Disengagement and Shutting Down


Disengagement and shutting down create relationship dissatisfaction.

Whether you just started getting to know someone or you’ve been in a decades-long marriage, this frustration feels familiar.  You’ve stopped feeling angry and find yourself resigned to having a relationship that does not satisfy you.

By the time clients come to see me, they’ve experienced something that’s caused them to say they’ve had enough. Enough of the cycle of heartbreak, disappointment, and apathy. You are great at giving yourself pep talks: “I’ll do anything to avoid being hurt again.” “I’m going to pretend that comment didn’t hurt me.” You might tell yourself you’ll be “good” and not engage in a dialogue with your partner, out of fear it might escalate into a disagreement.

This takes a toll on you.

You might not realize the muck of emotions you feel at first. You feel unable to be yourself in this relationship.  After a while, you stop feeling.

It hurts when your partner disagrees with you or denies your feelings. And you want to avoid those things altogether. You tell yourself your thoughts and feelings are not important to your partner.

Protecting yourself is natural and normal, especially if we have felt pain before. But it is equally important to consider how those protective mechanisms affect your relationships. Sometimes, it puts distance between yourself and your partner. While you are avoiding hurt, you are also preventing deeper connection and intimacy. 

You find your relationships have two settings: “good” and “bad”. The good parts are when things are humming along on automatic pilot. The moment you hear a comment or perceive something is off between you and your partner, the setting snaps into “bad” mode. There may or may not be a confrontation. But inevitably, you find yourself distancing from your partner. Getting in the car and driving off to clear your head. Retreating to your laptop to work or to message friends.

There’s something inside you that wants to feel better. You know that you don’t have to feel as checked out as you do. You deserve to experience the type of closeness and intimacy you want in a relationship.

I’d like to help you make sense of how you got here and where you want to go.  Please reach out for a 15-minute phone or video consultation at cmgsnyder@gmail.com.