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Relight the fire: how to fall back in love with your partner

Relight the fire: how to fall back in love with your partner

I t is not uncommon, says Ammanda Major, head of clinical practice at Relate, for couples who come to therapy to say they love each other but that they’re not “in love” with each other. “Often in a longer-term relationship, the humdrumness of life has taken over their relationship,” she says. “And so, before you know it, people are feeling very disconnected from their partner.”

Maybe you have lost sight of what made you fall in love, or you have reached a cosy stage of companionship that lacks fire. But is it unrealistic to expect to be in love with the same person for decades? “Love, intimacy and sex does fluctuate across the lifetime and there will be stages of closeness,” says Kate Moyle, sexual and relationship psychotherapist. “I think what’s unrealistic is to expect consistency.”

But if you feel your relationship is drifting, don’t bank on it being only temporary. “It won’t change unless it is actively being changed by those involved,” says Moyle. “I hear a lot of: ‘I just thought things would sort themselves out’ and we know that isn’t true.” So, is it possible to reconnect with your partner, and if so, how can you do it?

Be realistic

Of course you would love to get back to the giddy days when you first met and couldn’t keep your hands off each other. But your lives were different then. Perhaps you didn’t have children, or your job was less stressful, or you had more disposable income. You had yet to find the things that annoy you about your partner “because you didn’t know each other that Mulheres LetГґnia well”, says Major. “You can’t go back to that because now you do know more about your partner, and more about what it’s like to be in a long-term relationship with them.” It depends on what your definition of being “in love” means, she says. “Some therapists will say the being in love stage is really only the bringing together of the couple and that will fade, but hopefully what takes over is a much deeper, richer, sense of each other. Which is not to say that people can’t find their partner exciting and interesting and fun, and have good sex.”

Be curious

Look anew at your partner. You might, says Major, “suddenly wake up one morning and you think: ‘We haven’t really done that for a year, I wonder why that is.’ Have you lost the ability to be curious about what’s happening in your relationship or has life overtaken you and obliterated any time to stop and stare?” When you start to look back over your relationship, you may spot places where you could have checked in with your partner and didn’t. “Once people start to understand where those places were and what they looked like, they’re best placed to make different choices,” says Major.

Prioritise your relationship

In a long-term relationship, what you may have lost in terms of excitement and novelty, you hopefully will have gained in security and comfort. “Some of it is a bit boring – the life admin – but we have to nurture the relationship like we do everything else,” says Moyle. “It has to be prioritised, whether it’s putting a time in the diary, making sure you really are talking. If you’ve drifted apart, you need to build bridges.”

Dig a little deeper

“Saying: ‘I don’t fancy my partner any more’ can be about specific sexual problems, or it can be an indicator of something that’s not working in the relationship,” says Major. “Very often, the things that people say [they are unhappy about] turn out, when you dig a bit deeper, not to be what they are unhappy about at all.” It might not be something big or dramatic, says Katherine Woodward Thomas, the relationship therapist who coined the term “conscious uncoupling”, but smaller issues that “chip away at trust and the feeling that we’re in this together. A lot of times what will trigger the out-of-love feeling are the slight disappointments, the slight rejections, the slight disillusionments – those moments when you counted on them being there and somehow they were distracted, or they said something critical at a key moment when you needed support.” Being in love is, she says, “a feeling of complete togetherness, so one of the things that will restore a feeling of connection and closeness is being able to share what’s happening.”

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