Reading Your Partner’s Signals

It’s almost impossible to read a date’s signals. And once you’re in a relationship together, you assume things will get easier, but that’s not always the case. Sometimes it feels like couples need a translator to help them understand each other.

In some ways, the person closest to you can be the hardest to read, so it’s important to remember that signals can mean a million different things. Here we take a look at two of the most upsetting signals — secrecy and distance — and show you just what they might mean.

You meet someone great. The first few weeks are magical. But just when things really start to heat up, she pulls away.

When someone close to you suddenly becomes distant, it’s confusing and hurtful. You may think it’s a sign that your partner is less interested in you. When she says, “I just need some space,” you think she means forever. And sometimes she does.

Yet just as often, a need for space actually signals that the relationship is deepening. Your partner may be having a difficult time coming to terms with the strong feelings he has developed for you. She may be afraid of commitment or losing her identity. He may be trying to enjoy his last bit of alone time before settling down.

Sometimes distance may even be a symptom of a problem outside the relationship. She’s having a hard time at work and is afraid of losing her job. His mother is dying and he feels too emotionally fragile to be close to you.

In any situation, if your partner is distant it’s important you don’t push him further away. Tell your partner you’re feeling disconnected from her and that you want to try to bring back the closeness. Together, you can figure out what’s causing the distance and work to bridge it.

Even if you’re in the most solid relationship, it’s unsettling to discover (or simply sense) that your partner is keeping secrets from you. Secrecy involves at least a degree of dishonesty, so you might immediately feel betrayed — even if you don’t know what the person is hiding.

While it’s certainly possible that your partner is being secretive to protect an infidelity, cheating is not the only reason people keep secrets. Before you pull a Fatal Attraction and boil his bunny, take time to carefully consider what’s really going on.

Is he secretive across the board, or does he only keep secrets about one aspect of his life, like work, family or finances? Has she always been secretive, or is this a new behavior? When you ask probing questions, does he lie, get defensive, or tell you the truth?

The bottom line: you really don’t need to know every detail of your partner’s life. She may fear she’ll lose her identity in the relationship if she doesn’t keep some aspects of herself private. He may be embarrassed to tell you that he’s having problems managing his money. And there’s always the chance your partner is simply keeping a secret in order to give you a wonderful surprise.

It’s important to measure your response. If your birthday is next week and you catch your girlfriend covering something up, relax — and act surprised when she throws you a party. But if you sense your partner is hiding important things, or has begun a pattern of secrecy, speak up. By addressing the secrets directly, you can eliminate deceit and deal with the problem head-on.

No matter what you think your partner is trying to say through signals, you’ll never really know unless you ask. Keep your mind open to the endless meanings of signals — but also keep the lines of communication open at all times.

Need help interpreting his or her signals? Call now.

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