Why Do People Fall Out Of Love?
Falling out of love is entirely possible. Whether you’re married or not and regardless of how long you’ve been together, sometimes partners realize they’re simply not in love with each other anymore. The reasons for falling out of love are anything but simple, however. The complexity of humans and our relationships mean that this can happen for many different reasons. If you feel that you may have fallen out of love with your partner, learning more about how and why that can happen might help you decide how to move forward.
Why Do People Stop Loving Each Other?
There’s no one reason it happens. Sometimes, even the people who have fallen out of love with each other may find it hard to pinpoint exactly why or how it came about. That said, there are a few factors that may play a role in why this happens.
1. The Intimacy Was Lost
While not all romantic relationships have a sexual component, those that did originally may suffer if that component fails to last. Additionally, many relationships can and do have an intimate component, even if it’s not sexual. Again, if this piece of the way a couple relates to each other is lost, it can be difficult for the relationship to continue on happily. A review of research on the topic explains how important this element is to a bond, stating that “Intimacy is strongly associated with the quality of a couples’ life and is often referred to as a basic psychological need,” and that, when healthy, it can positively impact the mental states of the partners, “such as reducing the risk of depression [and] increasing happiness and well-being.”
The review also explains that a lack of intimacy is one of the most common causes of “distress and collapse among couples,” which can impact both their relationship as well as their respective states of mental health. The reasons for a loss of intimacy between partners can vary. It could be related to stress, busy schedules, some type of incompatibility, or a simple loss of interest over time.
2. One Or Both Of Them Changed
It’s a simple but sometimes painful fact. Who you are, what you believe, and the types of choices you make can and frequently do change over time for many people. This is especially true for those who have been in relationships for many years, whose relationships began when they were very young, and/or who have been through traumatic or otherwise life-changing events throughout the course of their partnership.
One study found that personality traits can indeed change in any stage of life, usually in response to life circumstances or experiences. While personality changes over a person’s lifetime tend to be for the better, that’s not always the case—and either way, people might not evolve in compatible ways, resulting in them not having enough in common anymore. While you don’t have to agree on everything to have a healthy relationship, changes over time can drive a wedge between you until there’s just not enough overlap to provide a strong foundation for a relationship anymore. Simply “growing apart” or growing in divergent directions is one reason people can fall out of love.
3. A Conflict Went Unresolved
One study found that a lack of trust was one of the top three reasons for the end of relationships. There can be many different sources for this, but a common one is likely some sort of conflict between the couple. An infidelity, for example, could result in one partner being hesitant to trust the other. One big fight or ongoing conflict could have a similar effect. Even a series of smaller fights could lead to a buildup of resentment over time, which can be so difficult for two people to recover from that it has been cited as one of the “four horsemen” that can usher in the end of a relationship.
Can Mental Health Conditions Influence Whether A Person Falls Out Of Love?
It is, of course, entirely possible for both partners in a relationship to be mentally healthy and still feel that they’ve fallen out of love. However, individuals who feel this way might also consider the possibility that a mental health condition could be impacting how they feel about themselves, their partner, or their relationship. Symptoms of depression could be caused by stressors in the relationship, but the reverse is also possible. Feelings of hopelessness about the relationship, a lack of sexual intimacy in previously sexual dynamics, and difficulty handling emotions without shutting down are some potential signs that one or both partners could be suffering from depression that’s impacting the way they relate to each other.
What To Do When You’ve Fallen Out Of Love
Is it possible to fall back in love with someone? It depends on the situation, but it’s certainly true that some couples have been able to rebuild what was broken or missing and find themselves satisfied in their relationship once again. If the problem arises because the intimacy was lost, research shows that therapy, sex education, and training in communication skills can all be useful interventions.
If the problem arises because one or both people have fundamentally changed, because a conflict went unresolved, or because one or both partners are experiencing mental health challenges, therapy can be helpful. As long as both partners can commit to working together improving their dynamic, research suggests that therapy—especially virtual therapy, which couples reported gave them an element of distance from the therapist that made them feel “a greater sense of control and comfort”—can be beneficial for couples who are facing challenges. A trained therapist can help couples identify unhealthy dynamics between them, work through conflicts, and learn new strategies for handling future conflicts. If you’d like to be matched with a therapist who can help you work through these challenges, consider an online therapy platform like BetterHelp.
Falling out of love sometimes happens. While it can be rekindled in some cases, it simply doesn’t work out in others. Remember that falling out of love and/or ending a relationship doesn’t necessarily mean that you or it failed. Relationships of all types and durations can be satisfying, enjoyable, and prove to be valuable learning experiences, even if they end before expected. Take comfort in knowing that there are several different avenues to try if you and your partner wish to work on things, and also in knowing that falling out of love with someone for good doesn’t equate with failure. If you want guidance in sorting through a relationship you’re working on or one that has recently ended, keep in mind that a mental health professional can help.
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