“Ten years from now, make sure you can say that you CHOSE your life, you didn’t SETTLE for it.”
~ Mandy Hale
“We don’t fall in love, we grow in love. Everything that falls gets broken and everything that grows gets stronger.” -Unknown
First, do you want to be in a relationship with your partner?
Then you don’t need to read any further or think more about this. (I would check to make sure you aren’t just having a bad day before making any big decisions.)
If you are not in love with your partner because you are unhappy and/or being treated poorly, then you are allowed to end the relationship. You always have permission to make the best choices for you.
If you are happy with your partner and want to be in a relationship, you can grow into love.
I think we often view falling into love as the idea of the “love at first sight.” Studies have actually found that the best predictor of a relationship lasting is not this vague idea of “love,” but instead, it is how much two people have in common.
If these areas listed below are similar for you and your partner, I believe there is a good chance you could grow into love.
Similar Morals and Values
This is where religion, spirituality and foundational “rules” regarding the “right and wrong” of life come into play.
If these mostly align, I think there is a great chance love could grow in the relationship because you are building on a similar foundation.
You feel safe
Does your partner make you feel physically, emotional and mentally safe?
If so, these are great signs for the relationship. Through feeling safe, you are more likely to be more vulnerable, which creates bigger connections, which can foster love.
You can have fun and laugh together
If you are with the same partner for a long time, life can get boring and there will be hard seasons. I believe that an amazing predictor of being able to grow into love, and stay in love, is being able to have fun and laugh together.
This can be laughing at each other (in a playful way), laughing at life when it becomes difficult and/or finding the same things funny. A similar sense of humor can create an amazing bond and fondness for your partner.
You like the person
This is a big one. Do you genuinely like your partner? If so, this is huge and can really help the more intense emotion of love to grow from this.
Are you attracted to them?
Notice I didn’t ask if other people are attracted to them. Do you find them attractive?
The other things listed above can create an amazing friendship, but physical intimacy is one of the unique things you only share with a romantic partner.
If this part is there, along with all of the other factors, I believe that there is an amazing chance to grow into love with your partner, even if you haven’t fallen in love yet.
Ashley Baldwin, LPC, CACII – www.facebook.com/BaldwinCounseling
All relationships look different and serve a different purpose depending on what the individual is looking for.
A question to ask yourself is…what type of relationship do I want to be involved in?
We are not taught how to choose a partner and sometimes wait for someone to pick us.
Dating is about spending time to explore and discover what kind of partner you enjoy being with and how that relationship can be fulfilling for you. Dating is also a way of finding a compatible temporary or lifetime partner.
We learn so much about ourselves when we are in a relationship with others; especially romantic relationships.
Believe it or not, falling in love in some cultures used to be considered a weakness. Whereas in contemporary culture, love is usually considered an important factor.
If you are in a relationship and not in love with your partner, what does that mean?
Some questions to ask yourself…
- What type of a relationship am I looking for?
- Is being in love with my partner important to me?
- What is the purpose of the relationship?
- What qualities would I like my partner to possess?
Stream of Consciousness Writing
Now, set aside some time to write out the answers to the questions above. This exercise is a useful tool to help you explore and learn about priorities and expectations that you may or may not be aware of.
Try to use what is referred to as a stream of consciousness writing.
Stream of consciousness writing helps us to write out the first thought that comes to mind; without judgement or bias.
It helps us when we are grappling with many different thoughts about a situation and are unable to detangle or make sense of them.
Stream of consciousness writing is also a way of exploring our innermost thoughts, feelings, and desires.
The most important part of this exercise is to write as though no one is going to read it. Let your pen express what is truly in your heart.
After writing, contemplate the answers you came up with.
Create a list of priorities that emerge from your writing.
You may want to revise your list or answers after you read over them a few times. The revision will help clarify what you are looking for and empower you to refocus your efforts on someone who is in line with your authentic self.
Oftentimes, we are surprised at what we write.
You are the only one who can determine whether being in love with your partner is a priority or a desire.
If you realize you are not in love with your partner and discover being in love is important; you may want to reconsider the relationship you are currently in.
Normajean Cefarelli, PhD, LMFT – www.balancewithinllc.com
So, you don’t love your boyfriend? Deal breaker, right?
For many, that’s the easy answer. The passion is gone, it’s time to bail, just wasn’t meant to be — not so fast.
Relationships are complex and dynamic.
Every relationship exists between two complex and dynamic people with needs, expectations, and emotions we aren’t always great at recognizing, let alone defining.
Our ideas of romance don’t suggest that we conduct critical analyses of our relationship philosophy and goals when being swept off our feet into that fantasy land we call New Relationship Energy (NRE).
But you are past that now.
The heat has been turned down and the previously electric connection just blends into the everyday mundane. This isn’t what you wanted; you are more like roommates now. The promise of the perfect all-in-one life mate is squashed once again.
Unless you plan on spending your life getting on an off the NRE merry-go-round with partner after partner (and there’s nothing wrong with that), this might be a good time for that critical analysis.
As unromantic as that sounds, this may be the most pivotal moment in your relationship life, the moment when you decide to move beyond the goal of having and being a fantasy lover to determining what the practical side of partnership means to you.
Lauren Andre, LCSW & Jessica Lagana RN, BSN – www.connectedroots.net
If you are in a relationship and you feel like you’re “supposed” to love your boyfriend but you don’t, it might be time to reconsider the relationship.
There is no amount of time that passes by and you are automatically supposed to love your boyfriend; however if you have reached some important milestones and you aren’t in love, it might be time to call it quits.
A few important milestones in a relationship include meeting each other’s families, hanging out with each other’s friends, spending most of your weekends together, spending holidays together and going on trips.
Falling in love is a cumulation of a variety of events, situations and feelings that happen between two people.
These types of events and situations can help people fall in love.
If you aren’t in love but you’re supposed to be, ask yourself “Why am I still with him?”
This would be a good place for you to pull out your journal and answer these five questions:
- What does love mean to me?
- What do I need out of a relationship to feel loved?
- What is my love language? (Hint: there are five of them: time spent, touch, gifts, acts of service and affirmations)
- Have I been in love before and if so, what did it feel like?
- Do I want to be in love?
Being in love is not something you can force.
It’s something that naturally and gradually develops over time; unless you believe in love at first sight.
Love comes with shared meaning and experiences. Your relationship may grow and develop into that; however if you do not see that happening, it might be time to break it off.
Amanda Patterson, LMHC – www.amandapattersonlmhc.com
You may not, except with express written permission, distribute or commercially exploit the content. Nor may you transmit it or store it in any other website or other form of electronic retrieval system.