All relationships go through cycles. There is the excitement of early romantic involvement and the many firsts that go along with the beginning of a relationship. First dates, first developing feelings of love and affection, the excitement of a new sexual relationship, starting to live together—these are all wonderful and exciting moments in a new relationship.

It is not uncommon for that first blush of excitement to fade as a couple settles more and more deeply into the routines of daily life.  Maintaining a true intimate connection takes conscious effort, work, and lots of communication.  Many people are good at getting into relationships and enjoying the first adventurous moments of discovering another person. A whole different set of skills and attitudes are important to sustaining intimacy over the long-term and many fewer people have developed those skills.

When intimacy falls off in a long-term romantic relationship, the most helpful thing we can do is to look at ourselves before blaming our partners.  Ask yourself, how am I acting toward my partner during the past year?  Am I showing interest in him or her? Am I expressing affection on a daily basis? Do I provide a listening ear and emotional support to my partner during times of stress and difficulty?

Or course it is never all one person’s fault when things become stale and disconnected in a long-term relationship, but it is definitely not helpful to start by looking only at your partner and her or his faults. It is always better to start by looking at ourselves.  After some honest self-reflection, you need to communicate directly with your partner about what you see happening (and not happening) in the relationship. Communication with your boyfriend is obviously key to figuring out whether the distance that has developed is bridgeable or not.

Emotional distance and the loss of time spent together is not the death knell of a relationship. It is, however, a warning sign that the relationship is in trouble.  Sometimes all you need is a self-help book or attending a relationship enrichment workshop to shift the energy of your relationship toward more engagement and closeness once again.

If you have tried to communicate with each other and nothing is improving, seek professional help.  Find a counselor who can teach you communication skills and help you navigate through the really difficult-to-talk-about issues that may be underlying the distance that has developed in your relationship.

Only after you have made a real effort to be aware of, evaluate, and address the issues of distance in your long-term romantic relationship should you consider ending it.  Most relationships can be revitalized if their foundation was based in real love and compatibility from the start.