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Why Do My Partners Fall Out of Love With Me?

The answer may be partially explained by a difference in emotional intelligence.

Key points

  • Generating closeness is not the same as sustaining closeness in an interpersonal relationship.
  • Empathy is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence; emotionally unintelligent individuals may lack empathy.
  • Empathy is often necessary to sustain closeness in an interpersonal relationship.

Getting close to a new love is exhilarating. Yet, when the shine wears off, a person often worries a partner may get bored. The distance that sometimes creeps into a relationship following the “honeymoon period” often creates panic in someone who has been hurt before. Terrified about enduring another abandonment, the person holds on to her partner and seeks reassurance. If the partner is irritated with her insecurity and responds impatiently, the individual’s fear may intensify, resulting in a chasm in the relationship. One partner needs empathy and the other is unwilling and unable to provide it.

Frequently, the insensitive partner blames the worried partner and shames her for being concerned. Unable to look inward and acknowledge his own lack of empathy as a contributor to the distance in the relationship, he continually rebuffs her and the cycle continues. After a few months, a serious gap in closeness exists. At this juncture, the partner who is bothered by the distance usually works hard to correct the problem and recover the closeness, but her partner is often annoyed with the pressure to be close. Eventually, he may take the easy way out and move on to someone who doesn’t desire actual closeness. His new relationship may be more like a business transaction; “You fuel my ego and I’ll fuel yours,” but is frequently portrayed to the world as a fairy tale love story.

Alternatively, an emotionally intelligent partner feels for his mate who expresses anxiety about the feelings fading. He empathizes with her fear and communicates a sincere understanding of how and what she is feeling. Now, she feels understood, connected to him because he gets it, and far less alone in her plight. He also feels good because he is able to reassure her. The two remain close because they possess empathy for one another and provide it consistently.

The two depictions illustrate the difference between an emotionally unintelligent partner and an emotionally intelligent partner. The emotionally unavailable partner is unable to take his partner’s perspective for a moment. He may be disconnected from his own uncomfortable emotions and thus cannot access them in order to resonate with his partner’s. Instead, he shames her for having feelings with which he does not agree or understand.

Yet, the partner seemed capable of closeness initially. The sudden shift from adoration to indifference is painful for a person who is investing in this new relationship. Understandably, the drop in affection and closeness often makes a person think she did something wrong. However, the loss of love is usually not caused by the partner who longs for closeness. It is sometimes the result of an emotionally unintelligent partner who can generate closeness but cannot sustain it.

Creating closeness is different than sustaining closeness. At the beginning of a relationship, a partner is on their “best behavior.” He knows enough to be complimentary, supportive, and sympathetic. When his new love opens up, he realizes it is important to be caring. In the beginning stages, he is also comfortable opening up because he has control of the narrative. An emotionally unavailable partner tends to rewrite his own history in order to pose as the victim in past situations. Taking on a victim stance allows him to garner sympathy and use it to his advantage when he needs to excuse a hurtful act in the current relationship.

Also, empathy, a necessary element for closeness, is much different than care and support. Although they typically go hand in hand, actual empathy is the attempt to authentically understand the emotions of a loved one. For example, Lisa is hurt because Tim hasn’t texted or called in a few days. Tim’s sudden lack of interest is surprising and she fears he has lost interest. She contacts Tim to talk about it. Tim senses Lisa is hurt and he knows how that feels. His father was in and out of his life, which hurt him as a young boy. He remembers the angst it caused. He empathizes with Lisa, “You are hurt and worried because I haven’t been available for the past couple of days. I get it. You have every right to feel that way. I am sorry. I have had a terrible migraine and am barely making it through my day. I should’ve explained what was happening. I apologize. I don’t want you to feel hurt."

Alternatively, Tim answers Lisa’s call and responds with sympathy. “I feel so sorry for you, Lisa. You must not have many friends if you are that dependent on me already. Maybe you should take up a hobby so you can make more friends.” Although this response is sympathetic, it lacks empathy. Tim doesn’t resonate with how Lisa feels, instead he shames her and avoids taking responsibility by blaming her for not having enough friends.

Many people who are involved with an emotionally unintelligent partner also spend gobs of time encouraging the partner to evolve. Yet, the chance that this person matures may be slim. A rigid and robust unconscious defensive structure that wards of the uncomfortable emotions that tax a fragile ego, like empathy, insight, and self-awareness is usually pretty static. Unless the person is highly motivated and can invest in therapy to become aware of significant cognitive distortions, the possibility of change may be slight.

A person who feels like partner after partner falls out of love with her may consider the possibility that these partners are emotionally unavailable. They are unable to provide empathy and they may fail to look at themselves. Fantastic at creating closeness but terrible at maintaining it, they may flee the relationship if the pressure to be close becomes overwhelming. It may be best to try to find and invest in a partner who is emotionally available.