Why is my girlfriend avoiding me?

Help. Whenever my girlfriend is out of the country, we talk for hours and she is jovial. When she comes back, we hardly communicate and can’t even plan a date.

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I have been in a relationship with my 24-year-old girlfriend for six years now. For the most part, the relationship has been great. However, she found work in the Middle East about two and a half years ago and since then, we hardly spend quality time together. I have thought about asking her to quit but that is impractical given the tough economic times we are in at the moment.

Additionally, I have noticed her hesitation to visit my church despite me going to hers several times. I am a protestant and she is Catholic.

Lastly, I have noticed a pattern in our communication. Whenever she is out of the country, we talk for hours and she is jovial. When she comes back, we hardly communicate and can’t even plan a date. Sometimes I feel like she is avoiding me. What should I do?

Dear reader,

It is clear that you started dating her at a very age. Great relationships require honesty in setting priorities and communicating them. There seems to be a lack of closeness and devotion in your relationship. It is clear that both of you hold different set of values and priorities that make working together towards a given goal difficult. You need to communicate and plan things together. These will mean putting a few things into consideration: First, how you manage your long-distance relationship plays a lot in conflict management and intimacy building. For many couples, long distance relationships can contribute to a lack of time together particularly where the two don't come up with creative ways of building the relationship. The feeling of intimacy and emotional connection in distant relationships becomes a challenge as communication fails.

However, because communication is crucial in every relationship, every spouse must make a deliberate effort to use every available channel to keep communication alive. You have been together six years; this should have helped build this foundation. Could the demands you place on her when she is back cause her to want to keep away? You need to find out why being back makes her elusive. Maybe she feels obligated to be more with her family or other friends. This is something you need to look into.

On matters church, Dr Harley notes that “If the believer ignores the feelings of his or her spouse to follow the religious teaching, the marriage will become the victim of conversion. The reason why differences in faith create problems in marriage is because faith usually affects our behaviour.” It is important that none of you should feel forced to follow their spouse’s religion. Religion is a matter of the heart. Don’t follow each other’s religious practices for the sake of pleasing each other. Faith must be a journey, a conviction leading to a life time commitment. Therefore, faith and religion issues must be handled with care.

Your problem of communication seems to be at the core of what you are facing. Additionally, seek to discover where priorities have changed. Maybe you are no longer on the priority list. To do a better job at your communication in these areas, you may need to:

1) Be clear about your beliefs and convictions. Is the conflict on the church attendance critical?

2) Evaluate the kind of relationship you have. Maybe you are better apart than together. Therefore, work on your beliefs and convictions and let those convictions help you in making the right choices.

3) Evaluate your partner’s beliefs and practices and how they affect how both of you relate. My opinion is that, changing work locations or church will not bring oneness in these matters. You need to interrogate if there is someone or something else holding her back.

4) Don’t invest energy and time in a relationship that lacks focus and direction. Choose the mature way of looking at this relationship and give defence for the faith you have in her.

5) Finally, make a physical visit with the aim of deciding on a cost/ benefit analysis of the relationship. Why would you believe that you love each other and that you still need each other? This is a critical question you may need to answer one way or another. Otherwise, you will be walking in the dark.

Intelligence demands that you both feel safe with each other. Such safety is founded on respect and honesty. When the feeling of safety surrounds a couple, they are able to, listen to each other’s thoughts and opinions. This brings a sense of peace that allows both to know that they can be vulnerable without victimisation. May be there is a level of fear that needs to be dealt with.

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