Relationships are tough. It is a challenge to manage two different personalities, wants and needs. Even the best people go through hard times and break ups. Some relationships, however, are worth the effort. They are worth fighting for. To fight for a relationship, you need to reach out to your distant partner, come to terms with and accept the other for who they are.
Part 1 of 4: Getting closer
Step 1. Apologize if necessary
Relationships are strained when at least one of you feels hurt (whether from fights, careless words, or resentment). Every relationship goes through this at some point. The important thing is to come forward and apologize when you're wrong. This shows your level of commitment to your partner and to the relationship.
- When apologizing, you must be honest, specific, and acknowledge that you hurt the person. Accept that you have shaken trust and respect. This does not mean accepting all the responsibilities, but taking your part.
- Be honest and specific. Sorry to make amends and fix the issues, and for no other reason afterwards. At the same time, be specific about what you are apologizing about and how it hurt the other person. Say, for example, "I'm sorry I left you angry during our argument. I see this hurt and humiliated you. Please excuse me."
- Avoid evasive words when apologizing. These words take responsibility away from you and ring false. For example: "I'm sorry if what I did offended you" or "I'm sorry if you got it wrong".
- Don't demand that the person apologize either. Mutual forgiveness is important, but your partner may need more time to process the feelings. Asking him to apologize will seem like a charge.
Step 2. Listen to your partner.
Apologizing is just the first step in the approach. This won't fix everything, but it will break the ice and start the healing process. Don't be surprised if he reacts emotionally or interrupts you. Instead of interrupting your partner and trying to defend yourself, be patient and respectful and listen.
- Try not to get defensive or insist on your side of the story. Your first impulse may be to correct and rebut your partner, but let him do the talking.
- By being patient, you make your partner feel free to talk openly, without fear, and show that you really want to fix the problems.
- Remember that the main point of apologizing is healing the relationship. It's not to prove who was right or wrong.
Step 3. Leave the door open, but don't persist too long
Make it clear to your partner that you want to save the relationship. At the same time, accept that these things take time. Resist the temptation to pressure him, especially if he's distant, or he'll end up getting even further away. Give him time and space, leaving the door of reconciliation open.
- Make it clear you're ready to talk when he's ready. Show that you are open to communication.
- People often want physical and emotional space when they're hurting. Recognize and respect this need for distance and don't chase your partner.
Part 2 of 4: Facing the past
Step 1. Seek counseling together or alone
Counseling will not guarantee a solution, but it will help to expose and work through the problem. In addition, you will learn to communicate more effectively with your partner. If your relationship is in trouble, couple counseling may be the solution. Going alone will also help a lot.
- If you have problems with communication and trust, if you are distant, occupying just the same space, or if you are having negative feelings, ask your partner to go to a counselor with you.
- Look for advice they can go to together. This can take a while. Ask the professional about credentials, experience, aptitude to help you, and success rate.
- Think of the counselor as a consultant, not someone who will sort everything out. The professional will advise you, but the most important will happen outside of the sessions.
- Look for a counselor or therapist, even if your partner refuses to go.
Step 2. Be ready to explore your past
To fight for a relationship, you will need to face problems head-on, not just hide them, making the situation worse. With or without a counselor, be ready to talk deeply about your issues in your relationship. This is not easy, as it brings past hurts, resentments and disappointments.
- Be prepared to listen to your partner. The key to moving forward is to deal with and understand past hurts with empathy.
- Express your own frustrations, but always respectfully. Don't blame or justify your past attitudes, but look at them and try to understand why. You can see they weren't as harmful as you thought.
- Remember what brought you together. There's a reason you guys got together in the beginning. Reflect together on why you love each other and whether it is possible to rekindle the flame.
Step 3. Learn to express your feelings constructively
Letting your feelings out will help you understand your motivations and needs, so learn to talk and even disagree. That way, you and your partner will re-evaluate the hypotheses (about each other) and demonstrate the needs clearly and openly.
- If you are going to a counselor, talk about effective communication with them.
- Follow the rules of effective communication and fight fairly. For example, avoid making accusations. Instead of saying, "You always…" or "You never…", say "I think…" or "I feel…". Also avoid making generalizations.
- Be specific and defend the facts and your feelings. Talk about what you need from your partner, not what you think your partner is doing wrong. For example: "I need, but I don't feel your encouragement in my career as an entrepreneur."
- Or say, "I feel ignored because you never show affection in public."
- Ask for his point of view. Don't interrupt, but listen and try to reaffirm what you heard.
Part 3 of 4: Seeing Your Partner's Individuality
Step 1. Learn to accept your partner
To really fight for your relationship, you must be willing to accept your partner completely, even the habits and behaviors you condemn. This is a big challenge, but it is necessary to save the connection between you.
- Try to see the other side. You say you hate your partner's lack of organization. Try to turn the situation around and look at his point of view. Is he really messy? Or do you have an organizational mania and are you exaggerating?
- Accept that you have no control over your partner or his or her past. Seeing his "mistakes" as a reflection of his upbringing, priorities, and values can help ease the tension.
- Keep certain limits. You must not accept destructive or abusive behavior.
Step 2. Let go of the feeling of superiority
To save a relationship, you must not only commit to the little things like habits and behaviors, but also learn to deal with your sense of always being right. This attitude doesn't help at all, as it prevents you from changing your view of your partner and yourself.
- Remember that if one of you is right, the other is not necessarily wrong. The different opinions he has do not invalidate yours. They're just different.
- Your notions of etiquette, for example (how to act, talk and socialize politely), may be quite different from what your partner thinks. However, this does not mean that one of the two is wrong. They are just different views.
Step 3. Honor and support your partner's needs
The most important thing in striving for a relationship is probably building empathy. By accepting his opinions and values, you will be striving to meet his physical and emotional needs in the best possible way, without compromising yours.
- Be willing to compromise as long as his needs don't destroy your own values.
- Or say that you've discussed a lot about the relationship and now you've noticed that it just expresses feelings differently than you do, through gifts and gestures, for example.
Part 4 of 4: Reconnecting with an ex
Step 1. Find out if your ex is still interested
Sometimes we want to fight for a relationship that has already ended or is coming to an end. And that's not uncommon. In fact, about 50% of young adults said they've been back to their ex at least once. Try to read the signs and see if your ex is still interested in you.
- Be subtle. He may feel annoyed if you overdo it. So, at least in the beginning, keep your distance. Don't force contact and don't ask friends to look into his life.
- Get information on social media, mutual friends or, if you're still in touch, talk to him directly. Remember: the odds are in your favor.
Step 2. Make contact
If you're still interested and have reason to think your ex is too, get closer. Try something discreet. Send a message on Facebook, for example, or a short "email". Be brief and not pushy so you don't push your ex away.
- Have a reason to initiate contact. For example, say, "I was having ice cream today and I remembered how much you like ice cream. How are you?" or "I saw your name on Facebook and thought I'd say hi. Hope you're okay."
- Your ex's response will guide your next step. If the answer is short, like "Yes. Hope you're okay too," the prospect of reconciliation is not good. A more enthusiastic response may indicate interest.
- If the answer is good, try to make an appointment. Invite for coffee or a drink, for example. Make it clear that you just want a quick, no-obligation date.
Step 3. Keep everything clear in your mind
Know what and how to say it in advance. Choose your words carefully, because your ex may still have strong feelings for you (both good and bad). Say what's on your mind, that you regret it, or apologize, if that's the case, but always in a respectful and thoughtful way.
- Say that you are sorry that the relationship did not work out and that you would like to re-evaluate it. Say, "I'd like to know how you are and talk about what didn't work out between us."
- Let the conversation guide what you say. If your ex is dating other people and is happy, don't force the issue. If, however, it seems that he still has feelings for you, gradually steer the conversation toward the topic of reconciliation.
- If he wants to get back together, go slow. There were good reasons why you broke up and there are problems you will have to resolve. They may even need professional advice.
- Be ready to move on if your ex isn't interested. At least you were able to talk about it and close the subject.