What Does “I Love You But I’m Not In Love With You” Mean?

If you’ve ever had someone you love and care about say to you: “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” you will know how disorienting and puzzling it is to hear such words.

But what about the person who says those words? If you have been thinking or verbalizing those words recently, what do you really mean? Can you identify what’s wrong, and can you separate your dissatisfaction with your relationship from your unhappiness with your life in general? Either way, do you know what you would need in order to overcome your emotions—and what would fix or repair your feelings about the relationship?

Andrew Marshall has a questionnaire designed to assist you in exploring the complicated feelings and the jumbled emotions you may have on this subject. Answer these questions, printed in his book: I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You (Health Communications, Inc. Publishers):

  1. How long have you been feeling unhappy? Can you put an approximate date on it? How old were you when these feelings began?
  2. Think back to when you were 18. How would you have envisioned yourself at the age you are now? What would you have expected to have done or to have achieved?
  3. What ages were your children when you first started feeling unhappy? What was happening in their lives? Did anything of significance happen to you when you were their age? Has a child’s setback perhaps found echoes in your own life?
  4. What was happening in your life when you first started feeling unhappy?
  5. What was happening in your partner’s life? In your friend’s life? Events in the lives of people we feel close to influence us.
  6. What was happening at work? When you have problems at work, how do you deal with them? Is this similar or different from how you deal with problems at home? What would you consider your main problem at work today? Are the problems at work similar or different from the problems you’re dealing with at home?
  7. When you first became unhappy, what was happening in your parent’s lives? How do (or did) your parents cope with adversity? Are either of them depressed, anxious, addicted or in constant conflict with others—or were they? Do you think you may have “inherited” any of these symptoms from one of your parents?
  8. Focusing on your unhappiness today, if you had to choose just one thing, what is troubling you the most?
  9. Have you ever felt like this before? Do you have a pattern of feeling like this?
  10. What impact is this problem having on your relationship? Would you say this problem is impacting your relationship, or is your relationship the source of this problem?
  11. When you have had difficulties in the past with your partner, how have you dealt with them?
  12. Have you had similar problems with anybody else? How have you dealt with them?
  13. What are the three main strengths of your relationship?
  14. What would you change about your partner if you could? Be specific.
  15. How would you describe your sexual relationship?
  16. What would you like to have happen right now?
  17. How would you like your life to be in the future?
  18. How might you be able to make this happen?

Take out a piece of paper and divide it into three columns marked Personal, Relationship and Neither. Go through your answers and place each issue or concern in the appropriate column. These questions are designed to help you attempt to figure out what else may be lurking behind your “I Love You, But” feelings.

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