Building Bridges

Issue # 23 of 43 

David LeClaire
By: David LeClaire

All I Want Is the Person I Fell In Love With

Time has a way of changing things. The very nature of life itself is based upon change. And whether we are talking about our bodies, careers, technology, the environment, or relationships, change is inevitable. We can't control or stop it. Regardless of how we feel about change, it will continue to occur around and to us as time marches on.

Many couples began with a flourishing love for each other, sharing a profound appreciation and admiration for their partner. But as time would have it, they often begin to take each other for granted, notice the imperfections, and develop a routine that can become predictable and stale. Thus their relationship changes. The passion fizzles instead of sizzles. Some of this is avoidable, and there are some measures couples can take to get back on track. And realistically, some of the changes will take their toll.

Lately I have talked to quite a few people who are frustrated with the state of their relationship. And one recurring theme kept surfacing which is directly related to these inevitable changes. Simply put, they wish they could have the person back with whom they fell in love.

One woman confided in me and said, "When I started dating Joe he was so fun to be around. Light on his feet, witty, always wanting to do something adventurous! Now he works long hours all the time, is constantly tired, and seems to carry the weight of the world on his shoulders. I love him still, but the guy I fell for has disappeared. I wish I knew how to bring him back."

Another woman said, "My husband used to be such a great lover. He would always take his time with me, put in a lot of energy and passion, we really connected. Now I have to initiate anything, and be responsible for keeping it going, or nothing happens. It feels so one-sided. He is a good husband in most ways, but I miss the man, the lover, he used to be. I know he has it in him, I just don't know how to bring it back. He doesn't seem to care or notice, which makes it very hard to get across how I feel. Even the way he dresses is now kind of sloppy, he doesn't even try to look good for me. He used to be such a sharp dresser, women always noticed him when he walked in a room!"

I could go on with the examples, but I think you probably get the drift. Where did the person we fell in love with go? Where is their zest for life, that spark that made them seem so alive, vibrant, happy, and different from the rest? The sad thing is that when couples split up, usually both people realize they have been in a sort of a slump, and need to get back into things they love doing. They get in better shape physically, mentally, and socially. After all, in order to attract a quality partner again, they should polish up a little!

Sure, many of these re-singled people start going to the gym again, going for walks on the beach, getting involved in hobbies and activities, and being more like the person they used to be. How can we get our partners to see the light BEFORE the relationship is abandoned? No doubt this can be a very sensitive subject to address. And many people have tried, to no avail, to get their significant other to listen to their appeals.

Typically the response is denial, rationalization, or pointing the finger back. Anger and resentment can occur just as easily. One woman told me her husband was cold and distant from her for months after telling him "that she missed him, the guy she fell in love with." There are no magic potions or easy solutions since our lives have changed, things are more complicated, routines have been set for quite some time. Yet communication is the beginning no doubt. Talking about this is the planting of the seed. Encouraging them, giving them wins when they do make efforts or changes, and continuing to talk about it is like watering the seedling.

Communication can stir up things, and maybe not result in the direction you wanted your situation to go. But if you really miss the man or woman you fell in love with even though they are living in the same house, I suggest it's worth the effort and risk to bring it up. Just don't make them wrong or imply they have been a bad partner because they've changed. Instead focus on what you love about them the most, and what you want more of again, acknowledging that you understand why things have changed, and maybe even admit to some of your own changes that could use a little refurbishing. Just be clear what it is you want when all the smoke has cleared - "All I want is the person I fell in love with."

David LeClaire has spent much of his time teaching at community college and private school, and lead communications training for Fortune 500 companies. Now a popular and active Seattle area sommelier, this graduate of Central Michigan University led seminars for a wide variety of organizations. LeClaire is the author of "Bridges To A Passionate Partnership." He can be reached at

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Text © 1998, David LeClaire. Part of the original Sideroad.
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