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How To Know If You're Falling Out Of Love

Francesca Bond
Author:
March 22, 2024
Francesca Bond
Relationships Editor
By Francesca Bond
Relationships Editor
Francesca Bond is mindbodygreen's relationships editor.
(Last Used: 2/18/21)
Image by Clique Images / Stocksy
March 22, 2024
We carefully vet all products and services featured on mindbodygreen using our commerce guidelines. Our selections are never influenced by the commissions earned from our links.

Few things are more painful in a relationship than questioning whether you're falling out of love with your partner. It's normal for a mixture of uncomfortable feelings, such as guilt, resentment, confusion, and grief to bubble to the surface, even causing you to avoid your partner in order to procrastinate the pain.

But if you're questioning your love for your partner, then it's a sign there is a lot of work to be done: either to salvage your relationship and connection, or to decide it might be time to split up.

We spoke to a couple of licensed therapists on what it means to "fall out of love," how to deal with those feelings, and what to do next.

Signs you're falling out of love with your partner

1. You're distancing yourself

Distance doesn't always make the heart grow fonder. If you feel yourself trying to put distance between you and your partner emotionally, physically, or mentally, then that could be a red flag that you're having a hard time being in your relationship, according to licensed marriage and family therapist Dana McNeil, PsyD.

2. You experience 'flooding'

Maybe your partner used to be a source of comfort for you, but now you feel agitated in their presence, flooded by a wave of negative emotions. If that's the case, you may be experiencing "flooding," according to McNeil. Flooding often occurs when a partner is "unable to regulate feelings of resentment, frustration, past unresolved hurts, or lack of trust," McNeil says.

"They may not know how to express their needs, or anticipate their partner will reject, dismiss, or minimize those emotions, so they keep them locked up," McNeil says.

3. You refuse to communicate

"Stonewalling," or refusing to communicate with your partner about your emotions or experiences, may indicate that you've been having a hard time processing your overwhelming emotions, and "unable to reestablish connection and healing with your partner," McNeil says.

4. You dwell on the negative and ignore the positive

In a relationship where either or both partners stop communicating about their needs, feel increasingly disconnected, and distance themselves from each other, an unfortunate pattern can arise: they can stop seeing any positives to their relationship, at all.

This is called "negative sentiment override," according to McNeil, and can often lead to love dissolving within relationships.

"This stage often leads to couples slowing falling out of love with one another because they are generally only able to focus on the negative behaviors and words happening in the relationship with little or no ability to have perspective about the positive or hold onto acceptance and affection for their partner," McNeil says.

5. You think your life would be easier without your partner in it

Have you been wondering if life might be easier if you were on your own?

"When couples are unable to see positivity in their relationship, and don’t have the tools to talk out their needs and form compromises or accept the parts that are not ideal about their relationship, they sense that life would be easier without their partner and they start to envision life on their own," McNeil says. "This environment erodes the love that was once so prevalent in a relationship where it was easier to hold each other in a positive perspective. When this connection is damaged, validation about each partner’s needs go unspoken and it is not unusual for love to wither."

The difference between falling out of love & a relationship rut

It can be difficult to know whether you're falling out of love with your partner or just experiencing a recoverable bump in the road.

During a rut, you may experience a sense of boredom, and a lack of excitement or emotional stimulation, McNeil says.

"Ruts can happen in any part of life, from a job, to where you go to eat dinner, to the way you have chosen to decorate your home," McNeil says.

It's perfectly normal for there to be periods of ambivalence in relationships, according to family and marriage therapist Jane Greer, Ph.D. Relationship ambivalence can occur for many reasons, including big life chances or if you've developed a crush on someone else.

"Being able to sort out the ambivalence is at the heart of every relationship," Greer previously told mbg. "What is the degree of ambivalence, and can you get back to loving feelings?"

Falling out of love, however, is "much more of a withdrawal, a change of heart, and a lack of desire to keep pursuing ways to challenge and add adventure. There is a waning of commitment to do the work required to keep the relationship alive and flourishing," according to McNeil.

How to help your relationship if you're falling out of love

Seeing a couples therapist can help you better understand yourself, your partner, your relationship, and how to move forward as a happier partnership.

"Having a third party validate and help frame what is happening in the relationship that may be causing you to want to pull away can sometimes set things in motion," McNeil says.

In couples therapy, you can understand whether you're asking for your needs to be met in a constructive way, identify what's been lacking in your relationship, process unresolved wounds, and address the feelings that keep you in a state of negative sentiment override, according to McNeil.

How to know your relationship is worth saving

Whether you remain in a romantic relationship with your partner or not, it's "always worth attempting to understand and heal what went wrong" in any relationship that once meaningful to you, according to McNeil.

Try to pinpoint the catalyst for your feelings of disconnection from your partner. What was the painful event, or when did your partner miss your bids for connection?

By allowing yourself to be vulnerable and open to possible feelings of pain or disappointment, you can take a more clear-eyed approach to understanding what went wrong in your relationship.

"Your partner and you are often not experiencing disconnection because you don’t love each other. Most times the emotions that are telling you that you don’t love a person anymore are there to block you from being vulnerable," McNeil says.

Once you and your partner understand which behaviors to change, and make those behavioral changes, then your relationship can heal and love can flourish once again.

Pay attention to whether your partner is open to resolving the relationship, or insistent on defending theirselves without accepting responsibility. It will help you understand better whether it might be time to break up.

"If the partner on the receiving end of your needs is busy defending their character, they are not going to able to provide empathy, compassion, and validation for what you may be missing in the relationship," McNeil says.

The takeaway

Feeling like you're falling out of love with your partner is incredibly painful, but it can also be illuminating. By understanding the root of your feelings, you can help your relationship get to a happier place, or decide it's time to move on.

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