A long term relationship or what is considered true love may fizzle out and end, but it is it likely that the love is lost completely? Maybe the ‘in love’ stage has long since passed, but what usually replaces the ‘in love’ stage of a relationship is often a deeper friendship and the beginning of a soul mate type relationship.
Some people are confused and struggle to understand this gradual change in an intimate relationship and the absence of the intense ‘in love’ feelings and people may often feel that something is wrong with their relationship, or wonder have they really found the right one.
People with unmet emotional needs may find these intense feelings or the absence of them very difficult to make sense of and deal with. Many people expect the ‘in love’ feelings or real love feeling to last for the whole relationship duration.
When these intense feelings give way because of how human beings adapt and become familiar with constantly changing stimuli, then some people can feel that the relationship they found has lost its spark. Many people will say ‘I love my partner’ but I am not ‘in love’ often feeling that it isn’t real love, they may feel that there is something fundamentally wrong with their relationship.
These changing emotions are responsible for a lot of relationship break ups, separations and divorces, but if we think about it rationally, emotions and feelings are like this, they change over time. If we hit our thumb with a hammer, the immediate pain is immense and is all we can think of, but over time we become more used to the pain, some people feel the same can be said of falling in love, at first we think about the person in every moment, we will do anything for them, it feels so good, we like the ‘in love’ feeling and often thrive on it, people comment that we look great, happy and so content and people even say that we look like we’re ‘in love’.
After a while, it becomes the norm and we begin to accept the relationship, the person and the feelings more as the reality, may be it doesn’t feel so magical, but the change from ‘in love’ to the more balanced feelings may go unnoticed for a while.
Many relationship experts agree that the ‘in love’ stage of most relationships lasts for a maximum of around two years on average, coincidentally, this is also the time frame when a lot of people in a relationship begin to experience relationship problems.
So, do the ‘in love’ feelings go or are they replaced as a natural phenomenon, as in the example above involving the associated pain of hitting our thumb with a hammer, intense and all consuming at first, but then later as time goes by, and we become familiar with the feelings, we can live with it as we get used to it as part of our norm.
If we look at relationship break ups, I mean the ones where neither party was unfaithful or no real major hurt was caused, where there was no domestic abuse, no financial abuse, no problematic drug, alcohol or gambling addiction, no major financial worries, we may hear terms like ‘we just drifted apart’ or ‘I love my partner like a brother or sister’ or ‘we are just good friends’ but it’s not real love.
From my professional experience of working with people with relationship problems, marriage problems and working with couples who are about to get married, this happens a lot, I can’t help wondering whether expectations of how being in a relationship should feel, may play an important part in actually damaging what could otherwise be healthy and committed relationships.
Once again we see that expectation can create problems. (Please read ‘The Meaning of Happiness’ to see my associated story about how expectation can ruin something special).
So in summary, before we start thinking about what our relationships don’t feel like, maybe we need to concentrate more on what they do feel like. Maybe we can learn to see the ‘in love’ stages of our relationship as a wonderful introduction and learn to place more value on actually becoming trusted friends, after all, do we really need those heightened emotions to live a wonderful life with the person who wants to be with us?
Paul Parkin – Online Counsellor and Life Coach.
‘A journey of a thousand Miles begins with a single step’
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Paul Parkin Dip. Coun. I am a counsellor, therapist and life coach. I am passionate about helping people who are hurting or in crisis. My goal is to help people reach their full potential by providing affordable counselling online to people everywhere via my counselling website – Counsellors Online.
I have worked as a counsellor for the past 11 years, I have worked in several counselling settings, including – The National Society of Prevention of Cruelty to Children (NSPCC) the NHS. North East Council on Addictions (NECA) and Several telephone helplines including The Samaritans.
I offer low cost marriage counselling and relationship counselling online.
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