We've all heard it said somewhere or the other: "I love you, but I'm not in love with you any more." People nod their heads. They seem to understand. After all, can you deny that you just don't have that special feeling in your heart when all you feel is "blah" at your best moments? Life is short. Are you supposed to go on denying that that feeling just doesn't exist any more? Well, perhaps you should give it some real airtime. Because if you don't, you may be denying yourself one of the greatest realizations ever. And here is why.
(1) "Falling out of love" may be "falling out of acute attraction": For some people, that feeling of attraction may last for a very long time. But the reasons it lasts may be complicated. Some people think they feel "love" when what they actually feel is a nervousness that makes them feel "alive." Fear masquerades as "love" because it keeps people on edge, and they worry and feel sick to their stomachs and feel relieved when they see the person they are in "love" with. Once they get used to seeing the person and feel secure with them, they may lose that edge and then start to believe (when the fear is gone) that they are falling out of love.
(2) Love may not fundamentally change but our connection with it may: Regardless of Shakespeare's insistence that "love is not love when it alteration finds," this is not how people experience it. Sometimes fears about other things make people lose touch with their core feelings of love. Anxiety takes attention away from love onto threat. When people experience threats such as not having enough money or the stresses of children, their anxiety may eat up attention so that there is not enough attention available for love. The brain can only attend to so much, and if there is threat and fear, they are first in line.
(3) Relationships are often a lot like stocks that are increasing in value; they often go down before they go up: When was the last time you saw a chart of a stock's value just go directly up. In general, life is full of waves -- the brain does not steadily progress without interruption. Thus, when love goes out the window, it might come right back in if you give it a chance. If, at the first sign of the disappearance of love you close the door or shut the windows, even if love wanted to come back it won't. Your own initial fears may keep love out.
(4) As humans, our brains are averse to change: We expect things to last forever. And some brains, when they feel that love "changes," go into a state of panic. Rather than looking at the inevitability of love's different forms across a lifespan, people may be prone to reacting to their initial fears of change. Fear of change often underlies the persistence of falling out of love.
(5) Studies show that subconscious and not conscious factors impact whether a relationship lasts: The brain's subterranean machinery has more to do with whether you fall out of love than you think. Consciously, you may want to stay in a relationship forever, but subconsciously, as a result of repeated disappointments, you may give your brain the message to "expect" to fall out of love. This fear -- this anxiety of anticipation of the worst possible thing -- may actually cause your brain to create the worst outcome to relieve you of the feeling you dread.
(6) "Falling out of love" may be a fear of dealing with the temptations to have more than one person in your life: It is natural for many people (especially those with a novelty seeking gene) to want "variety." However, this desire creates fear and anxiety because of the possibility of acting on these desires. As a result, people may "fall out of love" to simply allay their guilt about their desires.
(7) "Falling out of love" may be a way of avoiding the feeling of being trapped or not being able to deal with a new discovery about a lover: When you fall in love you get closer to someone, and as you do, you feel their vulnerabilities and you get to see uglier parts of them. This is part of being in love. Running away may solve this temporarily, but it will also ensure that you only stay with a relationship where you can bear significantly less intimacy.
So what can you do about this? The simple formula is wait, talk about it to your partner, and keep the window and doors open to allow love to re-enter. Also, walk the "falling out of love" path with a new intention. Even when you are feeling hate, ask yourself: "How can I get back to love?" Avoid "pseudo-attempts" at making things better. "Irreconcilable differences" are often "irreconcilable fears." If you deal with these fears by refusing to feed them, they will not survive, and love just may come out of hiding into your life again.