Relationships aren’t constant, they’re always changing. This means being able to weather the ups and downs is a crucial skill for all relationships. Sadly, many couples really struggle with doing this. I often work with couples where one person feels devastated because their partner, “loves me, but isn’t in love with me.” This feeling is very, very common in long-term relationships, but ultimately it doesn’t have to mean the end.
Feeling, or being told, that your partner loves you but is not in love with you is one of the most painful things to face. In fact, most partners cannot believe it when they hear it. Hearing these words often comes as a complete shock and can send people into a tailspin, leaving them feeling desperate and depressed. There are things, however, that can be done to cope and possibly turn things around.
The Devastation Of Hearing ‘Love But Not In Love’
What follows being told he loves me but is not in love with me is what makes hearing these words even harder to understand and accept. Often after this is said a bag gets packed and the partner leaves, separates or says they want a divorce. A woman I'm counseling right now came home to find a note on the kitchen counter saying not much more than, "I love you, but am no longer in love with you," and her husband had already moved out while she was gone from the house.
Sadly, being told this has become very common, so if it's happening to you, you're far from alone. Here are a few messages I've received from other partners in the same situation:
I need help. My husband told me that he still loves me but is not in love with me anymore. That he has no feelings for me. He also told me that he isn't sure he even wants to work on the marriage. He said that he is leaving and isn't sure whether he will miss me and if he wants to even come back home. We have been together for 15 years. I am still really in love with my husband. I want my marriage. I want him to want me and love me. I cannot even deal with the thought of him not returning home. At this point I am certain he has the mindset he isn't coming back home." -Val
Having your partner tell you they're not in love with you doesn't just happen to older relationships either.
My husband of 3 years asked for a divorce for the second time. We now have a 2 year old and I love him very much. I do not want this. I am trying to make it work, which was I did last time and he did eventually came home, but we got pregnant right after he came home so everything we learned went to the way side. Then I had a few medical things for the last 3 years and now he says he us not in love with me and he has been unhappy, because I don't desire him, which I do. I want to change our relationship, but I don't know if it's to late." -Bella
Why People Fall Out Of Love
Being told this always happens for the same reason -- a partner has fallen out of love. Or at least they believe they’ve fallen out of love. Although it doesn’t change the presence of the “out of love” feeling, what many partners mistakenly assume is that a lack of excitement, lust, and the all-consuming interest that’s present in the beginning of a relationship means that they’ve fallen out of love. That “new relationship” feeling is a high and once it fades it feels like the love has gone too. It’s possible, however, that it’s not gone at all, it’s just changed and now the excitement and enthusiasm that was once effortless requires some effort to maintain.
There can be many contributing factors and triggers to the “love but not in love” feeling as well -- cheating, midlife crisis, depression, and many more.
I believe my husband may be going thru a midlife crisis. I've read a lot about it so I'm convinced that's what's happening. We have been married for 9 years and have 1 daughter; however I am also the step-mom to his children from his prior marriage. Our marriage is not perfect by any means, but I did not think it was in a position for him to tell me one day he's not in love with me anymore. He said he needed to move out on his own and figure out what he should be doing with his life because perhaps he's not meant to be a husband and only a father. This all happened 2 months after his 40th birthday, which to him was very hard to deal with." -Kate
And it's not just men who say this to their partners, because women say it too.
About 3 months ago my wife told me she loves me but is no longer in love with me. I found out the reason being that I was yelling at the kids a lot, drinking more and she didn't feel heard when arguments arose and basically over time just gave up and felt defeated. I've been doing everything in my power to eradicate my ways. I no longer drink everyday, am very patient with the kids and listening very closely to what she says to me." -Colin
Coping With Hearing That Your Partner Isn’t In Love With You
What can you do when your partner tells you they love you, but are not in love with you? Unfortunately, there’s no bullet-proof answer.
The best thing you can do is to practice prevention. Don't let your relationship drift apart, which all relationships do unless we're intentional about preventing it. So if you haven't heard those words yet, or you have but the relationship hasn't gotten to the point these examples have, start now to reinforce the love and connection.
But if you've had your partner tell you this, and you're already wrestling to grasp the idea my partner loves me but is not in love with me, don’t panic or overreact. Let's learn a little more about this:
My partner of 17 years has said he loves me but is not in love with me. We have had our ups and downs over the years, including me having an emotional affair 6 years ago after he wasn't paying me attention. He has said he will never forgive me for this and I know I hurt him very much. The thing is he said we are over, but he is still sleeping in the same bed and wanting sexual relations. From reading your post, "How Can I Get My Husband to Love Me Again?", I can see that I have been pleading too much with him about reconsidering. I realize I am at fault for some of our ups and downs. I have been seeing a counselor, and have made changes within myself to try to see if I can get him back. I know it is going to take time, perseverance and patience, but as he is still living in the house I'm hoping he notices the changes. I really do love him and we have 2 wonderful children I want us to be us again, even though he has said he don't think his feelings will change." -Jennifer
Jennifer gives some great examples of what to do and not to do when you've learned my partner loves me but is not in love with me. Don't "plead" or ask a million questions 'why' (your partner often doesn't know the answers themselves). Instead, make changes in yourself that will make you more confident in yourself and therefore more attractive to your partner (this doesn't mean just in your appearance). Most of all, give it some "time" and be "patient." It took time to lose the love and it takes time to get it back.
Obviously, it will take more than just changing yourself to get your partner to fall in love again, but it’s the place to start. And making changes in yourself can make them look at you in a new way and give them reasons to reconsider their love you but not in love with you feeling. Your changes may even inspire them to make changes in themselves as well. A healthy relationship, after all, requires effort from both partners in order to work.
Editor’s note: This post was originally published July 1, 2015 and has been updated with new information for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Looking for More? Check Out These Articles
- Why Doesn't He Love Me?
- My Husband Doesn't Love Me, But I Still Love Him
- We've Started Divorce Proceedings But Want To Stop It
- Get More Help When the Love is Gone