Are You Falling Out Of Love? How To Deepen Your Love & Commitment

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Are You Falling Out Of Love? How To Deepen Your Love & Commitment
Love

Almost nothing feels more disconcerting and anxiety-provoking than when you begin to realize you're falling out of love with the one you thought was your forever person.

Questions like, "What does this mean?," "Are we over?," and "Can we fall back in love?" sometimes flood you with uncomfortable, overwhelming feelings.
But before you walk out the door and head for the hills, have an affair, or anything else, just take a moment and breathe. 

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Falling out of love with your partner happens, but it doesn’t necessarily mean all is lost.

You can deal with your existential angst over this by dedicating some time to understanding some basic principles on what the psychology of attraction says about the “love drug” and lasting romance.

Doing so may help soothe your anxiety and settle your soul so that you can then decide on an authentic course of action. So, let’s start by exploring some basic psychology of attraction questions.

Common questions about human attraction psychology are:

  • What makes you feel attracted to someone?
  • Why do you choose who you choose?
  • What’s the difference between love and desire?
  • Can love, desire, and romance last?

The answers to these questions will provide you with some interesting facts about love and desire. Facts that just might be the cure to the passion you wish you could have again.

First and foremost, you must understand why you chose your partner.

Everyone has something called a "love map." It’s an inner roadmap embedded in your limbic brain that draws you to certain types of people or situations.

The allure you feel toward someone who captivated your attention and then captured your heart has a lot to do with how they activate your love map.

Your "love map" is at the heart of what makes you attracted to someone.

It’s a virtual map that formed during your early childhood as well as your formative developmental years.

What gets embedded into your map is the combined relational experiences you had with your parents, caretakers, friends, peers, teachers, and other people who felt important to you when you were developing.

The quality of attention and attunement you received from your parents or primary caretakers forms the first core and perhaps most important layer of your love map. It has much to do with what creates your sense of attraction, connection, and trust of others.

The next layer that gets imprinted on your map is the kind of relationship you witnessed between your parents or caregivers. This includes their attraction toward each other and the implicit subtleties in their connection.

For example, if there was abuse or co-dependency between them, chances are you absorbed that relationship model, even if these things were not overt or ever talked about.

There are other psychological elements that contribute to your sense of attraction to someone, too.

Your peripheral relational experiences when growing up also plays a role in your love map’s design. Relationships with extended family, school teachers, friends, sports teams, and religious institutions also got imprinted onto your map.

The quality of relationality — such as being praised, bullied, idealized, or neglected by these connections — adds an additional layer of "attraction coding."

All of these variables get woven together to create a love map template just for you. And when you begin to form romantic relationships, who you choose and who chooses you correlate right back to that template.

If you've had relatively positive connections in your life with emotionally healthy parents and peers, then emotionally healthy people will activate your map’s code.

As an adult, you'll have developed a confident demeanor that makes you seem attractive to others. And most likely, you'll only be attracted to others that have that same sense of embodied confidence.

On the flip side, when the quality of the connection wasn’t good enough, this affects your attraction, as well.

Toxic attachments attract toxic partners.

If you're drawn to the latter, don’t worry, you can recode your love map — if you're willing to put the time and effort into it.

The next thing you need to understand in attraction is that if you find yourself falling out of love with your partner, there's a stark difference between love and desire.

Desire versus love.

Biochemically speaking, desire activates the rewards center of your brain, which is governed by the neurotransmitter dopamine. It’s what makes you feel stimulated and drives you to take risks.

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Love, on the other hand, is governed by a different biochemical cocktail.

Serotonin, which is the neurotransmitter that makes you feel calm and safe, is one main ingredient. That, along with the hormone oxytocin, which is known as the bonding or “cuddle hormone” creates a soothing and caring connection between you and your partner.

When couples experience both the safety and security of love and the fascination and captivation of desire, this is called “being in love.”

Love is a drug.

Now, here’s where things get messy: Desire is destined to fade. “Being in love” is a drug. But like any drug, over time the euphoric effects fade.

If you’ve ever spoken to someone in recovery from drug addiction, they'll tell you that toward the end of their active addiction, they used drugs just to feel normal and function. They didn’t even like the drug anymore, they just needed it to get through the day.

Well, the same biochemical thing happens when people fall out of love.

Desire fades for everyone.

Sometimes it takes six months. Sometimes it takes two years.

And when you stop to think about it, nature intended it to be that way. If people were always “in love,” they'd never get anything done. Work and productivity would get lost on everyone if they remained in a constant state of obsession and euphoria.

And when this happens, that’s when couples are forced to face a major hurdle in their relationship. It’s a hurdle that if couples can overcome, it'll help them stay on the course to lasting romance. If they can’t, it will cause them to stay stuck in an unhappy relationship, or break up.

Falling out of love can feel scary.

Sometimes it does mean the relationship is over, especially if it has run its course. And when people suspect that might be the case and they are not ready to say goodbye, then sometimes they get hijacked by their terror.

When people who don’t understand the psychology of attraction fall out of love, there are some things that happen.

What happens to couples who begin to fall out of love?

Some couples get anxious and start to fight or create “a crisis” in their relationship. The crisis now replaces the novelty that desire once gave them. And, when people make up from the fight or survive the crisis, they start to feel more bonded again.

This can get complicated, too. If the relationship morphs into a pattern of crisis and repair, then the couple has entered into a rollercoaster relationship of traumatic bonding. Without professional help, this dynamic will get more toxic over time.

Some begin to seek connection outside of the relationship, as they miss being “in love," or realize they don’t have much in common with each other and break up.

Some realize they have their own inner work to do, and actively work toward healing their relational wounding and recoding their love map. These couples know that they love each other and decide to find ways to rekindle desire.

Couples who do their inner work and find ways to rekindle desire are the couples who do what it takes to discover the key to lasting romance.

If they have relational wounding from their younger years they're reenacting with each other (and all couples do to some degree), they can heal that wounding through therapy.

For couples who feel securely attached and emotionally connected, they can find ways to rekindle desire. This involves going on a weekly “adventure date.”

It’s a specific kind of date that involves getting outside the comfort zone. It’s designed to actively recreate that sense of risk, novelty, and aliveness you once felt. This will build a greater attraction and desire toward each other.

You can do this by finding activities that allow for that possibility. No, you don’t have to go skydiving together, unless you both want to. But you do have to find some activity that gets their dopaminergic systems activated. This will create a sense of excitement, and spark a new flame of desire.

Then afterward, you need to take the time to talk, cuddle, and connect. This will get your oxytocin and serotonin flowing and working and create a deeper sense of closeness.

Falling out of love is not always a death sentence to the relationship.

If both partners in the couple are willing to do the work and make time for risk-taking and play, then your love will deepen.

And best of all, not only will your romance last, but you'll also feel an enormous sense of confidence and pride in what you've accomplished.

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Maura Matarese, M.A., LMHC, R.Y.T. is a psychotherapist, author, and yoga teacher, practicing in Sudbury, MA. Check out her new online course, Finding Hope After Heartbreak: Learn the Secret How To Start Feeling Better Now, or try the free mini-course version first. Maura is also available for teletherapy during this time, too. Visit her website for more information.

This article was originally published at Maura Matarese. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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