Whilst falling in love can happen instantly, falling out of love takes time, and often it can be confusing whether you just love someone or are still in love with someone.
So what’s the difference?
Being in love with someone is seeing yourself with them for the long term, and finding happiness in your daily routine together. You cherish memories and special moments, still feel butterflies when they text or call and, most significantly, can’t envision your life with anyone else. Sure, they annoy you and you argue once in a while because every couple does, but never would that make you think of leaving.
If you love someone, you care for their health and needs, you enjoy spending time with them and you’d hate to think of them upset or in pain. But there is a niggling feeling that there could be more to this. You harbour the thought of what your future will be like if you were elsewhere, or with someone else. You think you can do better. You feel unsettled and discontented.
Trying to distinguish between the two can feel like an impossible task, especially when you’re the only one who can shed light on your situation.
To try and help you, however, here’s a list of signs that may point you in the right direction and help you figure out if this is just a ‘phase’ or you’ve fallen out of love, period.
Of course, we’re not advocating you ship out at the first instance. If you’re sensing major issues and still think there’s a way to rescue the relationship, stop the destructive behaviour right now and try counselling.
1. You argue more often than not
Bickering and rows are ‘normal’ in relationships. That being said, if all you seem to do is argue, and everything he does annoys you, then something isn’t right. When the negativity starts to outweigh the positives — things need to be addressed.
Are you guys still on the same page? Where is all this argumentative behaviour coming from? If you don’t even want to bother addressing the arguments, then I think you already have your answer.
2. You have a gut feeling that never seems to fully disappear
There will always be periods of highs and lows as well as times of high stress and anxiety. This could be because of finances, family, career, health and more. There will be times when you feel ‘off’ and that’s just life.
However, if you have this internal ‘niggle’ that something isn’t right — and it doesn’t go away no matter what you do — you need to start listening to this voice. Sit down with yourself and try to work out what the real issue is, so you can address it full on.
If you don’t ‘feel’ right about your partner anymore, or feel distressed most of the time about your relationship, perhaps it’s time to listen to your gut instinct.
3. You’re considering a different future
Since day one, you two have discussed, with excitement, your future together. From travel ideas to wedding and family goals, you’ve both relished in the same plan. But now, you’re rethinking it. Maybe the idea of babies no longer appeals, or perhaps you want to now push back any talk of marriage. Maybe you decided your career is now your sole focus.
“Imagine your future with this person, 10, 25, 50 years down the road, when you both are old and grey,” suggests Violet Lim, co-founder and CEO of dating service Lunch Actually.
“What kind of feelings does it evoke? Do you feel warm and excited by the picture? Or does it make you feel very nervous, uncertain and terrified?”
Whatever the shift is, desiring a new direction that no longer aligns with what you had previously discussed is a warning sign.
4. The sex has left the relationship
Dry spells in the bedroom are perfectly normal. While you guys couldn’t keep your hands off each other during the honeymoon phase, that has changed now that you have been together for years. In long-term relationships, there are times where ‘life’ gets in the way and sex takes a back seat. That’s okay.
But it’s a problem if you have no interest in sexual contact with your partner at all. Worse if you’re actively turned off by this person. Something is wrong — it’s time to do something about it or accept the change and look to moving on.
5. You’re not physically attracted to them anymore
Following on from the above, healthy and happy couples are still attracted to each other, physically, long after the honeymoon phase has disappeared. Being attracted to each other is important for longevity.
If this has completely gone for you and you can remember being attracted to them but it feels like eons ago and a different person — reevaluate and seek help.
6. You find yourself speaking ill of them to others, more than you say nice things
Hold up. We all need to whine every now and again about our partners. Those minor annoyances and irritations can get too much and you just need an outlet to vent. That’s fine (it’s what friends are for).
But if all you do is rant and gossip about your partner in a harsh and negative fashion, it speaks volumes. Aside from demeaning your relationship to those around you, it highlights how unhappy you are at home.
7. You’re harbouring resentment that is growing
Doesn’t give his fair share when it comes to bills? Always goes out and never contacts you? Is constantly at work and never home? Only talks about himself? Never interacts with the kids?
If you’ve got resentment for your partner for some reason (or multiple reasons) and you’ve tried talking about it but nothing changes, this is now a significant issue that needs your attention. Without change, it’s just going to get worse.
Sit your partner down and calmly but firmly let him know how seriously you feel. Again, get external help if needed, to see if he is open to accepting your points of view. Otherwise, it might be time to get out to salvage your own emotional wellbeing.
8. You enjoy alone time more
In this hectic modern society, finding time out to enjoy self-love is muchly appreciated. We all need those evenings to do what we want, when we want, and to be able to pamper ourselves. Even in a relationship, your alone time is so important.
But if you’re enjoying time alone more than you’re enjoying it around your partner and you resent your partner for even being around, this is a massive red flag.
9. You actively find ways to not spend time around them
On top of the above, if you’re now seeking ways to avoid spending time with your partner, it’s time to stop this unhealthy behaviour and have that conversation you’ve been, well, avoiding.
“If you find yourself dreading to spend time with your partner, or if you always find excuse not to spend time with him/her, then that is a serious warning sign that something is up with your relationship,” Violet points out.
Healthy happy relationships are built on being together, enjoying time together and having fun together.
10. You’ve lost respect for them
Along with trust, respect is a fundamental attribute to a healthy couple. Perhaps he has done something untoward to you before which you can’t forget. Or you discovered a side of him that you find unpalatable.
If you find yourself with little to no respect for your partner, for whatever reasons, and no amount of conversations or change can reinstate your respect — it’s probably time to let this one go and move on.