November 16th, 2020

Why does my partner seem to find it easier to be apart than I do?

By Dan Whale

  • Adjustment Disorder
  • Couple Work
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Self-esteem

A second lockdown has meant that many couples will now face spending another extended period apart. Being away from loved ones can impact our mental health; we may notice more unpleasant feelings such as loneliness, sadness and boredom and some of us may experience more severe psychological distress such as depression and anxiety.

This struggle is only made harder if it seems that our partner is able to tolerate this distance far easier than ourselves; they may even seem to be enjoying their time away from us. Naturally, this can lead us to questioning whether they feel for us in the way that we feel for them. If you’re finding yourself having these worries about your relationship during lockdown, take a look at these pointers below from our relationship experts.

Can we really tell how another person is thinking and feeling?

The most important word in the headline of this blog is ‘seem’. It’s important to remember that people handle change differently and exhibit how they’re feeling in a range of ways. Whilst a partner may seem to be thriving, it doesn’t mean that they’re not also dealing with some challenging moments.

This can still feel unsatisfying when in a relationship, as you may think: ‘but why are they not sharing that side of themselves with me? I’m being completely open’. In reality it can be a little more complicated than that. They may be not just convincing you that they’re completely fine, but themselves. For some it’s easier to behave as if everything’s normal than open up about finding things difficult (despite that often being the healthier option) and wait for the storm to pass. They may not know how to raise the subject of emotions and finding things hard. They may even be trying to protect you from their stress and struggles.

Accepting distance doesn’t mean enjoying it

When we miss someone and our mood is low, it can make it harder for us to do other things. Therefore, if our partner is seemingly busy and active - exercising, learning a new skill and cooking regular healthy meals, we may start to wonder if they’re missing us at all.

Really, we’re looking at it the wrong way. They may well be doing these things precisely because they are missing us. They have just chosen to throw themselves into the fact that they’re apart from us to try and improve their mood. This may also be a reason they are not as affectionate as we might like in terms of calls and messages. Not because they’re finding this easy, but because having contact is a painful reminder that they can’t see us more often.

Making life easier on yourself

If bearing these factors in mind still isn’t giving you much joy, there are things you can do to make the experience easier on yourself.

Look after your own needs

It’s easily done in lockdown but try not to let the days just pass you by. If you can, plan out when you’re going to relax, when you’re going to have a chat with someone and when you’re going to spend some time outdoors.

This advice is often given out by doctors and therapists and that’s because it really can help your mood and it gives you a good structure to build on.

Reflect on what you like and miss about your partner

Instead of spending time on wondering why they don’t appear to be missing you in the same way, think about what it is you’re missing. Take some time to appreciate what you like about your partner and commit to fostering and appreciating those things going forwards.

Avoid drawing big conclusions

These are strange times and despite us having experienced one lockdown, there is no template for how to act in this period. No one knows what’s normal and what isn’t.

If your partner isn’t behaving quite as you would have expected, that’s not particularly surprising, and it’s probably best to avoid drawing conclusions about your relationship based on what is happening right now.

Communication is always key

Try to express how you feel to your partner in a non-critical way. If you need some help in getting you through lockdown your partner is probably going to want to help you. Try using assertive communication tools which help you communicate your wants and needs in a way that won’t leave your partner feeling criticised and can’t just dismiss.

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Ultimately, try not to be too hard on your partner or yourself. These are testing times, but that doesn’t mean you have to accept feeling bad. Do what you can to look after yourself and be clear with your partner as to how they can help. Your relationship may well come out of lockdown stronger for it.

smiling woman in front of a blue wall

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