Paul Cockayne – 07791 970406 – firstname.lastname@example.org
Welcome to my counselling blog. You can find more information about me by clicking one of the links at the top of this page
It’s a recurring theme in the work I do – often couples will tell me that they have drifted apart, “fallen out of love”.
What does that mean? It’s a complicated question to answer, because I don’t think there’s any single definition of what love is. It’s different for each of us, and indeed our love for one person might be different from our love for someone else.
Love is a collection of thoughts, feelings, beliefs and behaviours that add up to something special and important. The elements that add up to what we call love are many and various : trust, excitement, respect, physical attraction, support, fun, closeness, honesty, shared values, friendship, common goals, great sex, loyalty, attentiveness, humour, faithfulness. And some people would associate love with negative things as well : blind devotion, helplessness, disappointment, delusion.
I’ve probably only scratched the surface. Ask ten people to make a list of “love elements” such as the one above and they’ll all be different. Ask people to rank the items in order of importance and there will be even more differences.
So falling in love, and falling out of love are very personal things, different for each of us. But if we’ve fallen out of love we can say that not enough items on our own personal list are being ticked – or if they are, that the ticks are not big enough.
In breaking it down like this it perhaps becomes clear that the reasons why we might fall out of love are just as varied as the reasons why we fall in love. Your list of “love elements” might have ten items on it – things that are special for you but not necessarily for other people. If one or two of them get dented a bit, your love will probably survive – but if several of those love elements are significantly damaged, so too will your love be.
Sometimes it will be significant events that damage your love. If faithfulness is important to you, it will be a great blow if your partner has an affair. If fun is high up your list, it will be tough if you or your partner becomes depressed. And so we can go on – each element on your list can be damaged by events, sometimes events entirely out of your control.
But sometimes, it’s just down to circumstances. For young couples, it’s often the case that things add up. Work is perhaps intensive and demanding. Financial pressures mount with a house purchase – and a solution may be to work longer hours. With the arrival of children, priorities change dramatically and this adds to the strain for both partners. Often all these things happen at the same time, and couples find that it becomes almost impossible to spend quality time together. This can continue for years, so that it can become “normal” for the couple, and so some, perhaps many, of the items on each person’s love list will no longer be ticked.
But we are a race of survivors, and without necessarily realising that we are doing it, we will adapt to changed circumstances and learn to live without all those love elements that were once so important. This can happen so gradually that we don’t realise it until, one day, it hits us that the relationship has changed. We have fallen out of love.
So can you fall in love again? Can you make that happen? You’ll have to wait for the next exciting episode….