Feeling distant from your partner can happen to anyone. Understanding the contributing factors and opening up a conversation can help you feel more connected.

Various factors can cause you to feel further away from your partner; it can also signal that your relationship has moved into a space that’s negatively affecting both of you individually and your relationship.

The distance can make you feel lonely and question the future of your relationship. Whether you’re in a new relationship or have been with someone a long time, there are ways you can approach conversations with your significant other when you aren’t feeling connected.

Lack of trust may lead to feeling distant from your partner, especially if you previously had trust for them and lost confidence in them.

Losing trust could come from not abiding by agreed rules for the relationship, such as infidelity, or it could be that your partner has suddenly been less open than you.

A 2020 study examining the concept of trust through cellphone snooping behavior suggests that lack of trust leads to emotional instability, conflict, and the intent to break up in romantic relationships.

Trusting your partner is essential for a sense of safety in relationships. If you don’t feel like you can regain trust, it may be time to consider moving on from the relationship.

If one person in a romantic relationship has a mental health condition, this could cause distance in the relationship.

In a 2019 study involving 10 individuals who had a partner with a mental health disorder, researchers found four themes when observing how coping with a partner who has a mental health condition affects relationships:

  • a change in social roles within the relationship
  • emotional upheaval
  • interpersonal distance
  • changed relationship with self

If you or your partner has a mental health disorder, this does not necessarily indicate the end of your relationship. Trying to adopt coping strategies that are positive and supportive may help you feel more connected.

We live in a world where a variety of things can be distractions. For example, going out to dinner but scrolling on your cellphone instead of talking with your partner can be a missed opportunity for connection.

Mindfulness and conscious attention to the here and now can help improve communication in your relationships and your overall well-being.

Long-distance relationships present unique challenges. If you’re in this type of relationship, physical and sexual intimacy may be less common.

Long-distance relationships may also cause relationship uncertainty and feelings of loneliness, according to research from 2017.

It may be challenging to be apart from your partner for long periods without an in-person connection, but that doesn’t automatically mean long-distance relationships are negative situations with negative outcomes.

You may need to find creative and unique ways to connect with your partner. This may look different than couples who live together or are closer to each other.

Having different schedules can be hectic and take a toll on your time together.

For example, if you work nights and your partner works the day shift, it could be difficult to find those right moments for quality time together because of your sleep schedules.

If you have different work schedules, intentionally carving out quality time together can provide moments to connect.

Most people may think of intimacy as sex, but intimacy also involves feelings of openness, connectedness, and vulnerability with your partner. Sex can be part of intimacy but so can being emotionally connected with your partner.

Sharing your feelings and thoughts without judgment is part of intimacy as well. Without some level of intimacy with your partner, you may likely feel distant.

Any violence or abuse in a relationship will likely leave you feeling distant from your partner. Violent and abusive behavior isn’t conducive to a trusting, open, or positive relationship.

If you’re in this type of relationship, you may likely avoid your partner at all costs out of fear and for safety reasons. If you’re in an abusive situation, consider seeking professional help and support.

If you or someone you know are experiencing controlling behavior or domestic violence, you can:

If you feel distant from your partner, you may choose to approach them and find a solution. Here are a few suggestions to consider:

Seek couples counseling

Couples counseling can help you learn how to reduce conflict, increase overall relationship satisfaction, and communicate more effectively.

A couples therapist can identify and discuss patterns in your communication styles and help you work to develop new positive and supportive ways of communicating.

Be aware of the four horsemen

Famous couples expert Dr. John Gottman outlined the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. These are signs that your relationship may be headed down a path toward a negative outcome, which can mean it’s time to seek professional help.

The four horsemen of the apocalypse are:

  • criticism
  • contempt
  • defensiveness
  • stonewalling

Dr. Gottman outlines antidotes that you might consider practicing that can help you in making changes to communication patterns.

These antidotes are:

  • using a gentle start-up
  • building a culture of appreciation
  • taking responsibility
  • physiological self-soothing

For more about the four horsemen, check out this informative graphic on the horsemen and their antidotes from the Gottman Institute.

Reconnect after speaking

Having difficult conversations may bring up challenging emotions and leave you vulnerable. At times you may need to separate from one another to bring attention to how you feel.

If you can find a way to reconnect with your partner after having a tough conversation, this may help ease some of the situation’s intensity.

How to cope after a breakup

If you ultimately decide to end the relationship, this may leave you feeling overwhelmed and lonely. Learning ways to take care of yourself can be helpful.

To take care of yourself, you might consider some or all of the following actions:

  • engaging in hobbies or activities you find pleasurable
  • seeing a therapist
  • talking with supportive people in your life
  • making a safety plan if you’re in a dangerous or violent situation
  • following a routine

Feeling disconnected from your partner may be caused by a variety of factors. You might consider engaging in open and honest conversation about the problems you face in your relationship to help you feel closer to your partner.

If you’re in an unsafe situation, consider making a safety plan and using resources such as the domestic violence hotline or seek help from a mental health professional.