How To Tell If You’re Falling Out Of Love Or Just In A Slump, According To Experts
Have you ever looked over at your partner who you love dearly and thought, "Ugh" — but then immediately started panicking because you're not sure what that moment of apathy meant? How could someone you were so crazy about suddenly just leave you with an emotional flatline, or worse, disdain? Does that mean the relationship is over? Are you going to have to break up? Maybe this is just the relationship slump everyone warns you about that comes after the honeymoon phase has faded into a distant memory. How to tell you’re falling out of love or if this is just a normal blip can be a scary distinction to make, but it is a necessary one.
While the differences may be subtle, it's important to separate the feelings and behaviors of a couple who is in a rough patch and a couple where one or both of the partners have fallen out of love. If it's the former, there is definitely hope for the future. However, if it’s the latter, it is probably time to start thinking about how to (carefully and with kindness) exit from the relationship. I reached out to relationship experts to explain how these feelings can mean very different things for the future of a relationship. Here's how they say you can tell if you're just in a slump, or if you've lost those loving feelings.
1. They Get On Your Nerves ... A Lot
When you're with someone long enough, they're going to occasionally get on your nerves, and that's totally normal. The question is, how much patience do you have with your partner? And how quickly do you rebound from being annoyed? If it’s just a slump, you most likely have a high amount of patience, and the irritation fades quickly. That’s because when you love someone, you're motivated to move on and not dwell in the negative for too long.
However, as NYC relationship expert Susan Winter told Elite Daily, if “you find yourself irritated by everything they do (and don't do),” that’s a sign that you may be falling out of love with them. That’s because, as your love fades, so too does your patience. You’ll find yourself becoming quicker to criticize your partner and slower to forgive, even petty annoyances. So for example, if you find yourself getting mad at your partner for “things that don’t matter like the TV shows they watch,” Nicole Richardson, a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist, says it could be an indication that you’re falling out of love.
2. The Excitement Is Gone
We are creatures of habit. Our routines make us feel safe and secure, but in a relationship they can also really kill the excitement and passion. Richardson says that if you’re feeling “bored but aren’t sure how to make things more fun,” or like “you know what your partner will say before they say it,” these are clear signs you're in a slump.
It’s time to break up the routine and see if that shakes off some of the lack of enthusiasm you're feeling in the relationship. And if that sounds like too much work or effort, and you just can't bring yourself to bother, that kind of apathy may be a sign of a larger emotional deficit.
3. You Miss Them Less When You’re Apart
When you're first with a new partner, every moment spent apart feels bittersweet. You just want to be together, all the time! But over time, as you get secure in the relationship, it’s natural to spend more time apart — but still be in communication. If you’re in a relationship slump, the tenor of that communication may change to more logistical and less personal. This is in no way a bad thing, but it's normal to miss the flirty banter that used to exist. Where you should become concerned about things is when, as Richardson explains, you begin to “look for reasons to not spend time with them.” You've transitioned from wanting space to straight up avoiding them.
4. You’re Not Attracted To Them Anymore
Listen, we all wish the honeymoon phase — when every touch and kiss feels like a revelation — would last forever, but that intensity fades. It comes, it goes, and then comes again. This is the natural ebb and flow of a relationship. But when the dry spell turns into something more akin to being creeped out by your partner’s touch, you’ve passed out of slump territory and into something more serious. Lack of attraction is different than a fluctuating libido.
“I believe sexual attraction comes easily when the relationship is working — so don't focus so much on the fact that you aren't having sex; focus on the reason behind that non-action,” Nora Dekeyser, dating coach and matchmaker at Three Day Rule, told Elite Daily.
5. You’re Not Sure About Your Future Together
But the most obvious way to separate being in a slump and falling out of love is how you feel about your future with them. If you “start to imagine your future without them,” says Robinson, then there's a good chance you’ve lost those loving feelings.
“A huge element of relationships is hope and excitement for the future: you both want similar things, and share common dreams and goals," Alessandra Conti, Celebrity Matchmaker at Matchmakers In The City, told Elite Daily. "If when you close your eyes and think about the future, if you are more often fantasizing about being with another man, or being alone, these are signs that you have fallen out of love.”
If you’re still not sure how you feel, Robinson suggests imagining your future in a year, or five years. "What is your ideal life like? Where do you live? What job do you have? How do you spend your free time? Is your partner in that ideal life?” If the answer is no, then you know what to do.
Why do relationships have to be so freakin’ complicated? Navigating these confusing emotions is really hard and can be emotionally brutal, but there is real power in knowing yourself and being real about your emotional needs, which means sometimes asking yourself the really hard questions and taking the difficult steps.
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