Being madly, deeply in love is a magical feeling, which is why songs, books, and movies are often centered around the experience. But what about the opposite? We often don’t hear about what it’s like to fall out of love, and there’s no clear roadmap for navigating life when feelings for your partner start to change.
Maybe you’re going through a rough patch and your relationship feels rocky, or perhaps you’re transitioning out of the honeymoon phase. Either way, you’re going to be experiencing a lot of emotions, and it can be tough to tell if you’re just encountering growing pains or if the love is truly over. It can be painful to suss out how you’re feeling — you might still love your partner as a person, but aren’t in love with them anymore, which is all the more confusing.
Before you call it quits, remember that it’s normal to experience some ups and downs in a relationship, adds Liz Keeney, LPC, psychotherapist and owner of Inspired Talk Therapy. “It is completely normal for couples to have a ‘winter’ season once in a while and really get on each other’s nerves,” she tells Bustle. If the love is there, you’ll be able to work it out. And more importantly, you’ll want to work it out.
According to Rachel Wright, a licensed psychotherapist and sexual wellness expert at We-Vibe, falling out of love is often a choice. You and your partner get to make the decision to either work to improve your relationship or opt out. That’s not to say one decision is better than another (sometimes breaking up really is the best thing), but it’s up to you to decide how to move forward.
To help you figure things out, Bustle asked relationship experts how to gauge your feelings if you keep having to ask yourself, “Am I still in love?” Here are some signs you might not be.
1. You Can’t Stop Daydreaming About Dating Other People
While it’s one thing to notice an attractive person, if you have full-on wandering eye syndrome, you may soon be wandering out of the relationship. Perhaps you just can’t stop checking out other people, or maybe you downloaded Tinder or Bumble “just to take a look.”
Regardless of the form your wandering eye takes, these aren’t signals to ignore, says licensed therapist Rachel Elder. It’s common to take a “grass is always greener” approach to thinking about your relationship when you’d rather not be in it, she explains.
Of course, non-monogamy can be a great option for couples who agree and consent to it, but there’s a difference between wanting to date within your current relationship and just full-on wanting to replace your current partner. If you're constantly wondering whether life would be better with someone else, Elder says there’s likely a reason for that.
2. The Butterflies Are Gone
You can’t expect yourself to be head-over-heels in love every single day, especially once your relationship has progressed beyond the honeymoon stage and you’ve settled back into the realities of life. But if you don’t feel any form of excitement for your partner, take note, says Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert at Double Trust Dating.
All relationships require maintenance, so you may need to try a little harder to keep things fun and interesting by setting aside quality time, sharing new experiences, or even changing up your sex life by trying new things. But if you’ve made a concerted effort to reignite a lost spark and still don’t feel butterflies, you may not be romantically in love anymore.
3. You No Longer Prioritize Them
Consider if you often forget to answer your partner’s texts, if you make weekend plans without them, or if you never ask their opinion before making big plans. Essentially, if it feels like you no longer prioritize or make space for your partner and the relationship, says Stacey Sherrell, LMFT, a licensed marriage and family therapist and a relationship expert at Decoding Couples.
“We all make time and space for what we want,” Sherrell tells Bustle. “If you find yourself prioritizing every other relationship, hobby, and obligation except your romantic relationship, this can point towards falling out of love.”
That doesn’t mean it’s bad if you have outside hobbies, friends, or want to spend time alone. (Those are all good things!) It’s just not great if you kind of forget about your SO. “For any relationship to be successful, both partners need to put in effort and work,” Sherrell says. If you no longer want to, it’s a glaring sign.
4. Your Sex Life Has Gotten Stale
It’s normal for your sex life to ebb and flow or for you to have different sexual preferences than your partner, says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. It can happen for all sorts of reasons: stress, physical health, or shifting relationship dynamics. But if you’ve completely lost interest and there seems to be no real explanation, it could be a sign that love has left the building. “Without sexual activity, the relationship is largely just a friendship or roommate situation,” adds Bennett.
A good litmus test for whether your inactive sex life is the product of a loss of interest in your partner? Ask yourself if you even want that spark back, suggests licensed counselor Nawal Alomari. If so, that’s something you can work on together to improve your relationship in the long run. If not, that might mean you’re not as romantically invested in the relationship as you once were.
It also helps to know your own sexual baseline, Wright says, because having a healthy sexual relationship with yourself can help you determine what’s missing and why. As yourself, “‘How do I take care of myself sexually?’ or ‘What is my relationship to sex?’ Start there and reconnect with that first,” she tells Bustle. “Then look at the relationship and see where things are not aligning with what you want and what you’re practicing.”
5. You Don’t Want To Hold Hands
Every couple is different when it comes to how much (or how little) they like to share physical signs of intimacy, but take note if you used to hold hands, hug, and cuddle up on the couch, and now prefer to be on your own.
“This one can be tricky because intimacy ebbs and flows in relationships, but if your intimate life has pretty much completely stopped and that is an issue for you but there is no intent in working on it, the love may be lost,” says Sherrell. “Emotional and physical intimacy is a huge part of successful and healthy romantic relationships. If one partner loses the want or desire to have any form of intimacy, not much separates the romantic relationship from a friendship.”
6. You’re No Longer Best Friends
It’s natural for your partner to become your BFF — not only because you spend so much time together, but because being each other’s best friends has many benefits, says Anita Chlipala, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love. She says friendship can lead to greater relationship satisfaction, more commitment, and even better sexual satisfaction.
When you’re in a relationship with your best friend, you turn to them for support, tell them everything, and share a super special bond. “So, if you no longer feel like you can or want to turn to your partner, it might signal a disconnect,” Chlipala tells Bustle. “Couples can focus on their friendship and see if that helps, but if it doesn’t, it might be time to call it quits.”
7. You Prefer To Open Up To Others
Sometimes there are things you don’t want to share with your partner, and as a result, you turn to friends, family, or a therapist to vent or get advice. But take note if you consistently skip over your partner when it comes to opening up.
If you’ve fallen out of love, you may find yourself confiding in other people, says Dr. Monica P. Band, a trauma-informed licensed mental health therapist and owner of Mindful Healing Counseling Services. “You may find yourself doing things more independently instead of asking them for help,” she tells Bustle. “This is a way to disconnect from them — by not needing or relying on them in big and small ways.”
You may also notice that you keep things in instead of opening up like you used to. As Band says, “You become more protective because you’re subtlety detaching yourself and your life from this person.”
8. Their Cute Habits No Longer Seem Cute
Love can be blinding, especially at first. If you were head-over-heels from the start, you likely didn’t notice that your partner chews really loud, constantly spills their coffee, or always forgets to use their blinker. But once you’ve fallen out of love, it might be all you can see.
While some annoyance is normal as you grow more comfortable with one another, Keeney says it can also drive you to cast your relationship in a negative light. Instead of viewing common mishaps as funny, she says you might feel angry, frustrated, or resentful instead. And the less you like your partner, the easier that is to do.
“When a couple is in love, they remember their last road trip when the car broke down as an adventure,” Keeney tells Bustle. “When a couple is struggling, they re-tell the same story with anger and hostility or blame towards one another.”
9. It Feels Like Something’s Missing In The Relationship
Another clue is a nagging sense that something is missing, says O’Reilly. There may be a lack of connection with your partner, or perhaps you don’t feel fully invested in one another’s lives. Even if you can’t put your finger on a specific problem, that seed of doubt is reason enough to call your relationship into question. If you’re constantly unsure, O’Reilly emphasizes that you don’t need a “real” reason to break up. If you feel unhappy — or are constantly Googling “signs you’re not in love with your boyfriend” — that may be your answer. After all, staying in a couple without having your heart in it won’t do you or your partner any favors.
10. You’re Unwilling To Make A Change
Whether your sex life is lacking or you don’t spend enough time together, there are plenty of reasons your relationship can lose its luster. Luckily, most of those issues can be addressed if you both put your minds to it, says Alomari.
When there’s love and affection, often all it takes to overcome a slump is a fun weekend away or a sexy date night in. So consider it a red flag if you have zero desire to reach out and make plans, or if the idea of “fixing” the relationship seems like a chore. According to Alomari, that’s a sure sign your heart isn’t in it.
11. You’re Holding Onto Resentment
A relationship can feel stuck, stale, or stifled if one or both partners is holding onto hurt feelings or issues from the past, so consider why you’re clinging onto old problems. Is it because the issue feels insurmountable and you don’t know how to fix it? Or because you simply can’t be bothered to put in the work it’ll take to set things right? “You might feel like you’ve already contributed so much to the relationship, and you want to see effort from your partner,” Chlipala says. Whatever the case may be, it can certainly take a toll on how you feel about the whole thing.
12. You Dread When They Come Home
Consider how you feel when you reunite, like when you both return home after a long workday or when you meet up for your usual Friday night dates. If you consistently find that you dread seeing them, or that you’re more at peace when you’re both spending time apart, Chlipala says it may be a sign you aren’t in love after all.
Even if your heart or head is confused, your body often tells you exactly what’s up. Take note if your shoulders tense up, if your stomach gets bubbly, if you pull out of a hug early, or if you clench your jaw at the thought of hanging out. These physical signs of annoyance, stress, and even dread might be all the info you need.
When you feel like this, you may even be on the lookout for ways to avoid them, says Holly Schiff, Psy.D., a licensed clinical psychologist with Jewish Family Services of Greenwich. “If you feel like you are actively finding ways to be without your significant other, your feelings for that person have clearly changed,” she tells Bustle. “You might be longing for someone or something else.”
13. You Wouldn’t Mind Not Seeing Them Again
Another way to determine whether or not you’re still into your S.O. is by imagining how you’d feel if they were to move away. Chlipala suggests imagining parting ways forever, and how that mental image makes you feel.
If you feel sad, you likely still have some love or hope for the relationship. If you feel giddy at the thought, or even a little relieved by the hypothetical, Alomari notes that it might mean you want out of the relationship.
“This is one of the reasons why couples do a trial separation or take a break — they want to see if they miss each other,” Chlipala tells Bustle. “Sometimes fear of the unknown can keep a couple complacent in a relationship that just isn’t working anymore.” If you balk at the idea of a breakup or separating, start by picturing it. Use your imagination to envision how it might feel, and your feelings will start to become clear.
14. You’ve Got “The Ick”
Similar to the little habits and quirks that have become annoying, consider if you’ve gotten “the ick” in other ways.
When you’re madly in love, nothing feels off limits. You’ll cozy up to each other when you haven’t showered, when you’re in a bad mood, and even when you’re sick because love often knocks down all types of boundaries. But if you no longer feel comfortable doing so, Bennett says it may be a sign that your attraction has faded — and that love has likely gone with it.
Losing attraction often goes hand-in-hand with a lack of effort. “If you’re not attracted to your partner, it may be because you’re not attentive or responsive to them — or just no longer want to be,” Chlipala adds. “The less you emotionally invest into your relationship, the less attraction you will feel toward your partner.”
15. You Don’t Like Who You’ve Become
Sometimes it’s helpful to focus less on how you feel about your partner and more on how you feel about yourself, says O’Reilly. If you notice your feelings shifting but aren’t sure what to make of it, she recommends checking in on who you’ve become in this relationship.
Do you like how you are around them? Do they bring out the best side of you? Or do you hardly recognize yourself when you’re around them? Or do you feel like you’ve lost sight of your goals, possibly due to the way you are together? If it’s the latter, it could be a sign that you feel unfulfilled by the relationship or that it just isn’t right for you.
While it often feels good to be in a relationship, consider if this one is actually boosting you up, or if it’s dragging you down. “We’ve been taught that we’re not deserving of love,” O’Reilly explains. “So, when someone shows up and likes us, that [feels] good enough.” But one-sided admiration isn’t enough to make it work: You have to love yourself, too.
16. You Want To Transition Your Relationship
If you’ve fallen out of love in a romantic way, it may be because the relationship needs to transition into something new, Wright says. Maybe you still really want your significant other to be a big part of your life, but as a friend instead of a lover or as a more casual partner instead of a committed companion.
Whatever the goal, Wright recommends communicating this to your partner to see if they’re feeling the same way, so you can figure out how to move forward together. If you’re interested in exploring non-monogamy, for instance, it doesn’t mean you’re opting out of the relationship, but instead morphing it into something new.
While many couples benefit from parting ways forever after a relationship goes south, Wright suggests asking if your partner would be willing to get “recast” into another role in your life. If they’re OK with it, you may end up with a great friend — and you can stay in each other’s lives.
17. You No Longer Argue
People often think that arguing is a bad thing in a relationship, when in reality it’s OK to have little tiffs here and there. It can even be helpful, Chlipala says. An argument might arise when you’re trying to make your busy schedules blend together or when the stresses of life get the better of you. It also might happen when you stand up for yourself or sort out a misunderstanding.
Going back and forth is natural as you work it all out. It’s when you become indifferent that there may be a problem, she adds. If you’ve given up on adding your two cents, or if you no longer care about what your partner says or does, it may mean you’ve emotionally checked out.
Of course, there’s a big difference between the occasional small argument or disagreement and full-on toxic fighting. But if you can’t be bothered to communicate with your partner anymore, it could be a sign you no longer care.
18. You’re Quick To Snap
On the other side of the coin, you may notice that you’re always in a bad mood, that you’re quick to snap at your partner, or that you never have anything nice to say, Band says. When you’re in love, you often have more patience and understanding for a partner. You’re quick to assume the best of them, and it might take a lot for you to truly get upset.
When that love starts to fade, you might find that you feel a lot less gracious and accepting. If you’re unhappy — and maybe on edge because aren’t sure what to do about your relationship — it’s a lot easier to go from zero to 100.
19. You Have Developed Beyond Your Partner And They’re Unwilling To Grow
When you’re in a relationship for years and years, you should expect both you and your partner to grow and change. What might make you fall out of love is if you grow and change, but your partner stays the same.
“I have worked with clients who have taken on the meaningful journey of growing and healing their relational wounds to become better in their adult relationships,” says Liz Higgins, LMFT-S, a licensed marriage and family therapist and founder of Millennial Life Counseling. In other words, it can be frustrating if your partner isn’t putting in the effort to become emotionally mature.
“This really can lead to a trajectory where you are moving beyond your partner and don't see a way to remain in a relationship with someone not willing to look at themselves, become better, and learn about their own attachment needs and tendencies,” she tells Bustle.
20. You No Longer Want To Commit
Take note if you lose the desire to commit long-term, or if you.u never had that feeling in the first place, as it could be a signal that you’re not really feeling your person. Maybe you’d rather date just to have fun, or perhaps you’d prefer to be single altogether. Either way, if you don’t feel a strong urge to give this person an important place in your life, then the love might be gone.
As a side note, Chlipala points out that this doesn’t necessarily apply to everyone, as people with an avoidant attachment style can be “notorious for not wanting long-term commitment.” If you changed your mind about wanting a long-term commitment, Chlipala says you should be able to articulate why and make sure your partner is on the same page.
21. You Can’t Imagine Growing Old Together
If you’re in love, you likely have a clear picture of what your relationship could look like a year, five years, or 15 years down the line. If you can’t picture it or don’t like what you see, consider it a sign you’re no longer in love, says Gaby Balsells, LSCW, an individual and couples therapist with Higher Fulfillment. “This can signify that parts of the relationship are unhealthy or you no longer meet each others' needs,” she tells Bustle.
Even if you were in love a year ago, that might not be true today, and that’s OK. “You may feel that you have grown in a different direction than the other person and this can not be reconciled,” Balsells tells Bustle. That doesn’t mean the relationship failed, as not all relationships have to last forever in order to be a success. It just might mean you’ve fallen out of love, and that it’s time to move on to the next chapter.
Nawal Alomari, LCPC, licensed clinical professional counselor and life coach based in Chicago
Rachel Elder, LMHC, licensed mental health therapist
Anita Chlipala, LMFT, licensed marriage and family therapist and author of First Comes Us: The Busy Couple’s Guide to Lasting Love
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