Were you ever madly in love with your partner and then at some point found yourself no longer in love? It happens to everyone, and it's not necessarily a bad thing.
Feeling "in love" occurs when two people who are attracted to each other also feel safe enough to let each other in on their authentic feelings—to be vulnerable. Passionate love requires not only chemistry but also that both parties feel seen, heard, valued, and appreciated.
So, why does that feeling fade?
Fear takes over.
Fear of rejection or engulfment—of losing the other or losing yourself. We all enter relationships with some fears. The key to staying in love is learning to deal with these fears healthily and productively.
If you've learned to protect yourselves against these fears like most of us, rather than face them head-on, you'll begin to act out in ways that undermine the relationship. You'll no longer feel safe and connected when each of you is protecting yourself with controlling behavior.
Examples of this include the following:
- Getting angry, critical, judgmental; blaming, shaming, demanding, attacking, defending, explaining
- Shutting down, withdrawing, withholding, resisting, lying
- Becoming needy or self-victimizing
- Acting out addictively with substances like food, alcohol, drugs, or activities like work, TV, computer, shopping, spending, video games, sex, porn, cheating, and so on
When you each react to your fears by closing your heart and turning to any of these controlling behaviors, then neither of you can feel seen, heard, valued, or appreciated. "In love" feelings can't survive these behaviors. Even people who are very physically attracted to each other find their affection waning under these circumstances.
So, how do you fall in love again?
Even if you feel that all the love is gone, if you were in love with each other once, you can get it back. But not without doing your own inner work to heal your fears. You have to address your internal issues rather than try to avoid them with controlling behavior.
Before you can fall in love with your partner again, you need to fall in love with yourself. This means learning to see, hear, value, and appreciate yourself—giving yourself the kind of love you want from your partner.
Learning to love yourself is how you heal your fears.
When you see, hear, value, and appreciate yourself, you no longer fear rejection. While none of us likes rejection, we stop fearing it when we love ourselves. We no longer take it personally. We no longer believe that someone else's rejection or acceptance is the most accurate indicator of our value.
When rejection stops being the ultimate fear, you cease to be vulnerable to self-denying insecurity and engulfment.
When you love yourself, you learn to fill your heart with love to share with your partner. Only when you truly value your own essence—who you really are—can you see and value the essence of your partner.
Even if just one of you embarks on the journey of self-love, it may be enough to heal the relationship. If one person moves out of controlling protective behavior and into loving themselves and their partner, it may turn a dysfunctional relationship system into a loving, productive one.
Rather than considering separation or divorce when you fall out of love, why not first try learning to love yourself? It's the only way to experience true, lasting love with a partner. The sooner you start, the better.