It’s a natural and inevitable stage of every relationship, whether with a friend, a partner, a child, or a pet: the zest and sparkle that characterize the early stages fade away; the ease and lightness narrow into more distance or tension; the openheartedness that elevates the two of you to a state close to divinity settles into the everydayness of real life. Sometimes it happens when fear pricks the heart. Other times it happens because conflict enters the relationship. Mostly it happens because of time and the hard reality that we’re not meant to live in the first stage of a relationship forever.
There’s no problem with falling out of love except for one thing: when it comes to partners and even children, we expect the bliss or ease of the first stage to last forever. As with so many areas of relationship, it’s the expectation more than the reality that creates the problem. If you’ve had a long run of the infatuation stage with your romantic partner, for example, and you wake up one day with the thought, “I’m not feeling overjoyed to see him or her,” your next thought will likely be, “There must be something wrong.” We’re deeply conditioned to believe that love is only a feeling, so when that magic of the butterflies and rainbows gives way to regular life, many people panic.
But it’s not only romantic relationships that pass through the stages of falling in love to falling out of love. I recently had a session with a client who’s a mother of twin toddler boys. She had been struggling with changes in their bedtime routines and had also noticed a change in their behavior toward her. “They look at me differently sometimes, like I no longer carry the moon. The other day I was driving and thinking about the boys and I just started crying my eyes out. I had to pull over I was crying so hard. And I had no idea why I was crying.”
“It sounds like you’ve started to fall out of love with your boys.”
“Yes! That’s it! That’s exactly what I was was feeling. It was like I was grieving but I didn’t know why I was grieving.”
“You were grieving the loss of the angel stage, when a layer of their God-dust falls away.”
“Yes! How come no one talks about this? I feel so much better just being able to name my experience.”
I’m not sure why no one talks about it this. Perhaps it’s because we simply aren’t educated about stages of transitions, which speaks to our cultural resistance to discussing topics like grief and death. For every time you fall out of love, it’s a small death experience. The relationship that had previously existed has transformed into a new stage, and the only appropriate response is to grieve. It’s the grieving, in fact, that allows you to accept the change and embrace the beauty and richness that the next stage brings. For it’s also a law of nature that where there is death, there is rebirth, so it follows that the new stage brings joys and riches of its own: a deepening of the relationship that only occurs when the divine layer falls away and you find yourself face-to-face with a real human being. It’s then that the real work – and opportunities for growth – begins.
And perhaps therein lies another clue as to why we resist falling out of love: culturally we don’t understand that relationships are work and and that it’s through this work that we can evolve in our capacity to face our fears and grow our love. We believe it should be easy. We believe that romance and sparkle should last forever (that’s how it is the movies, after all). We believe that having a baby will fill in the holes in our life (if only the newborn stage lasted forever). We’re constantly looking for the easy way out, the solution to our pain, the answer to our emptiness. And living in a culture that drip-feeds the message by media transfusion that the answer to eternal happiness lies in finding the perfect partner followed by having the perfect baby, it’s no wonder that most people hang on to these fantasies for dear life.
When are we going to stop setting people up to fall by jamming unrealistic expectations down their throats? When are we going to tell them the truth: that there is no “answer” to happiness, that relationships and children are not dangling carrots, but that the fullness of life well-lived comes from having the courage to attend to your empty places and address the fears that are most often unleashed through intimate relationships? As Linda and Charlie Bloom write in their fantastic book, “101 Things I Wish I Knew When I Got Married”:
“From our experience, the deepest satisfaction that life has to offer comes from our most intimate relationships. By taking on the challenges of committed partnership we are prompted to realize the fullness of our being. More than any other relationship, marriage has the potential to awaken our deepest longings and needs, as well as our deepest pains and fears. In learning to meet all of these powerful forces with an open heart and authenticity, we can grow ourselves into wholeness, maturity, and compassion. In one of his workshops, Stephen Levine, author of Embracing the Beloved, called marriage the “ultimate danger sport.” People can, he said, learn more about themselves in a week in a relationship than by sitting in meditation in a cave for a year. Having tried both marriage and meditation, we’d have to agree.”
And as this wise couple also writes, “The sparkle of a new relationship is always temporary.”
Note: I’m expecting many comments along the lines of, “What if I never had an infatuation or in love stage; does that mean there’s something wrong with my relationship?” My answer is emphatically NO. If you never experienced the infatuation stage it only means that… you never experienced the infatuation stage! It also means that you likely began as a healthy friendship and grew the relationship from there. Remember that there are no right or wrong ways to have a relationship; there’s only what works for you. The moment you start comparing yourself to a preconceived template of how you think it “should” be, you’re likely to fall down the rabbit hole of anxiety.
* Session excerpt included with permission from my client.
There are so many truths to this post. I think relationships flow through many stages and just because we’re in one stage that we may not like, it doesn’t mean we won’t find our way back to a stage that we enjoyed so intimately. It’s similar to your explanation of the seasons. We go through seasons of life in our relationships, as well.
At 27, I moved from Indiana where I was teaching at a university to North Carolina – with the man I’d eventually marry. In a matter of 14 months I had moved away from the life I had always known, started a new job, made new friends, and needless to say my world was turned on top of itself. Finding your blog has made such a difference in my life. My inner child has been screaming out, fearing things in ways I never thought possible. Slowly she’s learning to trust the adult and love the adult. I can relate so well with the idea of having compassion for oneself. Some nights when I’m journaling I tell myself that it’s ok to be afraid and that it’s ok to feel scared.
Your work is so helpful. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I spent a while trying to convince my (now ex-)boyfriend of this exact fact, that falling out of love did not necessarily signify the end of a relationship but rather the beginning of another deeper phase. At the end of the day, he couldn’t give up his fantasy of a relationship that would solve all of his problems and required no effort. As difficult as it was, I had to let him go. Thank you for your post, and this blog, because it reminds that I’m not the only person looking for something more than just the fairytale Hollywood sells us.
What an amazing piece, Sheryl. Thank you for such a poingnant reminder of the internal, often unconscious expectations we carry– born often from the compensating fantasies of our childhood. The idea of somebody, some relationship, some vision of an idlealized life we cling to from an early stage in life to help take us away from our present. And then when we fall in love it all seems to be a dream come true. After 7 years of marriage and an amazing but difficult first few years of being parents, my wife and I are still struggling with the idea that our struggling, itself, is not a failure. Re-framing the issues of conflict, depression, and the normalcy of everyday life as (not a loss of love, but rather) a healthy transition stage on the road to growth and deepening of bonds– is a very helpful and positive way to find meaning in what are truly normal struggles and stages of life. Thank you again for such an insightful and inspiring article.
Can you imagine how different marriage would be if we all understood that the first ten years or so would be challenging?!
Great article and absolutely on target. I am dealing with this situation in a new relationship where I hear the words “should feel” as a reason not to continue. It may be too late now but I forwarded and hope this could spur a new beginning. Thanks
Wow, Stephen. I’ve never thought before of — us carrying unconscious expectations about a partner bringing us the idealized vision of the world we’ve wanted from the time we were young. I feel like that just resonated with me so much. It makes so much sense. Thanks for your comment.
I agree, September. That line is quite brilliant and so true!
Wise post Sheryl. Thank you. I am 41 years old, have and been in a bunch of relationships, which all started out differently in terms of sparks.
I never felt complete infatuation for my fiance. In fact, after dating for 2 months, we broke up because I felt he was too shy and there wasn’t enough natural chemistry and thought we should just “click”.
After about a year, we started to become friends. I still had some feelings for him, but figured being friends was a good first step. A few months later, we began dating again. I think the friendship part was important for us.
About a year and a half later, we got engaged and I soon began to feel anxious. I really should have pushed for a quick and small wedding due to my tendency to experience high levels anticipatory anxiety and second guess. After 6 months of trying to tell him the big wedding idea was too much for me, we cancelled the wedding, which was supposed to take place last April.
Since then we have been working on repairing our relationship so we could move forward. I have also been working on my own anxiety management. I guess my question/concern now is, has too much damage been done? Are we starting from a place of stress and difficulty? I am happy and content in the relationship until he brings up marriage, which he very much wants with me. I am not sure if I am just scared or if something is telling me he isn’t the “right one” or if I truly need time to myself, not in a relationship, but just time to sort myself out.
Has anyone else been through anything like this?
I think that we have all been through something like what you are speaking of thus the reason we are all here. Like Sheryl said in the initial posts, sparks are not always a perquisite for a loving relationship. I think that if you are anxiety prone person then you were right to go for a smaller wedding; however, until your anxiety is addressed, you still will have anxiety regardless if there is large or small wedding. You say that you are working towards your own anxiety management along with repairing your relationship so it seems like you are on the right path! In other posts, Sheryl talks about the serious red flags that we shouldn’t ignore but fearful thoughts like thinking that he isn’t the ‘one’ is not of them. Anxiety has a way of twisting reality and I experienced these very thoughts (i.e. like maybe we aren’t meant to be and that this anxiety is here to tell me that,) but then I dig deeper and see that these are simply thoughts passing through that don’t last. You say that you are happy and content in this relationship but it is when he talks about marriage that your anxiety gets worse and this is very common. So my advice from someone who has learned from my anxiety and is still working on it is to dig deeper, embrace the love you already share, have faith and keep reading this blog! Be well 🙂
Thank you Andrea. I appreciate you taking time to read and respond, with wise and insightful words, to my thoughts. If you are open to it, would love to correspond with you directly. I don’t have many friends who experience this type of anxiety so feel alone, so it would be really nice to be able to communicate with someone who has gone through relationship anxiety. If you are open to it, let me know.
Just to chime in (because this was something I struggled with too), it was enormously helpful to me to read some of Sheryl’s articles pointing out that words like “should” or “what if” (I’d always think “what if this anxiety is just the way things go when someone isn’t ‘the one'”) are nearly always fear based thoughts. When I learned to ask questions about my fears there was a marked decrease in my anxiety! Best of luck to you:)
The best way to reach me is through my email: [email protected]. We all need someone here and again 🙂
I swear that these posts come just when I need them, so thank you Sheryl! A friend (who is single) once told me that she refuses to settle for anything less than amazing, butterflies 24/7 love. I tried to tell her that this is not realistic but inside I was giggling to myself as I have learned and fine-tuned in the past few months how love actually is. Falling out of love reminds me of another post, which is love is a verb. Those of us who have been in a relationship for some time know that love changes. It is a lesson that for those of us who explore our anxiety learns overtime.
Another interesting point from this post (which is reiterated throughout this blog) is that I am not alone in my thinking. The quote from your client that read, “Yes! How come no one talks about this? I feel so much better just being able to name my experience” is exactly how I have been feeling the past few months with recent transitions. I often ask myself why no one talks about the difficulties with transition and the questions in life as this would have helped me with my anxiety better. However, I guess that is why I have found this ‘place’ and for that, I am so grateful. Thank you for another great post 🙂
I agree with Andrea Sheryl.
These post always seem to come exactly when I need them.
Thanks again you have no idea how much you’ve helped 🙂
Thank you : ).
Thank you for this post Sheryl! I’ve been with my husband for 11 years, married for 3 and we have a young son. Lately, as I’ve come out of my new mom haze and am feeling better about myself and my body, I’ve been uncomfortably not attracted to my husband. I love him, and our lives are interconnected in ways that are immeasurable, but I find myself missing the zing of a strong physical attraction. I know enough to know this isn’t the only basis of a long-term relationship and attraction waxes and wanes, but I miss it. I also find myself picking him apart physically. He’s got more grey in his beard, less hair on his head, etc. As I look at him I can feel us getting older, and it makes me sad. In the sadness I’m grieving his youth, my youth, our carefree, pre-baby lifestyle, etc. Sex has never been the basis of our relationship, but we’ve always had a nice, strong physical connection. I miss feeling desire for him, which I hope I can get back somehow. I’m not sure how to do this when we are both busy and tired. Thank you for the reminder that some of these ebbs and flows are part of being with someone for life.
Great post. It made me feel a bit better. I have had a problem loving. Feeling love that is. I also don’t exactly know how to give love. As in, what does that entail ? However, recently I got into a small fight with my girlfriend and ultimately many small fights in the following days. Also there is so much talk about work and not really much about anything else. Before this I was in a short phase of feeling love. I knew that I really did love her because even before this I did have trouble feeling love but I still stuck through it and felt care and cared for her and tried to make her happy and support her even though that was hard for me. However after the small fight (which I must admit was my fault) I somehow shut of, like I had before the relationship and tried so hard to come out of (by taking your advice and talking to my inner child and facing my fears). It took me a long time in the relationship to really start feeling. But as soon as this small fight happened I shut off and started feeling like I don’t love her or care. I’m not really getting sad but more annoyed. But when I sit with it for a while I feel myself getting sad. I’m not sure what this is or how to deal with it. It even feels like all the good times that happened didn’t happen. I don’t know what to do anymore.
I’m not sure what is going on
It sounds like the small fight triggered your fear and grief. I would encourage you to sit with your inner child and become curious and compassionate about your feelings so that you can uncover what you’re telling yourself and make the choice to open your heart again.
I’ve been trying. And I read the other article about someone who said to accept the truth that the fear could be right and it’s about the other person but that’s hard. It’s very hard because my inner voice is highlighting and amplifying that I’m closed off and feel nothing.
That “inner voice” is your fear or wounded self. If you’re closed off and feeling nothing it’s because your fear-voice is in charge.
I remember very well the post-baby fog and coming out of it. It makes you take a good look around at yourself, your husband and your life. And yes, you are still busy and tired for a good many years. In my experience, what you may want to cultivate with your husband at this point is more of a sensual than a sexual intimacy. Who has the energy for tons of sex when they have a 3 year old? But time slowly refamiliarizing yourselves with each other’s bodies, with a slow kiss, with an honouring of the bodies you have *now* might be a good exercise. And find the parts of his physical presence that you really like. Maybe it’s his hands, or his eyes. Your husband is still in there! Take time to rediscover each other, without worrying too much about the sex.
Beautifully said, Catherine. Even just lying down next to each other holding hands can begin to bridge the gap and keep the intimacy alive.
Oh what a relief to have confirmation of this, Sheryl. Thank you so much! I’ve been married 10 years and it’s been painful and yet I’ve learned so much and came to the same conclusion that marriage is much more than that infactuation feeling of excitement, sensuality and instant joy. But I had to learn this the slow way, alone, doubtful and in the first 5 years, almost ended my marriage several times if not for my kids. (motherhood was so difficult for me while struggling with the transition in my marriage from wife to mother).
I wished I had read your article as a young woman, I could have avoided an earlier failed marriage and another failed 2 year live-in relationship before my current 2nd marriage. Marriage is a committment to a personal goal (family, growing old together etc). And at the 6th year of my marriage (ie 4 years ago) I finally said to my husband that I will never again threatened to leave him and take the kids with me, that I commit fully to our journey together (no back door of divorce to escape to) – this brought a huge shift in our (especially my) ability to deal with any and all bumps. I looked at the bigger picture of how to resolve the issue rather than the petty “you said/you did” to be right.
Sheryl, can I suggest a topic for you to write on? I struggled a lot (and still do) with my double roles as wife and mother. As a wife in early marriage, I was still in girlfriend mode, flirty, girly, sexy and giggly when teased. When I became a mother (now a mother of 2) I lost that almost instantly! To my dismay, I couldn’t make myself flirty (and I certainly didn’t feel sexy with my new fat body for a year after each birth). I turned into the grumpy, very responsible, mature woman who had no time for any hankypanky, nonsense teasing and romantic playfulness coming from my husband. i treat my husband like another of my child: Here’s your dinner, pls do this chore…I don’t like it but I can’t help having to be practical, efficient and run my household otherwise nothing get done! (can you hear my desperation?)
Thank you so much, I love reading your articles, it has so much TRUTH and I can feel LOVE behind your writings.
Thank you for this heartfelt comment, Maxime. Oh, yes, the balance of being a wife and mother is unbelievably challenging, and it’s certainly easy to fall prey to the impulse to lump husband and kids into one category. But this doesn’t serve the marriage or you! I’ll think about how to write about this very important topic.
When I read your story, it was like I’m writing my own. Thanks for sharing because, I too struggle with the wife and mother role and I do all those things you decribed.
I also, “turned into the grumpy, very responsible, mature woman who had no time for any hankypanky, nonsense teasing and romantic playfulness coming from my husband.” as I quote you here.
Just knowing that I’m not the only person in the world who feels that way gives me some type of solice and now, I know that I can work on these things, in addition to what Sheryl wrote. I will definately try to avoid the hollywood models of what a relationship should be and also try to appreciate and care for my family showing more love.
Maxine, I would like to communicate with you on this, if that’s ok. My email is [email protected]
This is really perfect timing, Sheryl. I’ve been dealing with ROCD for over a year now and am just now figuring out how to battle it. These past few weeks, I’ve had multiple panic attacks as I’ve realized I don’t always feel the “romantic sparks, always attracted, Hollywood romance” towards my boyfriend. It’s terrified me, because I think “Oh, does this mean he’s not my One? Am I missing something?”
I’m not. It’s just the anxiety screaming. I’m really glad that I’m starting to realize that. Your point at the end, about what “should be” or “what other people have”- that’s the point I think my roommate and boyfriend have been trying to tell me for a long time. No one is the same. No one’s experiences are the same, and that’s okay.
Thank you, Sheryl.
I totally disagree with the blanket statement that the spark of a new relationship is ‘always’ temporary. I thought one of the premises here was to steer clear of ‘preconceived’ notions and generalizations?? If some do not experience an infatuation stage then it follows that some never lose the spark. The claim about the temporal nature of the spark is this one couple’s opinion, and they can speak only for themselves. There are other couples that will say the spark never dies.
Perhaps it depends on how you define “spark.”
Of course spark is defined in various ways by various people. Nonetheless, the couple cannot claim that the spark is ‘always’ temporary because they just don’t know what is going on in other lives. There are couples who would most definitely beg to differ. That needs to be stated too.
I have been desperately waiting to find this blog and when I did it felt so nourishing to able to understand the changing ‘flow’ of my relationship with my boyfriend of almost 2 years. I love him to pieces and he is so wonderful. We had a miscarriage at 6 weeks last your October and I thought that I would be able to move on from the loss. He/she would be our first child. We cried together and we talked about it so many times and I was convinced that I was healing. But I have cried everyday these past few months and I keep longing to have our baby back. It feels like it’s my fault that I lost the baby. It feels like I lost a part of my boyfriend. It’s affecting our relationship so much. Sometimes I dream of him leaving me for someone else. I wake up in the middle of the night trembling in fear. The anxiety carries over into the rest of the day. I’m afraid that he is only with me because he feels obligated to stay with me. Has as assured me that he loves mw and he cares, but I don’t know how to receive it. We are working hard towards being financially, spiritually and emotionally ready to try to have another child together. He wants to marry me first and he has spoken to my parents. As much as he tries to show me that we are partners and that he is there for mw through it all, I still doubt his intentions and sincerity. Why can’t I see beyond my anxiety and insecurities? I always look for reasons to start a fight and I hurt him. I hate it. He is ever so patient with me, but he is only human.
Anothrer timely and beautifully written post.
My husband and I did not have a serious or prolonged stage of infatuation largely due to conceiving almost straight away.
Still he is the one person alive whom accepts me – warts, anxieties, fears and all – regardless.
Whilst things are far from smooth sailing, despite the initial rupture in our new marriage (& the total lack of family support on his side) we are both growing into our marriage.
The moment we start to see marriage as the destination and not the journey it really is, we suffer in fear.
It subsides eventually and we continue the journey once again.
Truth be known we would not want it any other way 🙂
Wow, Sheryl! You always know exactly what to post at exactly the right time! This is what I’ve been struggling with for the past several weeks with my boyfriend! I was actually considering breaking up with him! Now I know this is normal! Whew.
Another great article Sheryl! I just wanted to add a bit to what Andrea said above. Your article about love being a verb really resonated with me as well and I think it parallels this post. Others can read it here if they haven’t seen it yet. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sheryl-paul/love-is-a-verb_1_b_1940731.html
In my experience I’ve found that it’s nearly impossible to feel “loving feelings” toward your partner when you’re feeling anxious or scared at the same time… there just isn’t enough space inside of us for both love and fear. But when we accept that it’s normal for love to change over time and grieve the unrealistic expectations of what we think love “should” be, then we start to feel better – less anxious, more accepting, grateful for what we have. When we’re no longer anxious or scared, our hearts open again and we make room for real love in our lives… and in my experience, the “loving feelings” actually return.
“Falling out of love” does not mean that you stop loving your partner or your children… it means you’ve “fallen out of infatuation.” And that’s a good thing! Your love has moved to the next level where you’ll start to cultivate a deeper and more meaningful connection that will last a lifetime. 🙂
Brilliant, Carrie. I should have titled this post “Falling out of Infatuation”!
When I read your story, it was like I’m writing my own. Thanks for sharing because, I too struggle with the wife and mother role and I do all those things you decribed.
I also, “turned into the grumpy, very responsible, mature woman who had no time for any hankypanky, nonsense teasing and romantic playfulness coming from my husband.” as I quote you here.
Just knowing that I’m not the only person in the world who feels that way gives me some type of solice and now, I know that I can work on these things, in addition to what Sheryl wrote. I will definately try to avoid the hollywood models of what a relationship should be and also try to appreciate and care for my family showing more love.
As usual Sheryl, Perfect timing! I struggled with ROCD and it came too close to ending a wonderful relationship. I fought my way through it because deep down inside I knew what I wanted. I have been married for about 8 months now. And it has been amazing. Full of love and friendship. But I recently relapsed. I am doing better, but I have ups and downs. I sometimes feel bad when my wife is having these love highs, and telling me how much she loves me and other wonderful things, but rather than feeling overwhelmed with joy, it makes me anxious, because if I’m not feeling the same way in that very moment as her, I feel like something is wrong. There are other times when I do feel so in love with her, and I love those times because I feel like everything is ok and that’s how I should be feeling. Anyways, thank you for your post and wonderful insights, as usual.
“People can, he said, learn more about themselves in a week in a relationship than by sitting in meditation in a cave for a year.”
This has been so true for me. I am in my first relationship and it’s a serious one. I can’t believe how much it challenges me, nor can I believe how much I didn’t know about myself and my fears until there was a loving, safe place to explore it all. Thank you for this post, Sheryl – it’s so helpful particularly as I enter the 2nd year of my relationship.
And by the way, the post “Love is a Verb” linked by Carrie above is probably my favorite of yours. I have it saved so I can read it in moments of anxiety. 🙂
Hi Sheryl, I’ve been reading your archived articles and I just have a suggestion. If possible I think it would be lovely if you could write about transitioning from unhealthy relationships (from family to friends to intimate relationships) to the first healthy relationship a person has experienced. I think this is also a major transition. I’m in it now and it is tough to navigate through. But your articles have been so wise and informative. Let me know. Have a good day.
Thanks for this post which obviously hits home for so many. I travel a lot for work and have had to face uncomfortable fears/anxiety of what “not missing” my live-in boyfriend of 4 years when I’m gone means. It takes effort to talk myself out of the fear-based interpretations. I was single for 38 years and proud of the fact that I created my own life independently. When I fell hard for my boyfriend, it was exactly what I always envisioned. Even though I expected the initial intensity of infatuation to weaken over time, it was harder than I expected to actually experience and fed many of my fears that something wasn’t right. I have come to realize, with the help of this site, that many of those fears come from grieving the loss of what my single life represented to me. It defined me – then suddenly the relationship forced me into a new definition which at times feels uncomfortable, especially when it cannot remain in the early stages of “ga-ga-ville.” While being in a relationship sometimes feels like effort, I know that there is no other dynamic or person in my life that can help me grow, stretch, and evolve which is my #1 desire. So while I do miss missing him when I travel…and I miss that floating euphoric feeling I used to have…and I miss the fantasy of that perfect union that somehow manages to stay red-hot despite the daily stressors of life; I do appreciate that I have a beautiful relationship with someone who lets me be who I am…and I no longer find myself writing in my journal as I used to do when I was single: “silence is sometimes the loudest sound there is.”
Beautiful, Andrea. Thank you.
I have never read anything truer (aside from all your other articles Sheryl!). I have been married 10 years and we have 3 children, having just come out of the intensive early years of child rearing stage. I am lucky as we have had a very easy, loving relationship and I feel we have almost breezed it. Up until the big 10 year anniversary that is.
I suddenly lost the plot, questioning what I have been doing for the last 14 years. I found myself looking at single people and feeling envious, suddenly realising I am still OK looking and finding other men attractive. I almost hit the self-destruct button but something deep within held me back.
And what it was that kept my feet on the ground was the deep love for my husband. I felt numb at the time and almost unaware it was that which kept me on track. I have had to work through 10 months of very difficult feelings ranging from wanting to run away to wanting an affair even.
But I realise everything I was feeling was up to me to control and change. So I put my energy into resparking our sex life, going out and spending time together, laughing, relaxing and making the most of life. I can honestly say we have reached another level in all ways. I can’t believe our intimacy and trust has become stronger than ever. We talk a lot, about everything. And this is how I hope our relationship will continue and mature.
I never believed a relationship required effort and perseverence but it does and it’s so worthwhile sticking it out. I hope we will forever.
Do you think you need a reason to love someone ? Because that’s my major intrusive thought at the moment.
Not necessarily. And sometimes it’s hard to articulate the reason. Oftentimes when I ask clients, “How do you know you love your mother (or friend, father, etc) the answer is, “I just do.”
It feels like when I come up with a reason, the voice in my head shoots it down and makes me feel like I’m not emotionally connected to the words.
Even if it’s a partner ? My fear voice won’t stop talking. And it doesn’t seem scared. I’m not exactly sure what to do.
These are classic fear-lines, Ashley. Textbook. Even down to not feeling scared by them.
My mother has told me the same thing. I always feel like my love for my boyfriend should feel really bold, and it always did until I got anxiety. Now, because I don’t feel it, my mom tells me it is like the way I love her, my dad and my sister. It isn’t overwhelming, but I know that I love them. It scares me because I feel like my romantic relationship should feel more than that and because I don’t feel it I don’t feel like myself and being sexual isn’t the same.
I think I am currently dealing with relationship anxiety and anxious thoughts in my new relationships. I think I previously experienced relationship anxiety when I was about 18 and a freshman in college. I was gaga over my boyfriend and really threw myself for a loop when that infatuation high ended. I also experienced seasonal depression/anxiety for the first time that year – starting college, living in a dorm, making new friends, etc. I remember struggling with wondering “Do I like him enough?” and feeling alone. I don’t remember how long it lasted exactly, but we dated for six years (I’m 27 now) … Now, here’s my current story…
I have been dating my boyfriend since November and it’s been great. However, we casually dated last spring for a few months and I know that when we resumed contact again this fall, I was always worried about him not wanting to date or be in a relationship with me.
Other than that break before, we never fight, we have the same values, I love spending time with him, share interests and a sense of humor. I’m very glad to have someone that I have a friendship with. The relationship is much more serious this time around. This is probably the most serious minded relationship I am in since my six year relationship ended. My other relationships were short where I always was in the infatuation stage or never really developed into something deeper.
About a week or so ago, I had a passing thought in my head: “Do I like him enough? Do I want to break up?” My immediate answer is no, I don’t want to break up. But since I had the thought, I keep thinking about those thoughts. As if since I thought that thought, there should be some truth to it. And then I *remind* myself that, oh yeah, I’m not thinking about this and then the anxious cycle starts all over again. I feel uneasy having these thoughts, and yet at the same time, I have a second big secret on me. I have this desire to say “I love you” to him and have felt that before these thoughts started. So I’m pulling and pushing myself between two extremes. I want to be present in the moment, but my relationship anxiety/obsessive thoughts are pulling me back.
I know I am not going to break up with my boyfriend because I want to be with him but then I feel guilty having these anxieties. For a few days everything will be fine – no worries. I look forward to seeing him and last weekend I felt my eyes start to tear up when I got on the train back to my apartment (because I wouldn’t be with him!). How do I manage my anxiety and lessen the anxious thoughts?
My boyfriend and I have been together for nine months. We are young and this is our first serious relationship. He has made me so happy and has made me plan out for the future. I was always happy when I saw him, thought about him and was with him. In late January I thought of one stupid thing, the night before he got me really annoyed with something he said and he has said it a few times before. I had a bad dream of us, but woke up happy and in love like I always did. I thought about the dream and how I only had it because I got annoyed. I wanted to scare him into not saying what he said and I thought to myself that the next time he says it I’m going to say, “If you keep having this insecurity maybe we shouldn’t be together.” I immediately became hysterical afterwards. I got very anxious and was like does this mean I don’t want to be with him? Should I have stayed single? Do I not love him? I was telling my sister later that day and she asked, “Do you not want to be with him?” I immediately said yes because I’ve never been happier with anyone else. But, that question caused a lot of questioning, because I thought to myself why would I think of saying that stupid thing? Since then I’ve had a lot of anxiety. I don’t feel the same and I don’t see him the same way. Everyone has said that it is just a new stage and that the burst of energy I always had does go away. I know if I didn’t get the anxiety I would have been the way I always was. Sometimes I think that I don’t love him like I did and that maybe I want to be single, but then I cry everyday at the thought of losing him. I don’t like the emptiness feeling. I cry over thinking we won’t end up together in the future. I hear or see things that remind me of him and I start crying. It feels like a breakup. I know I won’t react well breaking up with him and plenty of times during the anxiety I thought it was the easy way out, but I want to try to fight for it. He is the only guy that I have ever really connected with. This is the relationship I have always wanted and he is the boyfriend I always dreamed of, so why do I feel like this? I don’t want him to be a memory. I want him to be my reality.
I was wondering if you can give your input on what I wrote above Sheryl. My anxiety is the worse as soon as I wake up. I ask myself what is today going to be like? Will I be in love with him? Today I woke up with the thought of breaking up and I got really anxious. I feel numb and feel no feelings. It scares me. Then I have my moment when I break down and ask my Grandma in heaven to help me out,save this relationship and to not let me lose him. My boyfriend and I always said she and his grandfather brought us together. When I get anxious I start praying to them. I don’t understand how one little thought (posted above) led me to question and change my feelings. When I cry it makes me feel better because thats when I know that I do love him.
This might help:
I was hoping you can provide an input to my first paragraph Sheryl. I would like to hear your thoughts on what I’ve been going through.
Sheryl, is it normal to get anxiety when I think of my boyfriend and I while going through this? It even gets me in my dreams. I try to think positive instead of negative but it gets me more anxious. It makes me feel like I don’t love him and want out. That upsets me. Is this normal Sheryl?
Brianna, are you the same Brianna on the ecourse forum?
I can relate a lot to your post. I am young too and in my first and only serious relationship. I know pretty much every feeling you wrote about – it “feeling” likea break up, as if you are holding on and grieving over something that hasn’t happened? and that you imagined in your head or something? that part has been painful to me. I want my partner to always be my reality too!
I know there are many layers to whatever is going on with me right now, but when my anxiety is in “driver’s seat” i start to hear things like “you’re so young you dont know what youre doing”, “you messed this whole thing up” “this is just first love and now you are going to ruin everything” etc- so brutal, things I have never felt in the relationship until the anxiety and fear and panic hit. I really do think it is your anxiety and I think it is really great that you found this site!
I recommend the Ecourse if you are not already on there. Everything you talk about feeling the people on the forum have felt. It feels like you have no control, and all the sudden youre perfect partner is being taken from you and you cant feel anything!! It’s infuriating to me.
No unfortunately financially, I can’t afford the ecourse right now :/ Yes! I’ll hear things like, “you’re so young you shouldn’t be this serious, you have all the time in the world, live your life.” So it makes me think I should be single, sometimes I’ll even feel single and it makes me sick! Also, like you, I hear “this is your first love you’re going to ruin everything.” It scares me. I don’t want this to be ruined. I want this to be my first and only love. It scares me thinking that there is possibly someone else after him. Just writing that brings tears to my eyes. I was so sure about everything and now I wake up every morning like what am I doing? What is going to happen today? Will I be happy and in love? Am I going to want him? Sometimes the anxiety goes away, but I am still so numb and just thinking negative thoughts. I’ll look, or think about him, and I feel so different and I’ll think negative. Its painful to me honestly. I know if I didn’t get the anxiety I would not feel like this! It is crazy how the mind works. One pointless thought made my dream relationship go upside down and inside out. I know we are young, but I was with two guys before this and niether of them made me feel the way he does. I never connected to a guy the way I connect with him. He is the one who made me say “this is the one I’m going to marry.” I want that with him so bad. I hate feeling like this! I had a panic attack today and my family, and even him, can’t even take me anymore. I’m ruining the best thing to ever happen to me.
I never answered to your breakup comment, but yes that is how I feel! I was listening to a song that actually reminds me of when we started to date and there is a line that goes “I should have never let you go” and I was hysterical as if I did let him go. It’s hard to think about breaking up when I can’t even think of us being together, it gets me anxious. I hate it what does that mean?!
I like this mindset. As my son has aged I’ve found some days I am overwhelmingly disenchanted with motherhood. And then a few days later I am so in love with who he is. The disenchantment scared me at first because my mother hit that when her first child was 18 mos and never seemed to get over it with her next three children. I think I will re-visit this post often just to to remind myself – its all good.
Sheryl, there’s been something I’ve been meaning to ask. Sometimes after I debunk a few of my anxious thoughts and feel love, I get this intense, uncomfortable, nagging feeling at the back of my head. What exactly is it and what should I do about it.
It could be the “space” that the anxiety was occupying. Anxiety takes up a lot of space inside and when you dismantle it, it often feels strange. But I would encourage you to journal about it to see what it is for you.
That actually made sense. And when I journal or dialogue I tend to come up with more anxious thoughts. I’m not sure if I’m doing it correctly. How do I begin to fill this space with good intentions and beliefs ?
By connecting to your loving adult and higher guidance.
I’ve had rocd since about August last year. The first few months were hard, days where I could hardly get out of bed, I couldn’t listen to music or even watch tv without something setting it off again, and I didn’t want to be left alone with my thoughts at night. It was almost like there was a demon inside my head. Then I found this blog and the thoughts went to the back of my head and I didn’t think about them much, but lately I’ve been feeling nothing. I almost miss the major anxiety because at least then I knew that my bf was the only guy I wanted, that I wanted him in my future and that I still had feelings for him. But now I feel like my feelings have gone and that I’m not so sure about answers to questions like ‘do I still want him?’. I’ve felt emotionless for the last few months, not getting excited about anything, not even caring much that my favourite band broke up. I still want to be with him but I just wish that I could be happy with him again like before the anxiety started. He’s been grumpy for the last few weeks, going through his own rocd which he said is gone now, but hes still grumpy and we end up getting annoyed with each other, and we give each other the silent treatment. Its hard to feel love when he keeps getting annoyed with me and doesn’t show love. Am I feeling like this because of his grumpiness? Or could it be a different kind of anxiety? I’ve always been scared that the rocd will never go away, could i be unwillingly giving up?
What you’re calling ROCD I call relationship anxiety (as I don’t believe that it’s a “disorder”). That said, it’s a normal stage following the anxiety diminishing to feel “blah” or empty. The anxiety occupies space inside of you and when it leaves, you’re left with an emptiness. The emptiness needs your attention just like the anxiety did. This is so common, in fact, that I should probably write a blog post about it!
Good to hear that it’s normal. It’s like my mind is telling me ‘you’re not freaking out about your relationship anymore, something must be wrong’. It almost feels like depression, the emptiness and lack of emotions, and then my mind tries to blame the anxiety as the cause and that I could be happy again if I just break up with my bf. I feel like I would be unhappy without him though, he’s one of the only good things in my life. I’m pretty sure I’m just unhappy outside of my relationship, forgetting about hobbies and stress from course etc. For awhile I’ve felt like I’m the only one who feels like this, so it’s nice to know it’s common and that I’m not alone. A blog about it would be awesome, I’d love to know more about it.
i have been feeling exactly the same recently! i think ive come to realise that im going through this stage of grieving the first stage of our reltionship but at the moment i just feel numb and emotionless and quite detatched. i dont want to give up because i want to be happy with him and i know that at the end of the day i want him for the rest of my life. but this is a very scary feeling so i know how you feel! lets not give up, we can overcome this horrible anxiety and love again!
So glad I am not alone girls! I do miss how the first stage felt and even when I am calm and know that I love him, I get anxious because I say where are those amazing feelings?! Especially cause he still feels them. I start thinking bad thoughts then the anxiety hits all over again, but I know that I don’t want to be happy with anyone else and that I want to marry him one day! I never thought love would make me feel like this. It is really hard and I thought I was the only one going through it and that no one else could understand how I feel. I feel better knowing that I am not alone!
Yes Sheryl, please blog about the “space” that anxiety occupies. This is exactly what I’m feeling right now. There’s nothing wrong — I have nothing to be anxious about. Yet there’s this sadness. I know it needs my attention but I can’t figure out where it’s coming from.
I sometimes have thoughts about being single, but then I’ll start crying over the thought of that costing me my relationship. I don’t even like being around other guys cause I’m scared that maybe I’ll meet someone else. Is this normal? Also, when the anxiety seems to go away I still have that empty feeling and I am not fully happy. I try thinking of good things that I want to happen between my boyfriend and I and sometimes it just slips away. Is this normal?
Also I know I have to focus on myself, sometimes I feel like the only way to do it is to be single and that scares me because I don’t want to break up with him. I know that I don’t have to be single in order to focus on myself, but for some reason my mind tells me that. I also wanted to say that I listened to the interview with Ashley yesterday and I felt really good afterwards because she was worried about the same thing. The only thing that still worries me is what I listed above. I was also wondering how can thoughts become anxiety and change or hide feelings?
You don’t have to be single to focus on yourself. If you let yourself grieve the end of your singlehood, you’ll notice that the thoughts about being single will diminish. To learn more about how anxiety works, read this article:
Even when I am calm and the anxiety goes away I still don’t feel the love and sometimes I’ll see my boyfriend in a different way. I do love him though, this is normal Sheryl?
Yes, completely normal! Feeling love can be cultivated and it begins with learning to be the source of your own aliveness and wholeness.
When I am with him I’m okay, sometimes I’ll get the anxiety and still question, especially when I can’t feel anything. When I am alone I go insane and start questioning and having bad thoughts. Sometimes I feel like I felt when I was single, I don’t understand that. Meanwhile the thought of not being with him kills me and I start crying. I also plan things for us to do, so I know I love him. This is all normal
“For it’s also a law of nature that where there is death, there is rebirth”. To read this and all this post in Easter holiday has been a gift and soft my thoughts and feelings.
May we all de able receive what dies and what rebirth!
I too did not go through a phase of infatuation with my fiance of ten years. We started out as good friends and just eventually started dating. When my heart is open I know he is my soul mate and is absolutely perfect for me and deeply nurtures my soul. He is my rock and loves me with the purest, unconditional love. I will be feeling so confident in our relationship and then all of a sudden I will have a dream about an ex that I was extremely infatuated with, in the dream my feelings are so strong for the ex and I awake confused and depressed because I love being in love with my fiance but when I feel those feelings in the dream they scare me into thinking I must still love my ex and my heart is not completely for my fiance. I have had this dream before (it happens about every 4-6 months) and I have found that each time I have the dream and overcome the fear and sadness, I have a deeper love for my fiance. Maybe this is my cycle of falling in and out of love that makes my love grow for my soon to be husband each time. Even though I have an idea that this may be deepening my love, it is terrifying each time I have the dream because I awake with strong feelings for my ex, and I have guilt, depression and confusion for days after. Does anyone else here have dreams about their exes? Do you, Sheryl, have any insight on this? Thank you for anyone that would like to respond.
“Does anyone else here have dreams about their exes?”
YES! Read this:
I have had a lot of dreams about my ex, not about sex, but just being with him. Since the anxiety I have thought about him and guys that I have liked in the past. I want nothing to do with any of them, so when I dream or think about them I get very anxious and feel that it is wrong because I just want to be happy with my boyfriend.
I was wondering if anyone else has had thoughts about being single? It gives me a lot of anxiety especially because I know I’d be devastated and wouldn’t even focus on anything, but my boyfriend. Is this normal Sheryl?
I think about it more now than when the anxiety first started
I’ve recently got engaged and am feeling sick with panic and fear every day about getting married. My doctor has given me diazepam just so that I could try to eat and sleep, I felt so weak and still do. All I do is cry and I told my fiance today that I was scared. But I’m too scared to tell him that I have doubts over my love for him, over whether I want this to be ‘it’ for the rest of my life. I am so scared of making the wrong decision…my mother has been married 4 times and I am petrified of everything I do ending up like that, but at the same time, how do I really know? I have suffered from depression in the past, and everytime I have, I doubt everything, I over think and over analyse every little detail of my life. I can’t cope with it anymore, I just want to be happy and I don’t know how to be. Is this with or without my fiance? 🙁
If you’re in a loving relationship then the source of the anxiety lies within you. Have you considered the e-course? It’s designed to address every question that you’re struggling with.
Sheryl, I was wondering if a thyroid problem would effect any relationship anxiety?
Yes, it could. If you think you have a thyroid problem you should get it checked.
A lot of times I’ll cry when I tell my boyfriend,or anyone else, that I love him. Is this normal Sheryl?
Hi Sheryl, we’ve talked several times and I am planning on starting your e-course soon. There is one thing in this post that does spark my anxiety, something I don’t quite understand about your work. There are always people who, when they get divorced, say they should have listened to the inner voice telling them “don’t.” The scariest things I’ve heard are that they believed this exact type of view (the love is work and infatuation fades) and it led them to get into bad relationships and get divorced! This is a very trigger-causing issue for me. Is it possible to distinguish normal falling out of love from real falling out of love that you have to pay attention to?
Someone who had a voice that said “don’t” and ignored it then found themselves in an abusive relationship is VERY different from someone in a healthy relationship who is struggling with relationship anxiety. These articles may help you understand the difference:
Thank you so much Sheryl. Those are fabulous articles. I just wanted to say that I am visiting your website almost everyday and I am so grateful for you and your work. I am looking forward to joining the forum. You are truly inspiring.
I was reading the huffington post link that you posted above and a few things triggered my anxiety. When it says passion diminishes and disconnection. Aren’t those two factors of anxiety as well? My boyfriend and I always had a great relationship and once I got the anxiety I wasn’t getting turned on and I still haven’t. I became more attached to my boyfriend, but lately haven’t felt as connected as we once were. Which really upsets me. Those are effects of anxiety as well correct?
Absolutely, Brianna. When fear eclipses the heart it’s not possible to feel connected or loving.
Sheryl,when I think of my boyfriend, and I mean really think of him, I’ll get anxious and feel empty. I think of the loving moments we’ve shared and I’ll feel the same way. It makes me think that I don’t love him because I don’t see him the same way. Is this normal Sheryl? help!
Isabella: I wish I could respond to all of my comments, but I simply can’t! If you’d like my advice as well as the advice of an incredibly wise, supportive, compassionate community of people who are well-versed in the language and nuances of relationship anxiety, please consider joining my e-course forum.
When my feelings will return?? When i wil be again happy as before?? When will i have again those feelings which my girlfriend has??? I am struggling hard but still stuck…please help me 🙁
Sam: Can you find help from a local therapist? There are many wonderful therapist and supportive clinics. I urge you to seek support.
I feel your pain. I question everyday when will my feelings come back? When will I be happy? Why can’t I switch lives with my boyfriend so I can feel what hes feeling? There are days when I get better and then the next I’ll be my anxious self. Its a terrible struggle and sometimes I wanna call it quits, but we can’t! I feel so guilty for causing this and I’ve gotten to my lowest point.
My fear is triggered specially when she admires me and send me smiles and kisses etc. I get feeling that i dont love her the same way.
I am the same way. Especially when we snuggle and he is lovey dovey I don’t feel like I use to. But I know I would if I never got the anxiety. So when I don’t feel the love it terrifies me. My boyfriend is everything and more that I always wanted in a life partner and we always had a great relationship, so I keep trying to fight for it. But when I wake up and I can’t feel sometimes I just wanna throw in the towel but I can’t.
Sheryl, I know I got the anxiety because I got scared of losing him, but how come it made me not able to feel? My anxiety has diminished a bit so I think I should be able to feel. How long will that take because I am an impatient girl. I try everything in my power to feel, but I guess I bring the anxiety on that way too.
Any tips for long distance relationship-ers? I have been having MAJOR anxiety lately, which I’m almost positive is triggered by the fact that I’m moving even further away from my boyfriend than I already live, and am terrified that once I move I’ll just forget all about him. I know it’s silly since I have control over whether I speak to him or not, but my mind is telling me that it’s inevitable. I think I’ve had anxiety about this relationship from the start (~4 months ago)- we didn’t have a “spark” so I wasn’t sure if it was worth pursuing- but last time I saw him everything was great, I don’t remember feeling anxious at all, and we were very happy. I understand that love is a verb, but it’s hard to keep connected just over the phone and skype when I am the type of person who needs a physical connection and I can’t show him my love in that way. I’m trying to make a plan for when I can see him again but right now I don’t have the money so everything just feels extremely uncertain and I feel like I’m pulling away because of that. It’s just so frustrating to not be able to connect with him in the way that I need to, but at the same time I know I will be much better equipped to make plans once I get my anxiety under control. However, the nagging thought of “maybe you’re not invested in this because you don’t want to be” remains. Any thoughts on this?
I feel you very much. I have been in a long distance relationship with my current boyfriend for 15 months and I have spent the last 4 dealing with heavy anxiety, specially relationship anxiety. In fact, we constructed our relationship through distance, since we met just before he left the country I currently lived in. Although we see each other once a month, speak everyday and skype very often, these past months I have been thinking the whole “I feel I don’t love him because deep down I know this was never going to work” or “distance has killed the love”. I constantly compare him to everyone (my past relationships, my friends, etc) and very often panic over the idea that maybe I would be better off alone or with someone who lives here. Lately the anxiety has been worse since an old friend of mine has moved into the same town, and although we fell out a few years ago, I always admired her in a semi-goddess way, so I have been struggling over the thoughts “would you not prefere to be in a relationship with her? Does this make you a lesbian?” (I have accepted myself as bi-sexual). So, as you can see, the anxiety is already bad, but the distance makes it worse.
However, what I do want to say, is that there is ALWAYS something that brings me back to my love for my boyfriend: the thought of us together, how much he helps me although thousands of quilometers separate us, how much we laugh, etc. It’s also important to take into accout that when you do see each other, it’s normal to be scarred and anxious, since you go from 0 hours together to 24, and that is tiring. And of course there will be times you won’t want to be with him, you will stress out, etc. but for some silly reason you don’t want to let him go. And I think that’s worth it!
BTW, I want to point out that my relationship anxiety popped up in my head for the first time whilst I was dealing with terrifying anxiety over other parts of my life, and it hasn’t left me since then (which is why I know this is anxiety and not “normal” thoughts). I know exactly what you mean when you fear that you will forget all about him, but trust me, if you were to forget about him you wouldn’t be so scarred. That’s a key point of anxiety – if you’re scarred about loosing him, it means you don’t want to loose him, and you’re in control of your thoughts. As my boyfriend told me once, “even though you feel like there’s a monster inside your head which doesn’t let you love your boyfriend, YOU and YOUR HEAD are the same person” = you control your feelings, no one else does.
I’ve found your site so inspirational and such a comfort.
But I’m really struggling here. I have the most wonderful boyfriend, he’s loving kind, sweet and would do nearly anything for me. We always had a good balance in our relationship and people would always tell us how lucky we were to have found that balance. We’ve been together 3 years, it will be 4 this christmas. A while ago, i noticed that our relationship had slipping into a more comfortable state, we didn;t have sex as often, which was mainly my problem as my libido seemed to disappear, i felt like we were more like best friends at times, but i told myself it didn’t matter because i couldn’t imagine not having him in my life and wouldn’t want anyone else, plus having your best friend and your boyfriend rolled into one is surely the best feeling! A few months ago something seemed to change, he was unwell and suffered a series of pane attacks and anxiety about getting on public transport. i reacted badly, i didn’t seem to be able to give him the support he needed, i suppose i saw a weakness in him that i found unattractive, i don’t know (and i know how afoul this must sound) One day he said that i seemed to be putting up a wall between us and pushing myself away from him, i hadn’t noticed that i had been doing so, but as soon as he mentioned it i started to question my behaviour towards him, eveyr aspect of it. i suppose you could say all this over analysing led me to believe that something was wrong with the relationship, or at leads with my feelings. that;s what the anxiety kicked in, i go through phases where it’s worse than others. I have questioned everything, wether i’m attracted to him, on days when he irritates me i take this to be even more confirmation that i’m falling out of love with him. I’ve tried picturing my life without him and it makes me feel empty and nothing, i know i desperately don;t want to give up on this relationship because i believe he’s the best thing that’s ever happened to me and i think i’d regret making such a huge mistake, so i’m doing everything i can to salvage things. But my main problem is, where i’ve worried and lived inside my own head and thoughts for so long i feel like i’ve pushed myself even further away from him. I feel so disconnected from him and it’s horrible, it makes me cry all the time when i’m on my own. He has tried to be so supportive through all of this and has put my negative thinking down to ocd and obsessive thoughts, but i feel so guilty for everything i think and for the fact that i don;t feel as close to him as he does to me at the moment. I want desperately to re connect with him and feel that bond that i know was there not so long ago. Have you got any suggestions for me to help me re connect with him? Would you say i’m doing the right thing by staying with him? I don’t want to be with anyone else and i want to be able to make this work so badly, but there’s always that terrible nagging fear of being in denial. i Have had two past relationships one that ended very badly, in which i was treated very badly for 6 years, the previous one ended because of my obsessive over thinking and over analysing which makes me even more determined not to give up on this one.
I’d really appreciate any advice or guidance you feel you could give. Even if i have fallen out of love, surely i can learn to love again?
Toni I feel everything that you’re feeling!
I think my main problem is that i don;t believe my own head a lot of the time, my boyfriend will say to me ‘you have been told these are just intrusive thoughts with no depth to them so why can’t you see that and stop giving your attention to them?’ He’s becoming increasingly infuriated with me and even thought he’s promised me he would never break up with me over this, i feel bad that i’m putting him through this. I feel like i find no comfort in anything or anyone, it’s like i know i’m the only one that can help myself, but without believing that the thoughts in my head are just fake, i can’t help myself.
i don’t think it helps that i have kind of driven a wedge between my boyfriend and i, because i feel like the longer this carries on the further apart we’ll drift.
I have some amazing moments, when i feel calm and i really feel the love for him, like last night after i started to get a lot of anxiety and i realised he was getting annoyed, we had a lovely evening and really good sex and suddenly i felt closer to him and the anxiety went away, i woke up feeling a little anxious but better than usual. Then he went off to work and as soon as he left the thoughts just crept back into my head!
The latest thing is that perhaps i’ve always just been striving to have this perfect life and hen i found him we had that, then as soon as the honeymoon period has passed, the sex diminished and he suffered from a couple of weeks of anxiety and panic attacks, i freaked out because i was scared i’d loose that perfect life we had made together and planned for the future. That is when i started to question my feelings for him etc, i think i’ve convinced myself that all i ever wanted was to form a perfect life with someone and feel content, and that that’s all i care about, not him or his feelings etc, just the lifestyle. But surely that’s madness, we’ve been together 3 years, and those 3 years haven’t been a lie, i’ve loved him every minute of those 3 years. It’s just now i feel disconnected, i feel like i don’t worry about him so much, i don’t get jealous when i imagine him with other girls, i get scared when i think of the future (babies and marriage) and i know this is all because my thoughts/feelings and anxiety at the moment are making it impossible for me to feel comfortable thinking about a future with him, but all these thoughts just lead me to think i’m living some kind of a lie.
I know this is a problem with me and i know that if we broke up i’d be terribly sad and lonely without him, but every mention of the future freaks me out at the moment and spikes my anxiety. I know i need to stick at this and not run away because this is likely to happen again if i was with someone else, i also did this with my first ever relationship, and eventually the guy broke up with me because he could;t understand what was wrong with me. I seem to try and sabotage everything that makes me happy, and i really don’t understand why.
I wish i could just have the courage to trust myself and realise that these thoughts are just intrusive and that there can’t be much truth to them, but it’s like theres a little devil sitting on my shoulder telling me that i’m just in denial, and that i’m just too scared of letting go of the relationship. This really is absolute hell.
I realized that when my thoughts and anxiety started I didn’t trust myself. I use to always think about our future because it was the one thing that made me so happy because we wanted the exact same thing! Now its hard to think about us because I get anxiety. It sucks a lot! But I know hes the only one that I ever want to be with so I’m trying to get through this. Everyone tells me it was just a thought get it out of your head! But it is hard. Yes, your feelings and anxiety are making it hard to think about anything else. I’ve thought everything that you’ve thought and feel everything you feel!
It really is a huge comfort to know there are so many girls going through the same thing, it reminds me that there is a reason i’m going through this and perhaps in the long run it will help me to understand myself and grow as a person. Thank you Brianna for your constant support. xxx
No problem! You can email me too whenever you want.
Of course Toni! 🙂
My boyfriend is away now. I wont see him for 4 days and I hate going long not seeing him cause my mind and feelings just go all over the place. I feel so empty today.
I also know how you feel about helping yourself. Since I feel so empty/numb/and emotionless my thoughts are based on them now. I don’t feel the love I felt so what does that mean? I’m not getting excited so what does that mean? Why am I miserable? Why am I not being sexual? Why am I empty? Why do I feel empty when I tell him I love him? And ten my mind starts racing even more.
Brianna – I know what you mean, I tend to be worse when I don’t see j for a while, my head goes into overdrive thinking all sorts of things to the point I dread seeing him in case all my thoughts and feelings are true. In reality though, when I do see him, it’s never as bad as I’ve imagined! I wouldn’t even say it’s remotely bad. That’s the thing, he doesn’t make me in happy, his love keeps me fighting and strong. I struggle with my feelings, when he’s absolutely lovely to me I just think he must feel it so much more than me And then I just feel like I’m not being fair to stay with him when he can feel all this love and be so amazing, and here I am questions my feelings etc.
Isabella – thank you! It’s so comforting to know I’m not alone in this hell. Sometimes ill look at j and he’ll be doing something sweet or looking vulnerable and I feel the love so much. Sometimes he drives me nuts And he’s only kidding about, singing or joking about. But I know I’d never change one single thing about him. He’s honestly perfect, it’s just me that seems to be ‘broken’. I force myself to think about my life without him, or him with another girl (thoughts that once would have made me freak out) and it scares me that I can’t feel that fear, it makes me think that perhaps I just don’t care enough, wich in turn makes me so sad. Sometimes ill read through this blog and realise that perhaps we’ve just passed into a more comfortable relaxed phase of our love and that’s why I don’t have that desperate longing that I once had. But I’ve only ever been in relationships where I had to fight for my lovers affection, it’s been a constant struggle, I was always chasing… It’s all I’ve ever known, and with j it’s never been like that, because I’ve never once had any reason to doubt his love or worry that he’d cheat. He’s the most honest person I’ve met, and because he suffers with OCD too, he always feels the need to tell me things, so I never need to question his feelings. Perhaps this has made me too comfortable.
I suppose there’s no manual that tells us what we should and shouldn’t feel in order to be worthy of a certain relationship. But I’ve done this in a previous relationship. I questioned wether I loved the guy so much and beat myself up over it, I just felt that if I didn’t feel it, I shouldn’t be with him as it wasn’t fair on him and I must be lying. The funny thing was, that guy never told me he loved me anyway, so it probably didn’t matter wether or not I loved him, but I just couldn’t deal with the guilt that I felt as if I was lying to him. I have always been this way, as a little girl if feel guilty about all sorts if things and feel the need to tell my mum every ‘bad’ thought I had or every ‘bad’ thing that I did.
I wish I could understand what this all meant.
I wish I could trade places with my boyfriend because loving comes so easy for him. Sometimes ill think those thoughts too and it does nothing for me which does scare me. Other times it will make me upset. My parents say all the time you don’t have to feel it all the time, but to me it seems wrong not to. It’s the one thing that made me so happy! I can’t let go of him. The thought of us not being together in the future kills me!
I sent you an email.
Brianna – i got your email and will mail you back later.
Sheryl I know you must get so many comments on your blog and it must be incredibly hard to reply to all of them, but i would really love to hear from you with regards to what i’m going through. If you can reply with any words of advice wisdom etc, it would be hugely appreciated.
Wow, thank you so much for this post. It helped me so much. It also helped reading other people’s comments. I struggle with ROCD and question my thoughts and feelings all the time. A lot of them thinking “is he the one?” and even being afraid of him in bed or lying with him in bed because I am afraid of my thoughts and emotions. I love him so much and we have been in a relationship for six beautiful years. I long to marry him. I think it can be so difficult sometimes because the media portrays love to be a certain way. When we don’t feel this way, a lot of us panic and even leave the relationship. I have fought for this relationship for so long and will keep fighting to make it beautiful, especially with the ROCD. No need to reply back of course. I just wanted to thank you for this post. I wish that more people could see this post.
I’m glad the post helped, Kiki, and I’m so glad you found your way here.
Hello Sheryl. I love everything you post and am always in awe of how much your words help me. I am 21 and in a relationship with the love my life, and have been together since 6/13/12. I love her and we are fully committed to a future together. I have a question, how much time is too much time spent together? We spend pretty much all day every day together, but it works for us. Is there such a thing as too much time spent together? Or when you say there are no right or wrong ways to have a relationship, do you mean that in regards to all aspects? Thanks. I really hope you reply.
Hi Joshua: While there are no rules in relationships, there usually comes a time when you realize that you need to spend some time with yourself and remember your own separateness. It sounds like that time hasn’t come yet for the two of you, but if it does, just know that there’s nothing wrong with the relationship and that it can actually be healthy to nurture yourselves as individuals.
Thank you so much! We are both off for the summer and unemployed, but next semester plan on being fulltime students, her a secondary education major with biology focus and math minor and me a secondary education major with English focus and theatre minor, so that should provide more balance. We are both fully committed to loving each other and our future, and I personally read your articles any time I’m anxious. Thank you so much. You’ve helped me, and thusly, us, more than you know.
I feel so lost and wonder if anyone can relate or help me at all. My boyfriend and I have been dating for a year and 8 months. We had met in high-school on two separate occasions; one during a school function and the other when I had started dating his best friend who was my first boyfriend. The previous relationship was not perfect but at the time I did feel as though I loved him. He was very controlling and manipulative throughout the relationship and was the one who ended things after a year and a few months. To say the least I was devastated and felt as though I had no one to talk too because it seemed as though everyone else saw this coming when I never had. So I had kept everything bottled up inside so as to not appear weak. After everything was said and done in the break-up my current boyfriend texted me and we began talking as friends and skyping. We would talk for hours on end continuously until the sun would come up. I slowly began to develop feelings for him and we agreed we would start dating slowly as to not shock or upset my ex or his close friend. Around the same time I found out my ex had started dating a girl that he had claimed to simply be friends with and that brought on more devastation. So I told my current boyfriend that I couldn’t continue talking to him, though I never specified until much later on that it was because I couldn’t stand the thought of being around that specific group. After almost a year and a few mistakes my current boyfriend texted me again and we began talking and dating soon after. I was very cautious and slow at first not even wanting to make our relationship concrete until we where sure. My ex was not happy when he found out and demanded that my current boyfriend end things and then asked me to do the same. I didn’t want to start a fight between two close friends so I considered it but needless to say I didn’t go through with it. At the time my ex just decided to suck it up. My current boyfriend and I had an amazing relationship as everyone does with things are still so full of wonder. We pretty much knew everything about each other already as we had spent so much time talking in the very beginning. Everything was very effortless and there really wasn’t too much awkwardness. We may have had sex to early on in the relationship but we couldn’t get enough of each other as it was. He was the firs to say I love you and I told him that I didn’t want to rush into anything that quickly, because of my last relationship, though a while later I did express the same sentiment. We had our fights throughout our first year and as well as some of the best times. My friends in the beginning where very encouraging then dwindled down to being less than ex static about everything wanting me to partake in single activities with them and without my boyfriend. Some of our fights revolved around my friends because I was still wounded from a relationship that wanted to take no part in my friends and my fear of being controlled again. But my current boyfriend was understanding and we did talk and work things out and sometimes we did fight and yell and it would end in tears but we still heard each other out and compromised to the best of our ability. We talked about moving in with each other when we decided to go off to University after finishing up with Community College and the possibility of a farther future together. We where hopelessly and breathlessly in love. After our first year my current boyfriend and his friends had hit a rough spot (around the same time me and my boyfriend where hitting our first rough patch) and my ex lashed out at my boyfriend saying he couldn’t be friends with him anymore because of me. There was a huge argument and I made my fair share of mistakes and put my nose in things where it didn’t belong. It was all very traumatic and made me feel like an awful person. All of my current boyfriends friends abandoned him. After the traumatic incident I started getting anxiety about our relationship and started questioning if I still had feelings for my ex and if I ever had feelings for my current boyfriend. I started questioning my love for him but would have it reaffirmed easily and it wouldn’t last more than a few days. But as time progressed on my anxiety increased and I would have a heaviness in my chest that would not allow me to relax or breathe easily and I would have panic attacks. I felt like my only escape from everything was to break-up with my boyfriend. Eventually I caught help from a therapist but ended up coming to the conclusion that I had to break up with him when that’s not what I wanted. He diagnosed me with GAD and MD in remission, shortly after I left due to money issues with my parents and just being unsatisfied with the entire counseling experience in general. I have been dealing with this for over 8 months now and though the anxiety isn’t as persistent as before I feel more depressed and hopeless. I feel as though my love for my boyfriend has left and that I no longer feel any love for him anymore. This angers and hurts me so much because this isn’t what I want at all. The more things I read online, things that had previously helped reconfirm my love, now make me feel as though there is no hope for me and my boyfriend because of our age. (I am 19 and her is 21) Our sexual chemistry has also dimished greatly, in the beginning of my anxiety I would cry or feel guilty for having sex with him while I was feeling off or anxious and felt like I was using him. Eventually I just stopped feeling the desire to have sex and that has made me more anxious and doubt my attraction to my boyfriend to begin with.My boyfriend has been my best friend and my lover for almost two years already and at the moment I am his everything though he does have friends that he knows personally that he plays with online but they live states away. Another important fact is that I was my boyfriend first but he was not mine, he never really had a serious relationship before me though but none lasted very long. I don’t want to lose him or the life we want together. I love him deeply but sometimes I feel as though I am no longer in love with him and it hurts so much to think this. Is my relationship really doomed because of my age and his age? I feel so young and as though my relationships is so inconsequential compared to everyone else’ experience and years put into their relationships.
Wow thank you…
I have been with the girl of my dreams for 7 and a half years. When we get to see each other (shes recently moved away for work, and really only saw each other before hand say 3 times a week) we do lots together! movies, video gamiing, meals, airsoft and more.
Four years ago my mum was diagnosed with bone cancer, and i noticed after that i had started to change…i started becoming anxious..but not really seeing the reason why.. it was always because of something else. then one day after i had an argument with her and a stressful start to the mornings work i had a thought “i dont love her”….Shocked to the core with a feeling of sickness i panicked… I shouldnt think like this if i love her.. ect. So this thought was all i focused on i mean at one point i almost convinced myself that i had cheated on her!!!
I told my mum first and my mum was convinced i loved her as she knew how i thought of her ect, and i also told my girl. I always find it easy to talk to her. And my girlfriend was although upset didnt cry for the fact i had this thought about her but cried because i was in that state to have these upsetting thoughts. Always caring about me 🙂
My mum was certain it was because i was stressed and maybe suffering from low mood from mum being ill combined with stressful shift patterns in my new job. which was in an hospital, thus causing me to just feel negative and panic towards my most loved ones. even though i was hearing this i constantly ignored it as all i could think was i shouldnt think like that.
i also felt that if i loved her then i would feel the “sparkle”/”honeymoon” period constantly ignoring the fact that the best and most loving relationships require work! My girlfriend thinks that its because of my mum getting cancer that i saw it as “mums gone, my girl will go so i should push her away before she goes” effect.
Sometimes i wouldnt even get the thought i dont love her… i would just feel low or stressed then i would some how link that to getting the thought of not loving her! MADNESS!
Sheryl, this post has actually got me choked with happyness. I love my girlfriend more than i can imagine, when i get these thoughts all i come up with is “if i dont love her then i should end it.. but i dont want to end it because i love her so much” lol
I know i want to spend the rest of my life with HER and only her.
Sorry to ramble on, i have much more to say actually but my mind is racing with so much! lol. That and the fact i have had to write this twice as when i went to post it timed out 🙁 (my other post had some better bits in it which i have forgotten) you really need to get a post auto save thing that forums have. 🙂
YNWA (you’ll never walk alone)
Wow exactly how I feel!
Hi Sheryl I want develop the love because I know my infatuation stage ended. Can I get the love feeling by taking the ecourse
When you learn to soften the walls around your heart and address the core fear the feeling of love will return. But it won’t feel like infatuation; it’s a deeper, richer experience.
The feeling is so tiring thinking everyday that infatuation fades but it is so hard to show loving actions like saying good morning to my gf, feels like forcing myself every time I text msg my gf
My ex and I had the most amazing relationship. We’d both been treated unfairly in previous relationships and we were so excited to have finally found each other. It was so lovely. Everything in common. Lots of fun. He just told me after seeming distant and withdrawn the last couple of days that he’s not sure if he feels as strongly as I do, he’s tried so hard feel ‘passionately’ in love, but that should just happen naturally. I asked him how long he’s been feeling this way (because he’d shown NO sign of any of this – we were SO LOVELY together) and he said the last 4-5 weeks. He broke up with me. That was that. He feels awful, I know that. There’s nobody else, I know that for sure. Just a feeling that had started happening at that time. I know he’s had some bouts of depression in the past, which may have contributed, but not sure. He misses me, so he says. I’m devastated and speechless. Any advice????
I’m so sorry that he walked away from your lovely relationship and gave in to his fear. I would suggest that you send him a few articles from my site as it sounds like he’s suffering from a misunderstanding of real love, just like many people in our culture. This article in particular may help:
I have been hunting for a place such as this for quite a long time.