Closeness and distance in relationships

An important issue for a good relationship is the right balance between closeness and distance to be found. Every relationship between two people is unique, for this reason the ideal point of balance differs from relationship to relationship. Each person has its own needs and depending on the context of the relationship (erotic, friendly, family, professional, social) seeks another degree of closeness or distance.

Closeness means proximity and intimacy, getting close to someone and connecting with them emotionally. To share thoughts and feelings, to spend time together, to communicate and to interact closely. Through closeness we experience reciprocity, understanding and warmth and we do not feel lonely.

«Many times, in my personal relationships I find it difficult to open myself and trust someone. I’m afraid to let the other one approach me and get really close, because of the fear of getting hurt. I feel that this way I miss opportunities. I really want to change this, so that I can have a relationship that fills me and that I can be myself in it. »

L., student of DUTH, 20 years old

Closeness offers the relationship security and trust. It works positively when it is to the extent that allows people to maintain their identity and autonomy and enables them to function separately in the relationship.

This autonomy is ensured by having a certain degree of distance. Distance has to do with setting personal boundaries and moving away to the extent that it makes one feel more comfortable. To preserve his/her personal space and to have time for himself/herself and for personal activities. In this sense, distance does not seem to be a negative thing.

«I love my girlfriend but sometimes I feel pressure, because we do everything together. I would like to do some things on my own like going out with my friends. I’m afraid that by saying that I could make her feel rejected and there may be problems in our relationship. »

B., student of DUTH, 21 years old

But when the distance grows and exceeds the point at which the members feel good and comfortable, problems begin to arise in the relationship. The long distance brings difficulties in communication and deprives of warmth. Members may begin to avoid each other and feel unpleasant emotions. There should be frustration, refutation of expectations, lack of understanding, upset, tension and people slowly becoming alienated.

The truth is that, while closeness and distance sound like opposite concepts, in a relationship they work more collaboratively and complementarily, constantly trying to find the point where they balance best. This point does not mean that it is always constant, as sometimes we may need to be closer to each other, while at other times we need more space and time for ourselves.

Our needs change, as do our relationships. Every relationship is dynamic and requires constant effort. The members of the relationship should be able to move between the two poles of closeness and distance, listening each time to the needs that exist, trying to achieve the most desirable position to ensure a healthy relationship.

Adjusting closeness and distance is not easy. We need to be flexible, open and listen not only ourselves and our needs, but also to the other person.

Difficulties and imbalances will always arise in relationships. It is necessary to be able to move easily on the closeness-distance axis, to change positions and to make the necessary corrections by being sometimes closer and sometimes farther. Do not forget to always keep the channel of communication with the other person open and to have the mutual benefit of our relationship as an important issue.

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