When you text your guy and you don’t get a reply right away, how do you feel?
When you’re in the mood to cuddle and your guy isn’t, how do you feel?
When you ask your guy what the plans are for the weekend and he tells you he’s going to spend time with the guys…
How do you feel?
In an ideal world, none of those things would bother you, because you feel secure in your relationship. You know he loves you. Nothing could change that.
But in the REAL world, little things like that hurt.
It doesn’t feel great when you reach out and get nothing back.
You were the one who took a risk. You made the effort. You put yourself out there.
And he shut you down. He ignored you. He closed the door in your face.
Feeling rejected isn’t fun.
Even worse, you then feel guilty for feeling upset. No one wants to make a big deal over something minor like a text message. Maybe he was busy. Maybe he didn’t see it.
You tell yourself to let it go. You tell yourself you should be okay with it. Of course he doesn’t have to be at your beck and call. Of course he needs time with his friends. Of course he doesn’t always feel like getting physical.
But in your heart?
You don’t feel okay with it. You even feel a little angry with him about it.
At that point, you have a decision to make.
You can stuff those feelings down and act like you’re okay…
Or you can turn those feelings into an opportunity to bring back the love.
The Normal Ups and Downs of Relationships
Every relationship has moments like these.
Moments where the one we love turns away from us, right when we were expecting them to come closer.
If you feel secure in your relationship, it’s easier to keep these moments in perspective. Just because he wants to spend time with his friends doesn’t mean he doesn’t want to be with you as well.
But many of us don’t feel secure in our relationships.
We worry that those minor moments are a premonition of worse things to come.
He didn’t reply to your text. Does that mean he looked at your message and deliberately chose to ignore it? If you don’t even get a reply, what does that say about where you fall in his priority list? Clearly, he doesn’t care as much about you as you care about him. Better break it off now, before your heart gets broken!
That is what’s known as catastrophic thinking.
It’s where you jump to the worst-case scenario.
None of us want to be that person. But shaming ourselves for feeling anxious or blowing things out of proportion only makes things worse.
There’s a better solution.
You can cultivate a specific skill that helps you build trust in your relationship, even when there’s a bit of distancing going on or problems between you.
One way to understand how this skill works is to ask yourself whether a tree falling in the forest makes a sound…
Where Does Love Go?
You’ve heard that brain teaser before:
Does a tree falling in the forest make a sound if no one is there to hear it?
The obvious answer is yes. The falling tree created sound waves, even if we couldn’t hear them.
With that in mind, ask yourself this question.
Your boyfriend has just acted in a way that didn’t generate the feeling of being loved. Does he still love you?
Your answer to this question hinges on whether you can trust in something you can’t perceive.
You don’t feel his love. You can’t hear his love. Did his love vanish into thin air, or is it still there?
People who have a well-developed sense of object constancy (as it relates to love) have no problem believing their partners still love them in the face of disagreements or distance.
Even though right now they can’t perceive love, they have faith that love is still there. The feeling of rejection or separation is temporary, while love is the constant.
Not all of us have a strongly developed sense of object constancy when it comes to love. When the person we love stops acting loving, it feels like the love has gone for good. We can’t believe in what we can’t perceive.
You can start teaching yourself to trust in the constancy of love by reminding yourself that all relationships go through natural cycles of closeness followed by distance.
Distance doesn’t mean the love has gone. It means that love is playing peek-a-boo. It’s temporarily disappeared out of sight, but it will be back.
You can also give yourself “love reminders” by looking at pictures or mementos from special moments in your relationship. Even though right now it feels like he doesn’t love you, you have plenty of evidence of his love.
Looking for evidence that you are loved works a lot better to heal those feelings of rejection than stuffing your feelings down or looking for evidence he doesn’t love you anymore.
Trusting in love takes work, but it’s some of the most important work we’ll ever do.