She is very distant

-- Question for John --

I’ve been dating my girlfriend about 8 months and we’re starting to have troubles. She is very distant. Lately she seems like she doesn’t want to do anything anymore. She claims that “she doesn’t know who I am” anymore, that she feels “obligated to spend entire weekends with me.” I’ve asked her if she just wants to break up, but she seems at least somewhat determined to stay together.

I used to live near her during the summer and we spent a lot of time together, but then school season came and I had to move 20 minutes away for my college while she stayed here for her college.

I come home on the weekends to visit with her, my parents, and do things here in my hometown. Mainly I come to see her though, because I want this relationship to last.

Obviously we’re past our “honeymoon stage,” but I don’t know how to tackle this next stage. Admittedly we’ve both gone through some changes, but I don’t see why we can’t get along anymore. I’ve tried to open up communication with her more, since that has been part of the problem, but she doesn’t look at it that way. Are there any pointers you can give to help us? Perhaps ways of letting each other know how we’ve changed (outside of the relationship) and how to deal with them?

She’s always been one to not show much communication unless we’re alone for a long time and she’s in one of her open moods. Another problem, stated in the “I feel obligated to spend entire weekends with you”, is being approached at “scheduled” weekends. So we both have time for friends, family, weekend school work, and then each other, and we don’t feel so obligated to spend every evening and every waking moment together. I’m really afraid I’m going to lose her, and I love her way too much for that, but as one of my friends said so lightly yet effectively….”She’s finding reasons.”

-- Answer from John --

Her saying “She doesn’t know who I am” anymore, that she feels “obligated to spend entire weekends with me” are not very good signs. I would think it is important to look at those two things and see what it is specifically that she is feeling in each case, to try to learn what is really going on with her, what she really wants or needs.

In general, it is also important to make sure there are ongoing sources of positive energy in the relationship. Find lost of little ways to actively show her or tell her that you appreciate her. I sense there are some things around communication that you need to look at and possibly learn some new approaches, but I am would need to know in greater depth what exactly has been the issues and obstacles for each of you.

In some ways, it sounds like communication and emotions are stagnating a bit, and you need to try to move deeper in intimate connection. She has a lot of the information that could help that, and it’s a matter of trying to open up that communication channel.

You have to walk a fine line between: (1) showing her you really want it to work out — vs. (2) chasing after her too much. If the relationship gets too lopsided, with you being the one who is always trying to make it work, it won’t work anyway.

It has to be an equal thing. And if she is not opening up, or if she won’t communicate, then you are left in a place of no-win. It takes two people to make it work.

I would like to assure you that she is not backing out (yet I’m not a mind-reader) — but even if she isn’t — either way — you need to strengthen your own inner sense of self, get your supportive friends supporting you more right now, soothe your own feelings, keep your focus on your work, and not totally lose yourself in obsessing about her.