Falling in love is one of the most enlivening experiences in life. Having worked with couples for 44 years, I see over and over that newly in-love couples invariably believe their love will last forever. They often say:
- We are both open and caring people so there is no reason our love isn't going to last.
Sometimes this is wonderfully true, but often the love-bubble bursts and you find yourself falling out of love with your partner.
What causes this?
1. Fear Gets Triggered
When you first meet and feel a connection with someone, you are likely open hearted. You fall in love with who you each are when you are at your best -- open, loving, caring and fun to be with.
But inevitably, things happen that trigger fears, particularly fears of losing your beloved or of losing yourself -- the fear of rejection and the fear of engulfment, of being controlled by your partner. Perhaps one day your partner is tired and appears distant, and your fear of rejection kicks in. Out of this fear, you might become a bit demanding or clingy, which might trigger your partners' fear of being engulfed, controlled, smothered. Your partner withdraws to protect against the pull from you, which further triggers your rejection fears. Now you might get angry and start blaming, and your partner might retreat even further. You might become caught in a vicious circle of protecting yourselves rather than learning, growing and sharing your love with each other.
Unless you are able to learn from and heal your fears, you may get stuck in this negative pattern. Love quickly vanishes in the face of this closed, protective behavior.
2. Controlling Behavior Takes Over
As you become stuck in this negative system, each of you may become more and more controlling -- each in your own way. Controlling behavior may include anger, blame, attack, defensiveness, compliance, withdrawal, resistance or indifference. If you are using anger or blame to try to have control over your partner being open and loving with you, your partner might resist that control by defending, withdrawing, resisting or completely shutting down and becoming indifferent. If you are trying to control your partner by giving yourself up, he or she might respond by become more and more demanding.
3. Underlying Narcissism Emerges
There is an underlying narcissism in the ego wounded part of all of us -- the survival part of us that learned to protect against pain through different controlling behaviors. This narcissism is about believing that the other person is responsible for your feelings of worth and safety. This narcissism can take two different forms:
- The taker -- overtly demanding: "It's your job to make me happy, worthy and safe."
- The caretaker -- covertly demanding -- giving yourself up in the hopes your partner will love you: "If I do what you want, then you will love me and make me feel happy, worthy and safe."
This narcissism emerges when you have not learned how to take responsibility for your own worth, happiness and safety. This codependent system invariably wears down love.
4. Conflicts Don't Get Resolved
Conflict resolution occurs when both of you are open to learning about yourself and each other, when you have your own and your partner's highest good at heart, and when you each are willing to take responsibility for your own feelings. If one or both of you are closed and controlling, trying to win or at least not lose, or if you are too ready to give yourself up, conflict doesn't get resolved and resentment builds up. Love cannot flourish when resentment takes over.
5. Passion Diminishes
When you both get caught up in your protective, controlling behavior, your excitement and passion for each other may start to diminish. You might not feel turned on by your partner if he or she is angry, blaming, resistant, compliant, needy and so on.
If one of you needs sex to feel intimate, and the other needs to feel intimate in order to feel like having sex, and the intimacy is eroded due to the controlling system, sex becomes less and less alive and passionate.
Sex stays alive in a long-term relationship when each partner is open to learning about themselves and each other. Learning creates aliveness and newness, which affects the whole relationship. Without aliveness and newness in the relationship, the relationship can become boring, which can affect the vitality of the sexuality.
6. Losing Touch With Your Essence
The more you each react from your ego wounded self, the more out of touch you become with your own true self -- your essence -- and the essence of your partner. You fell in love with each others' essence, not with each others' ego wounded self. In fact, most of us don't like another's ego wounded self. We learn to tolerate it, which is essential for a loving relationship, but what we like and love is the essence. Often, by the time couples divorces, they actually hate each other because all they see is each other's controlling, wounded self.
7. Disconnection May Become the Norm
Where once you felt deeply connected with your partner, now emotional and sexual disconnection may have become the norm. You either settle for a flat relationship or you move on, often to create the same issues in the next relationship.
The Way Back To Love
There is a way back to love. The way back is to take your eyes off your partner and move into a healing process that leads to taking personal responsibility for your own feelings. Inner Bonding is such a healing process. By learning and practicing the Six Steps of Inner Bonding, you learn to bring the love to yourself that you may be trying to get from your partner. You learn to stop rejecting and abandoning yourself, instead bringing love and compassion to your own feelings and needs. You learn to connect with a higher source of love and bring that love inside, so that you have love to share with your partner, rather than always trying to get love with your controlling behavior. You learn to define your own worth and create your own inner safety, so that you no longer pull on your partner for these.
Before deciding that you chose the wrong partner or that you can't ever feel in love with your partner again, try learning and practicing Inner Bonding. Thousands of couples have rediscovered their love for each other by learning to love themselves.
Margaret Paul, Ph.D. is a relationship expert, best-selling author, and co-creator of the powerful Inner Bonding® self-healing process, recommended by actress Lindsay Wagner and singer Alanis Morissette, and featured on Oprah. To begin learning how to love and connect with yourself so that you can connect with others, take advantage of our free Inner Bonding eCourse, receive Free Help, and take our 12-Week eCourse, "The Intimate Relationship Toolbox" - the first two weeks are free! Discover SelfQuest®, a transformational self-healing/conflict resolution computer program. Phone or Skype sessions with Dr. Margaret Paul.
For more by Margaret Paul, Ph.D., click here.
For more on love and relationships, click here.