Loving But Not "in Love"?
Q: I am 27, and my live-in boyfriend is 38. We have been together for two years, and have been very much in love. We are not only lovers, but best friends. Lately he has informed me that he is not in love with me. He says that he loves me as a friend, but that is it. He says that he cannot picture his future without me, and that he knows that no one else can ever make him as happy as I do, so he doesn't want to break up. Why would he say that he is not in love with me, when it is so clear that he still is? Is he scared, or doesn't he know what being in love is? -- Nancy
Dr. Susan: A lot of heartbreak is caused by distinguishing between loving someone and being in love with them. People who make that distinction mean that the fireworks have quieted down and they miss the early excitement, where both of you are aroused all the time and neither of you has to do anything but be there to get the sparks flying. That period typically lasts up to two years, maximum. I suspect your boyfriend hasn't a clue as to what lasting adult love really is. And he may be hinting that he'd like to seek out the thrills he's missing elsewhere, if he hasn't already. The fact that he wants to stay with you is very positive -- so far. But the two of you have to take this discontent of his quite seriously. Talk some more about these feelings of his. Put some attention into re-invigorating your sex life. I hope your boyfriend wakes up in time to appreciate what he has before he spoils it by going after a fleeting kick elsewhere.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.