Is Love Fleeting? How To Make It Last

Medically reviewed by Andrea Brant
Updated February 21, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Writer Colleen Houck wrote, "love is fleeting. It's a brief spark that flares in the heavens, bursting forth in a cascade of glory only to be snuffed out in the darkness of space." You may have heard the saying, "love is fleeting," before. However, is the quote true?  

Is love fleeting?

A man is sitting on the edge of a bed with his eyes closed and his hand on his face; he has a discouraged expression.

Cultivate love that stands the test of time

Love can be a complicated thing. People have different ideas about love. Some individuals may believe there is a soulmate for them, and that one person out of billions will fit that role. Others believe love is too big of a risk to take. The ideas that people have about love can be all over the place.

But is love truly fleeting? Science says it may not be, at least not for some people. In a 2008 study, researchers were trying to find out whether love could last and whether people could be just as in love with their partner decades into the relationship as they were at the beginning. The study looked at scans of the brains of couples that had been in love for an average of 21 years and compared them with those that had fallen in love within the previous year. They found that the scans looked similar.

If this is true, you may wonder why so many people say love is fleeting. What is the difference between relationships where partners are still in love with each other after 21 years and those that lose their spark?

Love changes over time

People often believe they aren't in love anymore because love usually changes over time: the feelings in the beginning stages of love may not last forever.

Everything may feel right with the world when you are first in love. You might not see any imperfections in the other person, and you might think you have found the perfect match. You probably enjoy spending every minute you can with them and think about them when you're not together. You may be willing to do things you don't enjoy to spend time with that person. You can get excited at the mention of their name, and you might put a lot of effort into being the person that you think they want in their life. 

However, once the newness of a relationship wears off, love may start to change. Maybe now you have begun to see things that bother you in that person. You may start to disagree more. You may not feel the same spark whenever you see them across the room.

If you're unfamiliar with the different stages of love, it can be easy to think that this change in feelings means you're no longer in love. You may think that those early-stage feelings will always be there if you love someone, just like they were in the beginning. Popular movies like romantic comedies may add to this belief. 

However, in reality, love changes over time. While the newness might wear off, staying dedicated to a relationship may grow it into something much deeper and more sustaining. Try to accept that feelings may change, but they don’t necessarily indicate less love or connection. 

Ways to make love last

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If you want a long-lasting relationship, it can help to understand how to make the relationship last once the “puppy love” stage wears off. It can be helpful to realize that the end of that first phase doesn't mean that your relationship needs to end, but simply that it's changing—and that doesn't have to be a bad thing.

While you might miss some of the excitement you felt in those early days, a new level of comfort, trust, and safetymay show up when you move further along in the stages of love. Consider the following ways to increase love in your long-term relationship. 

Choose your partner daily

Choosing your partner daily means deciding daily to stay with and love the partner you’re with. Love might be a feeling, but it's also a choice. You can choose to love someone even when the initial feelings of excitement have worn off. Some days, you may be angry at each other and may not feel all the warm and fuzzy feelings of love. However, you can choose to act lovingly toward that person.

Do what you did in the beginning

One of the ways that you can choose to love your partner as the relationship progresses is to continue to do the things you did in the beginning phases of your relationship. You may have been willing to go places you wouldn't usually choose to go, eat things you wouldn't normally choose to eat, and participate in something you usually wouldn't do, to show the person that you cared about them.

As the newness of relationships wears off, people may stop doing these things for their partners. Once you feel like you have succeeded in winning over the person, it can be easy to fall into complacency in your relationship. However, choosing to do new things (or even old things) to please your partner can go a long way in keeping love in your relationship.

Don't compare 

Theodore Roosevelt once said that comparison is the thief of joy, and that statement may have some wisdom. One way to avoid playing the comparison game is to stop comparing what you're doing with what your partner is doing. It's easy to think that you'll do something for them when they do something for you, but it may not help a relationship succeed. 

The other comparison game that is usually best to avoid when you're in a relationship is comparing your connection to someone else's. It may feel easy to see what someone else's significant other is doing for them and feel envious. While it can look like the grass is greener on the other side, it may not be. Every relationship can have troubles and struggles. 

If a relationship looks happier than yours or more passionate than yours, the people may be investing a lot of work into their relationship. At times, a couples’ presentation to the public isn’t the reality behind closed doors. Either way, comparing your relationship to someone else's might not help you take responsibility for your own relationship. 

Choose your words carefully

What you communicate can be crucial to how you experience life. If you are constantly thinking negative thoughts about your significant other in your head, it may show through your actions. 

Instead of focusing on the things that your partner does wrong or the things that you don't like about them, you might try choosing to focus on the positive aspects. To preserve a loving relationship, it can be important for both (get rid of this word as it insinuates only two people can be in a relationship) partners to decide to think positively about each other.

However, if you can’t find any positive qualities in your partner or find yourself irritated or angry often, you may consider ending the relationship. 

Don't hold grudges

It may be normal to have a few arguments and disagreements in your relationship. However, refusing to work through a problem or communicate about it may cause more harm to you and your partner. 

One way to avoid holding grudges is to learn how to forgive your partner and ask for forgiveness. If you have been wronged and feel that you cannot forgive your partner, therapy may be an option for you. 

A couple are sitting together in front of a laptop; the man is looking at the woman and the woman is looking at the laptop screen; they both have amused expressions.

Cultivate love that stands the test of time

Go to couples therapy

Many people might feel that couples therapy is a last-ditch effort, but any couple may choose to use it as a relationship tool. You don't have to be on the brink of splitting up to go to couples’ therapy. An experienced therapist may help you navigate the conflicts in your relationship and help you learn techniques that can allow you to feel the love between you and your partner.  

Your therapist may help you learn essential skills and strategies that give your relationship a better chance of long-term success. They may be able to help you and your partner identify areas in your personal lives that need to be dealt with and help you learn the root causes of the issues in your relationship.

A growing body of evidence points to online therapy as an effective method for couples who want to participate in counseling. A study published by the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy surveyed couples utilizing various therapy resources. Overall, most couples indicated a preference for the comprehensive tools and methods provided by online counseling compared to in-person meetings.

Online therapy can help create positive relationship behaviors for you and your partner. With flexible couples counseling through services like BetterHelp for individuals or ReGain for couples, you'll be able to schedule online sessions at your convenience, which you can attend wherever you have an Internet connection, including the comfort of your own home. 

Read below for reviews of BetterHelp therapists who have helped people with their relationships.

Counselor reviews

"Sandy was really great and helped me unlock the things I needed surrounding my relationship and dating patterns. In the period of time, she was a great sounding board and also helped give me the thinking tools I needed to move forward in a better path. I definitely recommend Sandy and her open and direct approach -–she was wonderful!"

“Izabela is AMAZING. Since I've started working with her, I have begun to sort out my emotions revolving around past traumas, I've become more aware of what I'm feeling and my communication skills have improved immensely, which has really improved my relationship with my husband.”

Takeaway

Once you know the root cause of your issues, you may start addressing them within your relationship. If your relationship is struggling or you're wondering if you're still in love with your partner, consider reaching out for help. The sooner you act, the more effective your counseling may be. A compassionate counselor may be able to help you and your partner get back on track.

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