Relationships are generally pretty wonderful: It's nice to have a partner to do things with, it's great to feel supported all the time, and it's exhilarating to think you might have found the person you'll spend forever with.
In fact, in the early stages of love, it's almost impossible to focus on anything else. People can get so caught up in their relationships that they forget what it's like not to feel excited and happy.
Sometimes, though, it doesn't always play out like that. Even if you and your partner are each other's perfect fit, you may find that the passion wanes over time. One day, you may wake up and discover that you are no longer excited or passionate about your relationship. But why does that happen? And is there anything you can do to reignite the spark between you and your partner?
First of all, if you feel as if your relationship has hit a rut, don’t panic — a bump in the road in no way indicates that you and your partner are doomed or that your relationship is over. Secondly, there are, in fact, a few signs that you can look out for that could mean you and your boo are headed for a slump, as well as tricks and tips for falling back in love.
Looking for answers, I turned to three relationship experts to get their take on what it means when the fire fades in your relationship, and how to get back on track. And what they had to say was super relatable.
1. You Get Stuck In A Rut
Dating guru and relationship expert James Preece says, "The most common reason relationships fail is because you both stop making an effort."
When couples are together over a long period of time, it's pretty typical to fall into patterns, and that's OK. The thing is, those patterns can start to feel really monotonous if you're doing the exact same thing every single day with no variation.
"It's so easy to keep doing the same things, having a regular routine, and repeating everything over and over,” Preece says, “It's dating groundhog day and the quickest way to get bored."
The important thing is to get out of your comfort zone once in a while. "If you want to avoid this, you have to switch up what you are doing. Have regular date nights and think up new places and activities you can try together."
My husband and I do a lot of the same thing every day: We kiss good morning, we take the puppy out at the same time, we have tea together. And we love it, but we also make it a point to get out and do spontaneous things a lot, too. We go to raves and do athletic activities and take a lot of trips.
If you feel like your relationship might be getting stuck in a rut, and that's the reason the spark is fading, get out together and try something new.
2. You're Not Sure Of Your Future
Let's face it: Even the most committed, loving long-term couples can lose their spark every once in a while. That said, if the two of you aren't sure where you're headed as a couple, that ambiguity can cause more frequent slumps.
Preece says if the two of you feel like you might be on different pages about your future, or if you haven't talked about it at all, that can lead to feeling like you've lost the spark. If one or both of you is unsure about what's coming, it can be easy to stop putting in as much effort to keeping the passion alive.
"Do you know where you see yourselves as a couple in the future? If one of you wants to be married with kids and the other doesn't, there's no point burying your heads in the sand. If you do you'll never going to resolve things."
If this might be the cause of your relationship rut, the best thing you can do is communicate. You may find that the two of you are actually on the same page and you can start building your life together, or you may realize you aren't the best fit sooner rather than later.
"Have a reality check conversation now and find out exactly how much you are in sync. Yes, goals can change, but don't kid yourself if you are dating the wrong person," says Preece.
3. You Take Each Other For Granted
Part of what can make long-term relationships so appealing to some people is the level of comfort and intimacy you get to experience with another human. Sometimes, though, it's that exact comfort that makes the spark start to fade.
"When was the last time you paid your other half a compliment or did something special for them as a surprise? If you get too comfortable, it's natural to feel unappreciated," says Preece.
Taking each other for granted can also come with relationship expectations, says Fran Greene, licensed clinical social worker (LCSWR) and author of Dating Again with Courage and Confidence. "For example, you see them only as a provider or he sees you only for your concierge skills; you ditched all common courtesies, and everything (other than your partner) takes precedence."
And it's not just about how complimentary you are or the extra special things you are doing, it's also about your day-to-day habits and lifestyle. Although people don't often like to admit it, it is very important to keep engaging with your SO.
"If you let yourself slip, your relationship will probably go the same way," says Preece. "Happiness comes with the small gestures as much as the big ones.”
4. You Don't Know How To Pace Your Relationship
Lori Salkin, matchmaker and relationship expert, says the speed at which some people go in good relationships can cause the spark to fade quicker than it otherwise would. "When a new relationship is good, the individuals in the couple tend to move very quickly through the early stages of dating," she says.
It's all good when it's exciting, but what about when you've already hit every single milestone immediately?
All of sudden, it's only two months into the relationship [and] you've spent every single day together, alluded to a lifetime together and possibly even discussed when the commitment would come, met each other's parents [...] But it's only been two months, now what?
My husband and I actually got married in eight weeks, but we aren't the norm by any means. Most couples in this situation, says Salkin, get overwhelmed and fizzle out when the spark fades. She says in order to make sure this doesn't happen, it's important to step back and remember to date and enjoy each other.
"Even though it is exciting and promising when you meet someone, and it seems like this is 'the one,' and you want to run to completely incorporate this person into every aspect of your life, you need to pace yourselves to make sure it develops steadily and grows to last."
In this case, all it will take is a little bit of time and some slowing down to make sure your spark comes back.
5. You're Too "On" At First And Spend Too Much Time Together
If the two of you spent a lot of time being super "on" when you first started dating, it can be hard to transition to a more low-key, coupled-up life — if that’s what you both want. Not only that, but if you are constantly stuck to each other's sides, you'll quickly realize the spark has gone out.
Going out all the time, doing new things, and talking life philosophy can all be great in the early stages of a relationship, but real life comes with a little more, says Salkin:
It is very important to balance needing to be 'on' with real-life so you do not burn out in your relationships.
Being a little more “real” can actually help the spark, in this case.
Greene also says to make sure you aren't spending every waking moment together: "The old adage fire needs air, well, it applies to couples as well. Spending every minute together is not good for you, your partner or your relationship."
Be you as much as possible — in the relationship and in the intentional space you take away from it.
6. Work, Family, Or Personal Lives Get In The Way
Unfortunately, sometimes, you might just find the spark fading because, well, that's life and it happens. "Life is complicated, you each have multiple priorities and often the couple goes to the bottom of the to-do list," says Greene.
"Often, external forces that are equally important to your relationship with your significant other, but are more necessary, such as your work, family, education, [and] housing, can add such stress and pressure to your life that the natural reaction is to pull away from something to balance everything else better."
Although it can feel like multiple things are demanding your attention at once, it's not the best thing to try to prioritize everything else and leave your relationship behind. "Whether you intentionally or subconsciously pull away, it definitely can make the spark fade and even disappear," says Salkin.
Instead of forgetting about your relationship in times of stress, let it be the thing that you gravitate to. If you nurture your relationship more, and it's a good relationship, chances are high that you'll feel more nurtured yourself.
If you find the spark fading in your relationship, don't worry: There are lots of things you can do to work on it. Greene suggests remembering to appreciate each other, planning special dates, and being as affectionate as you were in the early stages.
It's normal for the spark to fade a little over time. The important thing is to continue to fan the flames of your relationship so that you keep it strong for the long haul.
Additional reporting by Iman Hariri-Kia.