And all those “and they lived happily ever after” fairy tale endings need to be changed to “and they began the hard work of making their relationships happy. — Linda Miles
One of my favourite movies of all time is a Disney-produced cartoon called Anastasia. When her family is killed, Anastasia barely makes it out alive. Later, with vague memories of her past, she travels to Paris with two cons who want to portray her as the real princess and get rewards from her grandmother, the Queen.
In due time, one of the cons finds out that Anastasia is actually the real long-lost princess they have been looking for. By this time, they have fallen in love, and manage to make it against all odds. They get the Queen’s blessing, get married, and they lived happily ever after.
The truth is most people want happy endings, and I am no exception. Movies show us happy endings and so do most books. As a result, we have been wired to expect happy endings in our lives — our relationships, our studies, our goals and ambitions. We assume after the princess rode off with her prince into the sunset, they lived a life of exciting romance and bliss until the end of time.
In reality, though, there is no ending per se because we do not see the epilogue of the movie. For us as a human race, the real ending is when we die. Ideally, happily ever after should be some time before that.
So how do you decide if you have chances of getting that “happily ever after” with your partner?
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Mary and I have a confraternity kind of friendship. We are fiercely loyal and are always there for each other when we need a friend, a confidant, or a sounding board for our rants.
I have been talking to my dear friend every evening for the last two weeks and I am at the point where I want to tell her to let the relationship go in the gentlest way possible.
You see, Mary believes in happily ever after more than the average person. She also believes it is her responsibility to ensure that her relationship is successful no matter the cost to everything else she has worked so hard to build in her life. She once called me a jealous wet blanket who does not wish her well for not approving of a guy she had a crush on. Ouch!
Fast forward to today and our recent conversations. Mary has a sinking feeling in her stomach all the time and does not trust her partner. There are no sexts or misplaced undergarments to uncover; instead, she has agonizingly smaller clues to go off of, constantly wondering if she is just being paranoid and clingy.
I think he is just no longer in love with her.
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How can you tell when your partner is no longer in love with you?
I enjoy being in love, I enjoy writing about love, and the number of private messages I have received in the past few months about relationships has made me realize my articles resonate with many people around the world.
Writing this particular one makes me sad because I have been there and it takes me back to that nauseous feeling of having my stomach constantly in knots, and not knowing what to do with all my suspicions. If this article resonates with you, I am sorry, and I hope that you will find value in some of my advice.
Here are some painful signs that your partner is no longer in love with you, and what you can do about it short of letting them go.
1. They no longer allow you to see their texts
Most relationships die not from natural causes, but from selfishness, neglect, lies, lack of consideration, and secrets. — Lizzie Natesky
In a truly loving relationship, there is intentionality in having honest and clear channels of communication. When someone no longer loves you, they will do things to keep you from being privy to their conversations with other people, especially texts.
This can be anything from strategically angling their body away from you to suddenly getting very annoyed at you using their phone to check the time. The key thing is that this should be new behaviour and not typical of your partner.
According to Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, if your gut feeling is that this is atypical behaviour for your partner, and they’re not just privacy freaks, then yes, they are definitely trying to hide something from you.
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2. They use their phone a lot when you are together, but barely respond to your messages or phone calls when you are apart.
In pure innocent love, there is no longer present contradictions. — Kristian Goldmund Aumann
I am not implying that whenever your partner gets lost on their phone when they are with you, then it is a sign that they no longer love you. I know that most of us are in a social media frenzy and have to catch up with emails and group chats during personal time.
However, there is a significant red flag if you constantly feel like you have to compete with your partner’s attention over his phone. It begs the question — what (or who) is holding his attention the whole time you are together? It is especially fishy if when you text them they take hours to respond, or whenever you call them you are always diverted to voicemail.
When someone still loves you, it will be a common courtesy for them to apologize for the interruption from their phone. Or explain what they are doing on their phone if it is a work thing. And again, if your partner used to hold your hand during coffee or dinner dates and now spends half the time on their phone, look out for that.
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3. They no longer share as much as they used to with you.
You are a diamond, but some people prefer rhinestones, and that’s okay. — Unknown
One of the best parts of being in a relationship is having someone that you can tell your whole day about — the highs, the lows, the meh, and everything in between.
So, if your partner used to excitedly or boringly share about their day, and they used to be open to sharing their feelings and now are suddenly all closed up, it could be that they are sharing that part of their lives with someone else.
For my friend, Mary, her trouble started when she observed that her boyfriend was now more vested in sharing about his day with a co-worker every single evening. When she pointed it out, he became surly and said it was her fault that he was venting to someone else because she no longer has a welcoming aura.
I know this to be a form of gaslighting.
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4. They gaslight you
They do not lie to you because the truth will hurt your feelings; rather, the truth might provoke you to make choices that do not serve their interests. — Lizzie Natesky
According to Healthline, gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse that’s seen in abusive relationships. It’s the act of manipulating a person by forcing them to question their thoughts, memories, and the events occurring around them. A victim of gaslighting can be pushed so far that they question their own sanity.
The term “gaslighting” comes from a play and subsequent movie called “Gaslight.” In the movie, the devious husband, played by Charles Boyer, manipulates and torments his wife, played by Ingrid Bergman, to convince her she’s going mad.
Gaslighting, whether intentional or not, is a form of manipulation. Gaslighting can happen in many types of relationships, including those with bosses, friends, and parents. But one of the most devastating forms of gaslighting is when it occurs in a relationship between a couple.
In the case of Mary and her partner, he somehow always makes it seem like he resorts to questionable behaviour because of something that she did. It has turned her into someone unsure of herself and her actions. To me, it is an obvious sign he no longer loves her.
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5. They do not love you.
And while she never felt quite normal, she was nowhere near crazy; she just loved too much. Choosing to see the world through her heart, instead of through her eyes. — Jessica Michelle
One of the most excruciating signs that your partner no longer loves you is the stark realization that they no longer love you.
They also usually seem uninterested in initiating any form of intimacy with you at all. When you do get intimate, they seem detached and distant. People do not usually dramatically withdraw affection in a romantic relationship if everything is going well.
Mary noticed that there has been a core lack of intimacy in general — less kissing, hand-holding, hugging, or touching. This is a screaming red flag that I think should not be ignored.
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6. You feel emotionally cheated
And you promise yourself you will never fall so hard again until you meet someone who makes the fall feel like flying. — Nikita Gill
Cheating isn’t always a physical act. You can actually cheat on your partner in an emotional sense too, which typically happens through small yet intimate actions and a lack of transparency about those actions with your partner.
According to Dr Tammy Nelson, PhD, a psychotherapist and nationally recognized expert in sex therapy, emotional cheating is characterized by micro-cheating behaviours that could lead to more intense sexual behaviours.
They might include confiding in someone other than your partner about your relationship or choosing to spend the majority of your free time hanging out or texting with a person who you aren’t actually dating.
She says that when you are emotionally cheating, it is all about the emotional connection with the other person. It is about crossing lines and sharing things that would make your partner uncomfortable including negatively talking about them.
If you feel that your partner is doing this, they are probably no longer in love with you. It is important and healthy for couples to have their own hobbies and friendships, but if your partner is adamant about separating their life from yours when they used to bring you to their group hangs, it can be a sign that they’re distancing themselves from the relationship in a suspicious way.
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7. They keep comparing you to someone else all the time
Comparison is a thief of joy. — Theodore Roosevelt
If your partner is interested in someone else, there is a possibility that they will end up weighing your pros and cons against theirs. This is a sign that they might no longer be in love with you.
It is deeply unfair to you as a partner when you’re the one in the relationship while the crush gets to be in the unattainable-fantasy stage. There’s something “shiny new object” about this person that your partner is attracted to.
For my friend Mary, she says her partner used to adore her but now she can’t seem to do anything right in his eyes. He is always comparing her to that other co-worker.
When your partner keeps comparing you to a specific person, this might be a sign of emotional cheating on his part and maybe he is no longer in love with you.
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8. They pick unnecessary fights
Misery no longer loves company. Nowadays, it insists on it. — Russell Wayne Baker
When someone is no longer in love with you, they will pick unnecessary fights and might even accuse you of wanting to break up. You might realize that your fights become more and more ridiculous as time goes on, and many times, you have no idea how they start.
Your partner might be seeking an easy way out.
They will even go as far as asking if you are cheating or want out of the relationship. They want you to get so fed up that you’re the one who breaks up with them, sparing them the difficult, messy task of sitting you down and ending your partnership because they like someone else or want to be single.
I just chuckled at this because having been through this experience myself, I wonder how I did not see it at the moment. Mary’s partner went from a gentle teddy bear that barely gets upset, to a crouching tiger always ready to pounce and attack
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9. They act uneasy and uncomfortable around you
Love is disgusting when you no longer possess yourself. — Pola Negri
A partner that is no longer in love with you will start to act uneasy around you. They will seek out other people’s company and claim that they are more comfortable and flexible around them than they are around you.
They will miss out on time with you to grab drinks with their new friend, but when you suggest weekend plans, they are suddenly not sure if they have the time or the money. They will be more cautious about carving out space for you, especially if it involves anything in the future.
According to Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, Professor Emerita of Psychological and Brain Sciences of the University of Massachusetts Amherst, this might mean that they are in the contemplating phase, and they are exploring alternatives.
“At the moment, for some reason, they’re afraid to break up with you. They’re afraid that they’re not sure or they’re not ready. Keeping you at arm’s length without making any big promises, lets them emotionally test the waters with someone new while having you as a backup option.”
This kind of relationship will ultimately break your self-esteem.
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Ok, so this list confirms your fears, and you want to confront your partner. What now?
When we can no longer change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves. — Victor Frankl
I would suggest that you tread lightly. Dr Susan Krauss Whitbourne, PhD, advises that you be really careful because even the idea of confronting is going to put the person on the defensive.
Her advice is to use “I” statements and to shift the focus to how you’re feeling as a partner and as a couple. Say you’re feeling distant from them or as though you’re not being listened to as much as you used to. Avoid bringing up any specific person or “suspect,” because you still could be wrong, and the discussion can veer off track.
And, if you are right, your partner may not want to own up to it.
For me, in the end, I realized the best thing to do was to let them go. It hurt like hell but I eventually found my way back to me, I learned to love myself a little more, and always be kinder to me.
You have to learn to get up from the table when love is no longer being served. — Nina Simone
The best thing you can do for your own mental health and peace of mind is, to be honest about how you feel. The only thing you know for sure is that your gut is telling you that something’s not right. Listen to it.
Ultimately, only you can make your own decisions and you have to live up to their consequences.
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And now your thoughts…
If you were Mary, what would you do to make your relationship work? Have you been in this situation before? I would love to hear your thoughts.
This post was previously published on Medium.
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