What I Realized When He Told Me He's Not 'In Love' With Me

Photo: Courtesy of the author
i love you
Heartbreak, Love

I loved him in a way he couldn't love me.

The first time he told me that he didn't love me, we were standing on the corner of East 2nd Street and Avenue A in the East Village. I had spilled my guts (and heart) out to him, and what came back wasn't enough for me.

He cared about me, thought I was fun, beautiful, sexy, and yes, he loved me, but he wasn't in love with me. As he told me that night, he would never be in love with me. It was something that he just knew.

But, being completely in love with him, I held on like a fool. I let our relationship — a messed up one that was somewhere in the realm of being "friends with benefits," but with more intimacy — rule my life and weeded out potential others who could be able to love me.

We spent holidays at my parents' house, went to events together, and were in each other's company more than we were not. I loved him. I'd tell him that whenever I couldn't stand it anymore and the words just had to come out, but I always got the same response: "I love you, but I'll never be in love with you."

It was something I struggled with privately and in my therapist's office. I couldn't comprehend how this person who was always with me, this person I had sex with, cried to when things went bad, and whom I relied on as both a best friend and much more, couldn't love me back.

What was it about me? What had I done in a past life or this life that put me in a situation of such painful unrequited love? What was wrong with me?

I blamed myself; my therapist said I shouldn't. I thought if I were thinner or prettier he would come around, but my therapist said it wasn't about that either. I would spend session after session screaming and crying into the pillows on her couch begging her to resolve it for me, pleading with her to tell me what I had to do. What did I have to change about myself to make this man love me?

But all she ever responded with was that it wasn't me, and that was something that I needed to accept. But I couldn't. And for a long time it bothered me, consumed me, but I still hung on to what he and I did have, even if love, on his end, was never part of the equation, and I was just wasting time.

Then, a friend of mine declared her love to a man in her life and, similarly to my situation, was told by him that he didn't love her. Also, like me, she racked her brain as to figure out why this was the case.

He loved spending time with her, both in and out of the bedroom, and they had a very close relationship, one of true intimacy and confidence. How could he NOT share her feelings? But, as he told her, the romantic feelings just weren't there and there was nothing he or she could do about it.

As I shared in her disappointment that was twisted up with both anger and confusion, I was forced to think back to all the sessions with my therapist and all the times I all but jumped off the couch to shake her violently and insist she tell me why he didn't love me, as if she knew for a fact the reason but was bound by some secret union that wouldn't let her share it with me. But all it ever came back to was he just didn't, and neither he nor I was to blame for it.

It was then that I came to the conclusion that not only is love nothing like it is in the movies, but it's also something that can't be forced. And while I gave it a good effort — really pushed and hoped for some sort of Hollywood-type miracle where he would turn around and tell me that he was in love with me — it just wasn't going to happen. You either feel it or you don't.

Now, almost two years later, I finally get it. I understand that it just wasn't meant to be. I don't mean that to sound as if it's something about fate or serendipity, but just a matter of fact.

Whom we fall in love with and why is a mystery to even scientists. They know how the body reacts when it's falling in love and even what's going on in the brain, but they still can't decipher why some people love one person and some people love another.

But once you make peace with this fact, then you realize that it's not about something you're lacking or even something of which you have too much. Sure, it's not a pretty conclusion that wraps up everything in a perfect red bow, but it is still a conclusion:

I loved him in a way he couldn't love me. That's that.


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