Many couples experts and relationship counselors agree that a well-functioning partnership is always based on a balanced relationship of closeness and distance. What seems obvious at first glance, however, turns out to be a greater challenge than expected when looking at studies.
And a big cliché is being clarified: according to a survey, men hardly get tired of their partners, while women, on the other hand, need more freedom and can feel contracted more quickly.
So what is to be done when the desire for closeness and the need for freedom become unbalanced? How and at what stage of the relationship or mutual acquaintance can specific signs that a proximity-distance problem is approaching can be recognized? We’ll give you some tips on how to strike a balance between proximity and distance.
How do proximity and distance create a problem in the phases of a relationship?
The need for proximity and distance is a dynamic process
A person’s need for closeness can be as individual as the need for distance and can differ from relationship to relationship. After all, this interaction is not a purely static matter and can continually change over the course of life and within a relationship.
Especially at a young age, people are still in the process of self-discovery and therefore often need more freedom to experiment. However, the desire for closeness can change over time. On the other hand, there are also people who don’t get tired during the phase of getting to know each other and being in love, but who also want to regain their autonomy to a certain extent during the course of the relationship.
Personal experiences are crucial
Above all, the experiences themselves influence how much closeness and distance each person demands of themselves. Anyone who felt restricted in their love in a previous relationship may desire more freedom and independence in a new partnership.
But experiences in the parent’s home can also be formative. Those who have suffered from insufficient attention may later articulate an even greater need for closeness. Those who have been overwhelmed by care may later desire more freedom in their partnership. Even the relationship between parents often disappears. Anyone who suffered from parental separation as a child may later have trouble building closeness and trust with a partner.
Fears and compulsions can impair closeness and distance
Last but not least, pathological behavior patterns can also determine fear of proximity or distance. The fear of attachment – as a symptom of low self-esteem – can ensure that the need for freedom and independence takes on compulsive traits. In contrast, there is the fear of loss, which is often expressed in codependencies or excessive parental care.
These signs indicate a proximity-distance problem!
There are many signs that a proximity-distance problem can be recognized at an early stage. Depending on the acquaintance and relationship phase, this may be different.
1. First signs in the introductory phase
By writing a letter, chatting, or even flirting, it is already possible to determine which direction a single is heading and how strong the need for closeness or distance is.
- Too much or too little contact: Especially in the getting-to-know-you phase, it’s important to find the right level of contact. For example, if she writes a lot and all the time, he may withdraw. It also becomes difficult if one of the two takes a long time to respond.
- Physical Proximity: If he shows physical proximity too much or too quickly in the encounter, she may move away. Women, in particular, want a little more restraint from men. Too much proximity can not only be perceived as restrictive but also invasive.
- Boundaries are exceeded: even very rash personal or intimate questions can quickly become unbearable. Recognizing the necessary degree of closeness and distance often means drawing boundaries or realizing them.
2. Signs of people who have just fallen in love
A pronounced need for proximity or distance cannot always be recognized at first glance. In particular, a recent love may, at some point, experience a rude awakening if they too neglect the looming proximity-distance problem. It is particularly important to pay attention to the following signs.
- Space requirement: At first, you can’t get enough of each other. But at some point, the call for more freedom will be loud again. Friends, hobbies, or even professional things were neglected in the first phase of the butterfly. The desire to be alone again can quickly be interpreted as frightening for a partner – who may suffer from fear of loss.
- Fear of commitment: your union is really harmonious. Still, your partner doesn’t want to commit to a relationship or further planning.
- Everyday life vs. head in the clouds: One is still in seventh heaven, and the other is already trying to integrate the relationship into everyday life. Here, too, there is an imbalance in the need for closeness and distance, which can lead to emotional overload. Does relationship happiness really exist in reality?
3. Signs in long-term relationships
Even in long-term partnerships, a problem of proximity and distance can creep into the relationship pattern. The following aspects can be decisive:
- Changed Behaviors: People change and so does their relationship behavior. While your partner may have paid a little more attention to you in the past, they’re hardly paying attention now. Changing priorities (children, jobs, new projects) can also lead to relationship problems.
- Partnership out of balance: In the course of a relationship, the need for togetherness and independence can change more and more. If there is a predominance of conflict rather than harmony, a disturbed close-distance relationship may also be present here.
- On-off relationship: In partnerships with a pronounced proximity-distance disorder, it is not uncommon for couples to break up several times and get back together after a break because on the one hand they cannot be with each other, on the other hand, they cannot be one without the other.
How can the short-distance disorder be resolved while we know each other?
You can neutralize an impending proximity distance problem in advance. It’s helpful to know what you expect from a relationship and what behaviors are prohibitive for you. With these three tips, you will ensure clarity:
- Same interests and values: Make sure you’re really on the same wavelength. Even if his rebellious, freedom-loving attitude is attracive, in the long run, it can become a focus of conflict if you need a lot of closeness and security.
- Note the behavior: is it responding quickly or is it taking a while? Is she reluctant or did she run over you? Examine his behavior and find out what is good for you and what is not.
- Talk about it from the start: “Defend yourself against beginnings” is an old saying. Communicating your needs in a timely manner will give your potential partner a chance to respond. The more open and honest you are with each other, the more misunderstandings can be eliminated.
Short and long-term solutions for partnerships
If a proximity-distance issue has crept into existing partnerships, there are also some possible solutions here.
These three tips will help in the short term:
- Communicate your wants and needs openly.
If you stick to a lively exchange and seek out honest conversation, it can bring your proximity-distance disorder back into balance. Also, try to take your partner’s point of view and show understanding without being accusatory or offensive.
- Recognizing Codependencies and Granting Freedom
You don’t always have to do everything together. Organize separate nights with friends to help distract you from the proximity-distance issue. It can also help to pursue different hobbies in order to escape a restricted situation.
- Maintain common rituals Going for
walks together, eating together, or recurring activities can also help restore needed balance. These rituals, in turn, provide stability if your everyday relationship tends to keep you at a distance.
These four tips will help in the long run:
- Set common goals
A move, a big trip, a new project – if you work towards a common future, this in turn strengthens the feeling of solidarity and quickly makes the fear of loss seem old.
If both stick to their point of view, only the fronts harden. If you signal that you’re willing to compromise, you’ll more quickly find a solution that works for both of you.
- Conduct causal research
Try to find out where attachment disorder or fear of loss can come from. When you recognize your blind spots, you have a better chance of dealing with the proximity-distance problem.
- Seek Outside Help
If there’s a deeper personality disorder behind your proximity problem, couples counseling can help you manage your conflicts.
Conclusion: with a conscious look at balance
Love lives from closeness, but love also brings freedom. The interaction of closeness and distance is experienced differently in each relationship. Emerging problems are not yet grounds for separation. The more consciously you focus your gaze on these processes, the more you can respond to bring the closeness-distance problem of your relationship back into the right balance.