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“Falling Out of Love”

Falling out of love is a myth that can create a sense of helplessness and hopelessness.  It attributes disconnect to some vague force that descends upon your relationship.  In actuality, it is something you have a choice about.

In the framework of Nonviolent Communication (NVC), love is a need not a feeling.The initial experience of "falling in love" involves a short and intense period of time in which you both temporarily drop boundaries and meet each other's needs for love, caring, intimacy, touch, affection, nurturing, play, being seen & heard and possibly more.  With all these needs being met deeply in a short amount of time, it's natural to have a light happy feeling called "in love".

If you stay with this person you have "fallen in love with", your boundaries will slowly reappear and staying connected will begin to require intention and effort.

Unfortunately this is not always so easy.  Once you are officially in a relationship, all you have ever learned about what it means to "be in a relationship" demands your attention and sometimes hijacks your clarity.

You may find yourself having thoughts about what a good partner should or shouldn't do.  You may compare yourself and your partner to standards that you don't meet.  In an effort to meet these standards, you try to act in a certain way.   You give up parts of yourself and many of the healthy activities you did before the relationship.  If you think your partner should act in a certain way, you lose connection with your own unmet needs and the ability to make clear requests.

The sense of "falling out of love" is an important warning sign that lets you know that something is interfering with your connection to yourself and your beloved.  When you notice this warning sign, you can ask yourself some questions to help find clarity:

-Am I telling myself stories about how I should be or how my partner should be?

-Have I given up parts of myself or what helps me thrive because of some idea about pleasing my partner?

-Am I so scared of losing my connection with my partner that I usually give up my needs in favor of trying to stay connected to my partner?

-Am I longing to meet particular needs and hopeless that they can be met in this relationship?

-Can I name the needs unmet for me in this relationship and can I make do-able requests of myself or my partner regarding them?

Practice

Answering these questions in dialogue with a supportive and empathic friend is a helpful way to get the clarity you need without an extra layer of self-criticism.  Once you are clear about the needs you would like to take of for yourself or your partner, brainstorm simple do-able requests about how to begin to meet those needs.

***click here for a list of feelings and universal needs http://www.wiseheartpdx.org/resources.php

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