I have written in previous blogs regarding the phrase, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Unfortunately, this is often said when not fully understanding what love is or what being in love means. Regardless of what you want to call it, we can at least take a look at what is happening within the relationship and how to get it moving in the direction where positive feelings are starting to increase. This blog will briefly discuss love and being in love, then a little about how we lose it – and everyone does – followed by how to start getting it back although it will be a little different.
When that romantic spark is first ignited and we are dating, most of the time, we are riding a high of positive emotions. We want to spend as much time with that person as possible, we talk for hours, we sit together and hold hands, we compliment them, and most importantly, we find ways to do things for them that would bring them some happiness. You can call that being in love, but what is happening is the newness of a relationship is exciting. This person makes you feel special through those things mentioned above and you want to reciprocate that feeling and so you do the same.
Now not every new relationship is like this, but most of them are. All of the things we do for them (spending time, holding hands, complimenting them, talking for hours, getting to know them more, etc.) are what we would call loving that person. The increased positive feeling we get from our partner doing those things for me is what we refer to as being in love. Yes, there are chemical reactions and biological changes that take place within the brain and body when engaging in a new romantic relationship, and you can add that to the term “being in love”.
The issue is that neither the effort put forth by either partner or the biological changes are sustainable. All relationships will have that newness end at some point. We become more comfortable with our partner and we stop doing all those things we did in the beginning. Conversely, our partner also stops doing those things. Like it or not, we fall into being who we were before the relationship and we become roommates who like each other and continue to be romantic from time to time. However, once this starts, it will continue to have a negative result unless we shift our focus and intentionality to making it better. We start to argue over money, parenting, and household work. We take our positions and hold our ground until one day one partner decides the grass is greener elsewhere and will seek that newness with someone else regardless of the status of the current relationship. Once again, after time, that newness will also wear off and they find themselves in a worse place than before.
So how do we get it back? This is where the work comes in. Yes, it may even feel awkward at first as you put these principles to work, but over time, they become who you are. The joy is that while you cannot get back that newness of the relationship, you can find something greater, a deeper and more lasting joy instead of fleeting happiness. This comes from being intentional about doing what you first did at the beginning of the relationship. First and foremost is to spend time together and to communicate with the purpose of learning about your partner. Now you get to find out more about who they are as a person, their core values, and their true likes and dislikes. Start to do things that you both like to do and create a ritual that is unique to you both and stick to it. Complement each other intimately and in front of others. Focus on your partner’s positive traits and ignore, for now, those things that you do not like.
Over time, if you are intentional about these things, you will start to see a fondness grow that brings a sense of peace and comfort. Nurture that by continuing to do these things and find the joy of being in a relationship.
Charles Bower, LPC Associate
My passion is relationships of all kinds. I have been working with people dealing with relationship issues, both professionally and personally, for several years and still see the potential in every relationship to not only survive, but to thrive. I also have experience with biblical and Christian counseling, which is also a passion of mine. However, I do not impose my beliefs on any client and have successfully navigated working with clients of varying world views and spiritual beliefs.