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All relationships have natural ebbs and flows. No matter how long you’ve been seeing someone, having little arguments here and there or taking a break from the sexy stuff can sometimes be super healthy. But if you’ve been feeling a little disconnected from you boo for a while or if the fights seem more frequent, you may be wondering if your partner is falling out of love with you. “Sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you are having a tough time in a relationship, if you are experiencing significant problems, if you really are questioning how well it is working versus actually falling out of love,” Dr. Joshua Klapow, clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, tells Elite Daily. “Love can be lost and found. It can fade and come back, it can be ‘fixed’ but because love is a feeling, it is not a guarantee that love lost will return.”

If your partner is going through a hard time at school or work, or if your relationship is going through some changes, its natural for the gooey affectionate side of things to slow down a little. You may feel frustrated that your partner made a big decision without you or unappreciated for all your contributions in your relationship. It’s easy to assume the worst, but according to Dr. Klapow, having problems in your relationship doesn’t mean falling out of love. “We can be angry, frustrated, irritated, hurt, annoyed with our partner — we can look at the relationship and say it is not healthy, not working well, and destructive and still be in love,” Dr. Klapow says. “Your relationship is salvageable if and only if the distance between the two of you is not too great and there is a desire to be close again.”

It’s not always easy to unpack whether or not you are falling out of love or just going through a rough patch. If you’ve been fighting a lot or are just generally feeling distant from your boo, falling out of love could be the result of a loss of connection. “When we fall out of love, we lose a deeper feeling of connection with our partner,” Dr. Klapow says. “Falling out of love is losing that almost indescribable feeling of wanting to be with your partner for the long run no matter how much of a disaster or how perfect things are in the moment.”

If you’re concerned that your partner is falling out of love with you, Dr. Klapow shares some behaviors to look out for. “When it moves from ‘I don’t like what you are doing’ to ‘I don’t like you.’ They go from being emotionally connected to emotionally ‘neutral.’ They ask you to change the way you eat, talk, interact, spend time, look. They seem to schedule their life differently,” Dr. Klapow says. “Growing distant is a major relationship red flag.” Of course, every relationship is different, and your partner exhibiting some or all of these behaviors doesn’t necessary mean they’re falling out of love. Long-term romantic relationships are hard. And with school work, family, and general life to deal with — it’s completely natural for schedules to shift around, personal preferences to evolve, or even for feelings to change overtime.

If you’re starting to sense some disconnect in your relationship, or you’re starting to worry that your partner is falling out of love with you, it’s important to directly communicate how you are feeling and where you are coming from before guessing what they are feeling. “Don’t assume that the distance can only be that they are falling out of love,” Dr. Klapow says. “But don’t assume that everything is fine. Remember that your partner’s personal issues, your own issues and the relationship itself all drive the emotional setting.” If your partner seems to be pulling away, or if they’ve been more emotionally neutral — checking in with where their head is at can help you communicate openly, before assuming how they are feeling.

If you’re worried that your partner may be falling out of love with you, and you want to make the relationship work, it can be helpful to express to them how much you love them. “Ask what is going on, and express your desire to make things better,” Dr. Klapow says. “Don’t be defensive. Don’t argue. Just listen.” Giving your parter the chance to express themselves in a low-key and supportive way may enable them to open up about where their head is at. “You may find that what you are hearing is a combination of you, them and their relationship itself,” Dr. Klapow says. “Ultimately, it is your choice to pull the plug or not — but don’t decide until you have tried to work it out or have tried with professional support.” Getting everything out in the open can help you and your partner better understand what you need from each other and where your relationship is going, moving forward.

If you’re worried your partner is falling out of love with you, you may be noticing them pulling away or not being as emotionally engaged with your relationship. Before assuming their thoughts or feelings, openly discuss where you both are coming from and what support you both need. Love changes and flows, but opening up a conversation can keep everyone feeling supported and heard.

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