Love is not supposed to be a smooth sailing experience. Frankly, that sounds pretty dull when you’re thinking about forever. Love is messy, it’s complicated, and there will be phases of extreme passion, and also phases that are tougher, when it might feel like love is gone for good. But how do you know if it’s just a phase? Is this pain temporary or is this love eternally dead? Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to find out:
Why did this rough patch begin?
When did you start feeling like something was off in your relationship? Was there a death in the family? A job loss? Some other stressful event that threw your happy life off track? It happens. That’s life, and it’s perfectly normal to have prolonged reactions to a miserable situation. But figuring out the original problem will tell you so much about what you’re facing, and how easy or hard it’ll be to salvage your love – and if it’s possible to salvage it at all.
Have you both made an attempt to work on it?
Once you know where it began, you need to work as a team to repair the damage. If you or your partner is unwilling to work on it, then you know your relationship is over. But if you both decide to work on it, that step right there will bring you closer together and set you up to succeed in bringing the love back.
Are you capable of change?
Beyond extreme and dangerous situations (verbal or physical abuse), there’s rarely ever a relationship issue that was created and perpetuated by one person. One of you may have caused it, but you’re in this situation because BOTH of you let it get to this point. So if this is the person you want to spend your life with, you need to be ready to make some changes – whether you caused the problem or not. This is a team effort, after all.
Are they capable of change?
You can’t change anyone else. You can only change yourself. So if they don’t seem capable of change or flat out refuse to try then you need to move on because there’s nothing left to save here.
Can you truly let this go and move on?
Once love gets rocky, people tend to keep a tally of things that piss them off about the other person, and that annoyance builds and builds until it explodes into a big fight. If this is just a weird phase and you truly love this person, you need to let the past go – for good. You both need to start fresh from a place of trust and optimism. If one of you continues to hold onto things previously said during unhappy times, then the love is officially gone.
Have you tried therapy?
Not everyone is comfortable with the idea of sharing their intimate lives with a complete stranger – and also paying them to do so. But being able to express your feelings to someone who doesn’t know either of you can be extremely helpful. They’re a sounding board. They won’t take a side. And if you truly love the person you’re with, shouldn’t you be willing to try anything to make it work?
Are you having regular sex?
There is no set number on how often you should be having sex to be considered a “happy couple.” Sex is a natural act, and as such, it should come about naturally. So think back to when you were your happiest with this person. What was your sex life like then? Because even though you can still be in love and happy without having sex, it’s another form of communication and a different way to connect with the person you love. If only to connect with them on another level, regular intimacy can only help you.
How often are you miserable?
When you think about the forever kind of love, you realize that forever is a long-ass time. There are bound to be unhappy months or even years throughout the length of a life. However, if you’re constantly miserable with this person, don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel and can’t remember the last time you truly enjoyed each other’s company, then this is not just a phase. It’s time to say goodbye.
Do you even like this person?
Seems like a silly question, right? If you love your S.O. then you obviously like them too. Not true! You need friendship as your base or this love is not meant to last forever. Passion fades, so if you can’t laugh about stupid crap slob out in sweats and smudged makeup and completely be yourselves around each other, then you need to end this now so you can find someone to have love AND friendship with.
Do you see a future here?
Mentally fast forward to what you want your life to look like in 10 years. Think about where you’ll be in your career, where you want to live and if you’ll have a family. Is your current S.O. in that picture? If this is just a phase, you’ll see them by your side. If not, then you have your answer.
Do you want a future with them?
Maybe you have deep, consuming love for them now, but on some level you know it won’t last. Example: I dated a jerk. Our relationship was packed with passion, but this made our lows really low. When I pictured having kids someday, I knew I didn’t want my kids to have a father like him. I still dated him for another month or so, but I should’ve cut and run then because my gut knew that was not just a phase. I should’ve listened and you should too.
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