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The state of love changes in long-term relationships, explains couple and sex therapist Dr Eve.

Dr Eve explains that there are various stages in romantic relationships.

From falling in love, to beginning to fall out of love, into emotional indifference - the most negative stage of all.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

Many partners who start to disengage in their relationship often associate this with 'falling out of love'.

Dr Eve says that self-love and self-actualisation are an important part of making romantic relationships work.

A romantic love-relationship should have a sense of well-being of self for it to be healthy.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

It's about being in a place where there is a huge amount of connection and intimacy.

Dr Eve, clinical sexologist

She explains that the cold distance between partners grows gradually over time and romantic disengagement can quickly turn into indifference.

You are indifferent and romantically disengaged, if you:

  • are less involved in your partner’s life
  • speak with your partner less frequently
  • interact with your partner in less intimate ways
  • are less attentive to your partner’s needs and the relationship
  • avoid discussing personal topics that make you feel vulnerable

Three stages of disaffection is a relationship:

Stage 1

  • the qualities you once found positive and appealing about your partner begin to seem negative
  • you feel disappointed by your partner
  • you try work on your relationship and accommodate your partner to keep it intact

Stage 2

  • disillusionment turns into anger about the relationship
  • you become less accommodating to your partner
  • you obsess over your partners negative traits and weigh the costs of leaving the relationship

Stage 3

  • feelings of anger and hurt are replaced with indifference
  • you make little effort to hide your unhappiness with the relationship from others
  • you begin to pity your partner
  • therapy and counselling to decide on whether to split or not

Dr Eve advises that couples go through a checklist to assess the current state of their relationship(s).

Visit Dr Eve's website to learn more.

Take a listen to her expert advice and callers share their personal stories:

This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Falling out of love? Signs and stages of romantic disengagement

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