What do you do when there is a lost connection?

I have been travelling a lot (I’m so lucky, I know!) and have been experiencing going in and out of connection with my loved ones due to lack of internet on my phone for short periods. In this modern world, our smart phones are sometimes our only real means of staying in touch and thus we come to rely on them quite heavily.

As a therapist, I also conduct sessions over Skype and sometimes over the phone. When your client is in another country, the quality of the connection (as in data/3G/broadband) is very significant to the relationship, and ultimately to the connection (in terms of our ability to communicate and engage with one another).

It has got me thinking about the idea of the “lost connection” in all of our relationships that may occur because of a variety of circumstances.

Travel (physical distance) and withdrawal (emotional distance) might be completely different but they both can have the same effect on the connection between two people.

When the connection is lost we are left feeling unheard, unseen, and uncontained. We might be left feeling lonely, abandoned or neglected. Or only just a little bit frustrated or annoyed.

Whatever the case, it is to be expected that this WILL occur at some point in all of our relationships.

So what do we do when we experience a loss in connection?

Some of you may use exaggerated displays of attention-seeking behaviour in an attempt to gain what was lost – to be seen and heard and experienced again. Others may withdraw further, fearing the momentary loss of connection is a sign that further betrayals or disappointments are around the corner. You may find yourself blaming the other, or feeling guilty.

But what you must always remember is that these moments, however uncomfortable, may actually be wonderful gifts for you and the other person.

When there is a loss of connection, there is also an opportunity to regroup, to express your feelings, and to air your grievances. In a functional relationship, the loss of connection is experienced as manageable, workable, and fixable. And the “fixing” is often found in the process of recognising the disconnection and demonstrating the desire to “make it right”.

In psychology we call this “Rupture” and “Repair”. In all relationships, ruptures happen. People get it wrong, hurt each other, forget birthdays, come late to appointments, etc. These can cause a sense of disconnection within the relationship. Repeated ruptures without repairs can lead to a complete breakdown of the relationship. But if you are able to be accountable for your part and you have the courage to address this with the other person and find out how they experienced it, then you can work towards repairing what was lost.

What do you think? Has this happened to you recently? What have you learned about disconnection in relationships that you could share?

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