As a divorced woman, I know a little bit of both. For starters, I mean no disrespect to anyone with this post, because I know many people tend to feel offended with topics like this one.
Nobody starts a romantic relationship in hopes of doom. Nobody takes the effort to make someone else notice you just for the fun to spend all that time and then show their road to disappointment.
Over time, things happen. Things that break you. Things that bring you down. And it changes you. Also, things that make you grow as an individual come. To make you dream. To give you hope. And this changes you as well.
The same happens in relationships. Things happen that forces you to change. Good? Bad? Only you know the answer to that as every situation is different.
When love gets stuck in monotony -or what many people call routine- we probably start to look for culprits. Why I feel bored when I'm with you? Why can't we do something different? A love rut can be produced by anything. An illness that forces you to avoid certain activities. A very demanding job. Maybe kids that require more attention, or kids that have not developed their individuality and independence. Maybe a quarantine -like we are seeing these days.
A love rut is easily recognizable because one or both partners will feel left out or extremely unsatisfied. Once recognized, if both are in the best intentions of working for their relationship, it can be addressed and fixed. And that's the perfect way to growing into an even better relationship.
But what happens when is not just a rut? What are the signals that tell us we are actually falling out of love? Why -after fighting so hard to get into a relationship with this person that once appeared to be fantastic- you feel out of love?
Is a hurting question, right? Nobody really has the courage to face the pain of having fallen out of love. Nobody wants to admit or even accept that so much sacrifice made long ago, now is just pointless.
Are you falling out of love? Here are some things to consider:
Saying "I love you".
At the first stages of relationships, both men and women, always yearn the first "I love you". To say it. To hear it. Fast forward a few years. Arguments come into the scene. Then, the "I love you" becomes a dreaded thing. Sometimes, saying "I love you" when we are angry, is a hard thing to do. Probably both of you had a big argument recently. Saying "I love you" while angry feels like lying sometimes. Is okay to feel uncommunicative while your temper comes to better levels. But the more time you wait, the harder it will become to say it back.
If saying "I love you" to your significant other becomes part of a job, tedious, hard to pronounce, unnecessary, even a painful thing to do, you're probably falling out of love.
Feel too comfortable in the relationship.
Don't get me wrong. Feeling homey is awesome. In a relationship, our ultimate goal is to feel cared for, protected, comfortable. Having a person and a place to call home is like the essence of it all.
Feeling too comfortable, staying all day on the couch playing videogames while your S.O. does all the responsibilities around the house... is not homey at all. It doesn't mean you don't love him/her. It just shows your partner you're lazy in your relationship. Instead, share shores and spend the day together on the couch.
The problem comes when the other person won't see it the way you do. Of course, you're so comfy in your games that cannot see the loads of work she/he still has left to do. You're so absorbed in your own complacency, that you're blinded to the fact that your partner is angry to be left out of the fun stuff, to just serve. Little by little, your S.O. will start to resent it all. And there's no coming back for a partner who's been feeling left out for long. While one was getting way too comfortable, the other was neglected and falling out of love is almost expectable.
Taking care of yourself.
If you're a woman, nobody will blame you for going grocery shopping in your yoga pants. If you're a man, nobody will judge you for doing the same with an oversized t-shirt that screams pajama all over.
There are certain things that we expect when in a relationship. Men expect to take his date anywhere and feel he's the envy of other guys. Men want his girl looking good, dressing well, smelling delicious. Ladies expect exactly the same. To go out with a man who looks so stunning like stolen from a red carpet event. Secretly, we ladies, want to know other girls hate us because we are accompanied by a guy who cares for his own appearance.
Spending that huge amount of energy and thoughts to look our best when going out with you, and meet you at the living room dressed in cargo shorts, a Mario Bros t-shirt and some fluff loafers is a big turn down. Probably you didn't understand it the first time. Probably, your partner will ask you to change your outfit, probably even tell you how hideous you look to go to the movies or a restaurant.
If you are in a rut and want to fix it, you'll run to change that horrendous clothing. If you're out of love, you'll just dismiss your partner's request and refuse to indulge. "If you don't like what I have on, we can stay here". "Why, do you feel ashamed of me?" Have you heard some of these statements before? Of course, we can stay. Or better, you can stay. Yes, I feel ashamed. Because I put all this effort into looking good for you and expected the same in return. Silly me!
We are born in a society that loves to judge and criticize. It's almost a part of our development, to learn how to criticize. No matter the reasons, people judge others on daily basis. Sometimes, criticism makes us better. It makes us see where we're falling short. It makes us discover our flaws and -if we want to- work with those things to be better.
Is okay to be criticized because we chose the ugliest clothes to wear, the perfume we like is a massive turn-off to our partner, we need to be less grumpy, and stuff like that.
I've seen that criticism gets worse when one of the members of the relationship is out of love. For that person, nothing you do will be good enough. Never. You bake things everybody else praises you for? For your out of love S.O. it needs more sugar. You cooked a meal so good you wanted to eat again? It needs more salt. You should have made a broth. I don't like dry food.
No amount of love can survive a person who judges you for every 1/16 tsp. salt your food is lacking. Or for cooking things you like the way you wanted it, because he/she always wants something completely opposite to you.
Trying to make your family his/her allies.
Is completely normal to have issues as a couple. Is expectable to fix your problems as a couple. No matter the time it takes, it's up to you two.
When you're out of love, but too served to give up all that comfort, you'll do mean things that have no way back.
When you go to your in-laws, running, crying, trying to be seen as the victim, you're leaving your partner devoided from their own family. Those to whom she/he could go to cry when bad things happen. You're neutralizing and isolating your S.O. You're making one hell of enemy- your partner. Trying to recruit your in-laws to take your side in a situation they just know your side, is a low blow to your partner.
Your in-laws are just people who should be polite to you because you're important to someone that is in fact their real family. At this point, you're supposed to be the one giving explanations to the in-laws, not the bad seed between them and their won blood. No love comes from the act of putting your in-laws against your partner just because it serves your purpose.
Goals shift abysmally.
Someday we wake up and see our goals are all a mess. Yes, that happens. As a couple, we can work those things out. Even when those are very individual goals, our partner has a lot to do and know about ours.
Is perfectly expectable to have goals and for our partner to have some of their own. When those goals clash in between the couple, the moment to negotiate in favor for the relationship comes.
When those goals turn into a witch hunt against your partner's beliefs, the red alarm starts blinking. Are you really following that idea because you started believing in it? Or you're doing it because you stopped respecting your partner and need a justification for the judgment, criticism and attack against that person?
We all have silly secrets we are afraid to say. We all have skeletons in the closet of which we are ashamed of. There are things we don't want anybody to discover. Ever. Not even our partners. But is not the right thing to do if we are committed to our partner.
Is okay to keep to yourself how many twinkies you ate, or how many times you really saw Star Wars movies just to take a peek at Princess Leia when you were 6 years old.
Having a hidden phone, a hidden sd, or sim card, photos of your ex are secrets that are unacceptable in a committed relationship. That you crashed the car, quit your job, that someone is flirting at you, that you are suddenly interested in online dating, or that "out of curiosity" you responded to someone's flirty messages are things you should definitely tell your S.O.
When you keep those things to yourself... when you "forget" to mention it... When you "thought you wouldn't mind", you're showing your partner your lack of love.
Newly found "religion"
Having firm religious beliefs is a wonderful thing. It helps us grow into a fair, empathic person. When we are taught to live an honest life as God tells us to, doing good, avoiding the evilness, we develop a sense of belonging in something big and powerful.
It is very hard -in my opinion and experience- to start learning a religion satisfactorily when grown-up. Living by it, applying the doctrine to everyday issues is a hard task to achieve. Here's why: people start to judge others, their partner mostly. And the majority of judgment isn't because of the religious beliefs, but because they have this need to force the partner into doing what they want, and always get away with whatever they do. Remember I'm talking about experience here. Life gave me my fair share of this terrible treatment of emotional play. I know how hard is for a person to deal with a "Godly" call that turned out to be something else. And I know the damage caused by the belief of having the divine right to judge.
When religion is used to manipulate and control your partner, to judge and oppress, love is not the one guiding. Many intentions are hidden behind those actions. But love is not one of them.
People will probably say sex is not the most important thing in a relationship. They may be right. Sex must not be the #1 priority in a relationship. But let me tell you, it is among the first most important things.
If a couple is sexually incompatible, one of them will always be dissatisfied. The other one will always be defensive, because will feel judged for not meeting their partner's sexual needs. That's something a couple can work and fix if both are compromised to please the other.
The incompatibility in bed is often a matter that can be negotiated, with care, respect and love.
Imagine that your relationship is paralyzed. How would you act in order to get it moving again? Of course, you'll need help. You need to expand your options. Almost everything is valid to fix your sexual rut. (And I'm clear in the ALMOST because some people will take advantage of the EVERYTHING to require offensive and hurting things from their partners. So, be very aware of your relationship's ALMOST EVERYTHING.)
If your body was the one paralyzed -by an accident, an illness maybe- you'll visit your doctor, you'll take your medicines, you'll go to therapy. Why not do the same for a paralyzed sexual life? Please, don't go swallow 20 sex pills like cereal because of this. That's definitely not what I mean.
As a couple, determine the factors that make your sex life incompatible. What can be worked out? What requires medical intervention? Are some emotional wounds that need to heal? Tons of things can be sabotaging your sexual life without you realizing it.
But what if one of you doesn't see it as a problem? What if one of you doesn't want to put the effort required for mutual satisfaction? Painful it will appear to be, that person has probably fallen out of love.
Don't want to do the nitty-gritty
You just can't see yourself having sex with your partner anymore? Is everything okay with your health and body? There's no explanation for this. You're probably falling out of love.
The wandering eye
If you start looking around, on your way to work, on your phone, suddenly browsing dating sites "just for curiosity", checking out a "damn hot" colleague, you're not in a love rut. You're slowly falling out of love. Lying to yourself about keeping your options open isn't going to save your relationship or give you happiness. A wandering eye hardly is a faithful one. Be honest with yourself and then with your partner. Your partner doesn't deserve a person in their life who has eyes for everybody else.
The communication has diminished considerably
What once were long hours telling everything to each other is now an uncomfortable silence while looking at the room ceiling. If you don't feel the need to tell this person everything, you're probably on your way to Don't-Love-You-Anymore-Ville.
There's no us and we's in the future
Suddenly hear yourself talking the I will... I am... I must... speech, and we's are nowhere in your plans for the future? Probably you're avoiding making plans or give a date to those pending vacations. The idea of a vacation sounds fascinating, the only problem is you don't see yourself going with your partner. You're out of love. Give your partner the gift of honesty and freedom for him/her to enjoy that vacation by themselves or with someone who'll enjoy their company.
Don't feel the urge to respect your partner
Do you stop caring about what your partner may feel about something? Stopped consulting things with him/her and simply decide everything important by yourself? Better not tell him/her about that exchange of messages you had with this "nice" person you're starting to mysteriously know. You notice you're suddenly keeping people hidden from him/her, and when you're questioned about you just give the "Is a friend" fake answer. You have stopped loving your partner.
Relationships -just like everything else in the world- cannot function properly at 50% capacity. It will fail, constantly crashing for excessive effort. Think of your heart as a machine. You cannot force it beyond its expected performance because it will burn out. So is your heart and your body. Forcing it to make the work of two is simply a fake stability that will burn out sooner or later.
We all deserve to be happy. Break-ups are painful as hell. It can be tough. The recovery will take time. But you are entitled to that time. You deserve to be okay. You deserve to be fully happy.
We are humans. We are imperfect beings trying our best to be better. We have flaws. We make mistakes. But still, we deserve happiness. We all do. If you're falling out of love, is your relationship cannot be salvaged, speak up. Don't force a loving person to try hard and hard for a heart that will never give love in return.
Lots of love,