Can You Bring Back that “In Love” Feeling?

Posted by on Jul 31, 2016 in Couples Counseling | Comments Off on Can You Bring Back that “In Love” Feeling?

“I’m not in love with my partner the way I used to be.”

“I just don’t feel the same.”

“I don’t love my spouse anymore.”

It’s not uncommon to hear one or both members of a long-term relationship say these things about each other. Often what couples are really saying is that they don’t feel the attraction, passion, and excitement that they experienced early in their relationship.

So, what is that “in love” feeling?

Biologically, there are actually some chemical changes that take place in the brain during a romantic relationship’s early phase. The thrilling feelings of a new relationship are a big deal to us, they bond us quickly to our partner. That mental activity happens in the rear, older, more primitive regions of our brains. As time goes on and our relationships deepen, the chemicals shift from the primitive regions to the newer, more logical parts of our brains. The butterflies in your stomach are replaced with warm positive feelings like caring and admiration.

This change in brain chemicals, and the emotions tied to them, usually occur sometime during the first two years of a relationship. Why?

Primarily, we are not hard-wired to be monogamous, mate-for-life creatures. From an evolutionary standpoint, if we procreate with multiple people and change partners periodically, it helps our species survive. The problem with that is that we are intelligent and socially we want to be monogamous.

The conflict between our biological wiring and our societal sensibilities are often at odds. Our culture says find a partner, marry them, and stay with them for the rest of your lives. That societal goal is highly valued. Therefore, when the normal changes in our brain chemistry occur, people feel understandably distressed, upset, and confused. It makes total sense that people say ”I don’t feel the way I used to.” After all, it’s true.

Essentially, you should know that you could marry the most attractive, desirable person ever, but within a few years, you won’t experience the weak-in-the-knees thrill you once did when they walked in the room.

That does not mean you’re not deeply in love. It just means that something has changed.

It’s unsettling, but it’s normal. Marriage and committed relationships are centered around monogamy. So, when those brain changes happen you feel as though something is missing. As passion and excitement subsides, it often gets interpreted as a loss of love or a sense that you’ve “fallen out of love.”

Bring back that loving feeling

Does this mean that those exciting feelings are gone forever? Not as long as a couple still has positive, warm feelings for each other. If so, it is definitely still possible for people to recover loving, passionate feelings and fan the flames of attraction. It may not be as automatic as the early days, but they can be rekindled.

What can you do to help the cause? Consider the following:

First, recognize that these relationship changes are normal.

It helps tremendously to put things in perspective. You may still wish your feelings from the earliest part of your relationship existed, but understand that what you’re experiencing is part of the relationship process, not a lack or loss of love. Just knowing that can be a very powerful intervention and relieve a lot of emotional and relational distress.

Second, Understand that rekindling attraction, passion, and excitement requires effort.

This won’t be an automatic process. It’s important to acknowledge that regular day-to-day interaction probably won’t be enough to restore excitement to your relationship and keep those feelings alive over time.

Find ways to create novel situations. Take some risks.

This may involve doing new things, unusual activities, or things that are just a tiny bit forbidden. There is a lot of research to support the benefit of spicing up your relationship with novelty. It helps build new, exciting connections to experiment with sex toys, take a dance class, or whatever new activity that fits and interests you both.

Most of all, know that losing the early excitement of your relationship doesn’t mean you’ve lost each other or the love between you. If there is still a strong foundation of warmth and respect, you can reawaken passion and attraction and bring back those loving feelings.

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