He Loves Me, He’s Just Not In Love With Me

Photo by nattu via flickr

All my life, I’ve been looking for that guy—the one I can tell anything to, the one who totally gets me. The guy who is handsome and charming, with a gorgeous smile. We can talk all night, but we don’t always stay up just talking. I can curl up in his arms, feeling loved and contented, as my mind slips into pleasant dreams.

So, is it any wonder that when I find that guy, I feel myself falling rapidly, intoxicatingly in love? The mystery for me, though, is why isn’t he falling in love with me? In fact, not only is he not falling in love, he isn’t even considering a romantic relationship with me. Seriously, how am I still in the friend zone?

This lesson hasn’t been easy for me to learn. In fact, it’s taken me several relationships to realize where I have gone wrong. So, why do I make the same mistake and fall for the friend? And how do I keep from repeating this folly over and over again?

I think one problem is that I don’t have that “list.” You know, the sometimes-hypothetical, sometimes-literal inventory of items people keep for what they’re looking for in a mate? I’ve never made one. I have a general idea of what I want, but these vague guidelines tend to be mutable. Rather than the guy fitting the ideal of what I want in a man, what I want mutates into the shape of the person I care about.

Perhaps if I sat down and considered what traits should comprise my soul mate, I might have a better chance of knowing when the person I’m with fits me, instead of me trying to fit the person I’m with.

Meanwhile, these guys I’m falling for do have a list, and a very specific one. And, while I listen to their stories about their relationships, I sometimes hear only what I want to hear. If I don’t measure up exactly to their description of the perfect woman, I figure we can work out the details later.

My most recent guy told me he couldn’t date an atheist. The idea of someone not believing in God disturbed him. Now, I’m actually more of an agnostic humanist (meaning it’s not that I don’t believe in God, I just don’t feel that the existence nor absence of a deity should influence my love and desire to help my fellow human beings). Did this deter me or send any warning signals to me that this guy wasn’t “the one?” No. After all, I don’t adamantly believe there isn’t a god. Plus, I had no criterion in my mind regarding the religious beliefs of my ideal guy.

After I was thoroughly and explicitly rejected, it became pointedly clear it wasn’t meant to be. In hindsight, when I really think about the differences in our values, I understand why we wouldn’t be well-matched. I really don’t want to raise my kids in a church. If I’d really been listening to him and paying attention to his ideals, I would have recognized that this was just one of many factors that we didn’t agree on. How many more truths did I choose to ignore?

It’s easy to fall into the trap of turning someone into a supposed soul mate simply by interpreting your morals and theirs in favor of your desired outcome. The question then is how to avoid this behavior before this same good friend has to explain to you that, while he loves you and thinks you’re a wonderful person, he is not in love with you and really doesn’t think of you this way. Although, of course, the after-hours recreational activities were mutually enjoyed….

Which brings me to another common pitfall of mine. I’ve also had a hard time learning that just because you’re sexually attuned doesn’t follow that you’re romantically so. For a long time, I figured that love comprised two simple ingredients: friendship and sex. It seems so logical. After all, we want someone we can trust and confide in, but also whom we are attracted to and who makes us feel desirable in turn. Unfortunately, I’ve been oversimplifying matters.

Maybe it’s not enough that we can enjoy emotional and physical intimacy with a person. Maybe we also need to share a common vision of the future.

I admit my theory as to this magical third ingredient is still a work in progress. I’ll let you know how it holds up once I’ve had a chance to test it.

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Meg Pierce

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26 comments

  • A common vision of the future is pretty vital. In fact most of my divorced friends said that the lack of a common vision is really what ultimately split them up.

    If you want to avoid falling for your guy friends I suggest no being as intimate with them. At the very least reserve cuddling for a fella who wants you to be his girlfriend. Maybe even reserve sex and talks that are very deep.

    Crystal
    http://www.crystalspins.com

  • It’s amazing how you can look back (after a certain amount of time) and say “Gross! Why was I so in love with this guy?” I had that same experience after I spent a few years in a supposed relationship with a guy who didn’t really have “That kind of love.” for me.
    It’s just another lesson to keep me (or any of us) from ending up with Mr. Wrong.

  • Wow…that really hits home with me right now. Thanks for the viewpoint I needed. I really need to stop sitting around feeling sorry for myself now.

  • Well, now your comments on Danny’s post make a little more sense. 🙂

    Ya know, if your problem is that you start falling for the guy when he seems to be everything that you want, while he’s just not feeling it, maybe what you have to do is force yourself to NOT hang out with the dude. Maybe, when you see the little red flags go up, stop justifying them and get out.

    I know, I know. Way easier said than done.

    But honestly, that’s an issue I’ve had in the past, too. I find myself really liking someone, and all the signs are there that they’re not as into it as I am. But, I keep justifying and justifying. And I end up getting hurt.

    It takes practice, but I think I’ve gotten a lot better at knowing when to hit eject, even if it’s someone I think I could really start liking. No, especially if it’s someone I think I could really start liking.

    I mean, the flip side is that you come off as judgmental and maybe even a little superficial. But hey, it’s better than getting your emotions stomped on….

  • I second what Dennis said. Every word of it.

    I also think it has something to do with how much we sometimes focus on the end result of finding someone, and not on the actual finding someone. We have this notion of the ideal relationship, of all these things we want to be able to do with our partners, and when we find someone we like, our minds automatically go to a happy place where this new person is everything we want them to be. We think of them that way because we want to think of them that way. If we paid more attention to the actual people, and not so much on the goal, we’d realize that the guy we think is so awesome is really a narcissist, or that the girl we’re just so in love with is really just using us. Getting to that happy place isn’t simple, and it isn’t easy. And it usually doesn’t happen with the first person you meet.

    It’s something I’m working on too, because I do it a lot. Learning to identify when it’s happening takes time and effort, and necessitates making mistakes in the process. You can’t learn what not to do unless you do it, but at some point you do have to stop.

  • It always starts innocently enough. You talk about your relationships, he talks about his. You think you know too much about him to ever date him. You wouldn’t date him in a million years…so you’re safe, right? You can talk about anything, because you just don’t care. And then one day you realize how he knows more about you than anyone. And he’s confided so many, many times to you. You realize how easy he is to talk to, how nice it is that you feel so comfortable telling him anything and then, you forget how you wouldn’t date him in a million years, that you would never stoop to being another notch on his belt, because your relationship with him is different…(By “you” of course I mean “me!” I’m SUCH a sucker. :))

  • Know thyself, and all that junk.

    Seriously, though. What stands out to me in this post is that the guys already knew what they wanted and didn’t want in a long-term lover. It’s not that an atheist and someone who is devote can’t be in a relationship (a married couple I know is rocking that relationship and they have the best conversations), but if you know you can’t be with someone for the long haul it’s better to cut your losses than become emotionally attached. This goes for all the big things in life (does she want kids, is he a republican, does he have mountains of debt, does she smoke crack, etc.).

    It’s easy to lose sight of these things when your under the glamor of infatuation and flirtation. But if you know what you want in the long run, it’s easier not to get to gummed up with someone who might not be what you’re looking for.

  • I fully get what you are saying, I was there myself at one time. I think even more recently I dated guys, tried to like them, tried to fall for them, even though they were all wrong. I kept making guys fit into that mold of what I wanted, only they didn’t. I knew it right away, but somehow I’d ignore it if the paid enough attention to me, even if for the wrong reasons.

    It sucks when you know the feeling you want to feel, so you try to get it with all the wrong people. But it never works because you aren’t being yourself or being true to yourself. Lists are great, but you should know what are absolute deal breakers for you and what are important and things you can compromise on, and what is ok to do without. And the sex thing, well, I have come to realize it isn’t a modern notion, but I prefer to wait, a LONG time maybe even until marriage. I think any guy that wants to rush into it, well, he probably doesn’t consider you his “soul mate”. Men are extremely good at separating sex from relationships compared to women, of this I am sure.

  • Oh, yes, dealbreakers. You know what my main dealbreaker is? You know, the one trait that a woman I’m dating absolutely CANNOT have?

    A penis.

  • Meg, I have to echo what Jaberkaty said in her post. In fact, I took a sociology course in my AA program titled “Courtship, Marriage and Family”. The recurring theme was that, in order for a relationship to be successful the two people must agree on concepts such as religion, children, finances and long-term goals. If they are not in complete agreement about these themes (and it would be either creepy or a lie if they agreed 100%), they have to at least agree on the level of importance they place on these themes and how negotiable they are to each individual. Things like number of children or whether or not they are desired may be negotiable with age and maturity, but if someone on the outset of the relationship is adamant that they DO NOT want children, or they absolutely have to have 20 kids to feel whole, those are things the partner should take seriously. Similarly with religion. While you are an agnostic who places little importance on the religion of a potential partner, the person you are attracted to may find religion a deeply important subject. At that time there is and never will be real relationship potential between you.

    However, this dude knew your views and knew his views and chose to use you for sex anyway. No matter how physically attracted to each other you are, and no matter how much you both profess to a strictly “friends with benefits” scenario, emotion always plays a part when sex becomes involved . . . over a prolonged period of time (insert self-deprecating smile here). There is no doubt that he was using you since he knew that his feelings on something you were so divided in opinion about were non-negotiable.

  • Dennis Hong :
    Oh, yes, dealbreakers. You know what my main dealbreaker is? You know, the one trait that a woman I’m dating absolutely CANNOT have?
    A penis.

    lmao Dennis… leave it to you to say that

  • @Vendetta: Hey, call me shallow, but I have to uphold my rigid standards.

    @Amber: eHarmony totally does that! They have you list your preferences on a bunch of different qualities, but then you also have to rank them on importance.

    So anyhoo, for me… NOT having a penis is my preference, and I’d rate it pretty much 10/10 on importance. :-p

  • Regarding having the “list”- be careful here. Definitely know what you want and what’s important, but if you have that perfect 8×10 you are holding up to everyone, you’re never going to find “it.” (Besides, often our perfect 8×10 is based on “the one that got away.”) The list DOES change, it has too, because people are such individuals.But I do agree that on the biggies: financial goals, stance on children, and religion (I am also an humanist agnostic, and I found that only other agnostics were compatible with my values.) And, yes, sexual compatibility is probably number one. There are a lot of divorces going on in my world right now, and I think that’s one common reason these couples aren’t making it.
    This is why we just let go and have a good time. Usually the perfect person comes along when we aren’t looking!

  • Vendetta, I’m curious about this waiting a long time. I have come to the conclusion that I do rush into things pretty often in romantic relationships and I’m learning to hold off and get to know someone better first. I want to make sure I actually like who he is as a person. But I’m wondering what you use as your indicator for when you get intimate. I mean do you only have sex with someone you are interested in marrying? Some of us single people would be waiting a long, long time. Forever, if that were the case.

  • I honestly couldn’t tell you currently how the waiting thing works out. I’ve never been successful, but I do plan on trying it out. All the experts say it’s the best way to go. That is, if you intend to marry, or have a long term relationship. I see nothing wrong with waiting 6 months to a year. In the past I’ve always said “not with out a committed monogamous relationship”, well that just isn’t enough, guys will commit to you in a moment and a week later change their minds, then what you meant goes out the window. I think only time will tell if they are going to change their minds. I wrote a blog about virtue yesterday, if you want to have a read, some thoughts on waiting, doing the right thing and such. I mean, I don’t personally want to have to be like “no, lets wait” and have to keep defending my virtue to a guy, I want a guy that defends it on his own, that respects me enough to not get either of us in a situation where we will be tempted until the time is right. An honorable man who thinks I’m worth waiting for, to get to know me, and realizes if we are compatible and fall in love we will have all the time in the world to give into our ah hem… urges, at a later date. True intimacy is all in the mind anyway right?

  • Jaz :
    Regarding having the “list”- be careful here. Definitely know what you want and what’s important, but if you have that perfect 8×10 you are holding up to everyone, you’re never going to find “it.” (Besides, often our perfect 8×10 is based on “the one that got away.”) The list DOES change, it has too, because people are such individuals.But I do agree that on the biggies: financial goals, stance on children, and religion (I am also an humanist agnostic, and I found that only other agnostics were compatible with my values.) And, yes, sexual compatibility is probably number one. There are a lot of divorces going on in my world right now, and I think that’s one common reason these couples aren’t making it.
    This is why we just let go and have a good time. Usually the perfect person comes along when we aren’t looking!

    I never had a physical list when I was dating. It’s something you sort of work through when your seeing someone. You have these conversations, “Oh, you worship the great spaghetti monster? I’m a devote Catholic and think you will burn in hell…” Red flag! But if you don’t know in advance some of your “deal breaker” issues, it will hit you harder if you find out that they do and you don’t fit with them. And, I totally agree about the sexual compatibility.

    I know what I can compromise on and what I won’t during these conversations. And I think hubby did too. But it didn’t have little stuff on it (my god, he put the toilet paper on backwards, or he isn’t a cat person…). You’re flexible on the little stuff and open to the idea that things change over the long haul.

    But it’s comforting knowing that we agree on huge issues (kids, house, lifestyle, etc.) and not only that but we can talk about it.

    Dennis – my god, you are so closed minded. 😉

  • Has anybody ever heard of the book called “The Rules for Dating,” or something like that? You know, the one filled with pearls of wisdom like a girl should never call a boy on the phone, and that she should stop dating him if he doesn’t buy her gifts? That’s exactly what you guys sound like when you’re discussing how long to wait before you should fuck a guy.

    Waiting 3 weeks, 3 months, or 3 hours isn’t going to guarantee your future happiness with a guy any more than waiting until your 3rd dinner together before you order dessert. If you expect a guy to be honest and upfront with you, you need to be honest and upfront with yourself first. There are really only two reasons to have sex with somebody, but there are literally thousands of reasons not to. If you can’t be honest about your own wants and needs (and which is more important: your own need to be wanted or your wanting to be needed) then you can’t expect your partner to read your mind and know it for you.

    Starting a penis countdown or circling a date on a calendar isn’t going to improve your decision making or your luck in love. More than likely, it’s going to be an unfair ultimatum placed on an unknowing and unwitting guy who doesn’t know he’s really just being tested and qualified. Trust me, we figure that shit out pretty quick- and I’ve never met a guy who appreciated figuring out that he’d been led on to jump through hoops he hadn’t known were there.

  • Oh, god, don’t get me started on the #$%@ing Rules….

    http://musingsonlifeandlove.com/2009/06/26/just-be-yourself-unless-youre-ugly/

    *grumble grumble grumble*

  • “I’ve never met a guy who appreciated figuring out that he’d been led on to jump through hoops he hadn’t known were there.”

    Actually, I don’t think it’s a bad thing at all to figure out there were hidden rules. It means the other person isn’t being upfront and sincere, so you can take it as a cue to be duplicitous yourself. Otherwise you might feel guilty doing so.

  • I think that the timing of sex is always going to vary depending on what you want from a relationship and from a sexual partner. I think this varies depending on where we are in life and who the person is and what we want out of a relationship. I think if you are looking to get married or have a serious relationship with someone or only want to have sex in a committed relationship it makes sense to wait until you actually know you like the guy and if he really is who he presents himself as. I think of the ex who laimed to love the outdoors, but wore white shoes hiking and complained about getting them dirty. The ex who pretended to like sports, but neither watched or played them. The devoted father who never had money for his kid, but had no problem dropping money for VIP tickets to a wine and food festival. It takes time toget to know people inside and out. So it makes sense if you are looking for the real thing, not to get emotionally and physically involved until you know it’s real. If that’s what you want. But I think that every relationship differs as far as when that is. I’ve had whole relationships in the span of a month and others that lasted months and I still have no firm idea of who the person really is.

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