What does it feel like being in your relationship right now?
Do you feel alone and disconnected, perhaps stuck as you are forced to spend more time together under the same roof.
Perhaps previously you and your partner gradually developed quite separate lies and the lockdown and social distancing rules have forced you to be more in the same space.
Perhaps this time has highlighted some key difficulties in your relationship. You may say it’s a difficulty to communicate but it probably goes much further than this. I developed this Relationship checklist for you to get insight into your relationship.
If any of the things listed above resonated with you, this post hopefully helps you to understand what might be going on right now in your relationship. If you are looking to transform your relationship in the future. I am developing a relationship e-course and you can find more details about it here.
How the social distancing and lockdown rules can trigger anxiety and even anger in relationships:
All the talk about social distancing can trigger anxiety and stress in us. Evolutionally humans have survived by being social and we have a deep inbuilt need for connection. We are hardwired for connection but we also have a protective mechanism in form of the smoke detector of the brain (amygdala) seeking sources of danger at all times.
The recommendation for social distancing can feed this fear of others and particularly if we have had bad experiences in the past with other people (in form of e.g. childhood trauma, or other forms of difficult experiences). Your body will remember all of your experiences. Now a friend can start to feel like a foe. Even our partner can feel like a source of threat, particularly if you are feeling distant and disconnected already.
If you are feeling alarmed by the state of the world right now and potentially have other worries in your life, this may have a significant impact on your relationship. You may be irritated, withdraw or even seek connection in ways that are not directly communicating your need for more connection, such as constantly complaining to your partner.
This is the time when you probably would want the most support from your relationship with your partner but it may feel really difficult to turn to them for support. There may be too many barriers as you have gradually grown apart.
Being alone in your relationship is the biggest pain
When you went into the relationship, you had all these hopes about it and your future together. The social distancing rules may have suddenly made you are aware of the loneliness you feel as your other social contacts may be limited. Being in the company and feeling disconnected is excruciating. Perhaps you have been looking for answers from different sources. You may numb yourself to the pain and shut down or perhaps you are seeking connection elsewhere. I have previously written about the impact of early relationships on adult relationships.
How can you transform your relationship?
The first step is to assess what is going on in your relationship? You can use this tool Relationship checklist for it. I have also written about the steps of transforming your relationship here.
Start to notice patterns in your relationship and what particularly triggers you. The better you understand the patterns the easier to start changing them. Also notice when you are triggered, what that feels like in your body and develop ways to self-soothe. Then you are not reacting from a place of activation. You can always communicate to your partner that you need some time to reflect and you will come back to the topic. It is essential to say that you will come back and then keep your promise.
If you are interested in learning more, I will have a relationship skills e-course – From isolation to a loving connection – coming soon. You can now sign up to the waiting list to be first notified when it is available.
It is a very hard time in so many ways. Please be kind to yourself and practice also compassion with your partner. I hope you found this useful. Check out the Relationship checklist here.