No one wants to fall out of love. Unfortunately, it just happens sometimes. I've been on both sides of the equation — both having fallen out of love and felt someone who once cared for me slowly slip away. Both scenarios are horrible, but even worse is when you have a feeling your partner didn't just randomly lose that loving feeling, but, instead, found it with someone else. Yes it’s heartbreaking, but possibly even worse is when, in retrospect, there were signs your partner loves someone else.
At the time, you might've just had that sinking feeling of suspicion and anxiety that proceeded the truth coming out. Your gut was telling you something was off, but you couldn’t put your finger on what exactly had changed. Or maybe you missed the signs entirely and were blindsided. Either way, it's important to protect yourself in the future by being able to recognize the indications that your partner’s heart may have begun to stray. You can't make someone love you, but you can take control of the situation if you see it coming. Here's what you should pay attention to if you sense that there may be an unwelcome third party in your relationship.
1. Your Partner Suddenly Becomes Obsessed With Getting In Shape
Unless your partner has always been fitness-obsessed, my guess is that their gym attendance was sporadic at best. Big changes in behavior patterns are always worth taking a closer look at. Relationship expert and bestselling author Susan Winter suggests asking yourself, "Where did the sudden interest come from? Is it for reasons of personal improvement, or is it coming from the impetus to look better for someone else?”
2. They Are Increasingly Passionate About A Hobby They Had Minimal Interest In Before
Just taking up a new interest isn't a red flag on its own, and as Winter says, "It’s normal for each partner to develop his or her own set of interests." However, where this can turn into a pattern of behavior that you should be concerned about is when it becomes an overwhelming interest in something specific, because "there may be more than the lure of the activity itself,” says Winter.
3. Your Partner Starts Finding Excuses to Avoid You
Have you suddenly stopped being included on the guest list for many of the events your partner is attending? Are they out all the time doing things that you aren't a part of — particularly ones you would have been included in in the past? And, when you are together, do you get the sense that maybe there is somewhere else they would rather be? According to Winter, this is a pretty clear sign that your partner's heart may not be with you anymore.
4. Your Sex Life Has Changed Suddenly
There is a normal ebb and flow to all couples’ sex lives, so things just slowing down or picking up isn't an automatic red flag. Instead, it’s about sudden, unexplained changes like "the partner who used to be incredibly hot for you is now tired or bothered by something at work." She continues, "Alternatively, your normal sex life has suddenly shifted into high gear. No matter how it plays out, you can’t help but realize that your partner’s all over the map, sexually speaking. This is a clear indication something’s up.
5. Their Phone Has Become Fort Knox
Any time your partner has become secretive, you should be paying attention — especially when that behavior includes locking down their phone, computer, or any other personal communication device. If they once had a relaxed attitude toward their phone, but they have suddenly become overly protective of it, there is a reason.
So Now What?
OK, so now, you know the signs, and you sense that it's possible your partner is falling in love with someone else, but what the heck are you supposed to do? Well, don't go into full panic mode yet. Instead, Winter says it’s time to go into fact-finding mode. "Before you leap to accusations, gather your facts," she says. Literally start keeping track of the behaviors that concern you. Write them down so that you can start looking for patterns, and organize your thoughts into concrete points if the time comes to confront them.
"When you feel you’ve gathered enough material to warrant a rational discussion, ask your partner what’s going on. Don’t jump to assumptions, attack, or accuse,” says Winter. Also, don’t come in too hot from the start or your partner may just shut down or start covering their tracks.
“Try to reserve judgment until you’ve heard their side of the story," Winter concludes. "You don’t want to be wrong, but you also don’t want to be a fool."
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