'I Don't Love My Partner Anymore But Don't Know If We Should Split'
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You can’t beat the feeling of falling in love. You look into the eyes of your partner and you automatically know that they’re the one. Life feels like you’re floating on air and nothing can compete with the way you feel about your partner.
Eventually, these feelings die down and we settle into normality, but some people start to question whether those feelings were ever actually true. When the rose-coloured glasses come off, you may wonder if this person you thought you were in love with is actually the one.
This week’s reader, Sheena feels like she’s no longer in love with her partner: “He’s so lovely and has never done me wrong but my feelings have just completely changed for him.”
She wonders whether she should leave him or if she should stay in the relationship: “I’m not unhappy because he’s great but I don’t feel fulfilled and I don’t want to waste more time on something that isn’t right.”
She explains: “We got together when Covid hit which was a time when we didn’t see anyone and we ended up living together.
“I feel like we rushed into things too quickly and perhaps he isn’t the right person for me at the start but I was happy and I felt content.
“I’ve had this feeling for well over a year now but I guess I won’t know how I truly feel unless I leave him. I want to be excited by someone and have that sexual desire which we lack.”
Should Sheena trust her gut and break up with her partner or stick it out? Counselling Directory members Mia Muscat and Margaret Reiser are on hand to help.
When do you know if you’ve rushed into a relationship?
Muscat thinks this is a complex question, as we sometimes have the habit of making decisions in haste and it can soon become clear that we’ve made a mistake.
“I believe doubts will crop up regularly and the doubts should make you question your decision. If you are in tune with yourself, you need to listen to the doubts, trust your gut instincts and recognise something isn’t quite right,” Muscat explains.
“During COVID many people moved in together and at the time it made sense to not spend lockdown alone. That doesn’t mean you have to stay there forever,” she adds.
Reiser believes emotional intimacy is the most important part of a relationship, and, for better or worse, it takes time to establish.
In the beginning, we know if there’s an initial attraction and shared interests but these aren’t keys to long-term partnership.
“Intimacy, real intimacy, requires much more. You need to know if your partner is someone you can trust. How does he react in a minor conflict? What about a major crisis? How does he share and safeguard delicate information?” Reiser asks.
Reiser also thinks Sheena may have been forced into a premature living condition: “This sudden, premature closeness seems to have occurred
almost accidentally, and the relationship may not have had the foundational intimacy to be successful.”
What are the signs that a relationship is over?
Knowing that a relationship is coming to an end isn’t easy. We might push those internal feelings away but we know deep down that things aren’t the same.
Muscat believes the relationship is over when:
You are feeling no joy being together
If you have no sexual desires anymore
If you’re fantasising about other people
If you feel that your partner doesn’t understand you and communication is difficult
However, she wants Sheena to understand that relationships are complex and feelings can change and change back: “I believe if the uncertainty is going on for a prolonged period, it’s time to try to communicate your feelings and if you can’t find any resolve then maybe think about leaving the relationship.”
Reiser thinks Sheena knows that the relationship is over as she writes that her feelings have “completely changed.”
She adds: “It’s telling that she describes their state as ‘not unhappy’ even though they state that their feelings have completely changed. They go on to write that ‘he wasn’t the right person from the start’ and that the relationship lacks sexual desire.”
What practical advice would you give this partner?
Sheena should have a conversation with her partner to speak about her feelings with her partner. “The reader needs to lay it on the table and honour both their feelings AND their partner’s,” Reiser explains.
She continues: “Keeping this critical information from him is affecting his agency in the relationship. He deserves to know if the person he has devoted himself to is having second thoughts.”
Both parties could work together to improve their relationship. However, Muscat says “if you do not want to try to work through things, then that to me is a big clue.
“If you don’t want to try to work at it then it’s clear it’s time to leave. This would be the kindest for both of you in the long run.”
Love Stuck is for those who’ve hit a romantic wall, whether you’re single or have been coupled up for decades. With the help of trained sex and relationship therapists, HuffPost UK will help answer your dilemmas. Submit a question here.