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Why Couples Fall Out of Love and 3 Ways to Rekindle the Fire

Three cycles that send couples into romantic ruts and how to fall back in love.


KEY POINTS

  • Couples often experience a vacillation of falling in and out of love. 

  • The fundamental principle of love may not be enough for a couple to survive.

  • Identifying the negative cycles a relationship is subject to can help prevent them from repeating.

Ahhh, the beginning stages of a relationship. Your thoughts drift to a special someone, butterflies flutter about your stomach as you set eyes on a new lover. Oh, the marvelous joys of the honeymoon stage! This remarkably blissful stage of courtship is primarily based on sexual attraction. With the onset of waves of emotion, there is a chemical reaction that is taking place. These fluttering feelings flood the brain with a dopamine rush, a neurohormone that is also known as the pleasure hormone. When we are engulfed in this stage, every touch from your partner or thought about them comes with a wave of desire and lust. Like all things, the honeymoon stage must come to an end, and unfortunately, these lustful feelings typically fade between six months and a year into a relationship.  

 

Attraction is a very studied and contemplated human state. Attraction to another encompasses a rich combination of physical, mental, emotional, and intellectual desires. At the beginning of a relationship, we tend to put our best foot forward. We compartmentalize our stress, checking it at the door before walking into a date. There is no former emotional hurt or disagreements, and everything is new and exciting. These positive activities pump serotonin through our brains and increase our libido and sexual desire for the new love interest. Unavoidably and unfortunately, this level of intense attraction eventually fades and couples report that they rarely feel this heightened level of desire again.

 




As life demands increase, and the feelings of lust fade, a couple will naturally fall into a daily taskmaster mode. The adrenaline-pumping moments come to an end. As a Sexologist, I want to state that moving out of the honeymoon phase and into daily life routines, is not a negative thing. This is the foundation of a realistic relationship! Healthy relationships cultivate emotional and sexual attraction while balancing autonomy and all of life’s tasks. What is important is how the couple maintains the balance between life and their relationship.

 

In my private practice in Miami, many of my clients begin therapy because they are in a “sexual rut” or find that they are not having sex at all. People typically call my office due to the discovery of a sexual challenge, but this problem they describe tends to lie within the day-to-day behaviors. Couples typically come into awareness that something is wrong, when they realize they are no longer having sex.

 

But here is the thing folks: sex is not the issue! 

 

When treating the couple’s sexual challenge, we must step back and look at the relationship. It is common for couples to fall in and out of love with repetition. When helping a couple rekindle their sexual desire for one another again, I start by showing them how to fall back in love. Through this, I help them fall back into desiring their partner the way they remember.

 

There are several common cycles couples fall into that cause them to fall out of love with their partner. Below are just a few.

 

1.     They are no longer earning their partner

 

There is a societal message that relationships require “work”. Yes, I agree that relationships require work, but I believe this societal message is slightly off-base. This message focuses on pushing through the fights. Every relationship will have disagreements, and I help my clients learn how to navigate a disagreement and emotionally repair from it, but this is not what causes a couple to fall out of love. People fall out of love when they stop honoring their partner. The key to the puzzle is learning who your partner truly is. Who they are, with no compromises. The Key is to accept this person, and in doing so, grow with them as they grow with you. Understanding who your partner is at their core and taking a supportive role to boost their success is a foundational pillar in a healthy relationship. These concepts are the work I encourage my clients to engage in daily. The best things in life are not free, and neither is your relationship. You must earn your partner and their affection, every day, through striving to be the best version of yourself that you can be and by being supportive and affectionate about the person they are. Make a conscious effort to apply yourself to the act of loving them. Go the extra mile. Plan date nights, plan staycations, and do things that you know they will love and that show you were thinking about their core values. Be spontaneous and surprising. Earn them.

 

 

2.     You stop earning your partner

 

It is unrealistic to think that you will always sexually desire your partner. Some days you may find them more attractive than others. Over time appearances and bodies change. You may no longer be attracted to their looks. These feelings of disappointment may stifle sexual desire for your partner and in turn, result in less physical intimacy. There is a snowball effect when a couple stops being physically intimate. One person may internalize the lack of physical intimacy as, “Am I not attractive enough?” or “Am I not good enough?” while the other internalizes, “What is wrong with me?”.  There is nothing wrong with you. Often, we lose sexual desire for our partner because we stop feeling sexual ourselves. To break this cycle you need to identify ways to ignite your inner feelings of sexy.

 

 

3.     Conflicts create emotional distance

 

Every relationship will have disagreements, however, some couples fight more than others. During a fight, people lose control of their emotions and impulsively shout out something that emotionally hurts the other. We rarely forget what our partner has said in the heat of the moment. Please remember that. People often live with that hurt much longer than the fight lasted. Miscommunication, resentment, and emotional pain cause us to trust our partner less and inevitably turn away from one another, or turn to someone else, physically and emotionally. Try to channel that negative energy into something constructive. Before reacting in the heat of the moment, take a few deep belly breaths and try to understand what your partner is attempting to tell you. Unpack all the anger so you can find the root of the discussion, and then, agree to mutually find a path that is one of unity, not dissent. Who knows, it may resolve itself in something you did not expect, and they say make-up sex can be very fulfilling.

 

 

Couples will experience a vacillation of falling in and out of love. There is no way around that. I believe as a fundamental principle that Love is not enough for a couple to survive. Below are a few ways to rekindle the love for your partner.

 

 

1.     Foundation of Friendship

 

Love is not enough to maintain a fulfilling relationship. Falling in and out of love is a part of a long-term relationship. When two people love one another but are not “in love” it is time to default to the foundational friendship. A playful and fun friendship is the secret to a lasting relationship. It is an essential key to navigating the sexual and emotional path of a long-term relationship. Friendships naturally bring people together based on shared interests. These laid-back, fun activities can naturally guide the relationship out of a stressful place. Take time to reminisce and revisit the things that helped the two of you fall in love in the first place. When partners rely on their friendship to get them through tough times, they are more likely to approach the situation as a team.

 

2.     Make daily dates a priority

 

Dating is not always about making a dinner reservation or taking extravagant trips. Find ways to date your partner daily. Think of these daily dates as quality time together, versus a fiscal endeavor.  Daily dating can be as easy as putting your phone down and listening to your partner talk about their day. Individually, we are always growing and evolving. Continue to learn who your partner is, and continue to allow them to learn you.

 

3.     Bring the Sexy Back

 

As a Doctor of Human Sexuality, I encourage my clients to engage in something daily that makes them feel sexy and confident.  This is not something for their partner, but it will have a positive effect on them as well. No, I am talking about something for yourself. If you do not feel confident and sexy on the inside, your libido will absolutely follow. Think about it, if we do not feel sexy ourselves, how can we expect our partner to find us sexy? Find daily activities, mantras, music, or people that make you feel sexy on the inside. Get turned on when it’s just you in the room. That is your individual challenge.

 

Sexual pleasure is always changing. This is the nature of our human sexual expression. What you find exciting and pleasurable one day, may not exist in the next. Working with couples for the past nine years, I have found the struggle to discuss sexual desires, and how they are evolving, can ultimately decrease sexual desire for one partner or even both. Long-term relationships fall in and out of love habitually, but there is no reason to allow this to impact physical intimacy. The secret? Make the effort to earn your partner daily. Make it a habit.


Enjoy!


Dr. Mindy

 

 

 

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