50 Things to Stop saying if you want to Grow the F*ck-Up: #1 - I love you but I'm not IN love with you
Without betraying anyone’s trust, I have been the designated confidant for many “trouble in paradise” conversations. Chances are, if you know me, at one time or another, you have confessed your relationship woes…
You haven’t had sex with your husband in over a year.
You’re happy with the person you’re with but you’ll never get over the one that got away.
You have regrets about getting married so quickly.
You’re afraid you’re the one that traded up and you’re waiting for the moment when your partner wakes up and realizes that they can do better.
You’re afraid that you traded down and you’re stuck.
I think I’m chosen as the human diary because I’m a writer, I’m a natural listener. Not to mention, after my own rollercoaster of a love life, at this point I’m as judgement-free…
That’s not totally true, I’m super judgemental, but not about the things that most people flip out about. Finally, I’m chosen because I have this horrible gift of being a Gemini which lets me see both sides of the story so that I both tell you what you want to hear and challenge you at the same time. Only a Gemini can do that, not even a Libra has the ability to defend both sides. Libras try to compromise, they are wimps but at least they can have a definitive balance. Geminis just think both sides are true.)
Here’s something that keeps coming up that I have a definitive opinion on, with all the judgment that it deserves:
When people are looking for someone to tell them to get out of their relationship they often default to the famous saying: “I love them, but I don’t think I’m IN LOVE with them”
Like that’s supposed to explain it. Full Stop. Then they go on to site examples… we both got so busy, two ships in the night, we’re like roomies, he’s my best friend, I just want her to find something who can give her what’s she’s looking for, I don’t know what she’s looking for, he just won’t talk to me…
SHUT THE FUCK UP.
And if you’re not going to shut up, answer me this: what is the difference between loving someone and being IN LOVE with someone?
The term, I am IN love with you, which is used in rom coms to explain that the misguided protagonist finally woke up from their stupor to realize that they can’t live another moment without a commitment from their amour. It must mean I choose you to love and I want to mush body parts with you. You say it once and then move onto the less dramatic I love you for the rest of your relationship. You don’t say I’m in love with you, good luck with your presentation at work today. So, my conclusion is that I’m IN love with you is actually a dopamine fuelled way of saying: I want our body parts to mush and I actually am going to call you tomorrow.
If you say I love you but I’m not in love with you you’re actually saying I am having a problem in my relationship and I don’t give enough fucks to fix it. It might actually be easier to break up than to deal with our shit.
Now I’m not a professional therapist, which means if you’re talking to me about it, you’re not talking to your partner. I get it, you want me to tell you something very specific, something that a friend will tell you: You are not an asshole for feeling this way.
But this is what I hear:
- I know there is a problem. I don’t want to fix the problem. I wouldn’t even know how to fall back in love with someone. Please tell me I’m not an asshole.
- I’m too lazy/scared/chicken to get out of this relationship. Please tell me I’m not an asshole
- They already know all my deep dark secrets, they already know my parents. If I start dating someone new I have to go through all of that again and I’m so soooo tired. It’s more comfortable to be with them then to find someone new or… be alone. Please tell me I’m not an asshole.
- I don’t want them to be mad at me. I couldn't’ handle it if my best friend hated me, I’m not a bad person. Please tell me I’m not an asshole.
- I have to stay with them, they would fall apart if I left (I would fall apart if I left). It’s too embarrassing/awkward/shameful to explain to everyone we know that we just …fell out of love. Please tell me I’m not an asshole.
Here’s what you want to hear: You’re not an asshole.
You’re just super immature.
Just a reminder, I’m not a professional therapist. I can’t actually diagnose you with immaturity.
Not immature enough to recognize there’s a problem, just immature enough to reduce your nuanced relationship woes to an aged cliché. Your words didn’t describe the problem, your words defend not looking inward to realize that you’re part of the problem and therefore part of the solution. Those words don’t inspire proactivity to fix your own life.
You’re so immature that you think you deserve to constantly be IN love with someone for the rest of your fairy tale life. No one is immune to this syndrome. All genders that one day your prince or manic pixie dream girl will come along and save you from the tedium of normal life. Please never put that much pressure on a person, they will only fail you, because it’s not all about you, and they have days when they need you to be their saviour and on that day, you have to show up prepared and not wonder why it’s not all about your happily ever after.
That shit was made up by people like me, writers that only have 90 pages to convince you that two good-looking strangers from opposite walks of life not only find each other, and can fall in love with each other over a crowded bar with one soft-focus twinkle lit slow motion shot. Trust; everyone was falling in love with Julia Roberts in that bar, she just happened to make eye contact with Richard Gere. We leave the shit out that slows the story down, the four days that Richard doesn't call and Julia obsessively talks about it to her roomie even though she’s studying for the bar.
And if you’re mature enough to know all that and still insist that you love but aren’t in love… Heed my words: Loving someone means that you at least have the respect for them to try. And if you don’t want to try, then you don’t love them. Then what you are IS an asshole.
Try? Try what you ask. Communication is how you fell in love, communication is how you will fall back in love. If communication is hard for you, get help with an actual real life professional. (Not me). If you can’t afford a professional watch Arrival for inspiration. AND If you don’t want to communicate, that means you don’t want to fall back in love and that means you want out of the relationship. So, don’t be an asshole. Break up, do it slowly and respectfully and over time so that no one is blindsided with a sudden loss of the support of being in a loving relationship.
And when someone says those words to you — and it will happen, it happens to all of us — thank them for being brave enough to say it to your face. Trust me, they’ve talked about with someone before they talked to you (do not try to figure out who it was) (yes it was probably me) and it’s taking everything they have in them to approach you. But here’s my non-professional advice: They want out. And now they want YOU to offer a break-up to THEM. Yep. They want you to break up with them, so they can say: it was mutual. DON’T FALL FOR IT. Here’s your reply — “I feel exactly the same way” even if it isn’t true. Watch their face fall. Shit, those words hurt.