Being madly, deeply in love is a magical feeling, which is why it’s often possible to describe what falling in love feels like. But the opposite isn’t so clear, so it can be difficult to tell if you’re falling out of love.
Maybe you’re going through a rough patch, or perhaps you’re transitioning out of the honeymoon phase. Either way, it can be tough to tell if you’re just experiencing some growing pains or if the love is truly over. As you suss out your emotions, just remember that falling out of love isn’t an accident — it’s a choice, says Rachel Wright, a licensed psychotherapist and sexual wellness expert at We-Vibe. You’re in the relationship intentionally, so she says you get to make the decision to either work on your connection or opt out.
Before you call it quits, remember that it’s normal to experience some ups and downs in a relationship, adds Liz Keeney, LPC, a psychotherapist and owner of Inspired Talk Therapy. “It is completely normal for couples to have a ‘winter’ season once in a while and really get on each other’s nerves,” she tells Bustle.
1. You Suddenly Have Wandering Eyes
While it’s one thing to notice an attractive person, if you have full-on wandering eye syndrome, you may soon be wandering out of the relationship. Perhaps you just can’t stop checking out other people, or maybe you downloaded Tinder “just to take a look.” Regardless of the form your wandering eye takes, these aren’t signals to ignore, says licensed therapist Rachel Elder. It’s common to take a “grass is always greener” approach to thinking about your relationship when you’d rather not be in it, she explains. So if you're constantly wondering whether your life would be better with someone else, she says there’s likely a reason for that.
2. The Butterflies Have Flown Away
You can’t expect yourself to be head-over-heels in love every single day, especially once your relationship has progressed beyond the honeymoon stage. But if you don’t feel any form of excitement for your partner, take note, says Jonathan Bennett, a certified counselor and dating expert at Double Trust Dating.
All relationships require maintenance, so you may need to try a little harder in order to keep things fun and interesting by setting aside quality time, trying new things together, or even changing up your sex life. But if you’ve made a concerted effort to reignite a lost spark and still don’t feel butterflies, you may not be romantically in love anymore.
3. Your Sex Life Has Gone Out The Window
It’s normal for your sex life to ebb and flow or for you to have different sexual preferences than your partner, says sexologist Jess O’Reilly, Ph.D. It can happen for all sorts of reasons: stress, physical health, or shifting relationship dynamics. But if you’ve completely lost interest and there seems to be no real explanation, it could be a sign that love has left the building. “Without sexual activity, the relationship is largely just a friendship or roommate situation,” says Bennett.
A good litmus test for whether your inactive sex life is the product of a loss of interest in your partner? Ask yourself if you even want that spark back, says licensed counselor Nawal Alomari. If so, that’s something you can work on together to improve your relationship in the long run, she says. If not, then that might mean you’re not as romantically invested in the relationship as you once were.
It also helps to know your own sexual baseline, adds Wright, because having a healthy sexual relationship with yourself can help you determine what’s missing and why. “How do I take care of myself sexually? What is my relationship to sex? Start there and reconnect with that first,” she tells Bustle. “Then look at the relationship and see where things are not aligning with what you want and what you’re practicing.”
4. You’ve Officially Reached Best Friend Status
If you start to realize that your one and only has become your one and only best friend, this might be a sign. It’s natural for your lover to become your BFF. But if the best pal role has taken center stage and the partner status is questionable, you two may be holding on to a friendship instead of a romantic entanglement.
How to tell the difference? A relationship often necessitates greater commitment and a sense that you’re joining your lives, says Bennett. When you love someone, you’ll consider them not only in decisions you make about the present-day, but also in decisions about the future. A friendship, on the other hand, will feel much less binding.
That roommate feeling where you live totally separate lives under the same roof can also be a telltale sign, adds Bennett. “Couples who are in love communicate regularly to check in, share about their day, and so on,” he tells Bustle. “If you stop communicating with each other on a regular basis and have no desire to, it’s a sign you’re falling out of love.”
5. Their Cute Habits Are No Longer Cute
Love can be blinding. So those quirks and eccentricities you used to love in your partner might now annoy you to no end. While some of this is normal as you grow closer and more comfortable with one another, Keeney says it can also drive you to cast your relationship in a negative light. Instead of viewing common mishaps as funny, she says you'll feel angry, frustrated, and resentful instead.
“When a couple is in love, they remember their last road trip when the car broke down as an adventure,” she tells Bustle. “When a couple is struggling, they re-tell the same story with anger and hostility or blame towards one another.”
6. It Feels Like Something’s Missing In The Relationship
Losing romantic interest in your partner can be confusing, which is why you might be constantly wondering, “Do I still love him/her?” Sometimes your only clue is a nagging sense that something is missing, says O’Reilly. There may be a lack of connection with your partner, or perhaps you don’t feel fully invested in one another’s lives. But even if you can’t put your finger on a specific problem, that seed of doubt is reason enough to call your romance into question, she adds. She emphasizes that it’s OK to end your relationship without any “real” reason — after all, staying in a couple without having your heart in it won’t do you or your partner any favors.
7. You Don’t Want To Put In The Effort
Whether your sex life is lacking or you don’t spend enough time together, there are plenty of reasons your relationship can lose its luster. Luckily, most of those issues can be addressed if you both put your minds to it, says Alomari. But if you have no desire to put in that effort, she says that’s a sure sign that your heart isn’t in the relationship anymore.
8. The Attraction Is Gone
When you’re madly in love, it doesn’t matter what your partner looks like. You’ll still cozy up to each other when you aren’t showered, when you’re in a bad mood, and even when you’re sick. But if you no longer want to devote that time and affection to your partner, that can be a giveaway that the attraction is gone, says Bennett. It’s normal to not always be lusting after your partner. But if you have no desire to put in the work to reignite that attraction, Alomari says it may be time to go your separate ways.
9. You Wouldn’t Mind Not Seeing Them Again
It may sound extreme, but one way to determine whether or not you’re still into your S.O. is to imagine how you would feel if they were about to move away and you’d never see them again. If there’s a part of you that feels relieved by this hypothetical, that might mean you want out of the relationship, says Alomari. But if the thought of them leaving is devastating, that’s a sign that there’s still love there even if you don’t feel as passionately towards them as you have in the past, she explains.
10. You Don’t Like Who You’ve Become
Sometimes it’s best to focus less on how you feel about your partner and more on how you feel about yourself, says O’Reilly. If you notice your feelings shifting but aren’t sure what to make of it, she recommends checking in with who you are when you’re with your S.O. Do they bring out the best sides of you? Or do you hardly recognize yourself when you’re around them? If the latter, that could be a sign that you likewise feel unfulfilled by the relationship.
“We’ve been taught that we’re not deserving of love,” she explains. “So when someone shows up and likes us, that [feels] good enough.” But one-sided admiration isn’t enough to make it work: You have to love yourself, too.
11. You Want To Transition Your Relationship
Just like your feelings about your partner can change over time, your relationship preferences can also shift, says Wright. Maybe you still really want your significant other to be a big part of your life, but as a friend instead of a lover or a more casual partner instead of a committed companion. Whatever the goal, Wright says to communicate this with your partner to see if they’re feeling the same way so you can figure out how to move forward together.
“In our monogamous black-and-white society, if we're not in romance with someone, then we don’t talk [after a breakup],” she tells Bustle. “But if that’s your best friend, you wouldn’t just say, ‘I’m never going to talk to you again.’ What you can do instead is recast the person.” Of course, both halves of the couple should consent to this transition, whatever it may be. But if you find yourself craving a different kind of relationship with your romantic partner, it’s worth digging deeper to find out why and how.
12. You’re No Longer Open To A Long-Term Relationship
It’s natural for romantic love to change with time, so if your relationship feels less spicy than it used to, Alomari says that’s not always a bad sign. But if you lose the desire to commit long-term (or never had it in the first place), that could be a signal that you’re not really feeling your person. Maybe you’d rather date just to have fun or perhaps you’d prefer to be single altogether. Either way, if you don’t feel a strong urge to give this person an important place in your life, then the love might be gone.
Nawal Alomari, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor and life coach based in Chicago
Rachel Elder, LMHC, licensed mental health therapist
This article was originally published on March 8, 2015
This article was originally published on