HOW DO I KNOW IF I'M STILL IN LOVE: The 3 steps to knowing.
Having thoughts of, ‘how do I know if I’m still in love’, can often represent the decline of the relationship if left unresolved.
The cause of the dilemma can de driven from several factors such as:
Past hurts that have never fully been healed
Constant fighting that wears individuals down over time
Individual stressors that impact on the relationship
Illness or long-term financial issues
Outside stressors that keep eroding away the relationship
Affairs or other people that enter and undermine the relationship
The introduction of children that change the dynamic of the dyad
Conflicts with personality or individual value differences
Growth of each individual in different directions
A lack of nurturing the relationship over time
The romantic partnership can be a fragile institution that requires constant monitoring and nurturing. If correct management is neglected it can result in questioning the validity of being involved any longer in the relationship.
If you are asking yourself, ‘how do I know if I’m still in love’, there are three things you need to consider.
Firstly, consult the list of possible factors above and make an open and honest assessment of you, your partner and the relationship to establish if there are any factors that can be addressed to improve how you feel. Many things can be healed, outside stressors can be contained and there are strategies evidenced to positively manage difficult life experiences, thoughts and emotions.
If your relationship is experiencing conflict or communication struggles, there is no reason to assume that you can’t overcome these and restore the relationship to healthy functioning one and the return of feelings of love.
Secondly, remember that over time, love changes. In the early stages of a relationship there is love in the form of lust.
There is limerence, fantasy, excitement, obsession, anxiety, anticipation and desire.
However, this soon wanes, making way for the trust-building stage when each individual attempts to assess if the other will be there for them and will have their best interests at heart. This stage can bring trust but can also bring many negative feelings as the stage is negotiated. The final stage is about true commitment. This stage is about fairness and equal power.
Renown researcher John Gottman Ph.D. refers to these three phases of love as:
Phase 1: Falling in Love – Limerence
Phase 2: Building Trust
Phase 3: Building Commitment and Loyalty
Gottman, and decades of research have evidenced that the process of love is far more predictable than we once would have imagined.
Human beings are constantly evolving in their thoughts, yearnings, feelings, tastes, needs and hopes for the future. The way we love also evolves over time. If you’re unsure if you’re still in love with your partner, the issue may be that your love has simply changed over time. You may not recognise the ‘new version’ as love, and may be disoriented by your feelings because the new feelings look quite different from the old.
In addition to the separate phases of love, it also comes in many forms. In fact, up to Nine different kinds are all recognised as love; everything from sexual love to friendship and self-love.
We can begin the early stages of a relationship with one variety and become confused when it abates, making way for another kind that is often less exciting. In these times we may question whether we are in love at all as our feelings don’t seem anywhere near as intense or lustful.
Thirdly, consider if you are coping with a high level of stress currently or have psychologically or emotionally changed over time. Conditions like depression and anxiety, or high levels of pressure or stress can alter the way we feel about ourselves, our environment or our partner. Our once glossy view of a partner can be quickly replaced with disdain, repulsion, disappointment or a desire to avoid. These feelings can leave us believing that we are no longer in love, but in fact it is our own tarnished view of the world that is the cause.
If you are asking yourself: how do you know if you are still in love, try and assess the situation, not just your own feelings and thoughts, from a non-biased perspective. If you are having trouble doing this on your own, maybe the help of a professional will guide you to greater clarity. Establish a plan on how to move forward because often things don’t improve without dedication and a level of sound processing.