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6 not-so-obvious signs you’re falling out of love with your partner

6 not-so-obvious signs you’re falling out of love with your partner

There’s a difference between needing a little space and fantasising about a separate life.

Most of us have a pretty solid idea of what it feels like to fall in love (and if you don’t, there are plenty of John Legend songs to help you out). But what does it look like when the spark is officially gone?

Realistically, falling out of love isn’t as sudden as flipping a switch. You’re likely not going to go from being crazy about someone for months or years to suddenly feeling…nothing at all. Instead, the signs are often subtle and easily overlooked, says Surabhi Jagdish, owner of online therapy practice Revolutionary Reflections.

Of course, everyone experiences this emotional shift in their own unique way – and only you know how you truly feel. But in case you need some clarity, we asked three relationship experts for some of the most common (and often missed) signs that your heart is no longer in it.

1. You’re not that excited to spend time with them

It’s one thing to absolutely dread hanging out with someone – a pretty obvious indicator that you’re not exactly into them – but even feeling indifferent about your upcoming anniversary dinner date, say, or no longer initiating fun weekend plans, can signal that things have fizzled out, says Michelle Herzog, LMFT, an AASECT-certified sex therapist and founder of the Center for Modern Relationships.

If you’re no longer invested in your relationship, “activities you once enjoyed together feel pretty burdensome, maybe even boring, and you’ll feel disengaged – like you would rather be somewhere else,” Herzog says. Perhaps you notice that you’re constantly zoning out or checking your phone at Sunday brunch, instead of engaging in lively conversations like you used to. Or that yearly getaway you cherished during the honeymoon phase now feels like a complete waste of time and money.

The takeaway: Quality time with your special someone should be something you look forward to –not some obligation you’d secretly rather skip.

2. You don’t really miss them when they’re gone

“Absence makes the heart grow fonder” is a cliché for a reason – it holds some truth and it can come in handy when you’re trying to sort out your feelings for someone, says Shavon Gaddy, LCSW, an AASECT-certified sex therapist.

Missing your SO when they’re not around is a natural part of being in love – a sign that you genuinely enjoy spending time with them. So if you no longer feel the urge to send a quick “IMY” text when they’re on a month-long business trip, say, or you’re not eagerly counting down the days until your long-distance partner returns, this lack of longing can signal that your feelings are changing, Gaddy says.

“Yes, it’s common to crave space, but if you were to go on a five-day vacation and not think about your significant other once, maybe you’re not feeling the way you used to,” she adds. “Naturally, if you see something funny or something that reminds you of them, one of your first thoughts [if you’re still in love] will probably be, ‘Oh, let me tell my partner.’”

To be fair, though: Just because you secretly enjoy having the apartment all to yourself while they’re away, or you’re too swamped with work to find the time for a quick FaceTime check-in, that doesn’t necessarily mean the spark is gone. However, if this pattern keeps up or is coupled with some of the other signs in this article, it may be time to take a closer look at your relationship, Gaddy cautions.

3. You’ve stopped keeping them in the loop or checking in on how they’re doing

Normally you’d probably rush to share your wins (like a running PR) and losses (a horrible day at work) with someone you love – and, likewise, you’d want to hear about their ups and downs too.

But if you find yourself “forgetting” to mention these major moments, or not even bothering to ask your partner about their day, that may indicate that you’re mentally checked out of the relationship, according to Herzog.

That’s because sharing personal experiences is a common way to stay connected and strengthen your bond,which is why it’s concerning if you only confide in friends instead of your partner (who perhaps used to be the first person you’d call when something exciting or stressful happened). On the flip side, if you’re not even curious as to why your significant other is quieter than usual, say, or how their first day at their new job went, “this could mean you’re emotionally detached or apathetic towards this person,” Herzog says, “and a pretty strong indication that you’re not really interested in them or their well-being.”

4. You don’t really consider them when you’re making decisions

Should I take this job offer or stay where I am? Do I splurge on that new sofa or save my money? These are just a couple examples of the kinds of decisions you might seek your partner’s input on. (After all, their opinion matters most to you, right?)

In most relationships, partners lean on each other for advice and guidance, according to Jagdish. Whether you’re grappling with a major life decision (like moving to a new city or making a large purchase) or deciding on something more trivial (like the perfect movie or outfit), involving your partner in your everyday choices implies that you value and respect their perspective. So “when you’re no longer seeking their input, it shows that what they think may not be important to you anymore,” Jagdish adds.

5. You’re not willing to compromise for them

Every healthy relationship requires some level of compromise. You might not want to move out of your cozy (but tiny) studio apartment, but for the right person you’d consider forgoing your special home for a bigger space. Or a baseball game might not be your usual scene, but you’d gladly don your partner’s favourite team’s merch and head to the ballpark to brighten their day.

However, with someone you’re not that into anymore, you may be less inclined to make those adjustments. Think about it: Most of us aren’t willing to endure terrible, toxic in-laws, for instance, or learn a new language for just anyone—only for those special people who are worth going the extra mile. “Part of your partner’s joy is your joy as well,” Jagdish says, which is why an unwillingness to meet them halfway is another telltale sign that you’re falling out of love.

6. You think about your future—and they’re not a part of it

As you imagine what lies ahead, maybe you picture a successful career, a quaint home by the water, or backpacking across Europe. “But if you realise your aspirations no longer include your partner or you feel indifferent about the idea of building a future together, that’s a pretty big red flag,” Herzog says.

Occasionally pondering the what-ifs of being single is normal and, usually, innocent, according to the experts we spoke to. “But if you’ve fleshed out a life in your mind without your partner and are looking forward to it, that may mean you don’t really enjoy your life as it is now,” Jagdish says. This might look like fantasising about having more time to learn how to cook if your partner wasn’t in the picture, say, or finally enjoying a wild night out with your single pals. Or perhaps you’ve stopped planning vacations together, even though travelling was the very hobby that you originally bonded over.

Obviously, none of us have a crystal ball to show us exactly what our future holds. But if you’re already sensing that you’re growing apart, it’s worth asking yourself: Is your current relationship standing in the way of any dreams or goals you have?

What to do if you think you’re falling out of love

You might assume a breakup is inevitable if you’re reading this and relating to some (or a lot) of the above signs, and in some cases, leaving a relationship that no longer fulfils you may very well be the best decision for everyone involved.

But just because the chemistry isn’t as strong as it used to be, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to reignite the flame – if that’s something you want. “Bring up your concerns gently,” Herzog suggests. You can say something like, “I’ve noticed I’m not feeling the same about us, and I’m curious if you’re feeling the same way,” rather than a blunt, “I don’t think I love you anymore” (since that can be a pretty painful and unproductive criticism to hear).

Being honest about your doubts is the first step toward understanding each other’s perspectives and, ideally, finding solutions together, like making more of an effort to spend quality time together, for instance, or trying couples therapy. (A professional can help get to the root of any underlying issues that may have caused this shift, Herzog says, and suggest personalised exercises to bring the passion back.)

Ultimately, if you’re serious about saving your relationship, you’ve got to put in the work to rediscover your lost love: “I always suggest going back to the basics: Go out on spontaneous dates and try to get to know them (again),” Gaddy says. That way, “you can reconnect with the person you first fell for.”

This feature was originally published on SELF.