“I will always love you. But I’m not IN love with you anymore” my now ex-husband said matter-of-factly over breakfast.
I was beyond shocked.
He had just returned from a month-long business trip. I knew that he had been acting distant and withdrawn while he was away, but I didn’t know he didn’t love me anymore. To say I felt like I had been punched it the gut would be an understatement.
Falling out of love is one of those awful parts of life that we don’t want to think about until we sense that it’s happening to us. At first, we think we’re imagining things, but pretty soon it becomes clear that something is really, really wrong.
To make matters worse, we often view this whole “falling out of love” thing as something we have no control over, even when it happens to us— or someone who loves us.
When a relationship that was once hot slowly transforms to NOT, we are usually thrown into crisis mode— especially if we still love him.
Then, without training on how to handle a breakup, we either frantically try to make him fall back in love or we completely stick our head in the sand.
We might start idly googling “why men lose interest” while fantasizing about the hot affair we could have with someone else. We call our friends and endlessly analyze what he’s doing and what to do about it.
And, since stereotypically, women are usually the ones who monitor, protect and nurture relationships— I’m writing this to women, even though these signs someone is falling out of love really apply to both genders.
From awful, painful personal experience and extensive research— here are the signs he doesn’t love you anymore.
1. He needs a lot of “space.”
Remember that feeling of not being able to get enough of each other? That’s replaced with the sense that your loved-one is avoiding you or suddenly needs to “find himself.”
He might go missing for hours or days at a time.
You might still spend time together, but now he doesn’t stay in touch like he used to. If you live together, he might avoid coming home after work. If you used to reliably spend your weekends together, he starts making other plans.
At first, he might have a reasonable excuse like “I have to work late,” or “I’m really exhausted from my week” or “I have plans to do X,Y or Z with a friend.”
Eventually his excuses for not seeing you less seem more and more flimsy.
No matter what excuses he uses, it becomes hard to connect with him. When he does spend time with you, he acts like he’s doing you a big favor— which only draws attention to the fact that something is wrong between you.
2. He stops doing things for you and/or passive aggressively commits but doesn’t follow through.
In the beginning, he would run through fiery hoops to make you smile. But, when a man loses interest in you— he becomes more and more selfish.
He might have stopped bringing you little gifts or showing that he cares. If he’s falling out of love with you, at the very least, he’ll withdraw from you emotionally.
3. He discusses your relationship in a hopeless, negative light.
Men are problem solvers. If they see a problem, they launch themselves into solving it. This naturally extends to relationships with women they love.
A committed man will want to fix conflict and smooth things out with the woman in his life. Barring major extenuating circumstances, if he loves you, he will want to make things better between you. Sometimes that process includes letting off steam and getting relationship advice from his friends. This is pretty normal.
When he falls out of love, his tone will turn from one of genuine curiosity, love and respect toward one of resigned, hopeless complaint.
He will often start wondering out loud, “is this all worth it?” and saying things like, “I’m just not happy anymore.” These are red flags that he doesn’t love you anymore and he’s trying to figure out how to either fix your relationship or undo the life you shared together.
4. He doesn’t seem very interested in staying in touch.
Communication between you is strained, irregular and tense. It feels like there is an elephant in the room that neither of you have any control over. He used to be flirty, chatty and conversational, now he’s withdrawn and short.
It’s natural for someone to contact you with less frequency as your relationship goes on. And, if you live together— the early days of constant texts, calls and contact naturally level off. But, when someone is falling out of love with you, they tend to dodge frequent contact with you.
5. The way you process conflict has changed.
When people fall out of love with each other, they handle disagreements differently than they used to.
All couples disagree and everyone has their individual conflict style. Some people fight like cats and dogs but making up is so passionate that the energy of reconnection sucks all the oxygen out of the room.
Others rarely disagree but still make the effort to work together to resolve problems. When a relationship between two people is working, they’re using some relatively consistent method to handle life’s arguments.
When the love starts to go, so does any attention to managing conflict.
Often, people will completely give up on arguing or they will pick confusing and abrupt fights and use them as an excuse to leave the scene— thereby gaining more precious alone time.
A partner who is falling out of love will often simply give up on disagreeing with you in any way— settling instead for placating you (then doing whatever they want anyway) or completely avoiding conflict altogether. Instead of caring about fixing the relationship, they care about minimizing the simple inconvenience of disagreeing.
6. He stops responding to your bids for connection.
You know those ways you connect with your partner throughout the day like flirting, texting about the weather, sharing little stories, or a certain a look, a little touch? Renown relationship researcher Dr. John Gottman calls these attempts to connect, “bids.”
In Dr. Gottman’s research, he found that people who stayed together responded positively to each other’s bids for connection 86% of the time. Couples who got divorced responded positively to each other only 33% of the time.
I don’t recommend that you start tallying up the times that your partner ignores you— but if you’re dealing with someone who is regularly turning away from your attempts to connect with them— most likely, it’s a sign that they are falling out of love with you.
7. You have started walking on eggshells around him.
Your once-loving partner has started treating you rudely. He makes disrespectful or negative comments that might seem little or minor on the surface but really aren’t. He might compare your relationship to another couple’s in a negative light. He might compare you unfavorably to other women or his exes. He might say mean things under his breath when you’re talking— then refuse to acknowledge it when you call him out on it.
Suddenly, your “little quirks” that he used to think were cute and part of what made you unique irritate the heck out of him. It seems like everything you do suddenly happens to annoy him.
Whatever he says, the loving voice of approval has been replaced by the disapproving voice of discontent. It starts to feel like you’re walking on eggshells— waiting for the next insult or nit-picky criticism.
8. Your sex life is in the toilet.
There are lots of normal reasons why your sex life can slump.
However, if it feels as though the passion has completely died and your partner isn’t interested in reviving it— either he’s falling out of love with you, your relationship has crept into platonic “roommate” territory or a mixture of both.
In a healthy relationship, it doesn’t matter how often a couple are intimate as long as they agree upon it.
Usually when a relationship gets rocky, one person has lost interest in sex and the other completely gives up on trying to initiate sex, has started acting out, cheating or suffers angrily in silence from the lack of intimacy.
Couples who turn away from each other in the intimacy department cultivate an environment of hurt, mistrust and undesirability. When someone is falling out of love with you, not only does this lack of sex suck even worse, but your pleas to connect fall on deaf ears.
9. He’s gotten weird and protective with his phone.
While he might not see communicating with you as a priority when you’re apart, he may stay glued to his phone when you’re together as a way to distract himself from spending real time with you.
If he’s flirting with other women, he might never, ever leave his phone out for fear that you will find out he’s been at least emotionally unfaithful (if not worse).
At any rate, he distrustfully guards his phone like a dragon protects it’s gold.
So, if you’re seeing these signs he doesn’t love you anymore, what do you do?
We’ve been taught that when someone falls out of love, that’s it— game over.
Sadly, this is not true.
Ask any happily married old couple how they stayed together all that time, and if they’re honest, they’ll admit that their love story wasn’t 24/7 perfection.
People fall in and out of love with each other all the time.
However, there are a few mistakes people make when a man pulls away that WILL drive him away forever.
First, don’t panic and frantically start trying to do all kinds of loving things to force him to connect with you.
This never works to make a man fall back in love with you.
Not only have I tried it and failed myself, but my successful clients report that when they do a bunch of stuff to make someone fall in love with them again, it always fails.
That’s because you can’t make someone love you by forcing them to pay attention to you.
Love is like a see-saw. When one person does more, the other person automatically does less.
That’s why doing a bunch of loving actions in your partner’s direction will only lose his respect and inspire him to move toward you even less.
And… if you feel an overwhelming urge to DO SOMETHING right now to prevent him from leaving, I don’t blame you. I know exactly what that feels like.
You must keep your wits about you. People fall back in love with each other all the time— but you can’t force anyone to see your value. You must back off.
You might be thinking, “back off?? that’s the last thing I need to do. I need to fix it!!”
Often, backing way off and working on yourself is exactly the powerful magic you need to get things back on track with him.
Originally published at Your Tango. Republished by the author.