How to Fall Out of Love

Sometimes I wish everything was as direct and straightforward as teaching algebra. Where every concept begins with a clear definition, which can then be followed by a specific series of steps that, when followed correctly, will always lead to the desired solution.

But life is not as direct and straightforward as algebra.

Especially when it comes to love.

Poets, philosophers, clergymen, psychologists and even scientists have wrangled with its definition for millennia, yet no consensus has been reached. Most of us have experienced being in love, yet all struggle to assign words to the experience.

Even with the nebulous nature of love, I think we all agree that it feels overwhelming amazing while it’s growing, comforting and supportive once established

and unbelievably agonizing and distressing when it ends.

This is especially acute when the ending is unwanted. And the rejection absolute and sudden.

When you still love the one that no longer loves you.

—–

We speak of the beginning of love as falling, as though we have no control once we’re within the field of the gravitational force of attraction. The coming together seen as inevitable.

Which means falling out of love is working against that gravitational pull. A slow and deliberate climb away from the influence of the attraction.

And much like gravity, its effect lessens as you move further away. But those first few steps are tortuous.

Even though love cannot be defined, it can be broken down into some of its constituent parts. And even though love has no formula, there are ways to address each step along the road out of love.

—–

When you’re in love, you have companionship. Your “Netflix and chill” partner lives in the same home. You know how you’ll spend your evenings and you know who will sit across the dinner table from you. You probably spend less time with others than before you married as your spouse naturally becomes your primary social contact.

To fall out of love, fill the voids in your life. I liken the feeling of being alone post-divorce to sitting in a cold and empty bathtub after a bathing companion has left. When the cold porcelain is chilling your bones, you turn back on the water. When you face the void at the end of a marriage, seek to fill the voids in your life. Was Thursday night pizza night in your home? Sign up for a class to keep you occupied on that night. Buy more pillows to occupy the now-empty space in your bed. Instead of staying at home, replace date night withย  “reconnect with friends” night. Wherever there is a void, find something to put in its place.

When you’re in love, you have a sense of being known and accepted. One of most driving needs of all of us is a desire to be seen, understood and loved as we are. And that’s one of the most magical parts of love – we can be our imperfect, messy selves and still feel as though we are honored and respected. Our partner is the one who knows our greatest fears and our biggest dreams. They can anticipate our needs and know just how to cultivate a smile.

To fall out of love, focus on getting to know yourself again. It’s easy to fall into the trap of expecting that your spouse will make you happy. As a result, you may have lost touch with yourself – your needs, your desires and perhaps most importantly, how to take care of yourself. Court yourself. Get to know yourself. Fall in love with yourself.

When you’re in love, you have somebody you can count on. There’s a comfort in having a name and number to enter in your “emergency contacts.” It’s nice to know that somebody can pick up the Advil when you’re sick and the slack when you’re busy. Your spouse easily becomes your primary support structure. Always there with your back.

To fall out of love, build and nurture a larger support system. It’s easy to take your spouse’s support for granted. It’s dangerous to place too much weight on any one person; things can happen (not just divorce). Build your community. It’s scary to reach out and ask for help, yet people often are waiting to help once you tell them what you need. It’s okay to take more support than you give right now. Just don’t forget to pay that kindness back once you’re able.

When you’re in love, you have biochemistry on your side. Love is a drug. What we call “falling” could also be described as “tripping,” as our brains are awash in hormones that cause positive feelings, bonding and relaxation. The body wants you to create a stable relationship for long enough to have and at least partially raise children. And biology is a powerful force indeed.

To fall out of love, view your residual unwanted feelings as signs of withdrawal. If love is a drug, divorce is going cold turkey. Be patient with your cravings. They are to be expected. Accept that it’s going to be hard, especially at first, and that you will have relapses. And seek help if you need it. There is no shame is asking for assistance.

When you’re in love, you have a shared history. A private language of relieved moments and memories. There are the inside jokes, the special places and the family rituals. There are the shared family stories about the first time you met or the birth of the first child.

To fall out of love, reconnect with people from your past and/or layer memories in your present. It’s a lonely feeling when you lose the only person that speaks that private language. But there may be others that also know you well. This is a great time to reach out to those long-lost childhood friends. Laugh over shared early memories. The more pictures unearthed, the better. You can also work to create a new shared history through intentionally layering new memories over the old. It’s a way of reclaiming those memories instead of allowing them to limit you.

When you’re in love, you have a teammate. Someone on your side. Someone to work with. A coparent. A coworker. A copilot. You fight life’s battles together. And you celebrate life’s victories together.

To fall out of love, celebrate your new freedoms. Having a teammate is a bit like approaching life as though you’re running a three-legged race. You are working together, yet you are also somewhat limited by your partner. When you’re on your own, you have to learn to be stronger yet you are also more nimble. Explore those freedoms. You’re in the driver’s seat.

When you’re in love, you have sexual energy and release. You have a horizontal dance partner that has learned your moves and hopefully mastered theirs. You don’t need to woo your lover or spend energy wondering if you’ll find a lover.

To fall out of love, channel that energy elsewhere. Sex has two components – the physical release and the mental release that comes from a switch from a more analytical brain to a more animalistic and intuitive one. Address both.

When you’re in love, you have shared dreams and goals. You work together to overcome obstacles and build a shared life. The shared goals become a life organizer. A reason for every action and decision.

To fall out of love, create purpose. Volunteer. Sign up for something with a finish line. Pour yourself into your job. Or parenting. Make you matter.

When you’re in love, you have attachment. You and your partner grow together. And you bond. You feel affection. You become accustomed. Your spouse becomes almost a part of you.

To fall out of love, depersonalize rejection. Just because it happened to you does not mean it happened because of you. Such a simple statement, yet one of the most difficult to accept when you’ve been rejected. The truth is that the rejection says more about your former partner then it does about you. Learn to separate yourself from what happened to you.

When you’re in love, you have idealization. You place your partner on a pedestal, highlighting the good while whitewashing the bad. And those rose-colored glasses help to preserve love as you see the best of your partner and they see the best in you.

To fall out of love, focus on the negative. Tear out the pedestal and shine a light on your ex partner’s flaws. Remind yourself of all that you don’t like in them. Take it to the extreme if you need to right now. Once you’ve fallen out of love, you can strive for more balance again.

When you’re in love, you have security. You know who is waiting for you at home. You know that you can cry or scream and that person will still be there.

To fall out of love, embrace the power of vulnerability. It takes great courage to be vulnerable. It’s scary. Especially if you fear rejection. Yet there is a beauty, a realness and a rawness, that only exists when people are willing bare all. Explore it.

When you’re in love, you have anticipation. You look forward to your partner’s embrace. You miss them when they’re gone and count the moments until they return again. Time before the time together passes slowly in delicious agony.

To fall out of love, schedule smiles. Take out your calendar and pencil in activities and events to look forward to. Bonus points if you invite someone to share in the smile with you:)

When you’re in love, you have a spiritual partner. Perhaps you share a spiritual practice and a common view of your place and purpose in the world. Maybe your marriage and family is your center and gives you a sense of meaning.

To fall out of love, recommit to your your spiritual journey. If you belong to a church, this may be the time to dedicate more energy. If you don’t have a church, this may be a time to find one. If you’re a spiritual do-it-your-selfer, commit to what speaks to your soul. Spirituality is a wonderful reminder that we are not alone and that our problems are smaller than we often believe. It’s a gift of perspective.

When you’re in love, you have trust. You depend upon your partner. Rely on them. Have faith that they have your best interests at heart and they will always be there for you.

To fall out of love, build self-confidence. It’s good to trust others. And it’s even better to trust yourself. Believe that you can do this. Have faith that you can be happy again. Trust that you can fall out of one love and into another.

Advertisements

19 thoughts on “How to Fall Out of Love

  1. I am still in the midst of a separation, and it is frustrating. I keep creating these dreams in my head, of certain hopes, but then when we speak, I have the most harsh realizations. I am pretty sure you understand, because honestly I do not feel like explaining, it is too exhausting. My faith has me holding on, because I know that God can overturn anything, but, both people really have to want change, acknowledge it, and be humble to admit to any wrong doings that led to separation and/or divorce…..but does this humble admittance ever happen? It’s like, “Don’t you realize that if you can see AND say that you were wrong, that could be the beginning of a new beginning?” I’m willing to admit, but I am not willing to take the blame. But, pride comes before the fall. How long does one wait for answers and the satisfaction of a REAL apology………and both may never happen, and this is where my anger and nerves get so pinched. Fights become a back and fourth effort of stating who was wrong, who was right, who needs to change more, and justifying wrong doings. I don’t want to let go, and he does not either, but what are we holding on to? He will not acknowledge how he hurt his family, and I will not accept taking the blame for our marriage going down hill, AFTER I left, because we both know, that my decision to leave, took years of agonizing decision making. This did not happen over night, nor after I left. You just got a portion of how our fights usually go (SMH). I am having the hardest time reaching out to people, because most of the time I just want to be left alone…….but I know that I shouldn’t be, and I have this beautiful little 7 year old, needing my joy. I just have this feeling, that he has not changed much from when I left, almost a year ago, and my heart is changing and that feeling is very uncomfortable. It almost feels like, when you are driving away from something beautiful, and the further away from it that you drive, you begin to see it less and less…..and while you are straining to keep that beautiful view in sight and in your grasp, eventually it is going to be gone. That is how my heart is feeling right now. I still love this man, but I don’t have enough love in me to handle what changes don’t happen. I do not expect perfection, but I do deserve respect. I could go on and on with my decisiveness, but there are millions of things going on in the heart and mind……..

    1. I love your analogy to the retreating view. Poignant.

      It sounds like your heart and head are in disagreement. You have feelings for him, yet you know what isn’t working. That distance you reference can be the key to being able to see what is rather that what you wish.

      May 2016 be your year of clarity

  2. Lisa, your writings are some of the most heart-felt, thought provoking, personal thoughts that I have ever read. The courage that you show with your posts could, should, and probably do find the eyes/hearts of people that need help coping and coming to realizations at the most poignant time in their lives.

    You are an inspiration and I can only wish that one day my writings will be as transparent and pure as the things that you communicate everyday. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

  3. First, I’m enjoying your articles. I’ve been divorced twice, so I can identify with a lot of the struggles you’ve outlined. In this piece, while most of your ideas make a lot of sense, I do have to quibble with a couple. First, “depersonalizing rejection” takes away the opportunity to learn from your mistakes. If all the blame is deflected onto your former partner, you are denied the very valuable lessons you can take from looking inward during these difficult times. It’s easy to say “It’s all his fault,” but I don’t know anyone who would walk away from a perfectly happy marriage. In a partnership, both sides have an equal role to play, and if your partner left, you need to be honest about why he would want to do that. Is there something you could have offered him, noticed, or done differently that will help you avoid the same pitfalls in future relationships? The only way to avoid regret, I believe, is to learn from pain and failure.

    The second thing I would say is that “focusing on the negative” is rarely productive. Yes, you need to get over him, but fostering hatred is not helpful. You’ll be tempted to hate him naturally. What would be more helpful to the healing, I think, would be to try to honestly understand him – both his strengths and weaknesses – in order to understand why you weren’t well-suited for each other. Having a clear-headed picture of what lead to the end of the relationship will, again, ensure that you know what to avoid in your next partner. And I now have very pleasant relationships with both my exes (and their partners) because I resisted hatred. We are able to raise our children without animosity.

    I would also add something to your list: get back out there. The best antidote to lost love is new love. With all your new freedom, self-knowledge, and sexual energy, go find a man who is worthy of you! I finally found my soul mate, and it makes the pain of those two failures seem so completely worth it!

    From, HER

    1. Great points! I fully agree and have written quite a bit about personal responsibility and the use of understanding to temper anger. The reason I took a different approach here is that I believe that you have to be out of love before that work can occur. In other words, you need some distance and perspective so that you can process without excess emotion clouding the picture.

      So happy to hear you’re happy!! To me that’s the best part of breakups- the amazing love that can happen once you do that hard work and the gratitude that’s comes after you’ve faced loss.

  4. Going on 5 years post divorce now, and I would be hard pressed to say I’m not in love with him still.
    It’s hard to fall out of love with someone you started loving at the age of 16. Now here I am, 22 years later, trying to unwind all that love and all of those memories.
    You would think that when someone betrays you, lies to you and manipulates you it would be easy to not love them anymore. For me it feels like torture.

    Now every other weekend I feel like I’m sending our son off with a stranger, I dont know this man standing in front of me. Not only has his physical appearance changed, but so has his character.
    And every now and then I can look into his eyes and catch a glimpse of the man I stood next to at the alter and promised til death do us part; and that’s where that tiny little spark flickers in my heart and says quietly “hold on a little longer, he’s coming back”

    He is set to marry another in just a few months, I’m bracing for that final blow.

    I don’t think he will ever know the depth of hurt he has caused me, nor will he ever know the depth of my love for him, even still

  5. This is a great advice piece! I recently left my husband, and know exactly what you’re saying. While my divorce was my doing, it’s still extremely painful and you still go through all of these things. The loneliness I felt in my marriage doesn’t even compare to the desperate loneliness I felt after leaving him.

  6. I can’t seem to move on! No matter what I try to do, I can’t stop loving this woman that broke my heart and hurt me so badly. Three years since she removed herself from our relationship and one year since the divorce was finalized and nothing seems to have changed, I’m still angry, sad, lonely, unable to trust people with my feelings, and that just the beginning. We have 3 kids so we need to be in contact with each other but as soon as I feel like I can start filling this emptiness in my heart, she wants to talk and be friendly and then I fall for her again. I just don’t know what to do, when does this end? when does the pain and sadness go away? or is this just my life now

    1. So sorry you’re suffering. It sounds like you’re following a pattern getting out and then falling back. Can you figure out a way to interrupt that pattern? To create enough boundary that you don’t respond to her friendliness with misplaced hope?

    2. I know exactly how you feel! 5 years since he left, 3 years since we finalized the divorce. We have a son together so we also have to have contact frequently. I have to say it does get easier, at least for me it has; but I still have days where it’s difficult.
      I’ve come to realize (through lots of counseling) I don’t really want to be with him, I want to be with the idea of him. I want us to be together for my son’s sake so we can be a family and I don’t have to watch my son suffer the fate of being a product of a broken home.
      I also had a hard time with mourning the loss of our future. We had so many dreams, plans and hopes that when he left they were all shattered and I didn’t know how to rebuild from there. I couldn’t picture a future without him, which made me feel hopeless, lonely and depressed.
      It has taken a lot of mindfulness to find myself, to find my own identity that is not linked to being his wife. It is a daily process that has to be worked at, but over time it has become my norm and I have found happiness in being single and enjoying my ‘new’ life as it is. Yes, there are hard days, especially when my son asks “why can’t you and daddy be together”…so we talk about it, we cry together and we move on.
      I promise you, it does get easier, you will have to do some difficult work to get there…..but it’s so worth it ๐Ÿ™‚

      1. I’m still trying to find a way to break this pattern but like many of you, this was my teenage love so all those memories, all the beautiful moments we shared are so fresh in my mind. I say I forgive her but then I start to think of all the terrible things she said (claimed she never loved me, threatened to throw herself down the stairs or bruise herself and call the police to arrest me, the nights she never came home, and how she scared and confused our kids) and then the anger comes but she was always the one person I could never be mean to. I still can’t be but it just feels unfair. Feels like she ruined our lives to be with this other man, which turned out to a fling, and wants me to feel sorry for her. Jodi’s words are so powerful and meaningful to me because all her emotions, thoughts about the past, present, and future is what I’m going through. As a man, it is so difficult to find a group of people who understand this process of hurt. I’ve stopped telling friends about it because I always get the same answer, “F her! she was never worth it, you’ll find someone better, someone who deserves you” but they are all married and get to go home to their spouses and enjoy all those little things that I miss so much. These are the same people who made me feel like a caged animal while I was laying down depressed, coming over just to look at me, feel sorry and then move on. One thing I have learned about myself is that I wasn’t a typical husband. She was my best friend who just happened to be my wife. I loved to cook for her, clean up the house, made it a priority to make her laugh everyday, always told her how beautiful she was, and I am a tremendous father. In retrospect, I suppose I gave her the right to abuse this relationship but I never thought she ever would or could do that to me and especially not our children. So here I am, waiting in this present self I’ve been forced to become for a change to come and being afraid that I won’t recognize it when it does. Thank you for this website, I’m so grateful that it exists.

      2. It is so difficult to find that balance between remembering the good and also letting go of the person you thought she was. And nothing you did or didn’t do justifies her acting badly. It is so painful losing the marriage and person you thought you had. You deserve to have somebody that will treat you and marriage will the same level of respect.

      3. I’m so glad my words were able to bring at least some comfort or the feeling that someone else out here understands the pain.
        Everything you have said pretty much describes what I have felt and gone through. We were also high school sweethearts and although we did have a few years that we broke up before actually getting married I still see this as a 23 year long relationship. That’s a lot of memories to ‘forget’.
        Although he betrayed my trust and had an affair I always kept trying to find a way to make it work, to forgive. But he continued with the affair, it took me 5 months of living with the knowledge of him cheating before I finally kicked him out. His only priority was himself and because of that our son suffered greatly and to this day still suffered with abandonment issues and anxiety. He put us through a lot in order for him to have this relationship with this other woman, and yet they aren’t even together anymore. She kicked him out about a year later for cheating on her.
        Needless to say it has definitely been a roller coaster. As I said befote, it does get easier. It will take time and a lot of effort on your part to learn how to live this ‘new’ life. Surround yourself with positive people who support you and pull away from any negativity. Do things for yourself to take care of yourself do you can be the best dad to your kids.

        Sorry to ramble here, I just feel like I have so much to say on the subject!
        Stay positive ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s