“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity” ~ Simone Weil
We all have those moments in relationships. One minute you feel like the most important person in the world, then next minute you feel invisible. Usually when we feel invisible, we feel unimportant. Something has taken our place. Something has distracted our partner from us and we no longer experience them in a way that we once did. This can cause a massive disconnect within a relationship. It is important to ask yourself how you may be contributing to this and see what may or may not come up for you. Either way, it is terrifying and highly unsettling to go from one place to the other, but somehow you ride the waves hoping that one day the water will settle long enough for you to reach shore.
At times, we have to make the decision to let go, which may be incredibly difficult at the time, but it opens us up to a more fulfilling life, if we let it. However, before getting to the place of paddling viciously back to shore, there are several things that you can dive into a little deeper to ensure that you are doing your part to foster a healthier and more meaningful connection. That being said, if you are not doing them, and have no desire to, then perhaps this is enough information for you that you are possibly not in a connected and loving relationship and may want to do more work around letting go and moving forward.
If you have a genuine connection with your partner, but feel you may be losing him/her or you are experiencing some oscillations, take a look at the following points to see where potential growth and development is possible.
1. Awareness – Notice the ways in which your partner is trying to connect with you and acknowledge them. Let them know that you are aware of the ways in which they are trying to connect. This will go a long way.
2. Small acts of kindness – Generosity can create a lot of happiness in another person’s life. Being generous with your partner allows you to stay attuned to what really gets them excited. This does not have to come with a high price tag, but simply something to let your partner know that you were thinking about them. Generosity is a natural mood booster and brings with it a lot of feel good feelings and closeness within the relationship.
3. Foster security within your relationship – Sometimes, we can focus too inward when we are in a relationship. “How am I feeling”, “What am I getting out of this”, “Which of my needs are not being met”, etc. Failing to see things from the other person’s perspective can lead to many relational challenges, such as; breakdowns in communication or a lack of empathy and understanding. Instead of focusing on ourselves, we should try to think of ways we could be more outwardly loving. Make your partner a priority, not an option.
4. Ask, don’t assume – Making assumptions can get us into a lot of trouble. Instead of making assumptions about what may be going on, learn how to ask questions. Assuming you know what your partner is thinking or feeling can be dangerous territory and puts you at risk for a missed opportunity, detachment and/or disconnect.
5. Receptivity – Being aware is really important, but so is being receptive to connection. Being aware but not receptive is counterproductive and very unhealthy. It can also lead to the breakdown of a relationship over time.
6. Appreciation – Appreciation is key when we want to reinforce someone’s attempts to get closer and foster a connection with us. This is about acknowledging the little things that your partner may do for you and providing them with positive reinforcement and validation.
7. Be present and engaged – If and when we are distracted or not present, we push away any attempt that our partner may be making to connect. While it may only feel like you are pushing your partner away in the moment, you are also blocking the potential for future connection. Seek to also understand why your partner is not present and share how this may be impacting you.
8. Take risks and be vulnerable – This is probably one of the hardest things to do, especially with someone you genuinely care about as there is great risk at stake here. Being willing to experience our feelings and be vulnerable within them in the presence of another can be one of the most connecting and trust building experiences (when received in a healthy way of course). While it may be instinctual to want to put up our protective barrier when we feel threatened, when we practice being resilient, we actually allow ourselves to stay open and when we are open we can experience and feel more love and connection. If instead, your protect yourself by giving into your fears, you will end up feeling much lonelier and disconnected as a result. Being vulnerable allows us to experience a deeper level of love and joy.
9. Reciprocity – Instead of waiting for the perfect moment or time to say something or do something for your partner, do it when you are feeling it. Sometimes we wait for someone else to do or say something first before we do or say something in return. What if you just did what you felt like doing in the moment? Giving your partner your attention can really help to nurture the relationship – this never needs to saved for the perfect moment.
10. Inner work – This involves doing the hard work. Sometimes we are constantly looking for ways to fix our partner or make them more suitable for who we are and what we may need, when instead we need to focus inward and learn how to separate what is our own “stuff” and our own inner workings.
Instead of focusing solely on what is not working in your relationship, learn how to focus on what is right. Many relationships end because people start to hyper focus on the negative and opposed to the positives. Learn to pay closer attention to how you are responding, feeling, and behaving within the relationship and try to understand what this may be saying about you, as opposed to what may be wrong within the relationship.
It is true that not all relationships can be repaired, nor should they be in some cases. However, there are some that are worth diving into and worth the risk. In the process not only do you foster a healthier and more meaningful relationship, but you grow and develop as a person.