We Used to be So In Love. What happened? What do I do?

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We’ve done some deep exploring over the past few months. I’ve shared the things you need to know about finding the relationship you’ve been looking for. The next topic is making it last. This month we’ll look at some of the most critical things to understand.

First, love changes. A couple of months ago, after what amounted to our first long-distance fight, my boyfriend let me know that he was still in love with me but not like at the beginning. “of course I said. That was new relationship energy. Love changes. This is more real love.”

Many relationships fail as the new relationship energy shifts. Let’s face it, NRE is amazing. For some of us, it feels like a drug. That drug can be addictive. To find real love we must understand that NRE is just the beginning. As it fades, space for a deeper connection is created. You move into the “honeymoon phase”.

The honeymoon phase doesn’t last forever either. It’s when you build your relationship, and life together. There are still lots of things to explore. It lacks the intensity of NRE, but still feels like a fairytale romance. Many people successfully manage the transition out of NRE. Getting beyond the honeymoon phase is more challenging. Many of us have been taught that if love is true the honeymoon will last forever. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. Eventually, the bliss of discovery gives way to the realities of day to day life. You can keep the romance alive, but some of the passion will be replaced by ease and comfort.

From this point forward you and your man share real love. There will be ups and downs. Crises will happen. Life with be challenging sometimes. There will also be celebration, joy, and the pleasure of continuing to build a life together. Making this deeper relationship last comes down to two things, determination, and understanding. Without both your relationship will eventually fall apart.

Determination is key because life inevitably creates challenges and disagreements. Learning to navigate them is the only way forward. Those challenges often come in the form of other people. Someone may strike your fancy when your partner seems particularly distant. For those of us in more open arrangements, NRE with a new person can leave us lost in love. We could lose much more. Sticking with your existing relationship can be tough at times. But, if you understand the phases relationships go through you’ll see that what you’re feeling at the beginning is temporary. This relationship will follow the same pattern. Valuing your current relationship, what you’ve built together, will help keep things in perspective.

Understanding your partner, and yourself is also key. Even if your man has made a grave mistake, even if you feel betrayed, try to see things from his perspective. Communicate how important the relationship is to you. Own your part in whatever has happened so that he can do the same. If either of you can’t get to a place of understanding the other, get help. Couples counselors, coaches, and therapists are a very worthwhile resource to lean into during tough times. If you establish a relationship with a professional before there’s trouble it’ll be easy to use that resource when the shit hits the fan.

Relationships are hard work. The rewards of a stable long-term connection, or connections, are well worth the effort. Leave the fairy tale romances to children’s books and Hallmark movies. True love needs to survive in the real world. That takes commitment and grit.