Recall those early days of your relationship when your partner could not get enough of you. He or she would call constantly, stay on the phone for hours, talk with you all night.
Now time has passed, and you no longer get butterflies in your tummy when you think of your sweetheart. The spark is gone. You still have romantic feelings for him or her. But you sense that he or she no longer cares about the relationship — or at least doesn't care as much as you do. You no longer have the upper hand.
It is natural to feel anxious and sad when this happens. Your anguish may lead you to attempt to use various mind-manipulating tactics to get the upper hand in your relationship.
Playing games to gain or regain the power in a relationship is bound to lead to the demise of the relationship, however. There are many relationships where one person holds more power than his or her other but these types of relationships tend to be extremely unhealthy. Physically or verbally abusive relationships, relationships where one partner is cheating, relationships where one partner has a lot more assets than the other (assets that are not common property) are bound to fail or lead to heartbreak and unhappiness.
If you feel your partner is pulling away, the way to go is not attempting to gain or regain the power in your relationship. Power doesn't give you what you want. What you really want is to be loved, not to have the upper hand. You want your love to be reciprocated. You want praise, admiration, respect and love. Your negative feelings about your relationship stem from a perceived lack of those features.
How do you get all that back? How do you act in ways that can make you win back your partner's love? Here's how to save your relationship in 5 steps.
1. Make up for your past sins.
If you cheated on your partner, you do not have the upper hand, nor should you try to gain power on those grounds. If you cheated on your partner, you need to act genuinely apologetic and accept that your partner may not trust you or love you the way he or she used to trust you and love you.
The only thing you can do in this situation (assuming you have cut the connection with the other person and have sincerely expressed your regrets to your partner) is to show how much you love your partner every single day. Assuming you don't commit other infidelities and that you are still with your partner, he or she will likely eventually return to normal and start loving and trusting you.
2. Let go a little.
If you feel you lost power in your relationship, it may be because you have been too eager to spend time with your significant other or to push the relationship forward. You can't rush things, and hopefully, your relationship is not the only passion in your life. Spend more time on your other interests (for instance, sports, hobbies, school, work). Give your partner the space he or she needs.
3. Stop playing games.
Many relationship experts on the web will tell you to play power games to win back the love in your relationship or to reignite the spark. Don't! If you purposely ignore your partner or intentionally act cold and distant, you are playing a game.
While this sort of behavior may lead to increased attention from your partner for a short while, it will not have a long-lasting effect on your relationship. If you frequently act rude or mean, ignore your partner or act cold and distant, your partner will eventually lose interest in you.
4. Respect your partner's wishes.
It goes without saying that not all wishes should be granted. For example, your partner may wish to do a threesome while you absolutely do not want to do that. In cases like these, you should not grant your partner's wishes. But not granting your partner's wishes does not imply disrespecting him or her for having the particular desires he or she has.
Respect is the single most important factor in a relationship. If you lose respect for your significant other or they lose respect for you, your relationship is doomed. To show respect for your partner, stop focusing on the negative in your relationship and comment on the positive aspects. Be generous with compliments and caring behavior.
5. Set boundaries.
Make fully clear to your partner what kinds of behavior you will or will not put up with. Don't do this in the midst of a fight or while drinking alcoholic beverages. If, however, your partner acts in a way you won't put up with or makes a hurtful remark, and you are not fighting or drinking, point out that the comment or action was hurtful and that you don't want him or her to repeat it.
Keep the volume of your voice low and use a kind tone. If your partner is a "bad drunk" — that is, if he or she becomes aggressive or hurtful when drinking — then your partner has a serious problem which needs to be corrected. You can help correct it. But don't bring up your concerns while your significant other is drinking and being rude. Wait until he or she is sober and calm. Then express your concern as calmly as possible.
This article was originally published at Psychology Today. Reprinted with permission from the author.