Some relationships start with fire, and go out with a poof. Some rekindle, some drag, some end. In committed relationships, your partner becomes a vital pillar of your support system and you trust them completely. Even so, there is a common yet often unaddressed concern that plagues most partners in relationships: Am I comfortable in a relationship but not in love?
Do you remember the last time you said “I love you” sincerely and not as a passing phrase? The consistent labor that goes into relationships, the whole spectrum of feelings – good, neutral and bad – that you navigate for one person, the storms you weather, and the deep comfort that you find in each other: all of this is a huge investment of time, love and energy. But too much comfort has its cons, as we will soon find out. It is possible that you’re in love and beautifully comfortable with your partner, or you might be comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
Can You Be Comfortable But Not In Love?
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How do we ‘stay’ in love? With a whole lot of effort, kindness, luck, and social support. Are couples always in love? Of course not. Many relationships no longer have their initial spark, but do have something which is a beautiful byproduct of living together for so long: comfort. There are many cute things partners do once they are comfortable with you. Sometimes, being comfortable and being in love feel so similar in a relationship that we can’t distinguish between the two and you start to wonder, “Am I falling out of love or just comfortable?”
Many aromantic people don’t fall in love with the person they are with. Being comfortable is what they aim for to enrich and deepen their partnership. This article is for the alloromantics, and for those who wish to stay in love with their partner no matter how long it’s been. You are someone who is not okay with the whole idea of being comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
Of course, you’re bound to have rough or dull patches with your partner. It’s natural to doubt yourself and the love you hold for them during such times. But we can’t let stress-induced thoughts or a dull phase dictate the reality of our bond. It’s important to take a step back then, and figure out how you feel.
9 Signs You Are Comfortable In A Relationship But Not In Love
So, when do you start feeling comfortable in a relationship to the extent that it’s now become complacency? Once you start to feel that you work as a well-oiled team, but no longer as a couple.
Gratitude, appreciation, romance, little gestures, quality time, and love for each other in a relationship have started to dwindle. You’re working together to achieve mutual money relationship goals of buying a house, a car, etc. but there’s hardly any space 1or will to carry out the above-mentioned tender acts of love.
In that case, it’s time to rectify that, redefine the bond, or reconsider the relationship. Because you’ve probably reached a stage where you are comfortable in a relationship but not in love. This is not a comparison of comfortable love vs passionate love though. Both kinds are significant and wholesome. The issue is the degree of comfort here that has unfortunately led to complacency. Let’s look at some of the signs that you’re comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
1. You’re both on separate journeys
You’ve both evolved, which is natural, but in diagonally opposite directions. In a few ways, you simply don’t recognize the person you fell in love with and you don’t want to know this new version. This is true for friendships as well. Jasmine talks about her romantic struggles and says, “If someone asks me, “Are couples always in love?”, I’ll say no. I wish my ex well, and I still respect her journey but can’t see myself being a part of it anymore. It makes us sad but we know we will be better off down the road.”
In romantic relationships and even friendships, people who challenge each other and evolve in a way that their values and core beliefs continue to align even after years and years, are either lucky or they’ve had to let go of many frictions or areas of incompatibility in order to prioritize their relationship.
Related Reading: 12 Ways To Build Intellectual Intimacy In A Relationship
2. No curiosity for your partner
You don’t feel curious about them anymore. I always think the last vestige of love in a relationship is curiosity. You do care about them deeply, but curiosity to know more about your partner has abated as you have started thinking the way Fay felt in her relationship, “I kept thinking every day, “What else is new? I’ve seen it all.” I knew our relationship was headed for trouble then.”
If you don’t feel curious about their activities, their daily life, the nitty-gritty of what makes them who they are, then it might be a good time to re-evaluate and think about the time when you used to be interested in their humanity as a whole. After all, if that’s what they need from a partner, then they deserve that you show up for the relationship completely.
3. Lack of quality time
Spending time with them has become more about casual routine than something to be excited about. You don’t plan things like movie nights, cooking a special meal together, game nights, planning an overnight trip together, going to your favorite museum or library etc. Activities like these keep bringing us back to the loving ‘we’ of the relationship instead of the parallel running ‘I’ and ‘you’.
It reminds us of why we choose to be together every day. It makes us look forward to spending time with the person we love and the lack of such activities affects a relationship directly. So, if you’re thinking, “When do you start feeling comfortable in a relationship to the point of complacency?”, it’s when you don’t see the point of carving out dedicated time with each other because, “Well, we live together anyway”.
“We live so well together and it provides such a comforting sense of security. I never thought to investigate if I still love her until a few more months passed with that gnawing feeling that something’s wrong about us,” says Trevor, who has been working on his relationship with his partner after this insight.
Related Reading: 17 Agonizing Signs Your Husband Doesn’t Love You Anymore
4. No self-improvement
If you’ve stopped investing time and energy in grooming yourself, it could of course mean you’re completely comfortable around them and no longer feel the need to fulfill the patriarchal need to look a certain way. But it could also mean you are losing interest in the relationship. You no longer care about how you present yourself in front of them anymore, and it goes further than just appearances. Which one is it? This proved to be the case where Sam asked themselves, “Am I falling out of love or just comfortable?”
For many people, working on themselves, their personalities and interests comes naturally when they want to keep their partner invested and interested in them. But these acts of self-improvement start to disappear when you’ve taken your partner for granted and are way too wrapped up in your comfort zone to do anything that challenges you. This could be a sign that you’re comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
5. Longing for someone else
While this is the norm in a polyamorous relationship, it could be a huge sign of trouble in a monogamous relationship. You are beginning to feel more attracted to someone else. Building a life with someone is not the work of passion – it’s the work of constant discussions, tedious repetitions, hard task of letting go of resentment and other small things, and learning each other’s patterns, interests, love languages, baggage, stressors, and communication styles.
Attraction involves almost none of this, and of course, sounds easier and more tempting. “Let me put it this way,” says Sam. “My need to have a relationship or an affair with someone else had started to outweigh my need to stay with my partner.” Many a time, in a monogamous setup, people overcome this attraction in order to prioritize their relationship.
But if it’s become impossible for you to do so, it might be time to question how you feel about your partner. Or you’ll need to initiate the necessary but difficult conversation about trying out an open relationship. This suggestion needs to be aimed at self-exploration for both people. It should not be a last-ditch effort to save the relationship.
6. You no longer give each other compliments
Sincere appreciation of your partner keeps the love and romance alive. If you’ve stopped appreciating the little and the big things about them, it shows a lack of care, attention, and love. Telling them that they look great in that dress, or that you adore the way they make sure you drink enough water in the day, or that you loved the food they prepared, or telling them what you value about their personhood – these little things add up to a mutually healthy relationship.
To be in a relationship is to want to be noticed and witnessed. If that has gone missing, then you might be comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
7. Gradual disappearance of little things
“It’s the little things,” they say. We hardly notice while we fall for someone. The little things pile up to create an overwhelming flood of affection for a person. The little things make your marriage stronger too. They are also what you miss about them, when they are away or gone forever from your life.
It’s also these little things that people tend to take for granted gradually, or overlook entirely. Since they build the foundation of our love, it’s no surprise that the lack of them affects a relationship severely. Let’s talk about the little things.
- Noticing the little things: If you don’t notice the little things about them anymore, like their change of perfume, the way they wear their hair, a small but obvious change in their routine or appearance, or a new recipe they’ve tried, it shows that you are no longer interested in witnessing their life with loving attention
- Sharing the little things: If you’ve stopped sharing little things with them, that’s a red flag too. It could be anything like something exciting you learned today, or maybe you can see the sky looks beautiful out the window but you don’t feel like sharing that moment with them. Such little sparks of joy, if not shared, can pile up over weeks and months, and could be a sign of falling out of love – a sign that you’re comfortable in a relationship but not in love. Trevor says, “Life had become more about a comfortable routine and sharing household chores equally like the excellent flatmates that we had become.”
- Doing the little things: Gestures of kindness and care are a love language. Reminding them to take their medicines, making sure the fridge is always stocked with that ice-cream flavor they love, forwarding them information on a latest book whose author they adore, writing them a poem, opening up a conversation about their special interest so you can listen to them with love, cooking their favorite dish, and whatever aligns with your interests and love languages – such gestures provide reassurance to your loved one that you still hold them close to your heart and that you’re thinking of their well-being, happiness, and comfort
8. Romantic and sexual life is dying
Are couples always in love? No. But they try. One of the ways to do so is by keeping your romantic and sexual life alive. But if you can’t seem to bother with it anymore, and if you’ve become too comfortable in the fight between comfortable love vs passionate love, then it’s a sign of falling out of love with them. Remember when you couldn’t wait to jump into bed with your partner?
While that phase inevitably faded out, the romance and intimacy ideally shouldn’t leave completely. Couples generally work with each other or even with counselors to get back on track with their intimacy. But if you no longer feel the need to, then it might be a sign that you are comfortable in a relationship but not in love.
9. You’re taking their efforts for granted
You no longer feel openly grateful for the things they do around the house. The vital thought and act of gratitude is missing. You can’t take each other for granted in love. We forget to be grateful for the other’s presence, and this forgetfulness becomes a habit becomes a red flag.
“When your lives are so intricately woven together, it sort of divorces you from your own reality of emotions. It took me a while to realize I’m comfortable in a relationship but not in love with him anymore. This bitter surprise carried its deep grief too. I’ll miss him as my partner but we both understand this (the breakup) was the kinder thing to do. After taking some time apart in the relationship, we both reconnected recently, and decided we want to be in each other’s lives as friends,” says Petal.
If you are comfortable in a relationship but not in love, your home is now a well-oiled machinery and doesn’t have two whole humans sharing their lives together with gratitude and joy. It’s become more about being with someone for company because you don’t want to be alone, and not because you genuinely value them and find them interesting. They’ve become more of an intimate friend who you’re comfortable talking to, but no longer feel any love or passion for.
While this is tragic and can cause a huge turmoil, the stability and sense of family that you’ve both given to each other cannot be denied. If you’re indeed just comfortable in a relationship but not in love, it just means that feelings have changed as they sometimes do. This could lead to a separation, or you may even be fine with it and let things be the way they are. You could mutually try to transition from a romantic relationship to a more intimate friendship, or work on it with your partner with compassion and respect. As long as you both have each other’s best interests at heart, any decision that you take will be founded in love, however you redefine it.
Of course. Human beings are meant to coexist with a variety of emotions. Being in love all the time is as impossible as being happy or sad all the time. Don’t doubt your relationship just because you have gone through a few phases of loving them less or not at all.
Yes. Not only are many aromantics built that way, but many alloromantic people also prefer comfort, stability, and consistency in a relationship and don’t go after love. There are all kinds of beautiful relationships and romantic love doesn’t have to be a core ingredient, unless of course that’s important to you. Do keep in mind that the intensity of love does change eventually.