I recently wrote this for an Instagram post:
- When you feel disconnected from your partner...
- Remember the feeling of disconnection is a reflection of your state of mind.
- Even if your partner is distant, you can still feel close to them in your own heart.
- Understanding this makes it easier not to take your partner's behavior personally.
- When disconnection isn't taken personally, it is easier to respond versus react.
- There is a greater capacity for compassion for your partner,
- And empathy and willingness to look for how you can help.
- Also, there may be nothing to do other than wait for the feelings of disconnection to pass.
- It is a temporary state.
- It doesn't mean anything about your relationship.
Sometimes this short form way of expression cuts to the chase in a satisfying way, but when I received this question:
“Agreed but very confusing, being disconnected constantly has nothing to do with the relationship?”
I knew I need more space than a social media comment to clarify.
My main point in this post was that our internal experience doesn’t come from outside of us. Feeling disconnected, therefore, is a reflection of our own state of mind rather than caused by what is going on in our relationship. It is a reflection of our mood. In a low mood I might feel disconnected, and in the same circumstance or situation in a good mood I feel fine.
This point is so important to me because of the empowerment I have experienced recognizing that my internal feeling state is a reflection of the thinking I am identifying with in my own consciousness and not connected to what is going on outside of me.
This is empowering because it means I know how to take care of myself no matter how I am feeling, and I can take care of myself independent of what is going on in my relationship or life in general.
For me, if I am feeling disconnected from my partner Angus, that is a reflection of my state of mind and it doesn’t have anything to do with what he is or isn’t doing in our relationship.
This is something I am familiar with because Angus likes his alone time and he needs space. He also often enjoys being together without actually engaging with each other such as watching a show together or being in the same room while doing things independently.
Earlier in our relationship, I would feel like I needed more connection and intimacy from him. He would often adjust what worked for him because it was so important to me for us to connect, but this would often result in the building up of resentment on his part that would eventually end up in a blowup. Then there would be hurt feelings and emotional distance to deal with until things settled.
What I didn’t see at the time was that I was trying to manage my low mood through connection with him. And eventhough he was sometimes a willing party in this, it never worked. It wasn't good for him or me.
When I finally saw that my feelings of disconnection were coming from inside of me, and recognized they were a reflection of my state of mind and not telling me anything about our relationship, I was then able to take better care of myself. Rather than going to Angus to try and feel better, I knew that I needed to take care of myself.
My feeling of disconnection was a signal that I needed to settle my own nervous system.
Once I was settled and feeling myself again, the same circumstances could be happening in our relationship, and I would no longer be feeling disconnected because ultimately when I was suffering with the feelings of disconnection, I was suffering from the experience of feeling disconnected from myself.
Now Angus and I did have some practical things to figure out in our relationship. But there was much less to work out logistically than I thought. Even though there were times when I felt that if I never sought connection from Angus he would be happy living in his world and would never think to connect with me that was never accurate. That was another example of my low mood talking to me because when I am genuinely happy and content with life, Angus naturally seeks me out and enjoys the time we spend connecting.
The issue we had was that I would try to manage my feelings of loneliness and sadness through connection with him.
What turned things around for me was seeing that my internal sense of well-being had nothing to do with Angus. It didn’t even require that he be nice to me all the time. Even if he was having a bad moment and being unkind to me, he couldn’t take my well-being away. I am not advocating for him being unkind to me, and I have probably been more unkind to him in our relationship overall, but what was liberating was seeing how my experience was not determined by Angus or his behavior. My well-being lies within and cannot taken away from me by anyone or anything. Again, I'm not saying that I am at a level of enlightenment where I won't lose my peace of mind. I do, but I know what the source of that is.
The only way I can lose touch with my inner peace is when my mind gets caught up in painful thoughts and I forget who I am. Then I temporarily lose touch with the inner peace and well-being that resides within me, and have the painful experience of feeling separate and alone. This has nothing to do with Angus or my life circumstances. It is all happening in my mind. That realization was hugely freeing for me and empowering.
And rather than our relationship getting worse when I realized this it got better.
When I no longer put the pressure of my happiness on Angus’s shoulders, he was free to be himself. In that context, we found more and more ways to connect and enjoy each other’s company.
When I finally no longer needed more connection with Angus to make me happy and satisfied in our relationship, all of a sudden the connection kept deepening.
So when I say, "When you feel disconnected from your partner...It doesn't mean anything about your relationship."
What I am referring to is that our inner experience is always a reflection of our own state of mind and the thoughts we are believing in that moment. So there is no point in looking to the relationship for solving the feeling of being disconnected. We can't solve the experience of disconnection. We can allow ourselves to be with the experience in a way that is open and kind with ourselves and know that we will eventually reconnect with ourselves. That is the natural design.
Feelings simply need to be felt. They are the wisdom of our nervous system doing what it needs to do to stabilize.
When we stabilize that inner connection is felt and who knows what will unfold in the relationship when we feel that way.
For me, my greater experience of connection with my Self took the pressure off Angus and our relationship and this brought out the best in him so we could enjoy our relationship more. If I had kept focusing on the relationship when I felt disconnected the way I had been, I would have kept repelling him and probably had a very different experience of connection and intimacy in our relationship.
Rohini Ross is co-founder of “The Rewilders.” Listen to her podcast, with her partner Angus Ross, Rewilding Love. They believe too many good relationships fall apart because couples give up thinking their relationship problems can’t be solved. In the first season of the Rewilding Love Podcast, Rohini and Angus help a couple on the brink of divorce due to conflict. Angus and Rohini also co-facilitate private couple's intensive retreat programs that rewild relationships back to their natural state of love. Rohini is also the author of the ebook Marriage, and she and Angus are co-founders of The 29-Day Rewilding Experience and The Rewilders Community. You can follow Rohini on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. To learn more about her work and subscribe to her blog visit: TheRewilders.org.