Have We Lost the Ability to Fall in Love?

Todd Hayen

I really need everyone’s input on this one because it does scare me if it is true. And I am curious if my own anecdotal experience with this carries any weight. I see a lot of people in my practice, and a lot of them are young. I must say most of these young ones are young men, so maybe my observation is skewed, but the stories they relate to me makes me ask the question: have we lost the ability to fall in love?

I listen to their sad stories about encounters with the opposite sex, and how typically things fizzle out after a brief encounter. Usually sex is involved, much quicker than I feel is healthy, but that is the way of the times.

It seems too as if they (mostly the young men I talk to) actually make effort to connect—they do nice gestures toward their “girl,” take them to nice places, treat them well—all the typical things you are supposed to do while “courting.” But then suddenly they get ghosted, or just dropped, or the most polite way of all but still hurtful, being told “it just isn’t working out.” I then usually ask the question, “well, were you in love with her?” The reply? “I don’t think so, I don’t even know what that is, what is it?”

What is falling in love?

We could all probably write a book about that word. It can mean so much. But a verbal definition isn’t even what I am fishing for when I ask that question to my young clients. In typical “therapist” fashion, I am looking for the feeling. Can anyone write a book on the feeling of being in love and accurately capture it so another person would fully understand it?

I think only poetry can do that, or music, or maybe visual art, or a good romantic film (which uses all the arts to convey its message). Those things can elicit the feeling of love within the person observing them, and thus convey the message. Usually, however, if you ask someone who has had the feeling of falling in love, they know what it is, and can say “yes” to the question. None of my clients have been able to do that.

By the time I was 23, I had fallen in love maybe 10 times (if not twice that). Of course, we can argue that the first 8 or 9 were a “crush” or “puppy love” but I don’t think I would take up the side of the argument that a crush is insignificant. The feeling of love is the feeling of love, no matter your age. And although when really young it may not have staying power or be based on the things that are deeply meaningful, it still can knock you for a loop—maybe even more so when you are young.

I certainly knew I was in love. And if asked if I was in love with so and so or whomever, I certainly could answer yes or no with great confidence. It doesn’t seem any of my clients can do that, regardless of their sex.

Now, don’t get me wrong. My older clients (meaning older than 25), if in a long-term relationship were asked if they loved their partner, they can more easily say yea or nay—although more often than not, I hear the ubiquitous, “I love my partner, but I am not IN love with them.” It is the “in love” feeling I am looking for. Where has that gone?

In my view, the further we get from the way the archetypes function, the more likely there will be aberrations in how we, as humans, behave. Human culture has maintained the very basics of archetypal systems for thousands, if not tens of thousands, of years. Cultures throughout the world have adopted rituals, complex courting systems, and rites of passage, to maintain the integrity of archetypal forces. Each culture’s efforts to honor the archetypes have been unique and diverse, but they all have similar underpinnings.

I believe the last hundred years or so have ripped us away from even the most basic conscious adherence to these archetypal forces, and thus have sent us spinning into outer space with absolutely no grounding at all. This spinning out of orbit not only affects the way we connect with other humans in a romantic sense but has had negative effect on nearly everything about us we have in the past called “human”—compassion, empathy, positive regard for nature, resistance of power and ego inflation, appreciation of art and music, etc. You see, the archetypal powers are still fighting within, unconsciously, for their rightful position, and that unconscious turbulence causes a lot of problems.

Since this article is about falling in love, I will stick with that topic. And let me remind you again, I may be totally off with my interpretation of my observation, and I need help from you, dear reader, to let me know if I am. This is what it looks like: People seem to be pursuing relationships for all the wrong reasons.

Men are looking for a sexual encounter, but don’t even really know if that is what they want since they are continually told by the culture that interest in sex is wrong, ugly, toxic, objectifying, etc. It actually seems more like they are afraid of being alone, but don’t really know what that means either. More men I see than not, are actually looking for mother, which, of course, they do not fully comprehend.

It seems that women just don’t want to be alone, but to tell you the truth, my experience with women looking for love is not as complicated. If there is anything messed up there, it again typically points to the men they are courting. The same men I am talking about. They are often perpetual “boys,” fused to mother, living at home, no career plan, just the desire to play. What healthy woman wants that? The whole thing is a confusing mess.

Women are not without their “love” issues. But I will save that for another article.

What I do NOT hear, from both men and women, is, “I think I have fallen madly in love.” Remember the old romantic movies, where men and women “fall in love?” When they do, they know it, they go a bit goofy. They are giddy, the world is in super technicolor, everything is wonderful! “I’m in love, I’m in love, I’m in love with a wonderful guy! (or gal)” Yeah, like that. Nope, I don’t see it. At all. If there is anything close to “falling” it is not in love, it is infatuation. Which is quite a bit different. It is that clawing sort of obsession that turns everyone off. That isn’t love.

Falling in love is a beautiful thing. It is when a person is the kindest they have ever been. The world is beautiful. Life is grand. Nothing can go wrong. Remember looking into the eyes of the girl or guy you were/are in love with? You melt.


Is this experience gone? Is it old fashioned? Do kids today no longer have this capability? And if not, why? Maybe the “falling in love” phenomenon is a rather recent one—maybe it is a post-World War II thing and just recently fizzled out. It seems before that there was no time, or use, to “fall in love.” After that the cell phones and social media permeated the culture like the cancer they are and the post war “falling in love” paradigm was lost.

Before the war, people found partners for very pragmatic reasons—cooking, plowing, having babies to help on the farm, protecting the family from marauders. And before that, marriages were largely arranged in most cultures. Love was not a priority. However, if that is true, why has love, and falling in love, been found in most advanced cultures for centuries, expressed through art, literature, and poetry? This idea, and seemingly its manifestation, has been around a long time.

If I am right, and falling in love has fallen by the wayside, it isn’t rocket science to see why.

As mentioned earlier, cell phones, social media, as well as the breakdown of morals, a weakening of the spiritual foundation of culture, the emphasis on instant gratification, the prevalence of a consumer and materialist mindset, and the slow erosion of humanity in general, certainly would have an impact.

Love and falling in love are soul things, and soul is losing quite miserably in this current game.

Todd Hayen is a registered psychotherapist practicing in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He holds a PhD in depth psychotherapy and an MA in Consciousness Studies. He specializes in Jungian, archetypal, psychology. Todd also writes for his own substack, which you can read here


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John Ervin
John Ervin
Dec 8, 2023 9:27 PM

“Have we lost the ability to fall in love?”

Manalive, boy O boy, I sure hope so!

Both “New” & Old Normal in the West have always made perhaps its key idol of this transgeneration business of “falling in love.”

How much farther or higher would we have come if we had only exchanged that old tired steed for a new ability to “rise in love.”

Instead of always having ourselves that nasty fall. Implicitly controlled by it, mostly to our rue….

So beautiful that one fine day when we can arise in love.

[Not, ahem, arouse.]


“I am the troubador of a newer and nobler romance.”

~ St. Francis of Assisi

Nov 20, 2023 5:25 AM

It is said that in Japan, where people are so hooked on their smart phones and social media, that loneliness has become a problem only resolved by virtual partners.
Hollywood and the push for immediate sexual gratification have left a lot of young unwittingly dissatisfied with their partners who they feel don’t match up to the ideal.
I believe the “in love” feeling has a lot to do with forbidden sexual yearning that is now too freely given – any time anywhere. Married partners that stray from a relationship mistake their ‘in love’ feelings to the fact that their sexual encounters have to be secretly managed and are therefore all the more desirable.
Lastly, women are choosing to pursue careers of necessity now just to keep their heads above water and choose to marry or life-partner in their late 20s and 30s only to find difficulty in conceiving.

les online
les online
Nov 20, 2023 12:23 AM

My attention was beheld by one of my occasional archeological
digs in the ruins of my memories when my “i” that lurks within
the deep recesses said “You must have really hated that women
(for what she was doing to you)”. I knew what “i” was on about:
‘that woman’ was the first person i loved on being born…”
Lord forgive them for they know not what they do” is a fine
sentiment”… Yes, you can forgive, but you cant ever forget, for
whatever the trauma it forever comes between one and those
one wants to be closer to…

les online
les online
Nov 19, 2023 8:42 PM

What’s absent in people’s lives is often depicted
in movies, and there are a lot of great Love Movies…
Some might call ours ‘The Society of The Spectacle’ –
“Alienation Rules !” (Karl Marx)…

Infants learn dis-trust at a very early age
How does an infant feel dis-trust ?
It is felt physically…
It is felt as an absence,
a feeling that ‘Something isnt there’…

Nov 19, 2023 8:08 PM

“Love sees not with the eyes but with the mind. Love is therefore winged cupid, painted blind.”

Hugh O’Neill
Hugh O’Neill
Nov 19, 2023 7:27 PM

Love takes many forms: it is both complex and very simple. It is also quite ethereal, a moving target, and – like humour – probably resistant to analysis and scrutiny. In my own experience, the bond of mutual support, joy and respect between a husband and wife deepens immensely with the shared burden of caring for babies. Babies make us whole as Human Beings because they demand our unconditional commitment, and it is that surrender of the self (the ego) which helps us grow from Husband to Father, and fro. Wife to Mother. The bonds between parents are tested and can either break or strengthen. We adored our babies (children, meh 😉 and the family unit is a whole new adventure. The modern world however is ruthlessly opposed to families because this powerful cell is independent of the State. Families have always been the target of Totalitarians (who also promote… Read more »

Nov 19, 2023 2:24 PM

I had a comment–thought it was ok and then it disappeared. Can’t remember exactly what I said but, what you write–Dr. Tod, reminds me of James Joyce’s Mr. Duffy who lived”a short distance from his body.” We live apart from our bodies–our phones contain our consciousness. Our bodies are no longer receptors and communicators of the truth because we are medicated into feeling neutral at all times–not sad, not happy, not amazed, ever. We are never too cold, too hot or even slightly hungry. We are Jekylls and Hydes–fully disintegrated humans. To fall in love means being fully human.To be integrated–mind, body, heart. We’ve lost that.

Todd Hayen
Todd Hayen
Nov 19, 2023 7:38 PM
Reply to  MadLady

I think you nailed it.

Nov 19, 2023 1:41 PM

It seems to me that the war we are in right now is a war against the human. Little by little, because of technology we have moved much of our consciousness from our bodies into our phones. It’s now outside of us. We live–as James Joyce’s Mr. Duffy –“…A short distance from (his) body.” In disintegrating the person we lose little by little that which is human and natural–falling in love, being sad, being happy, being amazed. Makes me want to listen to Gregorian chant in an ancient basilica surrounded by icons, incense and candles

Jonas Carling
Jonas Carling
Nov 19, 2023 1:47 PM
Reply to  MadLady

we have moved much of our consciousness from our bodies into our phones

Well put! More accurately, we have transposed a shabby version of our consciousness into our phones, fallen in love with it, and suppressed our true one inside us.

Todd Hayen
Todd Hayen
Nov 19, 2023 7:39 PM
Reply to  MadLady

Oooo…that sounds delightful (listening to Gregorian chant…)

Jonas Carling
Jonas Carling
Nov 19, 2023 10:25 AM

Erasing love (and falling in love) plays in the hand of those psychopatic elites who are afraid of humans that are uncontrollable.

When someone is in love of life, they cannot but fall in love with other humans. Make humans loathe life and their “falling in love” feeling will inevitably lose steam and die.

Once that happen, narcisism prevails (who hasn’t experienced a relationship with a narcisist?) as a degerate form of love, and humans become more predictable and easier to manipulate.

Nicholas Creed
Nicholas Creed
Nov 19, 2023 5:00 AM

People are still falling in love but they are getting burned faster and more fiercely. Within my circles of friends I see both men and women devastated finding out they’ve been cheated on, by a friend of a friend spotting their beloved in someone else’s embrace in a random social media post. Couples keep their phones on do not disturb, screen face down, clandestinely flirting with new beginnings or just outright leading double lives. People look for perfection and think they can “upgrade” anytime from their current beau by swiping left or right on the apps. When I recently got married, I had friends incredulously asking why I would so something so stupid, to be so limited, as they continue styling themselves as the tinder princes of the land. People will wake up old and lonely and craving companionship after a lifetime of debauchery and random one night stands. I… Read more »

Nov 19, 2023 12:59 AM

Love is failing because you described it. When you like someone and they ghost you, it’s a form of PTSD about love.
In this moronic fear culture (fear that and that but trust us), women and men are afraid to put their cards down.
In the past, it was easier because the big thing was finding someone to have a family with and religion was there to set the rules, also the same with arranged marriages.

In a time where raising a family is ridiculously expensive, there’s no longer this thing to drive love. But don’t fret, people are learning to love in a different way, but this boomer shit about having kids is still pushed in a moronic manner in mass media. It’s changing though, despite the fears of the conservative people.
They love to blame everything on woke, but it’s also because conditions changed!