What if He Says, “I Don’t Love You”….?

He stood in front of me. He had brown eyes and an athletic body. It was six months since we had started our relationship. Now, he must say it. I waited for his words. I love you. I waited for these magical words. And then, he said, I like you, but I don’t love you. His words hurt me, deep in my heart. Part of me wanted to run away. My mind went crazy. It can’t be true, can it? How can he stay with me if he doesn’t love me? How can he have sex with me if he doesn’t love me? Another voice said, I just have to try harder. One day, he will love me.

Did you experience the same?

When he said that he liked me but wouldn’t love me, I was hurt, but it was the pain I knew. I stayed for the following nine years and found excuses. Poor guy, his ex-girlfriend has just left him. He doesn’t mean it this way. I secretly hoped that he would love me one day. He never did. I can’t remember how often he told me that he didn’t love me. Now, I know that I needed this experience to become aware of unconscious patterns that ruled my relationship. He was my first boyfriend. We had met shortly before my mother’s death. I was not yet an adult – and a product of a broken home.

How come that I stayed with him?

  • Repetition of the relationship with my father.
    The relationship with my father had always been conflictive. While one part of me rejected him, the other part yearned for my father’s love and appreciation. I tried hard to make him love me. And I did the same with my boyfriend. When I finally acknowledged that my father wasn’t able to give me the love I hoped for, I also left my boyfriend.
  • Negative beliefs I learned as a child.
    I considered myself of being unworthy of love. In a way, my boyfriend gave me the pain I expected. Who would ever love an abused child? I thought I didn’t deserve love. At this age, I was convinced that no man would ever love me. They were rooted in my identity. I never questioned their truth, and I had no idea that I had the power to change them.
  • Lack of knowledge about good relationships.
    I grew up in a manipulative and violent environment. Nobody had ever taught me how a good relationship looked like, and I didn’t know how to make a good choice. I was content that he wasn’t violent and didn’t beat me up. My childhood experiences shaped my reality. I didn’t know what to look for or ask for. I didn’t know that I could heal and change this. Sometimes, I wish they had taught me in school all I know now.

How come that you stay with him?

With all its pain, this relationship was a precious teacher in healing myself and defining a healthy and good vision of a relationship. It was an inner process that evolved over time.

What my most important learning was out of this relationship? A relationship needs two people who love each other. If my partner doesn’t love me, there is no reason to stay. I can’t make him love me, and it doesn’t make any sense to try. I can just be myself and show up as I am. Whether he loves me, is up to him.

What is your most important learning?

After this relationship, I defined a new rule for my romantic relationship: I leave my partner if he doesn’t love me. It doesn’t matter how much I love him. It doesn’t matter how he justifies it. I do this because I love myself. I do this because I deserve to be loved by a man.

How about you?

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Natalie Jovanic

Natalie Jovanic is a Registered Therapeutic Counsellor. As a counsellor, she passes on what she believes in, but it isn’t just knowledge, theory, and professional experience. It is also her wisdom gained through her own transformational journey of healing violence and abuse.