Penny and Kyle had been dating for several years, had moved in together but it seemed to her that he had checked out of the relationship long ago.
They didn’t have fun together the way they used to and it seemed to her that they’d fallen into a routine that was lifeless and boring.
When she brought up the fact that they never did anything together anymore, Kyle would just grumble that he was tired and there was too much else to do.
Penny was frustrated and didn’t know what to do next so she scheduled a conversation with us to get some clarity about her situation.
As we talked, she had a few “ahas” that unstuck her thinking about her relationship.
These insights gave her new hope that she could really reconnect with her partner in new ways.
Here are 3 ways to reconnect when you or your partner has checked out and some realizations Penny had along the way…
1. Decide if you truly want to reconnect
So often we might try to talk ourselves into something we think we “should” want and what’s truly in our hearts is something entirely different.
That’s why taking an honest look within yourself is the place to start.
As Penny looked inside herself, she saw that she had been making the situation worse by her incessant thinking that he didn’t care anymore and had checked out of the relationship.
She was shocked to see that by doing that, she’d checked out of the relationship as well by putting up barriers to connection!
She realized that she did like who he was and wanted to be with him but wanted their relationship to be the way it used to be.
As we talked, she saw small ways they did connect but she had dismissed them because the relationship didn’t look like it used to look.
2. Open the door with an invitation
The door to reconnection can be opened in small ways and it always begins with an invitation–not a complaint that only brings defense.
Penny saw that in her attempt to get Kyle to talk about being checked out of the relationship, she had pushed him away and he had become defensive, shutting her out.
When she honestly became curious about what Kyle wanted without her judgments mixed in, she was able to ask if he was willing to have a conversation with her about what they both wanted.
3. Watch to see something new–Listen to hear something new
When you open your heart to seeing and hearing something new (inside you as well as from the other person), a non-judgmental, loving space opens up between the two of you.
A couple of weeks later, Penny told us that she had invited Kyle to a conversation and to her surprise, he was willing.
As she listened, he told her that he had been overwhelmed at work and was trying to decide whether to apply for another job or not.
Kyle said that he just felt hopeless and didn’t have anything to give her at the end of the day.
This was more information than he’d shared with her for a long time and she just sat and listened.
She asked him if he wanted suggestions from her and he told her that no, he was figuring it out on his own and to be patient with him.
In that moment, Penny felt closer to him than she’d felt in many months and was hopeful that with that conversation, they had broken through a barrier that they had both erected.
Reconnecting when one or both of you have checked out of the relationship isn’t always possible but before you give up…
Try our suggestions and if you feel stuck, give us a call for a no-charge conversation.
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Notice how powerful and how dramatic the changes within Penny and her relationship were by simply noticing a few things and being open to some new possibilities she hadn’t seen before.
If you or your partner has checked out of the relationship or you’ve noticed that one or both of you check out from time to time as a coping mechanism for something going on in your world, maybe we can help.
Often, having a conversation with one of us is enough to break someone free of a pattern of disconnection, struggle and pain and uncertainty.
If you’d like to have a conversation about your situation, let us know and we can work out a time to talk to with you by phone or by Zoom.