by: E.B. Johnson
They say that love is a many splendored thing, but it’s also complex, nuanced and painful from time-to-time. Loving someone is no guarantee that they will return that love, and decades spent together is no guarantee that forever will actually manifest. Sometimes, the people we fall in love with find themselves falling in love with someone else. What do we do when their hearts start to wander? The answer varies depending on our needs and our values.
When the person you love finds themselves in love with someone else, it’s crucial that you dig deep and get in touch with your own needs. By tapping into your understanding and your compassion, you can find a way to move forward that doesn’t require you to compromise your joy. The path can be a challenging one, however, as it requires us to ask some challenging questions — while forcing us to reimagine our futures in new and transformative ways.
Not every love story works out like a fairy tale.
Though we like to think our romantic relationships will work out like a fairytale, that’s not always true. Our relationships change and true love fades. The person we fell in love with yesterday is not the same person we will be standing next to in 10 or 20 years. As humans, we are always growing and always changing. This includes our interpersonal relationships and the people we love most.
Watching our partners slip away from us is a painful process, but one that we cannot always stop. Sometimes, things change so greatly that we are not able to overcome them as a couple. In those moments, we have to embrace the truth for what it is, and find a way to let go with as much dignity as we can muster.
When the divides become too great, we can find our partners drifting into the arms of someone else. Like a dagger to the heart, this destroys our scenes of comfort and security — but its effects can run much, much deeper too. Watching our partners slip away from us erodes the faith we have in love, and the faith we have in ourselves. This. faith can be recovered, however, by getting back in touch with those root parts of self that feed our confidence and desire for a better future.
Why our partners fall in love with other people.
Life is fickle and our romantic relationships can be even more fickle. Though we might have loved someone for decades, that love can shift and change over time. While some of these shifts are natural, some of them come as a result of relationships left under-appreciated and unattended. Understanding why our partners fall in love with other people starts with understanding why they fall out of love with us.
Relationships require us to commit to creating experiences together as a couple. If you’re not spending enough time together, you will start to drift. When that drift begins, it’s impossible to tell where it will end. By carving out time for ourselves and our romance, we can create happy memories that allow us to bond on deep and meaningful levels. These bonds to hand, we are better equipped to stay focused on another through hardship, and maintain the compassion that keeps us passionately committed to one another.
Shift in attraction
While we might be fiercely attracted to someone on a mental or emotional level, there is no guarantee that this attraction will last. Our feelings change, and so do the things that elicit those feelings from us. Often, a shift in attraction is just enough of a push to make your partner more vulnerable to the idea of moving. Being in the right state of mind at the right time, they can find themselves connecting with someone who better matches them on whatever level they’ve decided is necessary in their lives.
As humans, we are constantly growing and changing; constantly looking for new ways to expand and grow our perceived environments. This includes the things we need from life and from love, as well as the things we need from our partners. Changing needs are natural and — sometimes — unstoppable. When these needs come to odds with that of our partner’s, we can be pushed in the direction of people who are better aligned with those new desires and needs.
Unhappiness, no matter where it originates, permeates through our lives and leaves a wave of heartbreak and destruction. Someone who is unhappy right into their very core will take any action they can to feel happy again. These actions can be both conscious and subconscious; helpful and hurtful. When we are this crucially miserable we reach out to the world and look for any semblance of feeling or healing. Sometimes, this leads us into the arms of another person.
Building relationships takes the efforts of everyone involved, and it also requires the ability to balance and prioritize all the different needs that come into play. We have to appreciate our partners, and we have to show them (through word and deed) that we see all the compromise and energy they put into building a life with us. When we fail to do that, we can find them looking for someone who will. Feelings of under-appreciation are a common reason we discover that our partner has fallen in love with someone else.
We have to respect one another in order to build partnerships that are joyful, fulfilling and equitable — but that’s something that can easily get lost in one-sided partnerships. Failing respect encourages resentment, which only feeds an underlying anger that seriously corrodes the foundations of your love. When our respect fails, we find it easier to walk over one another and push our mutual compassion and needs to the side. It’s an incredible toxic way to build a relationship and one that comes with some serious consequences…and heartbreak.
Complete loss of presence
Presence is an important part of every relationship, but when one partner checks out (emotionally, physically, or both) it can cause a chasm to widen and stretch between us. We lose touch with one another and grow apart and, often, in different directions. This loss of presence is toxic, and it leaves the relationship stagnant and cold; two things that do not bode well for maintaining a partnership in the long-term.
One too many disappointments
Relationships have a lot to do with expectations, but when those expectations are disappointed one too many times — it becomes hard to stay connected or compassionate to the challenges we face. A partner who can no longer see you as the person that they fell in love with might go looking for love elsewhere. Likewise, constant hurt or betrayal can go a long way in pushing our significant others into the arms of other people. The more we hurt them and let them down, the more likely they are to pursue individuals who respect and value them as they desire.
Signs they’ve given their heart to someone else.
Think your partner is in love with someone else? These are the signs that their minds (and their hearts) might be migrating to “greener pastures”. Don’t ignore behaviors that are right in front of your face. Secret-keeping, withdrawal, and an explosion of your intuition are important red flags you should be looking out for.
Secrets as a way of living
Secretive behavior is never a good sign, and a partner that has been caught sneaking around is one that has something to hide. While we certainly aren’t entitled to share every aspect of our personal selves with our partners, we certainly aren’t allowed to sneak around behind their backs in ways which erode their trust and emotional security in us. A partner who is leading a secret second life is one with something (and probably someone) to hide. The only way to get to the truth is by opening up and demanding answers.
Affection is a cornerstone of any relationship, and this affection spans both the emotional and physical realms. We show our partners that we care for them (and that we’re attracted to them) by reaching out intimately and then reaffirming that through words of affection. If your partner has withdrawn all affection (both physically and emotionally) then this can be a sign that this energy is being directed toward somewhere else. While every relationship might go through a natural ebb-and-flow of attraction, complete withdrawal is always something to be concerned about.
Too often we ignore one of the biggest signs that something is off in our relationship…our intuition. If your intuition alarms are going off the charts, it can be a sign that your subconscious is picking up on something that you aren’t. Probe your concerns, and independently question where your worries are coming from. What behaviors is your partner displaying that is causing you to imagine that someone else is in the picture? Listen to reality when it comes knocking on the door in the form of your intuition.
Do you and your partner fight all the time? Do they constantly criticize you or find fault with everything that you do? While it is not always a sign that they’re moving toward someone else, it can be. Above all, it is certainly a sign that there is underlying resentment and contempt. It can also indicate, however, a growing divide and someone who is looking for a reason to justify the space they are creating in the relationship.
Zero public affection
Public affection is a natural part of every healthy relationship, and that doesn’t mean gross displays of PDA. When we’re the most important person in someone’s life, they aren’t ashamed of sharing public space with us. Sure, they might hold our hands, or give us a kiss from time to time. But the real kicker is whether they’re still committing to public displays of basic affection, like going out into the world with you and making it clear that you’re the person they’re committed to. Something which can be displayed simply by being together.
New topic of conversation
Like children, we get excited when we’ve got a new interest. Falling in love, we get a rush from the attention and like to share that excitement with the people around us. This even happens if we’re still in a relationship when we start this process of falling in love again. If your partner has a new topic of conversation, and it always goes back to the same person…it’s time to sit down and have a talk about what role this person might be inhabiting in your partner’s life. (Important Note: There’s a big difference between asking questions and making demands / ultimatums / accusations.)
Has your partner brought their new love interest around you? Do you suspect that it’s a close family friend or acquaintance? Look for physical tells (not unlike those you might have noticed when you first settled down with your partner or spouse). When we’re in love with someone we want to touch them and we go out of our way to be in physical proximity to them. These physical tells — along with basic flirting techniques like subtle hair pulls, or hand glances — can indicate that their heart is moving in a new direction.
How to deal when your partner or spouse has fallen in love with someone else.
There’s no right or wrong way to process your grief after discovering your partner is in love with someone else. There are, however, some concrete steps we can take to safeguard our mental and emotional wellbeing and figure out how to best move forward. We must really face those deepest parts of ourselves, however, and through that find the confidence to stand up for the love that we need.
1. Think things through
Before you rush at your partner with accusations or a craving for revenge, you need to take time to process your own emotions. Whether your suspicions have been confirmed, or they are just that — suspicions — you need time to work through your emotions and collect your thoughts, as well as your ideas on moving forward. Nothing will come from an emotional outburst. Take a step back and assess your reality.
Create a well of personal space for yourself and get used to spending time on your own in it. Use this space to question who you are, what you’re feeling and what you want to do next. Use it to focus on the brutal reality of what you’re dealing with. If they’re in love with someone else, is a relationship you want to fight for?
Time and space do truly allow us to unlock new perspectives and vistas. Give yourself a time frame and use it to process everything about your current situation. Plan what you want to say. Get comfortable with your reality and get comfortable with the idea of the worst (and best) case scenarios. Once you can look these bravely in the eye without flinching, it’s time to open up and have a candid conversation with your partner.
2. Get honest together
Honesty is a crucial part of any relationship, but it becomes especially important when we find ourselves in the middle of a potential love triangle. Partners who are not honest about their feelings are those who find themselves at odds and destroyed by contempt and resentment. Whatever outcome the two of you decide on, it needs to be talked through and it needs to be done so candidly and with respect.
Once you have a handle on your emotions, your thoughts and any suspicions you might have — it’s imperative that you open up to your partner (while holding both of yourselves accountable). Address your worries, and question them without blaming them or denying them.
As stressed above, falling in love with someone else isn’t always a malicious act. Sometimes, it’s something that happens (unfortunate as it might be) and the only way to work through that is with respect and compassion. Don’t rage. Don’t allow your emotions to dictate what your logic should be handling. When we’re in physical pain, we seek clear heads to help us resolve it. The same logic should apply to our hard conversations. Leave the emotions to the side and focus on the facts. Don’t shy away from the hard truths.
3. Reconnect with inner-you
When our partners fall for someone else, it can be life shattering. We spend so much time and energy build our lives with this other person, that it completely destroys our sense of self. When they walk away, our world is wrenched out from under us. If we truly want to find our way back to happiness, we have to reconnect with that authentic core of who we are, and get back in touch with those things that can provide us with fulfillment and joy.
Reconnect with inner-you. Start spending time getting to know who you are right now in this moment, and what you really want. Ask yourself the hard questions. Is this where you wanted to be 10 years ago? What do you want out of the next 10 years of your life?
Invest in a self-care routine and start seeing to your needs. Give yourself some space and really revel in that space. Take a good hard look at who you are and then look at your partner too. Is this really who you want to spend your life with? Is this the dream partner with the same hopes, ambition and drive as you? We fall in love. We fall out of love. This is the natural flow. Reconnect with inner-you to rediscover what you need from your romantic relationships.
4. Find a support network
Finding a support network can seriously empower you to reinvest in your life and yourself. Friends and family have an uncanny way of being able to see us in a much more powerful way than we see ourselves. The more we immerse ourselves in this shifted perspective, the more we come to see ourselves in an entirely new light. This moves us toward the people and experiences that better fulfill that desire for love we’re looking for. All while encouraging us to let go and move on from those who no longer love us.
Lean into your support networks and reconnect with those people who have the ability to offer you peace and comfort through your pain. Allow them to see your hurt, and listen to them when they tell you how strong you are, and what better opportunities are going to come your way.
If you don’t have a support network — build one. Follow your heart in this new space you’ve carved out for yourself and reinvest your time and your energy in the things that interest you. Take an online course with a group element, or reach out to some casual acquaintances for a virtual cocktail night. Start slow. There are no right or wrong ways to go about getting interested in life again. Find people who share your passions and build bridges with them into a future that’s better aligned with your values and your hopes.
5. Learn how to bloom again
While you may not be able to imagine it now, your world is going to bloom again — entirely new and filled with life and light. In order to get refocused on this vision, you have to understand the delicate ecosystem that is your life. Learn how to bloom again and find the comfort of falling back into the arms of the world. There are thousands of new experiences (and people) out there waiting to welcome you into their hearts, but you have to give yourself the nourishment you need to reach them.
Just like every other ecosystem, your world comes with a limited amount of space. The variables (people, places, things) in your life take up space in that ecosystem so, in order for new life to bloom, the old life has to give way. The old ways and people of your life must give way in order for you to blossom and stretch toward the sky.
Chase your passions. Find new pastimes. Take a course, or go on a virtual speed dating event. If the person you love has moved on, give yourself permission to move on too — and do it with the fullness and the frenzy of someone who has everything to lose if they don’t. You get one shot at this life. You’ll never be able to do this exact experience again (no matter what your beliefs). Make the most of what you can now and let go of those things which stifle and suffocate the beautiful blossoming of your natural ecosystem.
Putting it all together…
No matter how much we love our partners or our spouses, there is no guarantee that that love will last exclusively or forever. Sometimes, the people we love fall in love with someone else. When this happens, it’s up to us to dig deep and find a way to move forward in confidence and in peace.
Take some time to think things through. Don’t just jump into the deep end, or resort to immediate and emotional confrontation. Give yourself space to process your feelings and consider carefully how you want to proceed. Once you have a grip on your emotions, open up to your partner and get the answers that will allow you both to figure out a resolution. After you’ve both said what needs to be said, lean into your newly found personal space. Reconnect with who you are and the things that bring you passion and joy. Find a support network and allow those people who know you best to empower and reinvigorate you. There is so much more life out there for you to, but you’re going to have to brace yourself for some tough transitions. Learn how to bloom again and revel in all the new possibilities that are waiting for you.