A Reader Writes…
I have been married for 3 years been together for 10 years. I sincerely love my husband, he’s a good man and a damn good dad. Before I got married I met someone. I fell in love. Unfortunately, the good person I am, I married my husband and now this person came back into my life. Nothing physical but all emotional. He broke it off because I’m married, I regret so much that has happened.
How do I move on from loving this other guy? I love him. I don’t want to hurt my husband but I feel that if I stay in the marriage I will eventually hurt him. I am suffering in silence. I am anxious all the time. I just need some advice.
There’s plenty of advice on my site about how to fall back in love—but nothing about how to fall out of love…
- So you’ve fallen for someone, but you know to act on it would destroy other people’s happiness?
- Perhaps you’ve had an affair and know you have to move on but it’s hard?
- Maybe someone from the past has returned and made you question your love for your partner—like the correspondent below?
My Six Suggestions for How to Fall Out of Love (With Someone You Shouldn’t Have Fallen For)
Grieve for the loss
Goodbyes and endings are tough, so expect to be sad and feel down or tearful—it’s all part of the healing process:
- If you’re finding it particularly tough, think about other losses in your life—particularly when you were young. Did something horrible happen—like the death of a grandfather—but you were told to be ‘strong’ so as not to ‘upset’?
- Could you be mourning not just the end of this love but other losses too (like a job that you loved or the old you before you had kids?)
- If you find yourself thinking about him or her, it doesn’t mean you should be together, it’s part of the natural grieving process. It’s the same with going through the “if onlys” that is part of the healing too.
- Don’t look for a pain-free ending. Lots of people think if they “have a proper ending”, “let go gradually” or “ask just one more question” that it will make them feel better. It never works because you can’t magic pain away.
Don’t feed the pain
It’s tempting to wallow from time-to-time, or “web stalk” but you’ll just make it harder for yourself.
- Don’t play “your song” and change radio station when it comes on.
- Don’t walk past where he or she works.
- Don’t keep in touch with mutual friends so you can talk about him or her or hope to hear news.
- Don’t be friends on Facebook or go online when you’ve had a couple of drinks.
Reconnect with your partner
In order to have an affair or for your affections to be captured by someone else, you need to disconnect from your partner. So start to reverse the process.
- Tell your partner about what happens in your daily life and show a real interest in him or her. Often we get bored either because we don’t know enough about our partner or because we think we already know everything.
- When you’re annoyed about something, don’t just ignore it and hold it against your partner, say something.
- Take your partner’s side, rather than forming a coalition with one of your children or mother against him or her.
- Be around more and smile when you see your partner.
- If you’re not up for sex, you can still have a cuddle in bed or on the sofa. Sometimes a touch is worth a thousand words.
- Make your partner a priority.
Identify the underlying problems
When someone is sexually or emotionally unfaithful, there are normally long standing issue that needs to be resolved.
- If you don’t know off the top of your head what it might be then think about the subjects that you can’t discuss! It’s normally one of those.
- The most common issues are money, sex, and division of chores. It could be time to look at these topics again. What might have worked ten years ago is probably out of date today.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for outside help.
If you can talk and listen to each other, you’re halfway to solving even the most intractable problem.
- I summarise good communication as “I can ask, you can say no and we can negotiate.”
- Unfortunately we are frightened of asking in case we don’t get it—and prefer to drop hints or expect our partner to somehow know.
- We’re frightened of saying no because we’re frightened our partner might not like us—but get over-burdened and resentful instead.
- We are not taught how to negotiate at school and our parents often taught us what doesn’t work (like shout and withdraw).
Consider telling the truth
If the atmosphere is still bad, you might need to think about the last point.
- You think you’ve been discreet but your partner might have been secretly following every twist in your “love affair”.
- Even if he or she doesn’t consciously know about your “friend”, he or she knows deep down but is afraid to confront that knowledge and therefore is feeling stuck.
- Confession provides a chance to bring everything into the open.
- Your partner might be angry in the short-term but relieved that he or she “wasn’t going mad”—because there was a real problem all along.
- It creates two people working on your relationship—rather than just you (or even worse neither of you!)
There is more help for how to fall out of love in my book Wake Up and Change Your Life: How to Survive a Crisis and be Stronger, Wiser and and Happier.