As a couples therapist, one of my hardest moments is when I realize the love is gone from their relationship. Just like watching something die, it never gets easier. The grief. The sadness. The anger. And of course, the mystery of why.
Sometimes these relationships are revivable; and sometimes the heart has just stopped beating and nothing can be done. I try, they try, and then, one of them finally admits; it’s gone – the love, that is.
Many of us want to know the signs. Maybe, if we know them, we can assuage the end of something we deeply love and care about. As a therapist, we teach our clients that with awareness, comes choice; and with choice, comes power. If you are wondering if your relationship is headed for troubled waters, here are the 4 most prominent signs to look for as indicators that your partner may have fallen out of love with you.
Indicator #1: Your partner has given up.
None of us like fighting with our partner; it’s awful. The yelling, the stomping around, or even the classic retreat into the bedroom in hopes that they will come find you.
While these fights, and the countless others, are messy, and terrible in their own right, they do speak to something. The couple has passion. They care about the other person enough to fight with them. And while it is a twisted way of showing love, there is an underlying belief in the relationship, and hope for a better future.
When you start to see that your partner has stopped engaging with you and in general just “doesn’t care anymore,” you should start to wonder if they’ve fallen out love with you. Because, what’s the point of fighting if they’ve given up?
Indicator #2: Ships passing in the night.
When your partner avoids coming home, it doesn’t look like much at first. Little signs like “we feel like ships passing in the night.” Or maybe there is steady ramp up of work trips, and sometimes they make them longer than they need to be. And finally, sometimes they fill their calendars with friends and activities, but none of them involve you. This is a major sign that your partner has been building a life, without you.
We come home because we want to see our partners, we want to feel love, and most of all, we want to feel a source of happiness. If your home has become loveless, fraught with conflict, or lacking meaning, your partner will avoid it for their own psychological survival.
Indicator #3: The sex is gone. Completely.
There are thousands of relationships that have a unique sex life. Some couples have sex 3 times a week, others 3 times a month, and finally, some 3 times a year. And while many of us scour the internet to find the “magic number” to fact check the healthiness of own sexual life, the honest truth is that there is no such number.
This mystical number is the amount that you and your partner decide on to meet each other’s needs. And while no sex-life is “perfect,” your goal should be about trying to reach a middle ground.
However, if you shirk at the idea of having sex, to the point of disgust, your relationship might be near its ending. Sex alone is not an indicator of relational health, but if disgust fills your body at even the idea of kissing your partner; guess who feels it from you? Your partner.
Indicator #4: Your partner is filled with contempt.
All of us have mood fluctuations. We bounce sometimes from emotional state to emotional state. We feel close to our partner, and sometimes distant. We have a great weekend with them, and sometimes just a bad night. Having varying mood states towards your partner is normal, and a very relational way to live on this planet.
However, one sign you want to pay attention to is when you see a consistent mood that permeates the relationship. The mood to look for? Contempt. When your partner appears consistently disgusted by your presence; mean to you, sarcastic, disrespectful; this is a major sign that your relationship may be near its end.
All of us want and deserve to be loved. However, there is nothing more complicated than relationships. If you find that your partner has fallen out of love with you, it can be one of the hardest times in your life. Find your resources, look inside yourself to ask tough questions and lean on your village of friends; all will help guide you out of these tricky waters. And finally, find that person whose heart won’t stop beating for you, even in toughest of times.
-- Erika Boissiere is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, who specializes in couples therapy, based out of San Francisco, CA. She is also the founder of The Relationship Institute of San Francisco, which provides cognitive behavioral therapy to couples and relationships.