How to detach from a relationship
How to Tell It’s Time to Let Go of That Relationship I Psych Central
Whether it’s a complicated romantic relationship or a toxic one with family, there are times you just have to let go.
We’ve all experienced relationships that felt too involved or emotionally draining. These unhealthy relationships can be draining both mentally and physically.
Sometimes, detaching from them is the best way to take care of your mental health and well-being.
There are several reasons you may need to detach from a relationship.
If there’s physical or verbal abuse, if the relationship is causing you undue stress and anxiety, if you’ve noticed a change in your mood when around that person — these are just some of the reasons why it may be time to consider detaching yourself emotionally from that relationship.
But whatever the reason, understanding why you need to detach and how to do it can help you move on in a way that’s best for you.
There are a couple of ways to think about detachment.
It can mean avoiding certain people or situations that are causing you stress or anxiety, which can sometimes lead to “emotional numbing,” or the dampening of emotions.
Or, it can mean building and maintaining boundaries to preserve your mental health. By setting clear boundaries in your relationships, you can avoid the feelings of stress, anger, resentment, and disappointment that often build up when limits are pushed or ignored.
Now that you have a better idea of what emotional detachment is, it’s also a good idea to understand what detachment is not.
It doesn’t mean that you aren’t able to feel or that you lack emotions, nor does it mean you lack empathy. While emotional detachment can be a symptom of depression, voluntary detachment isn’t an indication that you have depression.
Rather, it’s about building healthy boundaries to make your expectations clear and establish what behavior is comfortable for you and what is not.
While some people view voluntary detachment as “rude” or “unfeeling,” that’s rarely the intention of the person detaching from the relationship.
There are several reasons why people may feel they need to emotionally detach from a relationship — whether that’s an intimate relationship or a complicated family one.
Some of those reasons include:
- past experiences (neglect, abuse, or trauma)
- personal choice
- medication use, such as antidepressants
- other mental health conditions, such as PTSD, depression, or a personality disorder
When deciding whether to detach from a relationship, identifying your reasons for detaching can be helpful in your decision making.
If you can’t figure out why you’re detaching, consider reaching out to a healthcare or mental health professional. Talking with someone may help you determine why you’re doing it and how to do it in a way that’s best for you.
Detaching from a relationship doesn’t mean you’re abandoning that person or that you’ve stopped caring about them.
It can mean taking a step back to evaluate how that relationship is affecting you and your mental health.
Do you obsessively worry about that person all the time? Do you try to rescue them from making choices you don’t feel are healthy?
Do you feel that you have to tell them what to do all the time? Does that person do the same to you?
Taking responsibility for another person’s actions and behaviors can be tiring and overwhelming at times. In the same way, having another person trying to tell you how to act and behave can be equally frustrating.
Detaching can give you the emotional space you need to take care of yourself. Sometimes, caring too much about another person’s life and problems can have a negative impact on your own emotional and physical health.
You may start to have headaches, lose sleep, or be more irritable. Excessive worry can lead to anxiety, fear, or panic.
So, when do you know it’s time to let go?
When your health depends on someone else’s actions and behaviors, it may be time to consider letting them go.
Now that you’ve made the decision that it’s time to let someone go, how do you actually do it? Here are some things you can try.
Identify the reason
Ask yourself why you’re now deciding to detach from the relationship. Having a solid reason to let go is important.
Without a strong reason, you may cave in and stay in the relationship. When identifying the reason you want to get out of the relationship, try to focus on the things that are progressive, rather than one-off issues.
For example, try to focus on the fact that your feelings for that person have changed over time, not that you got in your first fight.
Release your emotions
Releasing the emotion you feel about getting out of a difficult relationship is an important step in the process.
Whether you choose to cry, dance, or take a kickboxing class, it’s a good idea to release these emotions rather than bottle them up. By having an outlet for these emotions, you’ll be able to release the tension and avoid saying something you’ll regret.
Don’t react, respond
When leaving a relationship, there will inevitably be a difficult conversation.
During that conversation, the other person may say something that causes you to have a reaction. Reaction is a split-second decision and often can lead to regret.
Instead, take a deep breath and respond thoughtfully. By allowing the other person some space in the conversation and letting yourself take a moment to think more clearly, it’ll be a more productive conversation.
Just like smoking, quitting a relationship cold turkey can be painful and a shock to your system.
In some cases, you might consider starting small, slowly removing yourself a little at a time.
For example, start by one day deleting pictures of the two of you. Another day, delete their old messages. As you gently let go, your emotions will stay in check.
In other cases — like if the relationship is traumatic or involves domestic abuse or mistreatment — moving slowly may make things worse and cause more distress. Consider talking about next steps with a professional who specializes in these types of relationships.
Keep a journal
As you let go of a relationship, you’ll feel some big emotions. While it can be difficult to talk about them with other people, it can be helpful to work through your emotions in some way.
A journal can be a great way to process your feelings in a healthy, cathartic way.
Meditating can train your awareness and attention, which can be especially helpful during a highly emotional break-up.
Meditation can also increase your focus, reduce your stress, encourage calm, and help reduce negative feelings.
Be patient with yourself
Walking away from a relationship that was important to you can be challenging. So, try to give yourself some grace and patience to move on.
Remember that you can learn how to have healthy attachments. It’s all a process, and you can enjoy the journey along the way.
If you’re focused on looking at what your relationship used to be like, it will be increasingly difficult to walk away from it. It’s natural to look back and see only the best in a person or a relationship.
But looking back will leave you stuck in the relationship.
Instead, look to the future. Think about your future happiness, rather than glorify the past.
If you’re in an unhealthy romantic relationship that involves abuse or mistreatment, there are some additional steps you may want to take.
Try to avoid sexual contact
Try to stop all sexual contact with the person you’re leaving. Sexual contact can strengthen your attachment and make it nearly impossible to successfully leave the relationship.
Try to stay away from alcohol or drugs
As tempting as it might be to temporarily forget about the pain and work of leaving a relationship, alcohol and drugs provide only temporary forgetfulness of the problem.
They won’t solve the issues and can actually be more harmful, as they can contribute to your attachment to the relationship.
Instead of looking for an escape in alcohol or drugs, try to face your feelings and the relationship head-on.
Consider joining a support group
Remember that you’re not alone. There are support groups available where you can share your experiences with others who’ve been in your shoes.
By joining a support group, you’ll connect with a group of people who know what it’s like to escape these types of relationships and can offer guidance and support during your journey.
If an in-person support group is too overwhelming for you, consider a virtual one.
Consider asking for help
Having the support of loved ones can play a role in you successfully leaving an unhealthy or harmful relationship.
Consider asking people you trust for their support and love during this challenging time. Explain that you might need them more during the coming months and communicate your challenges.
Remember: They love you and want to help.
If you’ve experienced an unhealthy relationship that involves abuse or mistreatment, seeking help from a licensed mental health professional can be beneficial to your mental health.
It will allow you to process your experience and come out the other side stronger and more able to form healthy attachments in the future.
If you find yourself in an unhealthy relationship, consider that it may be time to let that relationship go.
This, of course, is easier said than done. Sometimes it’s hard to leave because you’re so entwined with that person, and sometimes it’s hard to leave because the other person doesn’t want to let you go.
Remember that detaching doesn’t mean you’re cruel or selfish.
When it comes to your emotional health, taking care of yourself is the best thing you can do for your overall well-being.
How to Detach From Someone: 15 Effective Ways
In This Article
When you have been with a romantic partner for a while, it is only natural that you would begin developing deep feelings for them.
At this juncture, you prioritize their happiness and satisfaction, want to be with them, and you may even find yourself desiring a future with them.
While these feelings are thrilling, one of the biggest nightmares many people can face is getting to a point where it feels like they are in a one-way relationship.
Here, the relationship feels strained and toxic. Although it may hurt you deeply, you would need to learn how to detach yourself from someone you love for your health and mental sanity.
The reason for this is simple. If you do not figure out how to emotionally detach yourself from that person you love, you will find yourself pining over what could have been; a mental and physical state that isn’t healthy for anyone, especially not you.
At this point, it is necessary to state that this post aims not to teach you how to become obnoxious or cold-shouldered toward your partner.
However, this post is meant to provide you with strategies and close-kept tips on guarding your heart and emotions as it becomes obvious that you may need to put some emotional/physical distance between yourself and your partner (or an ex-partner).
Try your best to use the information contained in this post when you believe the time is right.
What does it mean to detach yourself from someone emotionally?
The term “emotional detachment” has been primarily used in its negative light. In this context, emotional detachment implies being cold-shouldered and distant from someone.
It has been used in different relationship scenarios like parent-children relationships and vice versa, relationships between friends, and relationships between corporate colleagues.
However, it is necessary to ask ourselves if there’s any other side to the equation. This would help set the pace for the conversation we would be having in this article.
For the sake of this article, we would be examining “emotional detachment” in light of romantic relationships.
Hence, emotional detachment in relationships is a process through which you disconnect yourself from a romantic partner on an emotional level. Usually, this is carried out as an act of self-defense, especially when you begin to notice a downward spiral in the relationship (for several relationships).
Just in case you were wondering if this is even a thing, MedicineNet discusses that intimate partner abuse is a significant public health problem that has affected over 2 million women and 800,00 men, causing homelessness, billions of dollars in healthcare costs, and even death in extreme cases.
Related Reading: 6 Signs of an Emotionally Disconnected Marriage
Why is emotional detachment important?
Learning how to detach from someone can be a difficult task. However, the rewards are far-reaching because when applied well, this skill can help you protect your heart/affections and can also help you walk away from a toxic relationship before things go south.
In addition, understanding emotional detachment in relationships helps you know exactly what this looks like.
When equipped with information, you can understand what to be on the lookout for as far as our relationship with your partner is concerned.
This way, you can tell when the connection is worth fighting for and when you should simply cut your losses.
Lastly, staying back in a toxic relationship with a partner who doesn’t prioritize you would, more often than not, cause untold emotional and psychological harm to you.
Research carried out and documented by the National Center for Biotechnology Information reports that about 70% of people who stayed back in toxic relationships over a long time frame came out with severe mental health challenges like depression (39%) and PTSD (31%).
With these points out of the way, let us take a quick look at why you need to emotionally detach yourself from someone you love once the need arises.
4 Reasons why you need to detach yourself from a romantic partner emotionally
Knowing how to emotionally detach yourself from someone you love when the need arises is necessary for several reasons.
Here are 4 main reasons for this.1. You may not be able to truly love yourself (again) until you have gotten away from that toxic relationship
One of the things that happen when you are in a toxic relationship is that the anger, bitterness, resentment, and other negative emotions you feel (at some point) may begin to cloud your sense of judgment/self-esteem.
If you do not take specific steps to get out of the relationship in one piece, you may start resenting yourself and turning your anger inward.
One of the fundamental steps toward healing is to become emotionally detached from your toxic partner. Doing this will take power away from them, and this will, in turn, help you to begin your journey toward self-love and improved esteem.
Related Reading: How to Practice Self Love2. Emotional detachment will teach you how to be independent
When you have figured out how to detach from someone you love (and you do this successfully), you will have no other option than to learn how to be independent.
During this time, you will make decisions for yourself, take up growth actions/initiatives, and find yourself more in charge of the trajectory of your life.
With this, the tendency for unhealthy dependence in a relationship is eliminated.3. You detach for your mental health
From all we have discussed so far, this should have been evident at this point.
When you are in a relationship with someone toxic, domineering, and who mentally/physically/emotionally abuses you, detaching from that relationship becomes paramount, especially for your sanity.
Hanging around them when it is evident that they aren’t making any efforts to become better will, more often than not, cause you untold harm – emotionally and mentally.4. Emotionally detaching from someone you love helps you to be in the moment and make better decisions for your future
One of the reasons why many people find it difficult to move on from relationships when it is evident that the relationship is heading nowhere is because they may be caught up in the euphoria of ‘what could have been.’
Under these circumstances, you can see the relationship for what it truly is. Then again, feelings of detachment allow you to see your partner in a different light, for who they indeed are, and not the person your love for them has made them into (in your mind’s eye).
With these in place, you can make clear-headed decisions about exactly where you’re headed.
When you have gone through all of these steps and are finally ready, here’s how to detach yourself from someone you love.
15 Ways to emotionally detach yourself from someone
If you want to stop being attached to someone (your partner in this case), here are 15 steps you should follow.1. Evaluate your relationship with them so far
Now that your goal is to become emotionally detached from someone you have loved, the first thing you need to do is take some time to evaluate your relationship with them so far.
When you do this right, you will become enlightened to several things, which will help solidify your decision to put some distance between them and yourself.
Related Reading: Are Your Doubts Normal or Toxic? Evaluate Your Relationship to Find out the Truth2. Ask all the critical questions
You would have to carry out this step during the self-introspection stage of this journey. While you evaluate your relationship with them, critically look at things and determine precisely how well (or otherwise) the relationship has fared before now.
Some of the questions you need to answer include determining whether or not your partner has prioritized you as much as you have prioritized them. Have they made compromises at specific points for your relationship to keep blooming (or have you been the only one doing all the groveling)?
If, after this session, you find out that the relationship has been one-sided, you may want to consider moving on quickly.3. Determine whether your expectations of your partner are reasonable
You may have to keep aside some of your biases and already acquired beliefs to do this successfully.
Put yourself in their shoes for a few minutes and answer a pertinent question; “if you were the one in their shoes, would you be able to accomplish what you expect them to?”
If your honest answer is ‘no,’ you may want to rethink your definition of ‘being inconsiderate/selfish. ’ On the other hand, if your answer is ‘yes,’ you are on the right track.4. Articulate your emotional needs and commit to satisfying yourself
What are the things that make you happy? Those you’ve formerly expected your partner to do for you? This is where you should make a list of them and commit to satisfying them by yourself, to the best of your abilities.
The main advantage of doing this is that this decision takes the power of making you happy/sad out of the hands of your partner and returns it to you.
This is how to let someone go emotionally!
Also Try: What Are My Emotional Needs?5. Create an exit plan
How do you intend to start moving on from them? Would you like to join a social group, club, or association of like-minded people? Would you like to learn a new skill or hobby? At this point, creating a support system is key.
Your goal at this stage should be to fill yourself up with productive activities that you love so that you do not have to sit around and wait for them.
Would you please pay attention to make sure that your exit plan doesn’t include them in it? At the same time, start making new friends again.
You want to become independent of them. They shouldn’t be a part of your favorite activities and pastimes at this point.
Also Watch: 5 guaranteed ways to emotionally detach
If you think it is necessary, you may want to enlist the help of a professional.
Depending on the nature of the relationship you’re trying to get out of, the professional can help you with sessions that range from mental health rehab sessions, or they may even teach you more about detachment and how to maximize the process.
If you believe you need a bit of hand-holding as you learn how to detach from someone you love, getting expert help will come in handy.
Related Reading: 5 Tips on How to Handle Unrequited Love7. Habitually practice mindfulness
Sometimes, the mental push you need is just a reminder of how awesome you are and how you deserve all the love and attention your partner can give.
Mindfulness helps you be in the moment and makes sure that you remain in tune with your inner self.
Guided meditations, journaling, and affirmation sessions will help you become more aware of yourself (and of the value of your mental health) and will help you appreciate yourself better.
When all these are in place, it becomes easier to stop being attached to someone who doesn’t treat you as though you are worth it.8. Let go of your high expectations
At this point, you have made a lot of progress on your journey to practicing emotional detachment in a toxic relationship. At the same time, you now know better than to place a lot of power in the hands of your partner.
What high expectations have you had of them before now? This is an excellent time to make a list of them all and let go of them.
Right now, it is almost evident that the relationship is one-sided and that they aren’t good enough for you. The last thing you want to do is place a lot of hope in them.
To make this transition less painful, consciously step out of the expectation trap.
Related Reading: 10 Life Lessons on How to End a Toxic Relationship9. Define new boundaries moving forward
Everything you have done so far may ultimately become a waste if you do not take some time to set clear and new boundaries.
As far as your interactions with them are concerned, what things would you no longer turn blind eyes to? Are there scenarios you expect them to make some effort in as well? Define these parameters clearly.
When you have done this, you must have a heart-to-heart with them, especially if you do not want to break off the relationship abruptly. Communication, at this stage, is vital.10. Put in some physical distance
As you work toward learning how to detach from someone you’ve had feelings for (and actually practice emotional detachment), putting in some physical distance is necessary.
This is even more important if the relationship isn’t new per se and if you have developed deep feelings for them.
Putting in some physical distance may include moving out of the house (if you’re living together).
Traveling to a different city for any reason, changing the locks on your doors and kindly asking them to leave, or just taking up new hobbies/habits that ensure that you don’t spend all your waking hours with their insight.
Note, however, that the first time you do this may feel terrible (especially if you have grown accustomed to intimacy and spending time with them). It may even feel as though someone is ripping a band-aid off you. But it is all for the best.
You remember the saying, “out of sight, out of mind,” right?11. Block them on social media or take a break if there’s a need for that
Almost everyone has an Instagram account these days. If this is any indicator, social media may serve as a stressor at this point, especially if you created a ton of memories with them; memories you shared with your connections/friends on social media.
You don’t need triggers like these. They will only make you feel nostalgic and rescind your decision to detach yourself from someone you love (your partner).12. Allow yourself to grieve
With all the points we’ve discussed above, you probably think that you aren’t supposed to feel anything as you put this distance between yourself and your partner. It isn’t always this simple.
Sometimes, you’ll feel bad and even find yourself asking if you have done the right thing or not. At this point, it is okay to feel grief.
Permit yourself to feel it. It is proof that you can love someone again when you meet the right person. However, make sure that the grief you’re feeling doesn’t stop you from taking all the steps you must for this journey to be complete.
Related Reading: Falling in Love Again After Being Hurt13. Confide in a loved one
It can be overwhelming, and at this point, you may need to open up to someone you can trust. It could be a friend, sibling, parent, or family member.
Just be careful about who you talk to, and make sure they are both sensible and wouldn’t judge your decision to practice emotional detachment.
Your journey to learning how to detach from someone you love is already stressful enough. You don’t need an extra judgemental person in the scene, although talking to someone can be therapeutic.14. Give it time
The feelings you’ve developed for your partner will most likely not get wrapped into a giant ball of snow and fizzle away in the heat of noon. It may take some time before you can say you are totally over it.
Take as much time as you need, and do not try to compare yourself with anyone. Different people would react to detaching from a relationship in different ways.
Hence, please don’t beat yourself up when it seems like yours takes much more time to complete.15. Commit to never going back
Soon enough, the partner you have just separated yourself from may come calling.
They may somehow find you on social media, drop the random here-and-there, ‘I would love to catch up with this kind of message. You don’t want to fall for those tricks.
Depending on who they are, your ex-partner may come clean and tell you that they would like to get back together with you. They may even begin to show you how much they have changed.
While they may have changed, you don’t want to place a bet on that. It is best you walk away, never look back, and March into the limitless possibilities in your future.
Related Reading: 6 Things to Remember If You Get Back Together With Your ExConclusion
The journey to learning how to emotionally detach yourself from someone you love and getting to the point where you stop being attached to them is a long, arduous, and ultimately rewarding one.
Follow the steps we have covered in this article and give yourself time.
You will be okay eventually if you follow through with all we have talked about.
Get out of love addiction | PSYCHOLOGIES
Know Yourself Man and Woman
Svetlana came for a consultation to get rid of her addiction. She is 40 years old, she does not drink, does not take drugs, but she feels like a real addict. “I can’t imagine a day without Vadim. As soon as he leaves for the weekend to meet with the children from his first marriage, and I’m already crying, I feel like I’m not needed by anyone ... And I constantly call him. I wouldn't wish that kind of passion on anyone."
Even if the absence of a loved one is difficult to bear, then the thought that he can stop loving is unbearable for a dependent person, and the departure of a partner becomes a catastrophe. Love becomes a force that cannot be controlled. “I want him to love me to death,” says 34-year-old Olga, “otherwise he’d rather die. ”
Love addiction, like other addictions, makes a person strive for the object of passion, while forgetting about himself. A person obsessed with love is often unable to take care of himself: he eats poorly, sleeps poorly, does not pay attention to his health.
Neglecting himself, he spends all his life energy on his partner... thereby causing him to suffer. All attention, all thoughts and feelings are focused on him and only on him, everything else seems meaningless and boring.
“Dependent people cannot define the boundaries of their personality, they seize a loved one, leaving him no free space,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “When love turns into complete control over a partner, it interferes with the development of a full sexual and love union.”
Often there is dependence on a partner who treats the lover badly. Contrary to popular belief, everyone is at risk of becoming a victim of such passion: men and women, young and mature, rich and poor.
Another case is when violent emotions generally become the meaning of existence. Such a person literally “falls” into love. This leap is often driven by the need to dampen the sense of the meaninglessness of life.
“We are looking for in romantic love not only earthly love and human relationships. We are looking for religious experiences and a passionate desire to comprehend our inner world in it, ”says the American Jungian psychoanalyst Robert Johnson.
In his opinion, passionate love, like true faith, can temporarily free us from contradictions and doubts and, like a beacon, illuminate our life, giving it integrity and certainty, giving us the opportunity to rise above the level of everyday life.
“Everything that belongs to everyday life becomes unbearable,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “Man lives only for this jump.” These two situations have a common denominator - the suffering generated by addiction.
Thirst for sacrifice
People get addicted not only from tender, loving relationships. The opposite and no less frequent case is dependence on a cruel, rude partner.
Before work, Marina covers her bruises with foundation and thinks: “Of course, with my figure… But in fact, he is good…”. Anatoly habitually slouches when his wife calls out, sighing to himself: “Of course, with my salary…”
Living in unbearable relationships, enduring humiliation and even coldness and severity of parents.
“If a person is driven by a desire to fill that long-standing spiritual void, then no amount of treatment, even cruelty, can sober him up,” says Valentina Moskalenko. - His feelings (as if through the mouths of his parents) tell him: "You deserve it, you yourself are to blame."
“Those who become dependent on a “sacrificial” position unwittingly choose aggressive partners for themselves, simultaneously provoking them to humiliating, cruel behavior, adds transactional analyst Vadim Petrovsky. “In order to get rid of such dependence, first of all, it is necessary to realize one’s desire for suffering, inherent in childhood, in order to stop communicating with a partner from the position of a victim. ”
Steps to liberation
The psychotherapy of too much love applies the principle of the medieval physician and alchemist Paracelsus: everything is poison, everything is medicine, both are determined by the dose. In other words, moderate use is good, but abuse is disastrous.
“As paradoxical as it may sound, you shouldn't love too much,” says Valentina Moskalenko. - Pay attention to love songs: many lyrics exalt the model of dependent relationships. For example, the classic "White light has converged on you like a wedge." To understand that such a perception of love and such an attitude towards a loved one is destructive for both, to recognize one’s own dependence on a partner is a difficult but necessary first step towards healing.
The next step is to awaken the senses and build relationships with oneself. “During therapy, I felt like a refrigerator that had finally been defrosted,” says 36-year-old Anastasia. “Suddenly she raised her head and saw: there were people around!”
“Psychotherapy helps a person realize who he is, where he is going in life and who he needs as a companion,” explains Valentina Moskalenko. “After all, an addicted person often lives as if under anesthesia, all his feelings are suppressed, because they are too painful.”
A love addict strives for ideal relationships that he lacked in childhood
Dealing with long-standing experiences and paying attention to the current situation is the task of the third step. Repressed feelings are often found to be related to childhood experiences: the love addict seeks some kind of ideal relationship that he lacked in childhood.
The child might have been afraid that he was abandoned when his parents went to the store, because he was not told that they had gone away for a short time and would definitely return. If parents considered themselves victims of circumstances, they themselves were dependent on love, alcohol, whatever, then they could not teach children to be responsible for their lives.
In other cases, parents simply did not give us enough love and affection, and now we spend all our energy on making up for this lack of love.
“But don't think that in this case you will suffer all your life,” says Valentina Moskalenko. “An adult is able to cope with his love addiction: to think about why relationships make him suffer, stop blaming himself and understand that he is worthy of love - the way he is.”
The opposite of addiction is not absolute freedom or isolation. During psychotherapy, people learn to build relationships that develop gradually - starting with falling in love, through gradual rapprochement and the development of trust.
It is important that each partner moves towards the other at his own speed, in contrast to the situation of love addiction, when a person instantly closes the distance and "sticks" to the beloved.
“The psychological benefit of an addict is that he completely entrusts another to take care of himself: “I had a bad life, and now you will love me,” comments Valentina Moskalenko. “But no one from outside can make us happy. We can only find the keys to true happiness within ourselves. ”
About the expert
Valentina Moskalenko — addiction specialist, author of the books “When there is too much love” and “Addiction: a family disease?”, leader of psychotherapeutic groups and seminars at the Institute of Psychotherapy and Clinical Psychology.
Text:Yuliana PuchkovaPhoto source:Getty Images
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Ammanda Major is Head of Clinical Practice at Relate. Couples often come to her for therapy complaining that they no longer feel in love with each other. She reassures them that this is a very common problem: “In long-term relationships, everyday worries come to the fore. Without realizing it yet, the partners feel that they are moving away from each other.”
The reasons may be different: perhaps you forgot why you fell in love with this person, or you simply reached that comfortable stage of the relationship, in which there is no longer any place for passion. But how reasonable is it to hope that the state of being in love will last for decades? Sexologist and relationship therapist Kate Moyle says: “Love and sexual relationships change over time, but you can get very close again. However, one should not expect stability from this sphere.”
But if you feel that you have cooled off towards each other, do not count on the fact that this will pass with time. “Nothing will change if both partners don’t work on the relationship. I often hear something like: "I thought / thought that everything would work out by itself." Well, that's not true."
So, is it possible to return love to a relationship? And if so, how to do it?
1. Be realistic
Of course, you would like to return to those glorious days when you just met and could not tear yourself away from each other. But since then, life has changed a lot. Perhaps you didn't have children at the time or didn't need to work so hard to increase your income. Over time, you discovered qualities in your partner that annoy you, because at first you did not know each other very well. Here's what Major says: “It won't be like before, because now you know much more about your partner and about what it is to live with him or her. It all depends on what you consider love. It is believed that falling in love helps a couple get together; when it passes, there is a deeper, more complex and richer sense of intimacy. And this does not mean at all that partners no longer consider each other cool, interesting and sexy.
2. Take an interest in your partner
Look at your loved one with fresh eyes. Analyze your relationship and find out in what situations and circumstances you were really interested in your partner. Once you understand when and why this happens, you will be able to pay attention to him or her more often.
3. Put the Relationship First
In a long-term relationship, the novelty fades and is replaced by a sense of security and comfort.
“We may think this is boring, but relationships, like many other important things, have to be worked on. Relationships should be a priority, and work on them should be included in the daily to-do list. If you feel that the distance between you is increasing, you need to build bridges,” says Major.
4. Look to the root
“If you don't want your partner anymore, this may be related not only to sexual, but also to some other relationship problems. Often, the true cause of dissatisfaction is not at all the one that is voiced, ”Major believes. According to Katherine Woodward Thomas, a relationship therapist who coined the term “conscious separation,” the cause is not the most serious or dramatic thing, but rather a minor little thing that “destroys trust and a sense of unity. Very often, as a lack of love, we perceive small disappointments, easy rejections, small unfulfilled hopes - these are the moments when we rely on a person, but he is not around, or when we need support, and instead we receive criticism from a partner. Falling in love, in her opinion, is “the feeling that you are together. One way to restore that feeling is to be able to share what's bothering you."
5. Talk about your needs
Daily responsibilities or important life events, such as losing a job or caring for children and elderly parents, also affect relationships and can cause feelings to fade.
“In any relationship, there are times when you can't give your partner as much attention as before, because you need to do other equally important things. In such cases, it is useful not to close the communication channel. It is often enough to take just a little time to show your partner that he is still important to you, that you love him and care about him. At the same time, you need to clearly identify your needs, too, ”Major says.
Try to make time for conversations (remember to put your phones away). It is not necessary to dedicate a whole evening to this and turn the conversation into a full-fledged discussion - you can just take a walk or chat in the car.
“How to get back that precious time just for two? If you succeed, it will be easier for you to tell your partner how important they are to you,” says Major. And Moyle advises to sort out those things that you would like to change. Is it physical intimacy, emotional intimacy, or both? Maybe one of you will say, “I wish I could get a little more help from you. Could you go grocery shopping this week?” I often give couples this task: first they have to promise to do something, and then ask for help. It is always a matter of mutual agreement, one partner cannot do all the work.”
6. Focus on the result
It can be difficult to tell a partner that feelings have cooled down.
“The truth can be very painful. If you want to say something that may hurt the feelings of another, always try to offer options for the development of events. For example: “It’s very difficult for me to talk about this, but I want us to become closer, and therefore we need to do this,” says Woodward Thomas.
If you immediately indicate your positive intentions, you can smoothly start a difficult conversation.
7. Start now
It's never too late to rekindle feelings, but the sooner you start working on it, the better. If you delay this moment, you will have to deal with a lot of problems, resentment and negative manifestations: “It is always better to be proactive in resolving problems in relationships and sex, but this is very difficult for many couples because they do not want to rock the boat.” However, there is a chance that such conversations will not lead to the desired results. “Couple therapy is designed not to save relationships, but to help people understand their needs and desires. Many relationships exist without intimacy, sex, or love, but they can collapse at any moment, ”says Moyle. It could be a love affair or something more mundane, like being late at work or over-indulging in your hobbies.
8. Remember who you fell in love with
Thomas Woodward recommends making a "thank you list" of your partner's strengths. This will help you “remember how hard it is to be human. We all have moments when we are vulnerable, when we need help and sympathy. But it happens that we behave nobly, like knights in shining armor. When your partner is going through hard times, it's helpful to remember what amazing qualities they have and support them."
Perhaps your partner has changed and is not happy about it. Woodward Thomas says: “I really think that sometimes feelings cool down just because your partner stopped loving himself - and you agreed with him. He rejects himself and you reject him. In this case, ask your partner about what is happening, create a comfortable environment for him to have a frank conversation.