Early red flags in a relationship that your partner is not in love, even though they say ‘I love you’
Oh what’s love got to do, got to do with it
What’s love but a second hand emotion
What’s love got to do, got to do with it
Who needs a heart
When a heart can be broken
—Tina Turner, What’s Love Got to Do With It
Ah … love.
I could end the post right here and you would all know what I mean. No more words are needed to describe that slightly insane, crazy-good feeling.
The force behind Shakespeare’s sonnets and the inspiration for countless heartfelt and wrenchingly bad amateur poems. The impetus for infidelity, the catalyst for the Trojan War.
How we long to hear those three sweet words whispered in our ear, written on a perfumed note, texted with a makeshift symbol <3, or broadcast to the world with skywriting.
When we start a promising new relationship, our hearts tremble in anticipation, wondering if–or when—the love bomb will drop, and who will be the first to drop it.
Enough already. We either feel it or we don’t, right? Well, if you’re a self-aware person with standards for what you want in a partner and healthy respect for other people’s feelings, that’s an accurate statement.
But not everyone has it together when it comes to relationships, and a potential partner’s emotional disorganization can cause huge problems once the bomb bay doors have opened and “love” is in the air.
Here are five warning signs that what your partner feels for you isn’t love, even though he or she is saying, “I love you.”
They’re not the obvious ones we’re all familiar with: abuse (emotional or physical), disrespect, manipulation and control, intense neediness, and hero worship, among others.
These signs are more subtle and can easily be misinterpreted as real love, because they feed the part of our ego that craves to be adored and accepted, the part that still searches for the soul-nurturing love provided by an emotionally healthy parent (or not provided by an emotionally disordered one).
Unlike the red flags that feel wrong, these signals feel right, because they feel good and enable us to indulge our love of … love.
1. Too soon.
To know me is to love me … said the narcissist to anyone who can be forced to listen.
But the truth is the reverse. To love someone is to know the person, to have achieved a level of emotional intimacy and to accept the person underneath the hair and skin.
Love is both a feeling and a commitment, both emotion and action, both noun and verb. It is not something that develops instantly or even after spending a number of ecstatic hours with someone over a few weeks time.
Love at first sight is a potent combination of curiosity and lust, and the feeling we experience after meeting someone we both attracted to and click with is infatuation.
If your partner says I love you too soon, it’s a good bet he doesn’t know himself or his feelings, or she wants to be in love more than she wants you specifically. So watch out for early professions of undying affection.
2. Too much.
You would think you could never hear the words “I love you” too many times from your lover.
But a compulsive need to confirm love feelings is not sweet; it’s indicative of potentially dangerous emotional issues, and if you need to hear it every 20 minutes or 20 times a day, you’ve got issues of your own.
One reason partners keep saying “I love you” is insecurity. They repeat the words to hear them back from you and dispel any doubt.
Another is a lack of emotional integrity. Your partner may be faking it until he or she makes it, using the constant repetition to convince him or herself of feelings he or she doesn’t actually feel but is hoping will develop in time.
The third and most problematic reason your partner may bombard you with the love bomb is to guilt you into expressing reciprocal feelings you may not actually have. There’s no greater relationship killer than one person saying, “I love you,” and the other not saying it back.