January 15, 2009


Throughout the years I’ve worked with many couples where one of the partners has come in saying that s/he was no longer “in love”.  In many of these couples, both partners reported that they loved each other very much however the relationship had some how turned into one of platonic friends rather than lovers. 


Many of the individuals who had fallen out of love reported that they started to feel the shift years prior.  Very few spoke about it however until now, several years later.


The truth is, relationships ebb and flow.  Early in relationships there’s typically a “hot” period where there’s a lot of passion, physical attraction, and the desire to be with one another all the time. This is followed by a more realistic stage where each partner begins to truly know the other person—warts and all.  Gradually couples begin to settle into some type of rhythm that typically includes periods of attraction, connection and intimacy, followed by other periods of more distance, acceptance (vs. attraction), and a possible neutrality.  Some couples may also dip into periods of real struggle. 


All of these phases however are normal; even the ones involving distance and struggle.  


Where couples get themselves into trouble however, is when they begin to feel distant or neutral yet don’t speak about it.  Feeling distant is a great red flag that tells you it’s time to pay attention.  Instead, people try to ignore what they’re feeling, rationalize it, or hide it because they don’t want to hurt their partner.  Ignoring it however, WILL hurt your partner…and you.


If you’re feeling distant from your partner, tell your partner.  This means it’s likely that both of you have been taking your relationship for granted and letting it slip away.  Be honest with your partner about what you’re feeling and ask if s/he is feeling the same.  Take time to come up with a plan that will help both of you feel closer.


When you’re in this space, it’s time to give your relationship a little TLC.  Make time for just you and your partner—even if that means after the kids are in bed.  Hold hands on the couch. Brush against each other.  Rub your partner’s shoulders.  Cuddle in bed. Have long, fun talks.  Do whatever you need to do in order to get back on track because the truth is: the quicker you catch it, the easier it is to fix.  


If you’ve been feeling this way for years, take active steps yourself to be more affectionate, speak to your partner about it, and if nothing works, get into see a couples therapists or a relationship coach.


Every relationship ebbs and flows; the trick is paying attention not running from it.


CHALLENGE:  If you’ve been feeling distant from your partner, talk to her/him.  Come up with two or three ideas that you think would help you feel closer and do them.  Also come up with two or three ideas you’d like your partner to do or you both can do as a couple.  Implement them and see what happens.


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Dear Deni,
Have an honest conversation with your boyfriend letting him know that you're not happy. Don't spend your time chasing him. Talk to him about what feels like his lack of support of you and his lack of interest. Tell him you would love to make this work however you're not willing to force something if he's not interested--you want to be with someone who wants to be with you.
Good luck...and don't settle now or it will get worse later.

Lisa- I am 20 years old, and I have been in a relationship for two and a half years. Me and my boyfriend were really inlove on the beginning. We had some ups and downs. We lived together for 6 months however now I live with my parents and I'm studying to become a nurse. Not long ago he broke up with me as he said he's not happy since then something changed and nothing is the same anymore. I feel like we are slowly growing apart he is not happy with me going to university, he doesn't make effort with me he is always working and hardly see each other or have sex. Recently I find myself talking to other people which I never used to do before! I am really worried that I might loose my bf as I don't want to be lonely but he doesn't seem to be interested.. I don't know what to do..

Hi. My fiance and I have been together for 3 years. We have lived together for about half of that time. This year we were planning our wedding when I found some messages to another girl. We went through counseling and things got better but now I feel like we are back in a ruthless which is what happened before. We don't communicate like we used to and we never have sex. He wants to all the time but I just have no desire. I am older than him but I just don't know if it's me getting older (I'm 25) or if it's me hanging on to things that happened in the past or if it's because I just don't feel like we're as close as we used to be. We can't go to counseling every week for the rest of our lives. How can we get things back to the way they used to be?

Ok so I'm a guy that been in a long term relationship. I did my girl wrong for 3 yrs. Now that im doing good and not doing the bad stuff she thinks I want the girls we drive by. She'll say do you like her butt? I'm trying to tell this girl I was a boy then but now I'm a man who wants the responsible to provide for her. I just don't know what to do ..... Help me please.

Dear Michael,
The bast you can do is show her you've changed. When she makes those comments, calmly look her in the eyes and tell her, "Please stop making those comments. I love you and I'm trying to prove to you that I've changed." If she keeps making the comments then let her know the comments are hurting the relationship. Ask her what you can do to help her stop. Be sure to be letting her know how much you care for her during the times when she's not making these comments and act trustworthy.
Hang in there-Lisa

I don't normally post relationship problems in the web but I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years and he left for a week and said he needed space. I missed him like crazy and he asked to come back. I said of course but now I feel really distant and he doesn't but I love him to death. I'm so confused!

Dear Judy: Keep in mind that the "spark" is often at it's brightest in the earliest stage of a relationship and naturally turns into something more subdued and comfortable as we get to know the person on a deeper level. Keeping your own interests and friends helps with keeping the spark alive as well. Remember to not focus all of your attention on your romantic relationship--be sure to keep your own interests and friends. Keeping a healthy sense of independence is vital for that spark.
Good luck!

My boyfriend and I have been together for 8 months. I'm 14. sometimes I'll feel ignored because he's with is friends or whatever but I still love him a lot and want to stay with him. It's just...were losing spark and that's not good...these facts were very useful to me though and I'm going to try them.

I am 14 years old and ive been in a relationship with my girlfriend for about a little over 5 months. I know im still young but i love her. It is not a puppy kind of love either. I really do love her. For the first couple of months we have been great! We would always text each other and we always called and hung out. But in the middle of the summer I had signed up for summer school to get pe out of the way. I was there 5 days a week for 3 weeks. Since i was always worn out and tried and we barely hug out for those days. but we still comunicated via. cell. and since then we just have been seeing each other less and less and i dont know what the problem is. I always make time for us but she doesnt seem to have enough time. Either she is sleeping(she does a lot), with her friends, or she just says she cant hang. Im getting scared at the moment cause she has told her friend she might breakout with me soon. And she says she is feeling distant from me but i dont know why since i have time for her now and i want to be with her all the time.She says she loves me, and she wants this to work, but she is not sure if we can make it work. I dont want to break up with her but its getting to that point. Please Help! :(

Hey Lisa,
My boyfriend and I have been together for three months now but he told me he lost the spark. I went away for the summer for a month, an he told me he missed me so much that he couldn't get sleep and all but then one day he just stopped missing me. When we talk it's not like before. We run out of things to say to each other. He tells me he loves me and doesn't want to lose me but if this spark doesn't come back for a while we're over. I really love this boy and I don't wanna lose him at all. I'm 17 by the way and so is he. He told me when we kissed it wasn't like before and he doesn't know why he doesn't feel the way he used to about me but we both really so want it to work out. Help? :(

Lisa-I'm 19 and I've been with this guy 2 years. Things were hot but now we rarely have sex. I try but I cant force myself when I don't feel it. He's the opposite though. I love him but he lied to me in the past. I know he loves me though but as of late like I said very little sex and we argue like cats and dogs. I want to stay with him but I feel we have no spark now. It didn't help that my family hates his guts and my friends alienated me from our large group. What can I do please help????

Dear Fifi: I wonder what's going on behind the scenes? Does he treat you well? Why does your family hate him? Are you happy when you're in his presence? It sounds like there may be some unresolved issues between the two of you that is getting in the way with you trusting him and wanting to be intimate with him. I would start by talking about what's really bothering you with him and not just trying to silence your upset and "get" yourself to be able to be sexual. If you ignore the things you're not happy with, they will begin to add up and slowly you will resent him and the relationship.
Start with having an honest conversation and a serious assessment of the relationship beyond just you not feeling sexual towards him.

Warm Regards-Lisa

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