From Intimate to Alone: 4 Ways to Fall Out of Love

From Intimate to Alone: 4 Ways to Fall Out of Love

Heartbreak. I’m sure you’ve been there before. You opened your heart, took the leap, and became intimate with someone. Maybe you had a sexual relationship with this person. Maybe not. More importantly, you delved into the realm of emotional intimacy with another human being. This can be a dark and scary place if you’re not used to being there. So much so, that you might try desperately to escape.

Here are four major ways we avoid intimacy and, ultimately, break our own heart.

The Phantom Ex

“Some things take root in the brain and just don’t let go.”
~ T.S. Elliot

According to the book Attached,by Amir Levine, M.D. and Rachel S.F Heller, M.A., one of the ways that people with avoidant attachment talk themselves out of relationships is by holding onto a phantom ex.

The phantom ex is the person we drag along with us into every subsequent relationship. He or she is the one we think of longingly whenever we encounter something unpleasant about our new lover. All of our memories of this person are bathed in sunshine and warm feelings. We are forever searching for another version of our phantom.

love lost poem

Dreams of Someone Better

“We are like sculptors, constantly carving out of others the image we long for, need, love or desire, often against reality, against their benefit, and always, in the end, a disappointment, because it does not fit them.” ~ Anais Nin

Our thoughts feelings and fantasies create our world. When we constantly imagine ourselves with someone else, we’ve already left our current partner in our mind. It’s only a matter of time before the relationship breaks apart. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we truly want something more.

broken heart love poem

Using Escape Mechanisms

Running, hiding, pushing and retreating are all ways that we try to escape from love. After all, relationships can get messy. They involve vulnerability, uncertainty and a whole bunch of other uncontrollable factors. Love won’t fit into the streamlined little box we want to put it in. It’s bigger than that. It spills over, spreads out and invades our personal space. It is overwhelming.

Many of us aren’t used to having something as big and powerful as love getting all up in our face. It frightens us. We begin to focus on everything that could, would, did, might go wrong and then we run like hell. Or hide. Or create borders around our heart so thick not even Big Love can penetrate. We baracade our heart from pain and love and all the beautiful chaos in between.

Giving Up

“Love has no demand of us but to keep practicing, to do the next hard thing. Love says, Come dear. Take the next step.” ~ Anna White

If we found our perfect partner on the first try, we probably wouldn’t value him. Even though it’s frustrating, and sometimes heartbreaking, true love is worth the wait. Don’t give up. Don’t settle. Don’t be afraid to love again. There is always more love to give and receive in this world. Remember that.

“Let us forget with generosity, those who cannot love us.” ~Pablo Neruda


  1. I have to admit that I’m rather adept at creating borders around my heart.

    As an introvert who requires time alone to recharge, probably one of my biggest fears about being in a relationship is that I probably wouldn’t be available enough to my partner. That could create conflict , which is something I dread more than any loneliness I experience.

    I simply don’t allow myself to be “in love”.

    In truth, it’s not really as easy as that. I can feel so much love for someone, but I force myself to tamp it down when I feel it building too much.

    I create escape mechanisms for myself. They are typically excuses like wanting to wait until I’ve accomplished some goal or other….It used to be that I’d wait until I made a certain amount of money….these days, it’s some other “significant” attainment.

    • Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Chase. I can completely relate to what you said about waiting to accomplish something before letting love in – now I wish I had included that in the post.

  2. I’m not at all scared to love. Never have been. Not scared to get my heart broken or even to break a heart. It’s good for us. We need it, as so beautifully demonstrated in this article.

    I fell in love with a girl a few years back. She was an eccentric, a great lover, and a real sweetheart, very thoughtful and kind, though a lot immature.

    After a time, I could tell she was looking for ways out of the relationship. For whatever reason, she just didn’t think I was going to cut it for her. I could tell this was the case by her behavior toward me; started giving me the cold shoulder, saying cold things, not wanting to kiss and snuggle with me much at all anymore. And she was hoping I would get the message and do the dirty deed of breaking off with her first. That, of course, puts her in a position to go and cry to her friends what a bastard I was, how she gave everything and I broke her heart and blah, blah, blah.

    I chuckled at all of this. Seen it one too many times.

    I smiled at her one evening as we were having dinner and asked, completely out of the blue, “Why do you need to cause a rift? Why do you think you need to hate me in order to break off with me? That’s so high school.”

    “Say what?” She was so shocked she dropped her fork on the plate. Her face turned beet red, She didn’t not know what to do.

    “I mean to say, I love you, I think you are a sweet person. I will always think highly of you, no matter what happens. But if I am not what you are looking for, why don’t you just say so? I mean, it’s no big deal. You don’t need to kill me to get rid of me. You don’t need to hate me to have me gone. You don’t need to ruin my reputation or stab me in the back or anything like that. If you think were not compatible, say so. I’m all right with that. There’s no need to pretend about anything. We’re mature adults. We were attracted to one another, we got together, we made good love and sex, we shared some good times together; why do you want to wreck it all? Can’t we just leave things the way they are and go our own separate ways? Stop trying to pretend like you hate me. Didn’t you have a great time with me?”

    “I did.” A tear fell out of her eye and splashed onto the table in front of her. I reached over and wiped her face with a napkin. “I had a great time. There’s no denying that. And I still want you. But I have to move on. I have other things I want to do and there are other people I want to do them with.”

    “Then, it’s settled. We are officially broken up. No hard feelings, and only good memories to take with us, and no bridges burned. It hurts, but that’s life sometimes. Now, let’s enjoy and finish our dinner. We’ll pay separate checks. And here’s to you, lovely one.” At that, I raised my glass to her.

    Another tear fell, but she quickly wiped it away, picked up her glass, threw her head back, looked me full in the face and smiled, “And here’s to you, my love!”

    And that was that.

    That’s one thing about break-ups that always bothered me; all the childishness and churlishness that swarms around the affair. I mean, there had to have been something good about the person in the first place, or you never would have gotten with them to begin with.


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