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Q: Falling in and out of love :( ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   2 Comments )
Subject: Falling in and out of love :(
Category: Relationships and Society > Romance
Asked by: brit_fan-ga
List Price: $30.00
Posted: 10 Dec 2002 16:49 PST
Expires: 09 Jan 2003 16:49 PST
Question ID: 122688
A little background.  I was married for 5 years and then dropped
suddenly nearly two years ago.  I spent a solid year healing my wounds
until I started feeling like I could date again.  I was set up by a
mutual friend with a lovely woman who I grew to love over the next 4
months or so.  In the 5th month, I asked her to marry me and she said
yes (please don't lecture on rushing, I learned my lesson!).  About 3
months later I broke down and backed out of the wedding plans, but I
couldn't let her go and I successfully asked her to stay engaged with
me and let me work on my confidence in myself and my readiness to get
married (which is definitely true, I felt my self-esteem plummet and
am feeling better about myself now).  I was very confused about my
feelings, but I was still certain I loved her.  I was sure she was the
woman for me and in many ways, I still think she is.  Here's the
problem.  Sometimes I still have no idea whether or not I love her and
it makes me feel incredibly guilty, anxious, and stupid.  She's a
lovely, incredible woman--many aspects of which I wanted in a woman
all along.  When I sit here and think about her, I admire and respect
her many qualities and have a hard time finding really big negatives
about her.  However, I can't get rid of this guilty feeling that I may
not really love her.  I think it might be caused by a combination of
guilt, fear of being rejected, etc.  When I was younger, I thought
that love was so simple, now it seems so complicated.  Sometimes I do
feel a rush of loving feelings towards her, but then a day later, I'll
wake up in a cold sweat, feeling tense, and worrying that I don't love

My main questions are: 
1) Is it fair for me to continue on and not let her know the exact
details about my doubt of my love for her so I can try to repair
myself or get that feeling back?  I'd hate to hurt her and I'd hate to
risk losing her, because I sense my love waiting to burst out again
under this web of yucky feelings.  She is VERY committed to me (and I
am to her, I'm definitely committed to working on this).
2) Can you provide any general advice to help me find or
comprehend my true feelings for her?  My mom (my closest "advisor"
when I was growing up) always said if you have to "think" about why
you love someone, you probably don't really love them and are talking
yourself into it.  I don't want to "talk myself into it", but the only
way I can feel love for her is by specifically thinking about why I
love her.  It isn't natural right now.

Thanks much for any help.
Subject: Re: Falling in and out of love :(
Answered By: lisarea-ga on 10 Dec 2002 18:33 PST
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hello, brit_fan.

First, I should say that I am not a therapist, and my first advice for
you would be to see someone who might be able to provide you with some

I wish I could tell you why you're feeling the way you are, but I
can't. I can only throw out some possibilities, and encourage you to
look into them further to try to discover them yourself.

You've basically got two issues right now: Your previous marriage, and
your current relationship. It may be difficult, in fact, to
disentangle them, and deal with them separately at this stage.

It does sound, to my untrained ear, as though your feelings or lack
thereof may be tinged with a little depression or fear--something
completely unrelated to your feelings about your girlfriend. I'll go
into this in more detail later.

Another possibility is the 'letdown' factor. This is the stage in a
relationship where you start to lose those initial giddily obsessive
feelings about someone, and you have to decide whether you want to
take your relationship to the next stage, or move along.

See this page for an article called "5 Stages of Love," which
describes each stage:

From this article:

"Stage 5. COMMITMENT - a pledge to remain true to your mate throughout
good and bad times. Commitment is easy when times are good. Commitment
can be extremely difficult when times are bad. Learn to ride out the
bad times."

And of course, there is the possibility that this is not a good
relationship for you, and a making lifelong commitment is not the
right move. But you don't seem sure of this, and you do seem to care
about this woman, so, if nothing else, it seems that your relationship
is worth examining and working on at this point.

So, the first thing you should do is find a counselor to talk to. You
may initially want to talk to someone on your own, and then, you may
decide to see a couples counselor with your girlfriend as well. Most
of these resources are for the US, so if you are located somewhere
else, please let me know and I'll try to find local resources for you.

Google's Web Directory has a category listing resources for counseling
and therapy here:

From this list, I tried a number of different resources, including the

This site offers a detailed search function that will let you locate
therapists by location, specialty, insurance plans, sex, and a number
of other factors. It also provides other resources, such as
information on types of therapy, self-assessment, and other topics:

To begin a search on this page, select a condition or concern (such as
Depression, Divorce, or Marriage/Couples Issues) from the Therapist
Locator dropdown box near the top of the screen, select "Go," and it
will take you directly to the detailed search page.

This site provides listings of therapists and counselors, along with
brief descriptions of their practices, sorted by area of practice,
geographic location, sex, and other criteria:

Their main search page is here:

NOTE: I did some sample searches to see what sort of information was
returned, and I discovered that they do a hard search on ZIP code, so
unlike most sites, it will not return results in adjoining ZIP codes.
Try the state search instead.

The Directory of Mental Health Professionals website lets you search
for counselors and therapists in your state, as well as

From the individual location pages, you can narrow down the results by
selecting the "Search" option near the top of the page.

Sometimes, I know, you just want some general layman's advice, some
uplifting stories, and maybe a discussion group for venting. With that
in mind, here are a few resources for non-clinical advice and

This site provides general advice for the lovelorn of all stripes,
including "How to Heal From a Broken Heart":

Here's another site that provides general advice and articles about
love and relationships. Note before you go to the main site that this
site covers sex topics in a variety of areas as well:

This article, called "From Euphoric Love to Rising Love," describes
the stages of a maturing relationship, and offers advice on getting
past the initial stage of infatuation:

Here's a few more resources, if you feel like digging around to find a
site or a community that appeals to you:

Now, let me quote your specific questions and try to answer them

You asked, "Is it fair for me to continue on and not let her know the
details about my doubt of my love for her so I can try to repair
myself or get that feeling back?"  

Yes, I think this would be fair, at least for the time being. In fact,
I think it would not be fair if you were to tell her about your doubts
until you're better able to articulate them. If you tell her now, you
will hurt her. If it turns out that your doubts are based on fear or
anxiety or depression or something else, you will have hurt her
without good reason.

Certainly don't string her along or make further commitments; and if
you must, you can simply tell her that you are going through a period
of uncertainty or fear, and need to try to sort things out. It is
absolutely not unusual for healthy, intelligent people to suffer from
changes in their moods and their brain chemistry simply due to the
unrelentingly complicated and bizarre world we live in; and all too
often, we make bad or hurried decisions based on unrelated fears or
The fact that your marriage broke up so suddenly might have more to do
with this than you think. Something of this magnitude happening to you
beyond your control is likely to have lasting effects beyond the
normal grieving period in a divorce. This is your first real
relationship since then, so it may well be normal for these effects to
show up now.

In psychiatry, there's a thing called 'learned helplessness.' When
they need to test new drugs for depression, they'll 'train' the
laboratory animals to learn that they are not in control of their

This page describes the concept of learned helplessness in the context
of a study on sleep:

From this page:

"Learned helplessness (LH) is considered to be an experimental model
of depression and/or anxiety (Seligman, 1975, Maier, 1984, Van der
Kolk, 1985, Petty et al, 1994)."

This page describes some of the effects of the 'learned helplessness'

From this page are examples of tests on laboratory animals that show
that those who are taught that they have no control over their
situations are more subject to depression and stress-related
illnesses, and are less motivated to improve their lot.

All too often, the random cruelties of life seem to be neatly modeled
by these poor lab rats being shocked in their cages without rhyme or
reason. Fortunately for us, it inevitably gets better, and these
episodes are just that--episodes. We can overcome them. We are not lab
rats. Sometimes, though, we just need a little help.
"Can you provide any general advice to help me find or 
comprehend my true feelings for her?  My mom (my closest "advisor" 
when I was growing up) always said if you have to "think" about why 
you love someone, you probably don't really love them and are talking
yourself into it.  I don't want to "talk myself into it", but the only
way I can feel love for her is by specifically thinking about why I 
love her.  It isn't natural right now."

Your mother is a wise woman, and this may well be true for her, but
her experiences differ from yours--by time, by sex, and by experience.
So while this may be her truth, it is not necessarily yours.

Regardless of how this progresses and what decisions you make, go into
it with your eyes open, and make your decisions based on positives--on
your needs, desires, and wishes--not on negatives like fear and

I wish you the best of luck, brit_fan, and please let me know if
there's anything else I can do to help you locate resources in your
community, or otherwise better answer your questions.

Good luck,


"out of love" 
therapists counselors directory
"learned helplessness" rats
"stages of love" 
"relationship advice"
brit_fan-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Thank you for the clear and detailed answer.  The things that struck
home with me were the "letdown" factor and making decisions based on
positives instead of negatives (fear, anxiety, etc.).  I almost did
make a decision to end the relationship based on this anxiety and I'm
glad I didn't.  I want to move forward with her so badly.  I will
investigate therapy as well.  Thank you very much.

Subject: Re: Falling in and out of love :(
From: heavylee-ga on 24 Dec 2002 10:21 PST

I just want to offer a few words of encouragement.  I, too, have been
in a similar situation, and now that I have successfully made it
passed there, I am so happy with where I am today.  Life sucks
sometimes, there is no avoiding that.  But building yourself back up,
learning and growing from this experience will make you a stronger
person, a more committed partner and a better human being.  Good luck
to you!

Subject: Re: Falling in and out of love :(
From: brit_fan-ga on 24 Dec 2002 12:11 PST
Hello HeavyLee,

I wanted to thank you.  There is something very helpful in knowing I'm
not alone and that other people have been through things like this.  I
appreciate your comments and I am hoping to get there as well myself.

Happy Holidays,

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