When Love Disappears: The Reality Of Feelings Fading In A Relationship

Love can be painful and unfair, but it can also be equally satisfying and rewarding.

man and woman facing different directions Djsash / Shutterstock

By Alex Duffield

There wasn’t anything that you did, should have done, or would have done.

Whether it was a change in the way he looked at you, an increase in the time it took him to respond to your messages, or the number of nights he had to back out of plans last-minute, something changed.

But the voice in your head kept saying that this was just a rough patch, that love has its ups and downs, that over time things would change for the better.


The “no relationship is ever perfect” and the “all good things are worth fighting for” voice, always seemed to be the one that spoke the loudest.

Unfortunately, it takes two to tango in any kind of relationship, and although one person may be giving it their all, unless the same emotions, actions, and love are reciprocated, it isn’t a relationship.

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It’s a fantasy. An unfair, suffocating, hopeless, fantasy.

Sure you can classify it under the whole “it’s not you, it’s me” group of stereotypical breakup phrases, but these four words in sequence have left me feeling beyond confused one too many times.


“My feelings have faded.”

Like listing off lyrics from a Kanye hit, start counting your blessings if you’ve yet to have that phrase spat in your direction. You, my friend, are either one hell of a prize, or have luckily skipped being victimized by the wonderful yet torturous thing they call young love.

The word “young” in that sentence is key, because the more I’ve hummed and hawed about this fade, the more I feel it’s the essence of immaturity and youth that is to blame for all of this unexpected and unexplainable heartbreak and torture.

Surely it has to be the fast-paced, social and vibrant lives that us 20-somethings now live that are to explain for this evaporation of admiration, right? Constantly meeting new people, traveling, changing internships, jobs, majors, courses, schedules...


We are at a stage in our lives when we aren’t even sure what we want for dinner, let alone which 4-letter classification we can chalk our emotions up to being. Is it love? Or is it lust?

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there are a fair share of marriages that have also felt the fade, which is why I feel that everything I have just said is right... but also wrong.

Sure, the average 55-year-old still can change their career, travel the world, relocate, but I think it’s fair to make the assumption that they’ve settled down in comparison to their 20 something self.

So if age, or maturity, and life circumstances are only parts of the equation, why does this fade seem to haunt relationships regardless of their length of time, circumstances, seriousness?

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Boy, do I wish I knew the answer to that question.

I’ve been a victim of the fade. My best girl friends have. My co-workers have. Hell, even my best guy friends have. Through all these faded sparks, and through consoling those I care about on their own lost sparks, there’s a couple of lessons I have learned.

The fade is inevitable. You may experience it once, you may experience it 5 times, but the odds of you never experiencing it are slim.

Secondly, the fade happens to the best of us. I kid you not, my best guy friends, the one’s who are literally the Prince Charmings of the world/the absolute gems of the male gender, have all been in relationships that sizzled away. The fade doesn’t make exceptions.


Third, the fade is not a reflection of you and your love. I think the hardest aspect of being told someone no longer feels the same way about you that they did is wrapping your head around the concept that you didn’t do anything wrong. People can be compatible, but love needs to be reciprocated.

And, most importantly, the fade is not, and cannot, be terminal. Whatever the situation, please do not let the fade turn you away from love.

In my mind, closing your heart because someone else’s feelings for you expired is letting the fade win. Love can be a game, and fade is that division rival that you refuse to lose to.


Yes, faded feelings will still hurt, and there still will never be anything you could have done to change the outcome.

Just because you’ve read this article, your odds of being blind-sided aren’t going to decrease exponentially. You’ll still miss that person, and you’ll probably still feel feelings long after theirs have faded.

Love can be painful and unfair, but it can also be equally satisfying and rewarding.

Just like you can’t let the fear of striking out, keep you from playing the game. You can’t let the fear of faded feelings keep you from loving again.

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Alex Duffield is a writer whose content focuses on relationships, lifestyle, and self-care topics. Visit their author profile on Unwritten for more.