These are the words that no-one ever wants to say, “I love you but you don’t love me”. Sometimes, this sentiment doesn’t even need to be said aloud, it is known, tacitly understood, quietly unspoken. Has this happened to you? Have you found yourself saying these words or listened as someone else expressed this about you and your partner?
It’s certainly a dilemma. Here is my guide about what you could and should do if you find yourself in this trickiest of tricky situations in a relationship.
This is the first question you must consider when working out what you should do.
What are the signs that he doesn’t love you any more? Here are some pointers about what to look for:-
If you have looked at that list and put a tick by most if not all of those bullet points then he probably doesn’t love you anymore and it is likely to be true. Sometimes, people can become distant and quite changed if they have a major issue going on in their lives. This could be a work problem or family difficulty which he may not have shared with you. It is always worth asking the question as this can cause quite unusual and changed behaviour.
It’s a fact, women can be more insecure about their relationships than men. Insecurity can cause huge distortions in a loving romantic partnership and seriously jeopardise or even kill off a wonderful love affair. It just becomes too toxic and no romance can survive insecurities and clingy behaviour indefinitely. Cue your bestie.
Speak to someone who knows you well and who can look at your tick box list and assess whether this is just you being insecure and paranoid or whether you really do have evidence that things are on the slide. Love can make even the most confident of people feel insecure but insecurity is not really a hallmark of true love. However, it is easy to get things out of proportion when you are worried or fearful and concerns are just going round and round in your head.
Talk to someone you trust who knows you well and your relationship and partner well enough to be qualified to comment. Avoid any friends who have a real downer on your lover as they are already primed to respond negatively to anything you say about him. Pick someone who is fair and impartial.
Someone who has your best interests at heart will be candid and honest and can assess your fears accurately and without bias. If you are being insecure then its time for a bit of a reality check before the rot spreads any further and starts to cause real damage.
If your best friend thinks you are right in your assessment then it looks as if your relationship has sailed onto the rocks. You might then ask yourself honestly and deep down, whether he ever really loved you at all. Sometimes a level of detachment and hindsight can show you the landscape as it really is rather than through rose-tinted glasses.
You may have been persisting for some time in a state of self-denial, not wanting to see the writing on the wall – it’s easily done. It is so much less hassle to pretend everything is rosy in the garden rather than face facts; this a well-trodden road by many other people.
In the rearview mirror, you might decide that he never in fact really loved you at all but you just couldn’t see it until now. Sometimes, this realisation can make it easier to accept that the relationship is over and move on.
The burning question for many people is can you change to re-kindle love. It’s very easy to assume that you are somehow inadequate, that he has fallen out of love with you for a reason and, if you put this right – lose weight, change your hairstyle, become more interesting - then somehow things can go back to the way they were before.
The simple fact is that sometimes, relationships do just run out of steam. Most partnerships have a natural length or lifespan and of course, no-one knows exactly what that might be when they embark on a new and exciting journey. Self-examination and critique are natural but not always helpful. It probably isn’t how you look or anything that you have done, it could just be one of those things.
This is the million-dollar question and if you still love him then you are going to grab that with both hands and run with it. The trouble is, he might not feel the same way.
If you are in a long-term relationship, if you have been together for several years and have a family, it might just be the usual vicissitudes of life which have got in the way of your relationship – this is a very common problem. Kids, mortgages, work, sick parents, the list is endless leaving no time at all for your relationship, no wonder, it has suffered.
You may not, of course, have that list of problems to cite as a reason for growing apart but whatever your circumstances, take time out together to see if there is a way to mend things and whether you should even be trying.
Make no mistake about it, this is a difficult conversation to have if you are hurting and upset. Try and put your emotions to one side otherwise any debate will just develop into rows and recriminations.
Make the effort to explore with him what’s changed, try and see it from his point of view. You may have to work quite hard to get beyond the stock and unhelpful response of, “it’s not you, it’s me”. He could well be right but some men find it hard to articulate their innermost feelings and he may even be trying to protect you, to avoid hurting you more.
Counselling can be hugely helpful, a way of airing all sorts of things within a relationship with an impartial third party to help guide the debate. However, counselling is not a magic wand and if a relationship really is on the rocks, it won’t save it. However, it may help you to come to terms with what’s happening.
If your partner is intent on walking away because he doesn’t love you any more then counselling is not going to change that. If the train hits the buffers totally then you can always seek counselling yourself, to help you to rationalise and deal with the end of your relationship.
I think in long-term relationships couples do take one another for granted and stop making an effort for each other. Other things can get in the way too such as work or family. Sometimes finding time for one another to re-create the magic and stop the drift can be a lifesaver. Here are some things you can try:-
Drifting apart is a very common problem for long-established couples and counselling can really help stop that drift particularly if one or both of you have become entrenched in your position and resentful. But if it is just the two of you and outside circumstances have not unduly intervened in your relationship then you have to ask yourself, should you change to become what he might want?
The golden rule is really that you shouldn’t change yourself for someone you love as love is inherently about accepting people for what and who they are. There is a big distinction between this and two people who are growing and developing as a couple, that is quite a different thing altogether. Life is a journey and you will change as you move forward and those who we choose to spend our time with – lovers, friends and family – will help shape that process. But should you fundamentally try and carve out a new you just to keep hold of him?
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The answer is ‘no’ and if that is really hard to stomach then console yourself with the fact that if you are not being honest with either yourself or him, then it simply won’t last anyway. Your lover is bound to have influenced you but altering yourself deliberately to keep his affections is way over the line. Sometimes, we do this subconsciously and a real hallmark of this is after a split when a friend or family member observes that you weren’t yourself when you were with him and its nice to have the old you back again.
Don’t become something you are not for someone else, anyone else. But, if you think you are guilty of being selfish, self-absorbed or you have character traits which you dislike as unpleasant and negative then change is always a good thing. But changing yourself has to be for the right reasons and it is unlikely to make a difference to a relationship that has already run out of steam. Changing to try and please him probably won’t work in the long term and ultimately, you will end up becoming resentful and bitter which is no basis for a healthy relationship.
When relationships end, it is always heart-breaking particularly if you are the one on the rocks because you are still committed and in love. It’s a very bitter pill to swallow and can cause stress, resentment and anger. It is important not to deny feelings of sadness at the loss of the relationship but it is equally important not to allow negativity to take over and harden into toxic and destructive emotions which will end up damaging you.
The old ones are always the best. Dust yourself off, move on, hit the gym, take evening classes and springboard yourself into the next phase of your life. Make him regret what he left behind. Always be yourself and if you make a decision to change anything, make sure it is for the right reasons.
The end of a relationship is always sad but time is a great healer. Comment here if you have a question or an observation of your own that you would like to share.
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