Why Do Couples Create Distance Between Each Other?

by Ally Batista

A telltale sign that someone (whether it's your significant other, friend, peer, etc) is acting differently, or could be upset, is distance. People naturally create a barrier between themselves when they're upset about something. Distance speaks volumes, and it's always obvious.

It's particularly interesting when two people who are in a relationship create distance between each other. Why does this happen? Shouldn't two people in a relationship handle their issues in a more constructive way than by creating distance to prove a point?

Some may think that creating distance is really called “playing hard to get” and that it works wonders to increase significant other's desire for you. I personally feel this “rule” only works effectively when trying to lure someone in, not when you already have someone. If you're still “playing hard to get” once you're in a relationship, you could be causing more problems than solutions.

Researchers at DePaul's College of Communication and West Virginia University took some time to try and understand why someone in a relationship would engage in this behavior (i.e. acting aloof or distant toward a partner even when he/she is in love with the significant other).

The researchers found that couples tend to purposefully withhold affectionate behavior from each other as much as five times a week: a practice that can be detrimental to a relationship. Participants in the study said they withheld affection due to insecurity, fear that their behavior would appear inappropriate and fear of rejection.

“Our findings do not suggest that individuals are using or manipulating their partners in negative ways,” said Sean Horan, an assistant professor of relational communication at DePaul. “Instead, they show the complex ways in which communicators withhold affection. At times, it appears to be more of a source issue grounded in the fear of rejection or a violation of societal norms.”

A supplement to this study has revealed that on a health level, couples that put it all out there are less stressed and have lower blood pressure. In addition to hampering your relationship, playing games with emotions is just flat out bad for your and your partner's health.

I've always found that the best way to overcome any kind of insecurity or fear in a relationship is to simply be up front and flat out honest. Your partner is with you because he or she cares about you. That means all of you; if people didn't want to work through insecurities or fears, they wouldn't get into a relationship with you, plain and simple.

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