love you but I'm not in love with you

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It’s like the kiss of death. When your spouse says, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” Is it time to panic when you hear that? It may be.

I’m not trying to instill fear in you, but we talk about reality and how you can face life as it is. If you want to get where you need to go, you must accept where you’re starting from.

But what about this: My spouse said, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you.” What does that mean?

It typically means: I have emotions for you, but it’s not what I want.

Why Do People Say This?

For some people, and these are relatively rare, these are people who have finally decided, “I don’t want any relationship. I want to be alone.”

You’ve heard me say they’re relatively rare, and they are. And that could be happening with your spouse. So it’s not likely, but they may want to go off and be by themselves.

Typically when that happens, it’s somebody who’s been hurt so many times in life by parents, siblings, friends, maybe even by you. Although I’m not trying to blame this on you at all–please don’t hear that. And they finally reached the point of thinking, “I shouldn’t be in any relationship because all relationships wind up hurting me at some point.” So that’s one possibility, not the most likely possibility, but one possibility.

Another is, “You know, I feel this emotion with you, but I feel like there’s something more I can have, and I wanna go looking for it out there.”

And so, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” means that I’ve heard other people describe what they feel, I’ve watched the things on the TV, I’ve seen the stuff in the movies, and I want to go see if I can find that for me. So that might be what they’re saying.

Or, unfortunately, they may be saying, I do feel this “in love” feeling with somebody else. “I’m not blaming you. I’m not angry with you. There’s still part of me that has positive emotions about you. So, therefore, I love you, but I’m in love with him / I’m in love with her.” And so “I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is setting up a situation where it’s like, “But I am in love.”

Now, your spouse may not be ready to admit that right now. They may not want to tell you that it’s going on in their lives at this particular moment. So they may be very deceitful.

How to Save your Marriage

Now, if you’re going to deal with this, if you really wanna save the marriage and your spouse has told you, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you anymore,” then you need to accept what they feel, even if you don’t like it.

Because if you come back, “Oh no, you do love me,” and you start trying to explain to him or convince them that indeed, love is there, the “in love” kind of love is there, it’s not going to do you any good. It makes you look desperate. And it certainly makes the other person convinced, “You don’t get me, you don’t understand me, you don’t know who and what I am.”

You see, if you look at the reasons that people divorce, if you look at the research, by far the most common reasons that people divorce are:

I don’t feel like you love me.

I don’t feel like you like me.

Or, I don’t feel like you respect me.

And if they have felt that you have been disrespectful by trying to control, dominate, argue, whatever, that you have always tried to get your way, there’s a ton of different ways that this could be demonstrated. But, if you showed disrespect, whether you meant to or not, that can set up a person to be vulnerable. Either not wanting to be with you, “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” or being susceptible to developing a relationship with somebody else where they feel respected.

The same thing has to do with love and like. I want to know not just that you feel good toward me in the sense that you love me. I want to know that:

  • You like me.
  • You look at me and see that there are good attributes here.
  • I’m a person that you enjoy being around.
  • I’m a person you enjoy talking to.

And so, if indeed (again, I’m not trying to beat you up, we’re just trying to deal with reality) you have been demonstrating toward them this respect, a lack of love, a lack of liking, then you need to accept the fact that if they are involved with somebody else. It’s because, at least in that relationship, they do feel respected, liked, and loved.

I’m not saying that your spouse is involved with somebody else. I don’t even know who your spouse is. So I’m not trying to tell you that. Although in just a moment, if you think there is somebody else but they have not admitted that as of yet, I’m going to give you some ways to tell whether they might be having an affair. But right now, that’s not the focus.

The focus is:

  • Trying to understand him.
  • Trying to understand her.
  • Accept what it is they feel and understand why they feel that way.

Now, if you sit down and say, “Okay, I just heard Dr. Beam say that maybe you feel disrespected or unloved or disliked, so explain that to me.” That’s probably not going to work. Because if indeed they feel disrespected, unloved, and disliked, you coming in and demanding that information will not get you the truth.

But, if you try to understand why, then look at, “Hmm, how have they reacted before? What kind of things have I done that I’ve seen them pull away from me or get angry with me or just shut down around me?”

And start doing some self-evaluation at this point. And if you begin to understand why you say, “Dr. Beam, why is that important?”

Because, at least hopefully, it will change the way you interact with them. If you’re thinking only from the reference of yourself, you’re not going to grasp what’s going on. And if you want to save this marriage, if you want your spouse to be in love with you again, then you’re going to have to see things, at least to some degree, from their perspective.

Signs That Your Spouse May Be in Love with Someone Else

But since I brought it up, I need to go on and finish an earlier thought. “Wait a minute, I heard those three things earlier, and one was that my spouse might be in love with someone else.” That’s one of the possibilities. I’m not saying that’s the case with your situation, but it’s one of the possibilities. And if you’re thinking, “How? How would I know that?” Okay, here are some of the signs you can look for.

Has your spouse’s appearance changed in the last few weeks or the last three months?

In other words, they’ve lost weight. They’ve gone to the gym, got in better shape, started dressing differently, and changed hairstyles. So, in other words, there’s a change going on.

In and of itself, it may not mean anything, but I’m going to go through a whole bunch of things to examine. For example, has my spouse’s appearance changed, and is there some factor I don’t know about? Like, they got a new job. “No, I’m just seeing that he or she changed, but I’m not sure why, but I can see the change.”

Is there any missing money?

If your husband or wife spends big money, but you don’t know where it’s going, it might be relatively innocent. But, compared with this whole list I’m going to give you, it can start mounting up to be a bunch of things going on at once.

Is there missing time?

“My wife got off work at 5:30, and she said she was going to drop by the grocery store to pick up a few things and be here, but didn’t get here until nine. When she showed up, she had one bottle of milk, and it can’t take that long to buy a bottle of milk….”

If it’s just something that happens rarely or very seldom, it might not mean anything. But if it happens more and more and more, it could be: “Okay, my husband sometimes doesn’t show up, and he said he ran into his buddies. So they stopped at the bar, and they had a couple of beers. They started playing darts, and time got away from him.”

That is a possibility, but again we’re giving you a whole list of things to look at together.

Are there any hidden bills?

You used to get the bill about the cell phone, and you could see all the calls that your husband or wife made, and you haven’t seen that bill for a while. So it’s like somehow, it’s disappearing, and you can’t get your hands on it. And usually, your husband or wife would leave the cell phone lying around, and if you wanted, you could pick it up and look at the phone. But now it’s carefully guarded, and if you get close to it, your spouse rescues it.

Have you discovered any hidden social media?

For example, are you suddenly blocked from your husband’s or wife’s Facebook page, or you’re not seeing what they tweet anymore? Or perhaps you run across evidence somewhere that maybe your husband or wife has a different Facebook page. For example, “My friend said she saw something my wife posted on Facebook the other day. I still have access to her page, I’m looking at it, and it’s not there.” So is there any hidden social media that you’re aware of that you have found?

And has your sex life changed?

Not just has your sex life gotten worse, like “We hardly have sex with each other anymore, or when we do make love, it’s like my spouse is not involved in it anymore.” But it could also be just the opposite of that. For example, “All of a sudden, we’re having sex more than we used to, and my spouse is getting into it.”

If you’re thinking, wait a minute, can an increased and enhanced sex life be a sign of an affair? It can.

Any one of these things by themselves may mean nothing, and we’re building a pattern here.

Have you started catching your spouse in lies?

Relatively innocent lies in the sense that, “He said he was going to the grocery store to pick something up. I just happened to be driving by, and his car wasn’t there. I mentioned later, ‘I was going to come in and shop with you because we need something, but I didn’t see your car.'”

All of a sudden, there’s a different story. “Oh, I meant to tell you…”

If that happens once or twice, no big deal. But are you beginning to catch more lies and more lies and more lies?

Are you beginning to notice a lot of mood swings?

Where that sometimes your spouse is joyful, sometimes your spouse is depressed, and sometimes your spouse is angry?

It is to the point where it just seems things change rapidly. “I don’t understand what’s going on here. I’ve just noticed that he’s changed or she’s changed, and these mood swings are all going on.”

Have you found yourself asking questions?

Like, Why did you not show up until 10 o’clock when you said you’d be here at seven?” Or, “One hundred dollars are missing here. I want to know where it went.”

If you start asking those questions and, in response, your sanity begins to be questioned, like: “I think you’re going crazy. Don’t you remember? I told you what I did with the hundred dollars. Don’t you know what I did at that time? We discussed it already.” When you know good and well that didn’t happen, you’re thinking, “Why is my sanity being questioned?”

Often, that’s a tactic that a person having an affair will use to throw you off their track. The best defense is a good offense. Let me go at you and go at you, so you wind up defending yourself. Now you’re not attacking me or questioning me because you’re busy protecting.

Or even if they now become offensive to any questions:

“Where were you?” “What, are you my mom? You’re trying to control me now?” Or, “What happened with the money?” “I’m not gonna live like that where you treat me like a child, and I can’t spend a hundred dollars if I want to.”

Any of those things by themselves may mean nothing, even two or three of them coupled together may mean nothing.

However, if you see all of these signs of cheating happening, it may be.

I’m not telling you definitively that your spouse is having an affair, but it may be that they are involved with somebody else or, at least, involved in something they should avoid.

What To Do Now

So if you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, I need to get a private detective, right?”

Sure, if you want a divorce, go ahead and do that.

If you decide to get a private detective, if you decide to hide a GPS in their car, or maybe you decide to somehow get an app on the phone where you can know where they are. If you try to eavesdrop and sneak up behind them, you can do any of those things to catch them if you wish; but when you get caught snooping, prying, hiring somebody else, whatever it might be, it will not end well. When you get caught, it’s not going to be about whatever they are doing. It’s going to be about, “How dare you do that? How dare you violate my privacy? How dare you not trust me!”

Rather than dealing with whatever your spouse is doing, it’s going to be dealing with how devious and wicked you are, and nothing good will come from it.

And so when people say, “Should I do all those things? Should I do any of those things?”

I’m saying, if you want out of the marriage, you want definitive proof so you can divorce them, go for it.

But, if you’re going to save the marriage, that’s not the thing to do.

“What is the right thing to do?”

There are a lot of things. We are glad to help you with this situation.

We’re Marriage Helper. You can call us and talk to one of our client representatives, who will help you know what we can do to help people.

We offer resources like coaches who can guide you through things. They won’t coach you on catching your spouse, but they will coach you on what you can do. If you want to save this marriage, they will help you discover the things most likely to save it instead of the things that are most likely to end it.

In other words, get the right help.

If you don’t want us, then find the right help. I’m just telling you that we have a lot of experience with this. We do care, and we find, on average, when people come to work with us for an affair or marriage in crisis, our success rate is about three out of four in helping those couples work it out. So whatever you do, get the right help.

We care. Let us help if we can.

Want more help? This free guide will teach you the 7 things you need to know when saving your marriage from an affair.

If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990. Use this form to contact us or request more information about our Marriage Helper Workshop for troubled marriages. We can help you save your marriage even in cases of infidelity, loss of trust, anger, sexual problems, and other issues. (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.