He said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Immediately, I felt sad, alone, foolish, on-guard. How could I not know this? I mean, I knew we’d been struggling for a few months; as a matter of fact, we’d just had a few major discussions about our relationship just 5 or 6 weeks ago. But to tell me he was no longer in love with me? I was crushed. I’m still reeling from it.
“You’re my best friend, and you’re wonderful. Maybe we can redefine our relationship.” I thought, “What??! As what, friends?”
However, after this pronouncement, we talked for another couple of hours, and over the course of our conversation, he decided he didn’t want to end our relationship after all. At least not yet. Ever since our “big talk” in early May, I had really been putting in the effort to build a stronger relationship with him and had even returned to visiting my shrink to work on some of my issues surrounding intimacy and commitment. I really thought we had taken a turn in the right direction, and even got confirmation from him that he thought we were moving in a better direction and that he loved me more than he had previously.
Then, due to assumptions and miscommunication, we had a spat and ended up with those 10 words.
So, because I’m analytical and a researcher by nature, I did what any self-respecting woman would do. I Googled “What does it mean when someone says I love you but I’m not in love with you?” And Google was very helpful (as always!). There were several articles by noted psychiatrists and therapists and of course, I only want to believe the ones that lean in my favor. But the takeaway from all of the articles was the same: either the relationship is on its deathbed, or we need to put the work in to get over this hurdle and enjoy the loving, sparkling relationship we once had (which is what I’ve wanted to do all along).
He said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.”
I don’t know what will happen with our relationship, and as I’ve said to him, I certainly don’t want him to stick around simply to avoid hurting my feelings, but we’ve both been sick with serious illnesses in the past 6 months, we’ve both been under a lot of stress and financial worry, and well, life.
He himself admitted that maybe he’s not sure what being in love means and that his idea of love is really more about infatuation and the “honeymoon” period. He said he felt like things moved too quickly at the beginning, that we went from infatuation to “an old married couple” in the blink of any eye, but that was more his doing than mine. He was the first to tell me he loved me and that he was “all in,” even when I wasn’t quite sure yet.
This recent pronouncement worries me for the long-term. If he’s “all in” what does it say if he wants to cut and run when things aren’t going that great? And it certainly plays into my fears of never realizing unconditional love with a partner.
According to one counselor, “Unfortunately, there is no generic answer to the question ‘How do you know when to hang in there and when to cut your losses?’ It is, however, a pretty safe bet that if you don’t feel that you’ve given things your very best shot, then it’s worth hanging in there a bit longer and making that extra effort. Athletes experience what they refer to as a ‘second wind,’ which often occurs after the point at which they feel that they are on the edge of depletion. Being in relationship, as many of us know from our own experience, is not unlike being an endurance athlete or a marathon runner. It may require the willingness to hang in there and go past the point where you feel like quitting and giving up in order to find the hidden strength or energy needed to finish the race.”
I’m often the ambivalent girlfriend or wife in relationships, but I realized, when I thought I was on the verge of losing this relationship a couple of months ago, that I wanted to fight for it.
I want to win this race.