Feeling distant from your partner? You need to try relationship check-ins

Do you ever wish you could just live inside your partner’s brain for a little bit to figure out what’s going on in there?

Doing a relationship check in can give you a little insight into what they may be thinking both about the relationship and their own ideas about intimacy, care and emotional connections, not only helping you to understand them better, but also ensuring you can connect on a whole new level!

The first time you do a relationship check in, it’ll probably feel pretty weird, uncomfortable and super formal. It might even feel like an interview, or some really stiff and awkward conversation that you just want finished!

But here’s why you should stick with it.

Happy young multiracial couple taking on sofa at home

Relationship check ins are great moments of completely honest and open communication between you and your partner, if you really commit to it. It’s a chance to air out any issues in a really calm and productive way, rather than letting them build up and burst out during a fight. Making a habit of it will allow your relationship to grow in the best of ways and create a real bubble of intimacy that makes you both feel heard and know one another on a really deep level. No more guessing games about what has them a little distant at the moment, or feeling unfulfilled because your love languages are different.

By regularly keeping this channel of communication open, you get to grow and learn together to side step any massive blow ups due to issues being pushed down for the sake of avoiding conflict.

Concentrated woman talking and touching shoulder of pensive male in light room in daytime

Of course, it will feel awkward at the start but you can do little things to make it a moment of connection, rather than a painful interview – have some of your favourite snacks and drinks set up and create a nice atmosphere in the room. Treat it like an at-home date night, with candles and get cosy with one another – remember this is not an argument or a chance to hurl accusations at one another – it’s a chance to connect and understand one another better as well as celebrate the love you share.

Here are some questions you can ask to get you started, but you’ll find over time the conversation will flow and you won’t need guidance. The issues and topics will raise themselves once you get comfortable speaking openly and honestly.

What have I done that made you feel loved?

Young man and woman looking at each other enjoying romantic date together in cafe

This question can give you a little insight into their love language but it can also give you pointers going forward. It could be something as simple as complimenting either their achievements or appearance, right up to cooking for them, spending quality time with them, planning a special date or even just being physically affectionate with them. But them letting you know how it made them feel means you can practice it more in the future and vice versa, It gives you a chance to open up to them about how you feel loved and what they could maybe be doing more of.

This is a moment to celebrate each other and how you make one another feel and isn’t an opportunity to point out where they may be lacking. Accusing them of not loving you the ‘right’ way is not the point of the exercise. It’s to build one another up and starts the talk on a positive note that makes you feel closer and more comfortable discussing the relationship.

How are you feeling about our boundaries right now?

Black couple sitting at table in apartment and talking

Maybe your partner has been a little distant the last while. Maybe they’ve needed a little more space when they finish work, or have taken a day or two at the weekend for themselves and it has you worried about emotional distance. Maybe you’re in need of a little space yourself!

This is what boundaries are all about. Boundaries are there for your self-preservation, both physical and mental. If work is crazy right now and you need a little extra time to yourself in the evenings, it’s important that your partner knows and can respect that. But if you don’t tell them and they don’t know, how can they give you the space you need?

Maybe your partner’s love language is quality time and they have a higher need for in-person contact hours than you do – this talk could be the perfect time to work out a balance that works for both of you. What’s important is to air the issues together while recognising that you’re separate people with your own needs to be met as well as having needs that need to be met as a couple. It’s all about finding the balance that works for you.

What are any issues that have come up for you since our last check in?

Hispanic couple hugging and looking at each other in park

Maybe your bids for connection were going unacknowledged this month. Maybe you feel they’re pulling away from you. Or it could even be as simple as feeling you’re carrying the responsibility for emotional labour at the moment and aren’t feeling much effort back.

Generally, these aren’t things your partner is doing on purpose and the reasons may even be discovered when you ask about your couple boundaries. Again, word these issues carefully – it isn’t you vs them, it’s both of you vs the problem. Talk about how their responses or actions made you feel and maybe what you had been expecting from them in return. Often, it’s a lack of match up in your expectations of one another that create a communication gap, but once you see the situation from one another’s perspective, it may become easier to understand each other’s side of the issue.

What needs can I fulfil that aren’t being met right now?

Young trendy couple chatting and strolling in park on autumn day

First off, it’s not your responsibility to fulfil every need your partner has. You cannot be their therapist, chef, best friend, lover, social planner and motivator all in one person. Sure, you can be some of these things together, but you can’t play every role in their life and fulfil their every need – you can’t wear every hat, because you have your own needs too.

That being said, some of us need certain things from our romantic relationships – while still being realistic. Having needs doesn’t give us the right to demand them from our partner, but we should be with someone who is willing to fulfil them if possible. If your partner isn’t giving you the emotional intimacy you needed this month, it’s important to discuss what that looks like for you and how you see that being fulfilled. You and your partner can try reach a compromise to figure out what works best for both of you. When your needs don’t line up, it can be a tricky one to navigate, which is why it’s so important to have these check-ins to keep communication open and honest.

Fiona Murphy is a freelance writer, specialising in book-related content, fiction and poetry. She can be found drinking tea, craving tapas or attempting to finish her never-ending-novel.

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