relationship

A new friend of mine recently confided in me that his fiancé no longer wants to be intimate with him. Her behavior changed shortly after they had their first child – eight months ago. As someone who deeply loves this woman, he only wants her to be happy but is at a loss for what to do. Women process their emotions on a deeper level than men do.

Brewing insecurities and emotional distance are the result of other underlying issues that we may not be willing or able to talk about. Instead of becoming frustrating and explosive in your relationship, take these four steps to handle the emotional distance.

1- Acts of Kindness

Emotional distance can come from something as basic as feeling overwhelmed with everything in life. Small acts of kindness can go a long way in showing your partner that you are there for them and want to help. Wash the dishes. Plan a special evening. Give her a gift certificate to do something for herself (like a massage). She might not notice at first, but as you continue to do these little things, she will.

2- Be There

One of the hardest things for women to see is how a man is really there for them. When emotional turmoil occurs, it is a natural reaction to pull away so that she doesn’t project her insecurities onto you. Women fear that a man will run in the face of emotional distance instead of being there for her. So, be there! Remind her daily that you are there for her. That you are ready to listen when she is ready to talk.

3- Encourage Communication

This friend of mine said that he has tried to talk to his fiancé about the emotional distance with hopes of learning what is going on with her. Every time he brings up the subject, she shuts down. For him, this is frustrating and difficult to deal with.

The situation reminds me of a scene in Private Practice where Dr. Montgomery was overwhelmingly upset about the sudden death of a long-time friend. Her boyfriend didn’t know what to do, and she wouldn’t talk to him. He became frustrated to the point of ultimatum, at which time she finally confessed that she once loved this person. And when she loved him, she had an affair on her husband. Her fear was that by telling her boyfriend this information, he would stop looking at her through the adoring rose-colored glasses that he wore.

If you are unable to get your partner to open up to you, then encourage them to talk to someone. Whether it be a friend, a priest, or seeking counseling. For emotional distance to go away, the root of the problem has to be addressed and resolved.

4- Show Her Value

During times of overwhelming emotional stress, women often get caught up in their own minds. It becomes easier to focus on one role – for example, being a parent – than attempting to juggle all of the hats that she wears. Remind her that you love her. You appreciate everything that she does. Let her see that you value her as a person and as a partner. The more you do, the more she will believe it, and the sooner those emotional insecurities will wash away.