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What does it mean when a partner is out of love

It has been my experience that 20-25 percent of couples come into therapy with one or both feeling “out of love”. This is a difficult thing to say to your partner. Usually one person feels it more then the other.

I don’t immediately take this as reality. I want to understand what this really means. In my mind this either means that somebody is “in love” with another person, or is actually having an affair or that there is a loss of connection because of emotional and sexual distance. If the latter is the case my job is to help people find a lost connection to each other and often times when the long standing resentments, disappointments and defensive posture soften, the attraction and closeness can come back. In a case of an affair, provided the cheating partner is willing to end it, we can explore what lead to the affair. Usually, it is feelings of rejection and emotional abandonment,and distance, and so we work on that in the same way as any other re-connection in therapy work plus healing the trauma of the affair.

Being “in love” does not guarantee a good relationship and not being “in love” does not mean the relationship is not good. I am actually not completely sure what “in love” means other then the early infatuation phase which is very exciting and intoxicating but not really sustainable throughout a lifetime. That being said, attraction and emotional connection, commitment to the well being of the other, trust and great deep care are critical to a good relationship.

It is also important to now confuse a “slump” in a relationship and a permanent shift. All relationships go through a “slump”, it is to be expected over time. But the slump is seen as that and it ends. A permanent shift is something far more serious. It is when there is persistent feeling of unhappiness, doubts about commitment and compatibility, trust, etc. It is important when there is are prolonged periods of unhappiness and doubt, the couple seek professional help before there are more serious shifts.

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