Question: Dear Luise: I’ve been in a relationship with my boyfriend for 4 years. We are high school sweet hearts and in that past 4 years were have gone through a lot with each other. But, recently he told me that he doesn’t know if he loves me or not. I know I love him so why is it that he is questioning whether he loves me or not. We are 22 years old now and a lot of people around us are talking about marriage etc. We both agree that once we are finished with our degrees then we will look into marriage. He does discuss the possibility of marrying me, for example if we pass by a pretty house he would say something like, “I’m going to buy that house for you!” So, I don’t get it! He talks about marriage then he tells me that he doesn’t know if he loves me. Which is it? We do see each other everyday like, he picks me up from work and drives me home but, its not like we actually go out and spend hours together. I feel as if he is sick of me so I’m trying to back away a bit but I’m just not sure what to do. We have a great relationship in which we are totally and completely honest with each other so, why is he unsure of loving me? To me, love isn’t something you question, its something you feel. Does that mean he doesn’t love me because he is questioning whether he does or doesn’t? He even asked me if I knew whether he loved me or not. I told him I knew that he loves me because of the way he looks at me. I just feel it. I’m not sure if that makes any sense. Please help! N.
Answer: Dear N.: It is always hard to find a working definition of love to base a discussion like this on because there are as many perceptions of what love is, how it feels and what it means…as there are people.
On top of that, we change and so does love. It doesn’t stay new, exciting, and novel…and we don’t stay mysterious. As the years tick by and we see each other every day, most of us settle into a comfortable loving-friendship…for lack of a better description. A monogamous partnership built on compatibility and deep caring. Sometimes it’s called mature love. An analogy could be that a new house doesn’t stay a new house, but we don’t have to replace it when it becomes a home. Different isn’t necessarily less.
I live in a retirement center where many of the couples have been together for sixty or more years. I’m sure that most of them thought that the intensity of their union would never dull and they would be the exception to the rule. Yet over the years the word “dull” was replaced by “deepen”…and the relationship became more. It expanded.
When a couple marries soon after meeting, the maturation process usually happens after the wedding, but when the marriage is put off…it may happen before the marriage takes place. To many, this process may be seen as falling out of love, making a mistake or never having been in love because “it’s just not the same”. Most infidelity is a result of people seeking infatuation again because it is such heady stuff and offers such a rush.
I would suggest that you get some couples counseling as you wrestle with this issue. Your guy is being honest but it is still pretty confusing for him. You feel differently and that may frighten you. If not, you are “defining” differently. Perceptions are seldom identical. A good professional can bring this all out into the open and get you back on track by helping you address your transition. Blessings, Luise