THOUGH WE’RE TEMPTED TO STAY IN DENIAL WHEN LOVE IS LEAVING, THERE ARE ADVANTAGES TO RECOGNIZING THE SIGNS IN OUR PARTNER’S BEHAVIOR AND OUR OWN.
It’s not a fun topic for most to consider. Many of us would prefer to bury our heads in the sand and look the other way. But let’s face it, sometimes love decides it’s time to leave. Whether it’s your decision or your partner’s, it’s not on anyone’s list of top-ten things to do before dying. What are some of the warning signs we need to look for, from within ourselves and from our partners, to be aware this is happening? And what might be the advantages in looking at this now rather than later, before it’s too late?
Now, any one or more of these things to look for may not deal breakers in the works, but looking at them as a pattern, over time, can be the difference between loving and leaving.
“Distant.” That’s a word I hear a lot of from couples in describing their partner’s behavior. He is around but just “not there” or not as accessible as he once was. She has become more quiet and “withdrawn.” He appears to be “going through the motions” rather than through the emotions of being connected in a relationship.
The conversation has changed. Many couples moving toward dangerous territory will report that they don’t talk like they used to or that the conversations are more about the data of being in a relationship (who is doing what tasks) than about the dating that needs to be nurtured. Once again, not a red flag unto itself but something that needs to be watched.
Both men and women report complacency, really an avoidance of sexual intimacy, as a possible sign and concern that the love may be slipping away. Yes, there are times when one or both parties experience a higher level of stress, a preoccupation with work or other pressing issues and pull back sexually. The question remains — is it for a period of time, or has it now become a pattern firmly in place? Couples tend to lose interest when there are other mental and emotional challenges on the table. This could concern finances or unresolved fighting. It’s important to make sure you clear the air so resentment doesn’t begin to build.
The cancers that kills relationships
Which leads me to resentment and, subsequently, blaming. Resentment is like a cancer, and left untreated it will kill any relationship. When we resent our partner, our sense of love and respect for them begins to wither and die. We blame them for everything and start to believe they’re the problem. We tend to say things such as, “If only they would be more loving, supportive, nurturing, caring, romantic” — the list goes on and on. If you’re on either end of this equation, you need to take some action and open a dialogue — fast!
“We stopped working at our relationship.” This usually translates into not spending as much time together. Not spending time once usually spent together is a real sign that the relationship could be headed for trouble. Are they, perhaps, wanting to be alone more, spending more time with friends or showing an interest in and attraction to someone else ? Unusual late nights at the office, even working at home, falling asleep alone on the couch — these are all possible signs that things are slipping. Couples who tend to stay together are together, although not always physically; they can feel each other energetically and know that they’re safe.
Which leads me to intuition, or what we might refer to as our sixth sense, the inner knowing that something isn’t quite right. We may be sensing this within and about ourselves, or we just get this feeling, this sensation, that something isn’t as it once was. Trust it. It may not mean a deal breaker is actually on the table, but it could be your ally to nip something in the bud before it begins to bloom. Bring this information to your partner right away. Remember I said, “to” your partner, not “at” him or her. If the goal is to communicate and do so with integrity and truth, don’t put anyone on the defensive.
These signs are as much about potential danger as they are rich with opportunity — the opportunity to see where things might be moving in a direction that could bite you hard down the road. The goal in any relationship is to be proactive, to keep applying energy to make it run smoothly and to learn how to take the bumps along the way without veering off course and crashing.