Where Did the Love Go?
What could have changed, when someone we loved, who frequently declared that they loved us unreservedly too, decides that their affection and passion for us has now gone completely and they want to end the relationship.
They say that love and hate are opposite sides of the same spectrum.
But, how can it be that someone falls in and then out of love so quickly? Where does the love go, when one minute they’re all loved up and the next are so keen to walk away?
We will have all reflected on love and pondered what it is. How often do we start a relationship, flushed with excitement at the prospect of a new relationship, at the sexual chemistry and promise of future happiness. We’ve a rose-tinted vision of what we want, of what we’re looking for.
And, in the early days we’re understanding and prepared to make allowances if things don’t perhaps come quite up to scratch. After all, we’re in love, feeling good and on our best behaviour. We want to enjoy the relationship and be loving and loveable.
But, as time passes, our focus adjusts to take account of the different life stresses as they arise, perhaps concerning children, work, finances, and family. And we change too as our priorities evolve. We may start to see our partner very differently as our perspective and hopes for the future gradually adjust and adapt to the vicissitudes of daily life.
We may have set out initially in our relationship as two young people, starting our journey into adulthood, keen to build a home, establish successful careers and have a fulfilling life, perhaps with children along the way. Some couples share their dreams and grow together, whilst others may find that they gradually develop different ideas as to how they want to shape their lives, increasingly moving apart. Many unforeseeable issues can emerge over time.
And sometimes the very things that once attracted us may start to turn us off. Our partner’s easy-going approach to career progression and financial success may eventually be seen as lazy and unmotivated. Or, if they’re focussed and driven, we may find ourselves frustrated by their preoccupation with money and status. The number of hours they spend networking and at work may well start to grate.
It can take time and effort to accept that others may not treat us the way we choose to treat them, ‘how could they, I would never do that, they are so wrong to behave that way’ are phrases often heard after a breakup. But healing comes from understanding that other people have their own ideas, opinions and goals within a relationship. We have to accommodate these, whether we think them to be good or bad. Protecting ourselves without becoming too cynical is a tough part of the process!
How to support an ongoing relationship;
Be realistic. Your perspective and priorities may not match your partner’s, or may change over time as you think about career progression, children, where to live. What you wanted when you first met may be different now, for both of you. Plus, the demands of elderly relatives, work pressures, keeping in touch with friends and personal interests may impact on your free time, stress and energy levels. How to accommodate these can be difficult and cause additional stress.
Commit to regular ‘us time’, where you’re fully focussed on being together. Turn off your devices and talk. Allow time to really discuss your feelings, news and be keen to follow up on what’s happening in each other’s lives. Remember what you’ve previously been told and demonstrate that you genuinely want to share in their interests and concerns.
Communicate as often as you can. Modern life can appear busy and intense, with often only limited time available to hastily pass on ‘can you collect some milk’ type instructions. It’s important to invest in your relationship when you can, so when busy, even if you simply send a ‘thinking of you’ text, not wanting or asking for anything in reply, that in itself can make a big difference to your partner’s day and enhance their feelings of security within the relationship.
Practise empathy and compassion. You may not always get it right, but let your partner know that you’re thinking of them and ways to help ease their days. Having a hot bath or a lovely meal ready for them after a busy day can show how supportive and caring you’re trying to be.
Be alert to what they may need and also what they might not be saying. Don’t second-guess, but gently open the door to important conversations on potentially ‘hot’ topics, like sex, money, in-laws, sleeping arrangements, hours spent at work, the importance of good self-care. If unspoken, issues can fester into simmering resentments over time. It’s far better to discuss how you’re both feeling and be clear about what’s going on.
But, remember also to protect yourself and what’s right for you. Don’t expect your partner to be psychic. Love is a two-way exchange. Meet each other halfway, invest of yourself and work towards keeping the love alive.
Susan Leigh, South Manchester Counsellor & Hypnotherapist www.lifestyletherapy.net