Can You Fall Back in Love With Your Partner?
Before you bail out, tips for reviving the relationship you already have.
Posted November 3, 2015
Is it possible to fall back in love with a mate who has become unexciting? It's a question I am asked with some frequency, and the answer I usually give is, "It could be."
When longtime partners succumb to the humdrum (you know, the feeling that "there’s no magic anymore"), they sometimes wind up in the office of a marriage counselor looking for a fix. I’m sorry to tell those hoping for instant gratification that if there is to be a fix, it must come from inside the person who is asking, and it may involve some effort.
The complaint is often, "He (or she) is no longer the person I fell in love with."
"And are you the same person who originally fell in love?” I ask in return.
Over time, every one of us grows and changes. Some people grow together, while others grow apart as time and circumstances vary. It is a common romantic belief that continuing to love the one we once fell in love with just happens—and for some lucky ones, it does. However, most people find that any good relationship requires effort and attention.
If the issue of no longer being attracted to each other arises for those who have been dating for a while, an easy solution is to end it gracefully and look around for others to date. Some relationships simply have a shelf life. When it’s over, it’s over. No harm, no foul.
In the case of more committed couples, I think it is important to remain erotically connected to some degree. But no longer feeling attracted to a partner is the crux of most people’s complaints: "She (or he) is a nice person but…"
I was struck by this quote from Dr. Anna Stubblefield:
"If somebody has an interesting, engaging mind and a good heart and a beautiful soul, that is transformative. It shows through and you love the person. And so you love being close to them, and you love the body that they’re in, because that’s the body that they have."
I feel that most of us need to work on the relationship we have—to consciously accept the new body shape our aging mate acquires, to ignore daily irritations, or not to sigh in resignation when our partner tells that same story one more time. What counterbalances those annoyances, but which may take an effort, is a daily appreciation of who and what this person him or herself is—her genuine love of people, his gentleness. In other words, their attractive qualities.
Set aside old resentments for a moment and take a good look at your mate: If you were meeting for the first time and were thrust together on a blind date or in a close working relationship, how would you evaluate this person? What are the strong points, the attractive features? Often, naming them can spark something of the old attraction and make it possible to build from there.
Remember what attracted you to your mate—physically or otherwise. What traits, what characteristics? Are some of those not still there in some form—intelligence, sense of humor? Focus on them. Notice that her smile is still intact, or his well-shaped legs, although you may not have really looked at them in some time. Remember the warm feelings you had when you first discovered them, and focus on recapturing that sensation.
Another good exercise to revive feelings of love and attraction is to act "as if." No matter how flat the old excitement has become, begin the flirtation and courting actions which happened naturally in the past. Paying compliments to someone you really haven’t looked at in a while or bringing small gifts, hanging out together a bit more, or offering invitations of any kind, will probably get some surprising reactions—and often, quite pleasant surprises. Try doing something new together—like dancing lessons or learning a new language. Sharing any new endeavor creates and ignites a sense of bonding.
Briefly then, what’s necessary is to discover this person anew and uncover your original feelings of why you were attracted in the first place. As you do, some of the humdrum may fade in the process. I hope it does. Falling in love, even into "like," is a delightful feeling, all the more so if it’s with your own mate.