love-and-relationships

Ask a therapist: What do you do when you fall out of love?

It doesn't have to be the end.

Ask a therapist: What do you do when you fall out of love?

It doesn't have to be the end.
  • When we asked you, our readers, what questions you want to get a therapist's opinion about, we learned many wanted to know what to do when you fell out of love. We talked to Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Lesli Doares and author of "Blueprint for a Lasting Marriage: How to Create Your Happily Ever After With More Intention, Less Work" to find out why this happens and what you can do if it does.

  • Q. What do most people mean when they're referring to the feeling of being "in love?"

  • Doares said that a lot of the "in love" feeling is a result of neurotransmitters in the brain. "One is norphinephrin that gets you all excited and focused and you kind of notice everything. The other is dopamine which is the feel-good neurotransmitter associated with heroine."

  • These neurotransmitters are the reason you can describe this dreamy person to your friends and they look at you blankly and say, "Yeah... he's kind of nice."

  • "It's because they [your friends] are not flooded with the neurotransmitters," Doares said.

  • Q. Why do we fall out of love?

  • If we depend on neurotransmitters to define the health of the relationship we are going to be disappointed.

  • Doares said, "Our bodies can't always produce these neurotransmitters because it's sort of like being constantly hyped up on adrenaline: your body is eventually going to break down... our bodies aren't designed to handle it for that long."

  • Alternately, Doares attributes falling out of love to the fact that couples stop doing the things they did when they were in love.

  • "They stop being curious about each other or making time to be together as a couple in a consistent way. They stop making the same kinds of effort for each other that they did in the beginning. They let other aspects of their life take priority and then wonder where the love went," Doares told Famifi.

  • Q. What can couples do if they fall out of love?

  • If you are falling out of love, Doares prescribes a solution: "Couples can get these feelings back by engaging in new behaviors together."

  • She says that doing novel activities is a stimulus for the neurotransmitters, causing those same "in love" feelings. "It [a new activity] recreates that neurotransmitter flow - not at the same level as when we were first in love, but it does kick off that cascade."

  • Q. What kind of new behaviors would you suggest couples engage in to reignite love?

  • In order to reignite the love in your relationship, Doares suggests that you and your spouse start a new hobby.

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  • Specifically, Doares suggested getting into food culture and trying new restaurants and recipes, learning to surf or taking a photography class.

  • However, new behaviors don't have to be that dramatic. "You can even do something as simple as putting fine china and candles on your living room table, you don't have to even leave the house, but you need to do something to change things up."

  • Q. What should someone do if their partner is not putting effort into rekindling the relationship?

  • Sometimes we feel that our partner isn't putting effort into our relationship but we've never asked them to. "The first thing we have to do is invite our partner be a part of the process."

  • Notice if you are pushing off conversations they start or dismissing their suggestions. If you are, accept these as your partner's efforts and make an effort to participate yourself.

  • Doares said, "Sometimes we miss our partner reaching out because they don't do it in a way that we would. So we need to be willing to sit down and talk to them about what we're experiencing and what they're experiencing."

  • She recommends saying to a partner, "I'm just kind of curious about how our relationship is working." She admits this can be hard to do. "Anytime we open that door we have to be prepared to hear things we don't want to hear because our partner may be sitting on stuff they don't know how to bring up. That's often why we choose not to have those conversations."

  • Q. How can couples get in the habit of consistently making time for each other?

  • "This is going to sound really dumb and boring, but you've got to schedule it," Doares told Famifi. "You have to actually write it down on the calendar that we are going to eat dinner together at the dining room table or go for a bike ride on Saturday afternoon."

  • Making time for each other "is like making time to do anything else: It has to be a priority and it needs to be enough time where it gets past superficial and you're not just sitting down and watching television.What you want to be doing is what you did in the beginning."

  • Q. What tools can couples use to better plan their time together?

  • Doares has a unique solution for couples to have better quality time together: a "date jar."

  • "You each just write down stuff if you come across something - like a new restaurant, or a new activity or you read about a bed and breakfast somewhere. You write these things down and you stick them in the jar so when you're planning time to be together, you just go to the jar and pick something because it eliminates the 'What do we do? Oh, we'll just think about it tomorrow' scenario."

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  • For more conversations with therapists read Ask a Therapist, only on Famifi.

Melinda Fox has a bachelor's degree in English and is the Sponsored Content Manager for FamilyShare.com. She loves Shakespeare, listening to her favorite songs on repeat and journaling. Find her at melindafox.com

Website: https://www.melindafox.com/

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