What Does It Mean To Be Falling In And Out Of Love?

Updated November 9, 2022 by ReGain Editorial Team

Love is one of the most complex and poorly understood emotions for all that it is been talked and written about throughout history. What does love feel like? It can feel so baffling, crazy-making, euphoric, and contradictory at the same time, and it certainly does not help that we are all inundated with images in the media of what the perfect relationship looks like -- especially when it does not necessarily match up with our real life experiences.

We are taught that love is supposed to be everlasting and anything but capricious, but some people may experience the feeling of falling in and out of love with a partner over time, which is an experience that could make absolutely anyone feel unstable and uncertain. Understanding how men fall in love, as well as how women fall in love, can help you determine your own feelings around this topic too. 

In this post, we will look at what happens when you are falling in love or, alternatively, falling out of love.

Tired Of The On Again, Off Again Relationship?

Why Do People Fall In Love?

Falling in love is ineffable – it is hard to explain exactly why or how anyone does it at all, and attempts to describe it in concrete terms often fall short.

However, people attempt to nonetheless model the emotion and how it should work. Many psychologists subscribe to a “triangular theory of love,” which proposes that there are three dimensions that describe different types of love -- intimacy, attraction, and commitment -- which constitute consummate love; what we think of when we envision the perfect marriage or long term relationship is typically a perfect consummate love.

The first characteristic of true love is intimacy -- the two of you have some kind of connection. Friendships are intimate, as are familial bonds, and true love needs to have the same kind of connection or else it can run into trouble. Knowing your partner and wanting to know them more deeply every day is part of what makes love so beautiful, and is part of why many people who are deeply in love might call their partner their best friend.

The second is romantic attraction or passion. What is romantic attraction, you may ask? It simply means that the two of you are physically or emotionally attracted to one another. Sexual attraction is prevalent at the beginning of a relationship, but true love will always have some form of sex regardless of the state of the relationship. This aspect distinguishes true love from friendship or other forms of companionship.

Third, there needs to be some form of commitment -- short term, commitment is the decision to be with someone in a romantic capacity; long term, commitment means a desire to build some sort of life with them, and to be there for them, consistently. Being committed to someone might mean you want to move in with them, work on the same life goals, start a family, and grow old together, or it might simply mean you want to be with this person in whatever capacity you can.

Research shows that love involves a release of hormones. When you fall in love, your brain releases feel-good chemicals that are associated with reproduction, calming, and happiness. If you have ever looked at a past relationship and wondered, "how did I ever fall in love with them?”,  hormones could be partially to blame -- there was something about that person that made you release a bunch of chemicals that made you associate that person with good feelings and bliss.

Regardless, however, the experience of falling in love is still deeply complex and difficult to pin down to any one single theory or cause -- many people who have gone through it describe it as an awakening, like being struck by lightning when this new person came into their life. We fall in love all the time with people we never expected to love, or even people who do not follow any of our traditional formulas. Given how little we understand about the human brain, there is at least a little leeway to chalk up the experience of falling in love too fast to magic, fate, or any other myth of the sort – it is only fair.

Falling Out Of Love

Does love fade away? Yes, it happens when one or both falls out of love. Falling out of love is quite interesting. Sometimes, it can be gradual. Little things about your partner bother you and break down the feelings you have, or enough knock-down drag-out arguments with your partner over time might leave you feeling resentful or mistrustful enough to erode your love.

However, sometimes you fall out of love instantly, and sometimes you may feel like you fell out of love for no good reason. It is a scary thought: not only might you one day suddenly completely change your own life when you realize your feelings have dissipated, you might also be liable to break the heart of someone you care for without much cause or warning.

Often, however, the process of falling out of love can be somewhat predictable; it is rare that it comes completely out of nowhere. Let's look at a few reasons you may fall out of love:

  • A lack of communication. This is a big one, and one of the reasons why relationships fail. When you're first in love, you spend a lot of time talking to your partner. Naturally, as you settle in with them and feel as though you know them intimately enough, communication may decrease. However, in a healthy relationship, communication is an ongoing process. In an unhealthy relationship, couples barely talk, and when they do, it is to argue. Miscommunication is another thing that can lead to relationship problems, and it can be due to the lack of communication.
  • Boredom and routine. The brain requires stimulation, and if the relationship is just all the same events on a different day, then it may affect how in love you are with a person. A good couple will be trying different things and going on adventures to keep the love going strong. While it can be hard to escape the monotony of life, you should try your hardest to make it as entertaining as possible.
  • Constant bickering. A significant part of being in love with someone else is caring about their feelings and point of view; the experience of love is often marked as one that impels lovers to be exceptionally giving, selfless, or charitable to their partners. While it is certainly not a mark of a lack of love to argue or get testy every once in a while, a pattern of constant arguing that is never resolved can lead to resentment, hidden grudges, and a significant gap in communication and intimacy that result in relationship problems.
  • Attraction issues. Sometimes, your partner stops looking as appealing to you as they may once had; they may gain weight or have aged poorly. Other times, you just simply lose attraction, regardless of what your partner looks like. Changes to non-physical attributes that may have once attracted you can play a hand as well -- perhaps their personality changed in a significant way that no longer appeals to you, or perhaps your preferences changed over time.
  • No one likes a cheater, but there are many reasons why people cheat. One example is that a new person can release some fresh chemicals in your brain, making you feel like you did at the beginning of a relationship. Another reason is that of a combination of the above. You are tired of your partner, so you want to find new love while maintaining the commitment you have.
  • The person has changed -- or has revealed who they really are. Unfortunately, who we are at the outset of a relationship is liable to be quite distinct from who we might be afterwards, especially when we are young or if we go through significant life changes. The ideal is that we might grow through these changes alongside our partners, but the reality is that sometimes life morphs us into people who are incompatible with the people we once loved. Worse yet, sometimes we may put up a false front at the beginning of the relationship to seem more appealing than we actually are. While this is only natural to a reasonable extent, it can sometimes lead to big changes and a breach of trust later on when the act is dropped and we realize that our partner is not who we thought they were; someone who was once Prince Charming might really turn out to be a wicked force in our lives.

Why Do People Suddenly Fall Out Of Love?

It can be a very jarring experience to fall out of love suddenly. 

A simple explanation for why you might have fallen out of love at break-neck speeds might be that you were never actually in love with this person in the first place -- instead, you might have been experiencing lust or mere infatuation. Lust is when you are sexually attracted to someone but there is little to no true intimacy. You don't feel connected with a person, and you do not feel like you are committed to spending the rest of your life with them.

Confusing love and lust frequently happens with young couples who do not yet understand the difference between the two feelings, but it can also happen to anyone, too. Love blindness happens at any age, and it can affect even those who think they're experienced.

Sexual attraction is often temporary, and once you get your fill, there needs to be something to keep the love afloat. Usually, it's because you have a connection to that person, and you feel like you can spend the rest of your life with them. If there's no connection, you may call things off suddenly.

Additionally, you might have been swept up in the excitement of a new fling and have ignored your partners’ flaws and indiscretions. This is a problem with feeling infatuation for a partner -- you may revel in their attention and feel as though you know them intimately, but the good feelings might leave you blind to their flaws. When your feelings settle down, you may see that they are in some way fundamentally incompatible with you and call things off.

On Again, Off Again

Another phenomenon that is quite interesting is the couple who falls in love, is in a relationship for a while, ends the relationship, and then gets back together. This usually repeats in a cycle that is frustrating to watch for an observer, and it can be frustrating for the couple as well. This can happen with young couples, but may also happen at any age.

There are many reasons why a couple may break up only to make up again later on down the line. Beyond external factors, like separations of great distance or other prohibitive life circumstances, it can be because of the couples' personalities. Some people may break up easily because of one fight, but find it easy to forgive and return. Other times, it may be because they can't find anything better and find comfort in returning to a well-worn relationship. Some people who come from emotionally turbulent homes may find the process of fighting and making up reminiscent of childhood patterns with caretaking, and necessarily feel comfortable in patterns of chaos and uneasy in periods of stability with a partner.

If you're in a cycle of on-again-off-again, it may not be good for you. Try to figure out the reason for your behavior and end the cycle, be it keeping the relationship on again for good, or ending things forever.

Tired Of The On Again, Off Again Relationship?

Seek Help

If you're having relationship problems, you may think there is shame in seeking a relationship counselor; it can feel like you’re throwing in the towel by reaching out for outside advice and help. In truth, a counselor can help you to strengthen, fortify, and rejuvenate relationships, in addition to helping you to make sense of your love life, no matter how complex it may seem.

Our habits when it comes to our love lives can be confusing and hard to unravel on our own. The good news is that a therapist can help you to uncover the patterns of what attracts you, and can guide you in your journey to find ways to improve those patterns if they’ve left you unsatisfied in your love life. If you’re struggling to come to terms with a breakup, sometimes a relationship counselor can teach you skills to cope with your feelings, in addition to helping you figure out why the relationship might have failed in the first place.

Additionally, pursuing therapy individually might give you insight into other issues with your emotional health that can cause problems in relationships, such as anger, anxiety, attachment issues, eating disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder,

Finally, for those on again, off again couples, couple’s therapy may be the key you need to figure out how you can stay together and keep your love alive. Couple’s therapy can identify the reason why you keep breaking up, and it can help you to make changes to stay together for good or figure out if you're meant for each other at all. Couples or family therapists can additionally offer parenting advice to couples that might find themselves falling in and out of love in spite of having children together, and may be able to help stabilize your relationship.

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