Answering “Yes, that’s me!” to any of the above signs does not mean your relationship is over. It simply means the partnership needs attention. First and foremost, figure out if this is a chronic issue.
“Relationships have ups and downs,” says Jason Lee, a Relationship Science and Data Analyst with Healthy Framework. “Having one or two bad days every now and then where you're frustrated is perfectly natural. However, when those one-offs become trends, it can be the sign of a bigger problem.”
1. Journal and keep track
Lee recommends journaling regularly and tracking your feelings. Revisit these entries and notes over time to see how frequently you’re having doubts about your love. Check in with close friends or family members to see if they’ve noticed a shift in your behavior or emotional state. You may not even notice how frequently you complain about your partner or how drastically your happiness levels have plummeted.
Hot tip: While embarking on this journey, don’t give up until you’ve given it the consideration it deserves. “Keep on with the good behaviors you have always counted on,” says O’Neill. “Don't punish each other before you've had a chance to talk and reflect and understand each other.”
2. Identify what you envision for your future
For anyone neglecting to make future plans with their partner, consider what it is you envision for your future. Then, what do you want in a lifelong partner?
“Coming to a strong sense of internal awareness, evaluation and ultimately acceptance around what it is you truly want will be the most helpful in moving forward,” says Novak. “This will ultimately help you communicate what you want (or don’t) for your future with your partner in a vulnerable and honest way.”
3. Tackle resentment right away
As soon as you sense resentment brewing, deal with it at the source. If you avoid it, bitterness has a way of spreading, multiplying and infecting other areas of the relationship. Avoid keeping score or tracking how many times your partner does something “wrong.”
“If you start looking for things that are bad, your mind will find them. Your mind will also contort things that aren't bad to fit the narrative you're looking for,” says Lee. “The worst thing you can do is dwell on the thoughts for months and allow your brain to create something that's not really there.”
4. Discuss and reinvest in your shared values
Think back on why you fell in love in the first place. What values and goals did you share with your partner? Be open with your partner as you discuss whether these values and goals have changed.
“The most powerful thing you can do to keep a marriage strong is form a partnership, a team, where both parties feel respected, cared about and needed,” says Dr. Tessina. “What makes love last is an attitude of ‘I want both you and me to get what we want in this relationship.’”
It’s normal that as people evolve, so do their values and goals. If it turns out that initial flame (infatuation) was the only thing holding you together, it’s worth reassessing whether the relationship is still serving both parties.
Be sure to practice active listening during any and all discussions. Avoid distractions and be genuinely curious about what your partner is going through, too.
5. Ask for outside help
There is no shame in asking for help. This could mean being mentored by another couple who has been through the ringer and survived. It could mean going to couples counseling.
“Surround yourself with friends and family who care about you for support while you explore this. It's important to practice self-love and self-care during this time as well,” says Novak.
Whatever it is, it’s a great idea whether you’re falling out of love or not. Why wait until things are horrible? Investing in a romantic relationship before things get really bad is a beautiful demonstration of love.
Finally, know you are not alone. Falling out of love isn’t fun, but again, it’s natural. How you navigate it will determine how hard it hits you.
6. Don’t force it
Sometimes the best thing you can do for yourself and your partner is to call it quits. Though fighting for your relationship is always encouraged, sometimes you know that no amount of therapy or long in-depth conversations is going to salvage the situation. If you’re falling out of love and no longer see a future with that person, save everyone some time by graciously walking away.