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.
Surely this is just a case of either having, or not having, good self esteem. So many years ago, it never worried me when my (now) ex told me that he was going to take his daughter somewhere, or that he was going to a work function. i had a full busy life, and that meant that I could do my stuff that I had been putting off so that I could spend time with him. At the end of our relationship when I had no life of my own, and no self esteem, every time he did something separate from me, it hurt. But, i know it was because I had nothing in my life to replace his lack of attention
My friend is generally considerate, if absent-minded. The other day his ex sent him a photograph in FB reminding him of their 10 anniversary, and with a very public personal note. I know this because this FB post was tagged to his FB friends, of which I am one. He did not mention anything to me, and I wonder if he realized that this incident would upset me. Do you think I should mention it, or just ignore it? I know guys hate displays of jealousy, and I do not want to blow my chances with him.
Hello Anne-Marie. I guess it depends on what your motivation is. I could be totally wrong, but I’m guessing it’s something like the following. You hoped that he would make a point of protecting your feelings when something like this happens. You wish he had proactively reached out to you to apologize for how awkward this was.
It may be that in his mind, he didn’t do anything wrong and he may want to avoid a scenario where you insist that he unfriends this other woman, creating emotional tension and drama that he hopes will just disappear if no one brings it up again.
I agree that it’s important to avoid negativity (of the sort where you point out someone’s lack of consideration) unless it is a very important issue to you that would prevent you from being able to continue to invest fully in the relationship moving forward.
Yes, best ignored as a non issue. Thank you
Thanks for sharing these healing insights and yes “Trusting in love takes work, but it’s some of the most important work we’ll ever do.”
As well, what about those times when you were not available to your partner and how they did not accuse you of rejecting them.
Say, you were extremely busy at work or off taking care of an ailing friend and did not
respond to a text or phone call immediately!
“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.”
Dear James – just the advice I was looking for ever since.
Thank you so much.
We don’t see each other often, my love and me. And if we do, it is like paradise on earth. But afterwards, he seems to be saturated for a while. Declarations of love seize. He needs time and space for himself. Until – he misses me again.
I kind of understood that rhythm and for long have tried to prepare mentally for his pull back after every encounter of ours.
I would reminisce our good times and read his declarations of love, to convince myself that – even if he doesn’t reach out to me, I am still on his mind, and he does love me.
Because as you truly explained – even if we can’t perceive signs of love at the moment, it still lives.
It’s like hope, described as the sure expectation of things not seen.
And how well you describe our innermost feelings. As if you knew us all our lives.
A couple of days ago I read another advice of yours. You simply stated: Having needs doesn’t make you a needy person.
Encouraged by your words, I told him my wish that he may be my first and my last. The first person I think of when I wake up in the morning. The last person I talk to before I go to sleep. I told him it would make me feel secure.
He promised to be. Since then, he has written me every night, before going to sleep. I am still amazed, every night.
Once again – thank you so much. I cherish all your advice, and try to apply it with my love.
Stay healthy and happy.
Lots of love.
My friend doesn’t ignore texts or calls but sounds impersonal & hardly takes initiative . He’s late 70s but maintains a Neurosurgical practice & I accept it as an excuse . It still hurts though!
Hi Lisa give him the gift of scarcity. Stop texting him all the time. Leam back and let him come to you. Its annoying when your at work and your partner keeps texting you and your busy. Focus on your happiness, pampering yourself. Let the man pursue you because he is wondering what you are doing. Hope this helps 🙂