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5 min read

Why do couples grow apart? Plus, tips that may be able to help.

Key Takeaways:

  • Couples grow apart for thousands of reasons, but four of the most common are unresolved conflict, routine, changing priorities, and general absence.
  • There are some changes you can make in your relationship to help, including opening up a conversation about it or being more spontaneous and romantic.
  • Couples therapy can be a great way to improve closeness in a constructive and sustainable way.

It's an immeasurably painful process: You are haunted by memories of the fulfillment of a relationship that no longer exists.

For some reason, as time has passed, he has grown to become more of a friend - or even a roommate - than a boyfriend, partner, or spouse.

It's extremely common, and yet many find it extremely uncomfortable to talk about. And that's unfortunate, because only by talking about it can we explore why some couples grow apart and what they may be able to do to stop it.

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Most couples grow apart for four potential reasons.

How Unresolved Conflict Affects A Relationship's Intimacy

Routine can lead to emotional distance, too.

Changing priorities can often create an emotional disconnect.

Absence, by nature, creates distance.

Couples Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Most couples grow apart for four potential reasons.

Every couple is different, and everyone's experience is valid. But usually, there is one of four potential reasons why a couple might lose their emotional connection:

  • Unresolved Conflict
  • Routine
  • Changing Priorities
  • Absence

Each of these - or even a combination of them - can be the reason for a couple growing apart.

Definition Template (11)

How Unresolved Conflict Affects A Relationship's Intimacy

It's very interesting that humans will often refuse to talk about a problem even when it is clearly causing a severe disconnection in the relationship.

Even in the closest and longest-lasting relationships, there will be conflict and tension at times.

Sometimes, this conflict happens in a moment of particularly high stress, where circumstances dictate that the snap is temporarily forgotten.

Sometimes, the conflict builds over time as a result of some continuous disconnect in the relationship.

Regardless of the nature of the conflict, failing to resolve it can create resentment and close off communication even further.

Multiply this effect over months or years, and the relationship can lose its luster in a way that's hard to identify. This is one reason why couples grow apart.

The Potential Fix: Starting a conversation.

It doesn't take a genius to understand that if a lack of communication is causing a problem, communicating can probably improve it.

The hard part is actually doing it. It can be painful, awkward, and risky to open up a conversation about your conflict. But if you and your partner act as a team, it can work wonders for making you feel closer in the long run.

Couples therapy can help with most relationship problems, but it can be particularly effective for communication breakdowns like the one detailed above.

A therapist is trained and licensed to start and guide conversations in a safe and healthy way. This can be an incredible help for couples who have trouble opening up about what's bothering them.

With the help of a therapist, many couples find that they are actually stronger and closer after addressing conflict.

Book a Couples Therapy Session in Austin Today

Routine can lead to emotional distance, too.

In today's modern world, with spreadsheets and grocery runs dominating our day-to-day, it often makes sense to create a routine and stick to it for long periods of time.

There's nothing objectively wrong with a routine - it makes an often complicated life a little easier to manage - but if you don't change it up every so often, a routine can eventually turn into a rut.

When you're in a relationship, part of your attraction to one another lies in the "spark" - the fascination you find in each other.

This spark must be fed if it is to persist. If you aren't fostering your partner's fascination, it can fade away. If you both stick to your routine - go to work, come home, watch TV, and then go to bed, - day in and day out for long periods of time, it can certainly stifle the spark.

The Potential Fix: Spontaneity, Date Nights, and Notes

The fix for routine-related ruttedness is very simple: get out of the rut!

Go a few minutes out of your way once a week to buy your partner a small gift. Invite them out for a date night (and get dressed up!) Write them cute little notes to brighten their day.

Assuming your routine is the only reason you are becoming disconnected, creating small moments of spontaneity can be an immense help.

Changing priorities can often create an emotional disconnect.

People change over time.

Because of this, it is entirely possible for two people to grow apart purely because, well, they're growing.

Particularly common for couples who became an item at a young age, growing apart due to changing priorities is something a couples therapist can help you navigate.

It is possible to regain closeness by realigning - or at least compromising and working to understand - each partner's priorities. It is, however, also possible for the change and growth to make the relationship nonviable.

The Potential Fix: Couples Therapy (Again!)

Because each partner has the right to prioritize what they feel deserves it, this situation is best handled by a professional therapist.

A licensed therapist may be able to help you find compromises and synergy despite changing ideas about what's important.

Absence, by nature, creates distance.

The fourth and most easy to recognize reason for couples growing apart is the consistent absence of one or both partners.

Unusually related to work, being absent from a relationship can obviously create emotional distance.

Working until after bedtime every day means your partner sees very little of your daily self. This translates to problems relating to all three of the other primary causes of growing apart.

Because you and your partner cannot spend time together, you cannot address ongoing conflict or change up your routine. Priorities have shifted as well, since the absent partner is technically prioritizing something else over the relationship.

We should note here that absence is not always avoidable. Work, family problems, and school can often demand an absence from one's relationship.

Couples therapy can help work through the emotional distance while the absence is in effect. Often, absences are temporary. If yours isn't, you’ll need to work towards incorporating it into the relationship, should each partner agree to this.

The Potential Fix: Time-blocking.

Even if it's once a month, setting aside time to simply devote your attention to your partner can help you build and maintain closeness.

It might still be hard - absence can be such a stressful thing - but if you commit to your partner and they know you are making an effort, it can make it much easier.

Try setting aside one evening per week exclusively to paying attention to your partner. This could be a date night, a project you work on together, or even a simple quiet night at home.

Couples Therapy in Austin: Williamsburg Therapy Group

Working with a professional means getting insight that would have been very difficult, or even impossible, to find on your own.

This means that a situation that seems hopeless now may in fact not be. That’s why couples therapy is recommended for any and all of the problems in this article: a professional is better equipped to handle the conversation constructively and find solutions where once there were only problems.

Feeling like you and your partner are growing apart can be the source of a lot of anxiety and pain.

But it's not hopeless. With the right professional, your relationship may become closer than ever.

The doctoral-level couples therapists at Williamsburg Therapy Group are trained, experienced, and ready to help.

Schedule an appointment online or give us a call to let our patient coordinator match you with the best therapist for you. Feeling better may be closer than you think.

Book a Couples Therapy Session in Austin Today

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