A common complaint in relationships is partners feeling disconnected from each other. I hear this as one of the primary concerns couples present with in my practice, aside from fighting a lot and not communicating. As a couple is composed of two different individuals who have different histories, upbringings, personalities, ways of looking at things and processing information, styles of communication and many other individual characteristics, it is easy to get disconnected. This gets even further compounded with current dynamics and contexts if an effort to stay connected is not made.
As partners are different from each other in all these areas, it comes as no surprise that they are different in what they need to feel connected and to connect as well. I have come across three different styles of connecting: ACTIVE (doing)- The partner wants to do fun activities, projects, or other endeavors together. They look to feel like a partnership, a unit, or a team. They seek to have a common sense of purpose, a shared destination. They want approaches, goals, tasks spelled out. These partners are on the go and are busy.
PASSIVE (being)– The passive partner enjoys being around the other regardless of whether they interact. They can sit together doing individual activities or a joint one that does not require interaction (i.e., watching T.V.). They feel connected as long as they are physically close to one another. I’ve even heard this type of partner feeling connected by just carrying the thought of the other with them.
EXPRESSIVE (talking) – These types of partners need to explore and share feelings and thoughts. They need to analyze and process their interactions, relationship, vision, needs, wishes, etc. These partners are very emotionally expressive and usually very verbal. Issues, concerns or ideas need to get discussed.
What I often see happening with couples is that the partners have different connecting needs and styles and are not really aware of it or have not figured out how to work out this kink. When partners remain entrenched in their different styles they have difficulties connecting, meeting each other’s needs,getting on the same page, achieving joint goals, and feeling satisfied in the relationship. These partners also have a hard time being more intimate both emotionally and physically as they constantly miss each other.
The task of the partners, to ensure this kink does not cause havoc in their relationship and future together, is to first become aware that they have different styles of connecting, and different needs, and then to try connecting in their partner’s style and meeting their partner’s needs.
As I’ve written before, one partner always needs to start first taking responsibility for changing the status quo (or situation at hand) and getting things moving in a better direction. If both partners continue to wait for the other to start making changes, they’ll be both waiting a long time.
Once, the ball starts rolling, it picks up momentum: the other partner follows suit. Believe me it is true. I’ve seen this happen more often than not. Granted, the other partner might need some guidance, but because they are being showed love and interest they are willing to learn and stretch themselves. Give it a try and watch your bond flourish!
~ Your MetroRelationship™ Assignment
Think on your connecting styles and identify how these promote your missing each other. Come up with specific examples for when you appeared to be out of sync. Approach your partner with this understanding and have a discussion about how to take turns using each of your styles, incorporating a new one, or in some other way compromising, so that you do get to connect and have your needs met.