I hear it all the time, ”Gregg, he says he fell out of love with me – can you fall out of love?”
When I hear this question, I realize that this couple has misunderstood a fundamental aspect of their relationship – love.
Many people operate on the idea that you feel love for someone, and this can be true, but it’s not what makes a relationship successful.
What makes a relationship successful is understanding one important thing about the word love. It’s a verb – an action word. Love is an action, not a feeling.
Once you begin to understand this, the answer to the question, can you fall out of love, becomes more obvious. No, you cannot fall out of love, you merely stop trying to love someone else.
Let’s look at an example couple, Jess and Rob.
Jess is a retail manager with a business degree and aspirations of being more than a store manager her entire life. She’s a woman on the move with goals and she’s going after them. She got her first store manager job at just 22 and she hasn’t stopped moving forward since – that is until she got a new boss.
This is when her plans were temporarily derailed. This new boss was clueless in his new job. He focused on all the wrong things, according to company policy. He would enter the store and become all worked up over things corporate didn’t even really care about, often yelling for 30 minutes, tuning out, and not even allowing any sort of response.
This quickly turned Jess inside out. He not only shook her confidence to the core, but he made her feel frustrated and powerless. She would go home after having him in her store, crawl in a hot bath and cry.
Enter Rob, who had been Jess’s boyfriend for a few years. Jess and Rob had purchased their new home together just months before the new boss stormed onto the scene. Rob feels helpless where Jess’s work problems are concerned but does little to be supportive – to love her during this difficult time.
Jess begins looking for a new job, knowing she cannot continue in the present environment. She revamps her resume and starts doing interviews.
What does Rob do? He finds another girlfriend – while still living with Jess. It was only a matter of time before Jess found out about the new girlfriend, the house was sold, and the relationship was over.
Jess got a new job and took two years from dating to focus on her career and get herself back together. She’s now right where she wants to be, managing a big store with her sights set on the next step. During her time off from dating, she started working out, eating healthy and getting her life back in order.
At 27, she has a new boyfriend now and everything is right where she wants it.
Can you fall out of love?
Without putting energy into loving someone, I suppose you can, but what really happens is that you stop taking action to appreciate your partner. You stop listening and caring. You stop wanting your partner to be happy. You stop wanting to fix his favorite meal and you forget to be grateful for the soup he brought you when you had the flu. This is called relationship burnout
To stay in love is to recognize that each of you must be proactive. Instead of looking for the flaws of your partner, examine ways in which you can compliment his weaknesses with your strengths. If he sucks at cooking, make a deal where you cook, and he cleans up. If you hate gardening but he enjoys mowing the lawn, find a division of labor you can both agree upon or hire a neighbor kid to pull your weeds.
Recognizing someone’s weaknesses doesn’t mean you need to give up on them. It means you must work together to help one another. If neither of you can cook, maybe it’s time to take a cooking class together. If neither of you enjoys yard-work, buy a condo where much of it is done for you, or live in an apartment where there is no yard-work.
There are always solutions and ways to work around weaknesses, if you want to try. Loving someone means recognizing where they need you and filling that void. It means appreciating that he tried to cook, even though he burned the meat. It means not blowing your stack when he mows over your daffodils.
Successful couples are grateful for one another and they appreciate one another, for their strengths and weaknesses. They take the time to love as a verb – an action.Share