Is this settling? Is that really such a bad thing?
December 15, 2012 8:03 AM   Subscribe

I'm dating someone who I respect and admire more than almost anyone else I know. He loves me. But I'm not in love with him.

I think he's a truly special person. Despite growing up in extreme privilege in Manhattan, he's very down to earth. He values spending time with family and friends over money or any other material things. He's kind and considerate to everyone in his life. He's patient, emotionally generous, and caring. We share the same interests and the same lifestyle, both loving to stay in and be cozy rather than go out on weekends. My family lives on the other coast and hasn't met him yet, but he would fit in with them perfectly.

He's loyal and stable. He's smart, and has a good (though subtle) sense of humor. I can easily imagine a contented, quiet lifetime spent with him. But I'm not "in love" with him. I'm 34 and I've had several serious relationships. Obviously, those all ended-- being in love with someone in the past didn't guarantee things would last, or even that we'd necessarily be that happy together. The little I've read of the psychology of love has suggested that we're drawn to people who remind us in some ways (especially negative ways) of our primary caretakers growing up. How important is it to build a relationship with someone you're in love with? After time, after infatuation fades, how important is it that you've had that initial rush of feeling? After time, couldn't the attachment between us be just as strong?

I think he (and I) would work through challenges to stay together, if we decided to commit to one another. We would treat each other with kindness. We would enjoy each other's company, and support each other as a team. If we had children, he would be an excellent father.

I think about arranged marriages, and how if I were to arrange a marriage for myself, I might choose him. Is it unfair to him for me to even consider this? Is it unfair to myself?
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (53 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
If you are not in love with someone and marry them, what happens when you meet someone that you are in love with?
posted by beaucoupkevin at 8:05 AM on December 15, 2012 [11 favorites]

What do you mean by not being "in love"? Can you describe how you think of being in love, and how this is not like that?

If what you mean is that you are not attracted to him, I think the right thing to do is break it off. But if there is attraction, liking, and respect ... I think it's important to ask how you are defining "love."
posted by bunderful at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2012 [17 favorites]

Does he know how you feel? Because if he doesn't, it sure doesn't sound fair to him.

Respect his autonomy and his own desires by telling him that you don't love him the way he (seems to) love you. Then let him make an informed decision.
posted by rtha at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

How long have you been dating him? You might just need some more time before it happens.
posted by cairdeas at 8:07 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

What about being in love is missing here? Can you describe that?
posted by two lights above the sea at 8:10 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

Aside from not being "in love" with him, what are your specific feelings towards him? Do you find him boring, or is it more that you're fond of him but not feeling like you're head over heels crazy about him?
posted by wondermouse at 8:12 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I have been that guy. 10 years later, the pain of the breakup still stings--I mean, we were so perfect, you know? I did know she didn't love me, but she made me do the breaking up, since she was happy in the moment, content to just cruise along for a while, waiting to see if things worked out. So I was in the position of wondering if she would fall in love, wondering if she'd fall in love with someone else, or just get tired of it all and move on. Constantly wondering.

Of course, your situation is different. Maybe he doesn't need you to be in love with him. Maybe he'll never know that you aren't. I'm not worried about you settling for someone you're not in love with; I'm worried about you making him settle for someone who's not in love with him.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:16 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Despite growing up in extreme privilege

I...yeah, hmm. Would you be contemplating marrying a man you didn't love if he was destitute? Possibly a good thing to muse on here.
posted by kmennie at 8:17 AM on December 15, 2012 [21 favorites]

You might find this previous question worth a read. I believe what I said in that thread; your ability to happily sustain a relationship without passionate love is down to your makeup as a person, especially your loyalty and your ability to protect your primary relationship against 3rd parties. I think passionate love in a relationship is pretty tidal anyway, and I say that as someone with one of the most stable marriages I am of aware of at the 10-year mark. Other people's experiences are very different, of course, and all relationships are unique anyway.

But in general, I don't actually think continuing this relationship to the terminal destination of marriage is a bad idea, though I do think it's a bad idea if you're entertaining it because you feel pressured to get on with having kids or you're burned out from being single or any of 1000 other bad reasons to pick a partner. If you can look at this guy and imagine still being together and happy in 50 years if he's the same person then that he is today, I wouldn't tell you not to do this.

I do think it's important to have the experience of building a relationship with someone you're in love with, I just don't think that's a prerequisite for the person you ultimately choose to build a lifelong partnership with. YMMV and nobody here can predict that.
posted by DarlingBri at 8:25 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

I think about arranged marriages, and how if I were to arrange a marriage for myself, I might choose him. Is it unfair to him for me to even consider this?

Of course not, obviously people do it all the time, the social and familial structures of entire societies are based on variations on what you describe.

Now, it would be unfair to decide on your own to settle for a life with him without telling him that you aren't in love with him but he has admirable qualities including loyalty and the potential to be a good father. But you weren't planning to make this and/or other life-altering decisions involving your partner without honest discussion with him, were you?
posted by headnsouth at 8:26 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

I can't imagine marrying someone I was not in love with, if for the sole reason that when things get tough, and they do, your extreme respect for this man is not going to save your marriage.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:32 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Based on your description of how you feel about this guy, many people would probably think you ARE in love with him. So what does "love" mean for you? Sexual infatuation? That usually doesn't last very long. Maybe you need to think long and hard about your definition of love, and what you would bring to a marriage.
posted by juifenasie at 8:33 AM on December 15, 2012 [9 favorites]

Ask anyone who is married: are they still in love? are they still in love, in the same way? Ask yourself, what is the difference between what you call "respect and admire" and what you call "in love?"
posted by dylan_k at 8:35 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

I have hurt people - and still regret it - by staying in a relationship where I admired them but was not attracted to them. I definitely do not recommend this.

I have heard from women who previously identified "being in love" as a temporary infatuation with someone who was very unhealthy for them. Who made the decision to be with someone they were attracted to and loved but were not infatuated with, who seem to be happy with their choice.

M. Scott Peck has some useful things to say about this. There's an extensive quote in the blog post I linked; scroll down to the red text.
posted by bunderful at 8:37 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

Despite growing up in extreme privilege

I...yeah, hmm. Would you be contemplating marrying a man you didn't love if he was destitute? Possibly a good thing to muse on here.
posted by kmennie at 8:17 AM on December 15
[+] [!]

She mentions this in passing as a way to highlight his humble nature, and then goes on to list many, many other redeeming qualities, and you jump to "maybe you should rethink about marrying him for his class status". Really?

I can't offer any concrete advice, but I can offer my experience: finding someone who is perfect on paper wasn't enough. I'm much younger than you, and that might have had something to do with our relationship unravelling. But the "spark" wasn't there, there was no attraction. And so after a while all of those things stoppedlooking appealing, and it fell apart.
posted by FirstMateKate at 8:39 AM on December 15, 2012 [6 favorites]

The answer to your question is basically, yes, from what you describe here, the two of you stand a good chance of having a happy, contented marriage. If you're planning on having kids, the qualities he has will help you develop stronger bonds with him once you see him in the role of a great father. Your priorities in that situation will change, in terms of what you value in a partner.

On the other hand, if you marry this guy, you will be spending much of every single day of the rest of your marriage with him. Try hard to imagine whether you'd welcome the click of his turning the key on the door as he comes home or whether you'd cringe a tiny bit at his arrival. But keep in mind that ten years into the vast majority of marriages, you're not going to be feeling a "spark" anyway.

Deciding whether to break up with a "pretty good" match comes down to a gamble. Do you think your chances are good that you'd find someone you'd like better? Keep in mind your odds diminish as you get older, since the pool of single people shrinks. Would you be happier alone, if you wind up leaving him, but find no one else you'd be willing to marry? There's no universal right way to answer these questions. You have to decide what's important to you. If having a stable marriage with multiple children is more important to you than passionate feelings for your husband, then I think you should keep him as you just don't have that much time. And having two or more small kids to deal with in your forties is really tiring when your body is already tiring on its own.

I guess my advice boils down to: take the long view, figure out what you really want your life to be like in ten years, and decide accordingly.
posted by Philemon at 8:41 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

All of those things you talk about, to me, are more important to a lasting marriage than limerence/infatuation (assuming that's what you mean by "in love"). I could totally see a happy marriage founded on those qualities. I could also imagine (for myself) falling more and more in love over time with someone like that.

But what I don't hear you say is that you're sexually attracted to him and that you have a satisfying sex life together. If you consider marriage to be a lifelong monogamous commitment, and if you value sexual fulfillment in your life, don't marry him if you're not super into each other sexually.
posted by ottereroticist at 8:42 AM on December 15, 2012 [13 favorites]

I do believe a strong marriage can be built from strong compatibility, companionship, mutual respect and admiration. It is a kind of love. But to echo beaucoupkevin, it sounds like you might want more, and if that "more" presents itself somewhere down the line, it's going to wreak havoc on you and your marriage.

So before you move ahead toward a commitment like marriage with this person, you need to be clear with yourself that you can live for a long time without this "more." That you'll be reasonably satisfied and fulfilled without it. And be very honest with yourself. And, as others have suggested, be honest with him.
posted by Ms. Toad at 8:44 AM on December 15, 2012

I think you need to be honest with him. Maybe he'll be okay with it, and maybe you can do an open marriage if you eventually find that "more" you're looking for. Or maybe that "more" is a perfectionist fantasy that only exists in your head. Maybe he doesn't love you either, but he thinks you love him and is telling you what he thinks you want to hear while he wrestles with the same doubts you have. Maybe he won't want to marry, but is willing to coast along with you doing the FWB thing until either one of you finds somebody better suited to you, at which point you can each go your way with no hard feelings, and a stronger friendship for it.

Either way, letting him have an inaccurate view of your feelings is a selfish thing to do, and the longer you do it, the higher the cost it will have in the long run.
posted by wolfdreams01 at 9:00 AM on December 15, 2012

You don't mention anything about the physical side of your relationship. If you're physically attracted to this man and are satisfied with the sex you're having, then yes, I'd say you do love this man and you'll be happy together without the butterflies you seem to think you should have. If the sex is non-existent or just okay or meh, well, you basically just have a good friendship here.
posted by orange swan at 9:06 AM on December 15, 2012 [10 favorites]

FWIW, this is exactly the kind of marriage I would predict to be most vulnerable to the pitfalls of an open marriage (of which I am a fan). The two circumstances that work best IMHO are where a) your primary relationship is rock solid and the pair of you are committed to utter honesty and constant communication, or b) you're both so indifferent to one another your only requirement is discretion. Option A can be exercised to successfully patch a sexual hole in the relationship, but when people are attempting to patch emotional holes, I've never seen a good outcome. YMMV.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:09 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

It boils down to whether you can see yourself happily monogamous with him. Happily, not resentfully, not wistfully. Is your sex good and satisfying? Do you look forward to it and feel better after it than you did before? Go for it. Otherwise? Not fair to anybody to try to build a marriage on a foundation that's missing a key element.
posted by fingersandtoes at 9:37 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

If he was asking the question, "i love the woman I dating, but she isn't in love with me. She cares about me and we get along great, but she has acknowledged that she's not in love and doesn't feel it. Mefites, Do you think think it is a good idea to marry?"
I would suggest he find someone who loves him with the love and passion he has to offer.
posted by jennstra at 9:47 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

False pretenses is not a good foundation for a marriage. And I do not think it is unfair to point out that the privileged background is legitimate to call out.

If he was the poster, I would hope the unanimous consensus would be "run!"
posted by rr at 10:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think about arranged marriages, and how if I were to arrange a marriage for myself, I might choose him. Is it unfair to him for me to even consider this? Is it unfair to myself?

The difference is that people in arranged marriage situations typically have an entire culture there that will back them up through the unique problems that an arranged marriage entails. Whereas our love-marriage based culture ties issues of self-worth up with loving and being loved. Your husband would likely question his self-worth if he found out you weren't in love with him; after time, you may feel resentment for being in a loveless marriage, even if it's a situation you chose--our entire society has made romantic love the keystone of a grown-up's life experiences.

Without his consent, and in light of our society, I think it's unfair of you to choose to marry him knowing you don't love him. He deserves to be married to someone who loves him. And you don't say whether he is in love with you or not, but I'd imagine that there's quite a difference in feeling and therefore a power imbalance there, too. It seems like a bad idea to me.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:14 AM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Oh, and there are many threads on the green that can show you what the outcome of these arrangements often shape up to be. Here's one.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:16 AM on December 15, 2012

Followup from the OP:
Just to give a little more background, this is a fairly new relationship. He knows how I feel. I don't know if my feelings will change over time. My experience in the past has been that a feeling of 'spark' or infatuation happens immediately, and it hasn't with him. I do truly care about him and believe that a feeling of love will grow deeper over time; I'm asking how important giddiness is. Some people have given very helpful answers, thanks.

We haven't talked about marriage yet, and I would be fully open with him if and when we do. It's too early now, but it is something that I do want in my life eventually, and so this question is on my mind. It's a different type of relationship than I've experienced before. I am attracted to him, for those who asked. I'm just not head-over-heels for him.

Re his background, he lives very modestly- has a steady job, but doesn't make much money, nor am I looking for that. My only point was that he grew up in a very materialistic part of the world, and I respect him all the more for not valuing money as much as many do.
posted by LobsterMitten at 10:23 AM on December 15, 2012

If it were an either/or situation I would choose admiration and respect over passion. I've only had one partner whom I was truly passionate for and only one whom I deeply admired and respected, but I was lucky enough that it was the same person... but ultimately it's the admiration and respect – and trust, compatibility, kindness, and fun – that binds me most closely and evermore to him, and this is a marriage of over 20 years.

But... looking back on what I've written, well, I've had incredibly wonderful gay male friends that I could say most all of that about, and it would not have been viable, even if we both really wanted it to work with all our hearts (and assuming a requisite level of mutual physical attraction, because that has existed as well), so I do think that there must be another element that isn't necessarily lust or limerence or passion or infatuation, but I guess I can only describe as "romance," as frustratingly fuzzy as that is.

If it's not necessary to make a decision right away, I guess I would counsel you to see how it goes (and be honest about your feelings, with yourself and him), and say that if this man brings you joy and makes your world happier and better, you should pursue the possibilities. Not every great love is an instant flame.
posted by taz at 10:26 AM on December 15, 2012 [4 favorites]

I don't know how new this relationship is, but my last relationship went like this: I met him a few days after a serious relationship break-up. He was younger than me and kind of a party-boy and I thought he would be a good rebound, someone fun to enjoy my time with. My feelings for him were not romantic for the first few months. And then, about three months in, they were. I never experienced that 'new relationship' giddiness with him because the love ended up developing from a deep appreciation rather than a crush. I loved the shit outta that guy. So, there's that.

If you know for sure that you aren't going to feel that way about him, and that's something you want, then bail. But if you have the time to wait it out and see, then wait it out and see; that's the whole point of dating! Good luck!
posted by greta simone at 10:32 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

I met my husband when I was your age, and I was head over heels for him. Still am, 14 years later.

If romantic love is important to you in marriage, set a timeframe---three to six months seems reasonable---to explore things with this guy and see where it goes. If it doesn't go to a place that feels like romantic love to you, marriage doesn't seem to make sense.

The people I know who have arranged marriages are fortunate to have found (been found) partners they adore. Seriously, one of the most "in love" couples I know had an arranged marriage.
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:51 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

It's a very personal choice, but when I have done what you describe, it has caused pain. At many levels. Self esteem, communication, ability to listen to one's own emotions, respect. I will not repeat that behaviour.
posted by ead at 10:52 AM on December 15, 2012

Since it's a fairly new relationship, I would say chill out for a bit and see what happens, especially since he knows how you feel. I also am someone who usually feels a spark immediately or pretty early on, if I'm going to feel it at all. One time, it didn't happen that way, though. It only happened once, but it really really sucked. I had this plan of when I was going to break up with the guy, it was going to be at a certain time. Just before that, I started falling in love with him. I actually remember feeling the sensation as it was happening and thinking, "oh wow, it's happening." But I'd had this whole plan for breaking up with him that took some guts to work up to doing, it felt like that was already in motion so when the time came I went through with it and did it. It was the worst mistake ever, I regretted it immediately, and I couldn't get him back later. That never happened to me before or since, but I'm just saying, it can happen. So, I'd say chill out for a bit, since it's new. Not forever, just a bit.
posted by cairdeas at 10:55 AM on December 15, 2012 [3 favorites]

He sounds like a great person. You sound like a great person. It doesn't necessarily mean you guys will be great together.

Everyone is different in terms of what they're willing to settle for in a long-term relationship (we all have to settle for something). Some people will trade stability for emotional depth, for example. Others will trade excitement for stability. It's not all about pathologically seeking to repeat family of origin patterns (though it sometimes is). Mostly, it's about your personality and what keeps you coming back to that person day after day.

You may not know yourself well enough to know exactly what you want. Ages 35-40 tend to be years of extensive personal growth and self-discovery for a lot of people. It's okay to want excitement and "spice" in a relationship, and if you do, you need to figure that out before committing to someone who offers you everything but the thing you most want, no matter how wonderful a friend he is.

I suggest taking a bit of time to get to know yourself better. Write in a journal about your relationships and what you liked and didn't like about the partners. You're going to see some patterns when you get it all down in writing.

I also recommend taking the Myers-Briggs personality inventory. It may sound a bit hokey, but I have been exploring the personality type concept since my 20s and it has really helped me to understand and appreciate myself better, as well as others.

Anecdata from me that might help you: For me, attraction is often immediate but love takes a very long time to develop compared to a lot of people (six to 12 months for me to be confident saying I'm in love with someone). Sometimes attraction grows as well. That's because I'm an introvert. You may be one as well; 40% of the population is.

I also like people who are not similar to me, but complementary. Reading your question, it sounds like you and your fella are fairly alike. You said he would fit in well with your family, for example. That's not a bad thing...but perhaps you are missing an interesting bit of unpredictability in him that would keep you intrigued. Do you learn from him, does he keep you intellectually engaged? That's an important thing for me, important enough that I'm willing to trade a bit of stability for it.

You can take the personality test for free here. And here's a link to the book Be The Person You Want to Find. It is designed to help you answer this question. Author Cheri Huber is a Buddhist and her advice is solid.
posted by xenophile at 11:08 AM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

I married the one I wasn't infatuated with at the start. Best decision I ever made :) And, YES, I am head over heels in love with him now, 8 years later! Sounds like you're being honest with both yourself and him. Given the newness, I'd let things develop. If you're young, there's time.
posted by wwartorff at 11:40 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

Not all relationships are about love. Be clear on how you feel so you can be stable and decent with him. And consider whether this relationship would be healthy for you and for him, as well as what kind of relationship each of you need. Can it be non-monogamous? Are you both OK with what it is and would be?

If you can't answer most of these questions affirmatively now, then be friends and enjoy that.
posted by zippy at 11:50 AM on December 15, 2012

Is he sexually attractive to you or do you cringe at the thought of him touching you?

You need to have at least some of the former.

And if you do, just give it some time and see what develops. If not, cut your losses now and cut him loose to find someone else.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 11:52 AM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

If you started dating pretty recently, it sounds like we're talking about limerence rather than love. I've fallen in love with someone I wasn't initially infatuated with. Thinking he is an awesome person and also finding him attractive are pretty good signs that that could happen.

I would not recommend marrying someone you do not love.
posted by shattersock at 11:55 AM on December 15, 2012 [1 favorite]

Eh, if it's new relationship, I would just see how it plays out for a while longer. There are lots of factors, intrinsic and extrinsic, to a relationship that can alter how things feel at the start.
posted by smoke at 12:08 PM on December 15, 2012

Just to give a little more background, this is a fairly new relationship. He knows how I feel. I don't know if my feelings will change over time. My experience in the past has been that a feeling of 'spark' or infatuation happens immediately, and it hasn't with him.

FWIW I fallen passionately and immediately in love three times. In retrospect, those were all very tempestuous, dramatic relationships. In contrast, I describe my relationship with my husband as a "slow boil." There was physical attraction and tons of hot, hot sex but I was not infatuated or dreaming of our future or planning a wedding and it took me a while to fall in love. Having said that, we were married less than two years after we met. It was a whirlwind, just not a very dramatic one, I guess. It was definitely distinct from my previous relationships, and from his as well.
posted by DarlingBri at 1:12 PM on December 15, 2012 [7 favorites]

Only time will tell if this will work for you or not. I did this once with someone who was a perfect match for me on paper, but there was no chemistry. Eventually I found myself getting jealous of those couples who were head-over-heels with each other and it was obvious I couldn't marry someone if I didn't have that spark. But ymmv.
posted by Autumn at 1:59 PM on December 15, 2012

I have had the same experience as wwartorff (above) and DarlingBri. I decided a long time ago (late teens/early twenties) that even more than "falling head over heels!!!" (which, yes, I did anyway - and we didn't get married, thank goodness!!) I wanted the experience of being in a good healthy partnership/relationship over my lifetime. I wanted the experience of knowing someone intimately for a long time, watching them grown and change, influencing and helping each other etc. I agree - there are many benefits to thinking about your marriage - ANY marriage - as "arranged": Here you go: make it work, adapt, compromise, be nice etc... you work harder at these things, because you don't rely on infatuation. I think for us there are a couple reasons why it worked: 1) We are both good judges of character 2) We are both incredibly honest, hard-working, and self-disciplined 3) We are very very affectionate and sweet with each other 4) we truly care for, respect, and admire one another - we do our best, all the time.

After a few years of marriage (money problems, health problems, babies, grad school etc), he's not Romeo - he's family. He's my best friend (who's good in the sack). You DO need a good foundation behind the infatuation.

I do think our culture over-emphasizes the whole romanticized over-the-top head-over-heels love affair, to the point where there aren't many examples of ANY alternative. (Did you notice the word I used there? AFFAIR.) I think comparatively, love affairs are fun; and the everyday reality of a working loving relationship is very very boring. FWIW, I think "chemistry" and "infatuation" are different. If you're not attracted to him, that's harder to fake. Love will slow boil. Sexual attraction won't. It's new? You're attracted to him? Give it time to slow boil =) =)
posted by jrobin276 at 3:38 PM on December 15, 2012 [5 favorites]

Response by poster: A new relationship? What the heck, then why are you worried? Real love is built over time, with mutual respect, trust, and admiration. Limerance and butterflies are hormones designed to encourage you to stay with someone long enough to find out if the real love will develop.

If you guys haven't even talked marriage yet, or even hit a six month anniversary, then it is way way way too soon to start making dramatic pronouncements about breaking his heart or being in a marriage of convenience or any of that silliness. Enjoy each other and if you're liking him more every day that tells you all you need to know.

The way your questioned opened it seemed you'd been dating for years and he was about to propose.
posted by Anonymous at 5:00 PM on December 15, 2012

I'm asking how important giddiness is

In the long term, for me, not very. Initial infatuation has been a very poor predictor of the satisfaction level over time of a lengthy relationship. It can be quite misleading, actually, convincing you that something good will eventually come out of the relationship, when in fact the other more important sustaining qualities of a partnership are absent.

Give this time; it's much too early to worry. This guy sounds great. If it makes you feel better, set a check-in date with yourself six months from now. Interrogate yourself about your feelings then. You'll have much more to go on.
posted by Miko at 5:42 PM on December 15, 2012 [2 favorites]

It depends if your feelings get better as the relationship progresses, but I do think you have a shot at love here. My husband was a good friend for a few years (with no sense of attraction on either of our parts!)... 3 years later, somehow, that friendship sparked suddenly and unexpectedly , into a roaring love. We are very happy, another 3 years later, and married. What you described above is EXACTLY how I would've described my husband when we were friends, and those feelings haven't changed and are the basis of our great relationship.

FWIW though, I don't think you'll have long to wait before your feelings either grow fonder of him, OR you'll find yourself noticing annoying habits he has. Time has a way of doing this to relationships, be they friendships or lovers. If it is the latter, then no, you can't make this work.
posted by shazzam! at 5:47 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I don't think anyone can answer this for you. If being giddy about your partner is a requirement for you falling in love, for loving him, then it's SUPER important! You'll always feel like something is missing.

I wish I had a solid advice for you, since I was in you position a couple years ago. I realized my respect, admiration and trust for a friend had grown beyond the confines of friendship. I could see myself being married to him, building a life together, raising children together. We dated for 5 months or so. But I was concerned that I wasn't feeling any infatuation. I didn't think of him constantly, feel giddy at the sight of him. I broke it off, citing it was unfair to him, not wanting to lose our friendship.

It was the worst mistake I ever made. I was chasing after a feeling that was all flash even though the substance--the real stuff of relationships, the stuff that sustains: respect, trust, understanding, love that went beyond romance, or friendship--was already there.

Long story short, we reconciled. We're getting married in February. But I could have saved myself a lot of heartbreak and confusion in the past few years by not chasing a fleeting emotion. I can't say there was a definitive "falling in love" moment. Love grew very quietly. I fall in love with him each day. And I have NEVER felt giddy.

For me, it's exactly what I needed. YMMV.
posted by peacrow at 6:45 AM on December 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

this is a fairly new relationship

Is it possible that you are sabotaging this relationship for some reason?

I didn't think of this when I first read your question because it sounded like you were at a point where you'd been dating for a while and reevaluating your relationship. Maybe you'll fall in love with him, maybe you won't, but I'd ask myself why you are ready to jettison this:
I think he's a truly special person. Despite growing up in extreme privilege in Manhattan, he's very down to earth. He values spending time with family and friends over money or any other material things. He's kind and considerate to everyone in his life. He's patient, emotionally generous, and caring. We share the same interests and the same lifestyle, both loving to stay in and be cozy rather than go out on weekends. My family lives on the other coast and hasn't met him yet, but he would fit in with them perfectly.

He's loyal and stable. He's smart, and has a good (though subtle) sense of humor.
without giving it a chance.
posted by Room 641-A at 8:04 AM on December 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

I would recommend that if you're going to break up with him, be decisive. I was on the receiving end of this, with some of the same exact sentiments that you described word for word. He eventually fell in love with someone else and went full speed ahead into that. When that happened he left me abruptly. However, before then, he strung me along for a long long time. Wanting to break up, wanting to get back together, not sure how he feels, etc. Looking back, I remember it as a waste of my time that I regret, and the way it happened was so insulting that he's not someone I would ever want anything to do with. If I could erase that period from my history, I would.

FWIW (not worth much), the reason I had feelings for him IMO is that I committed myself mentally early on. There wasn't anyone else I was looking at over my shoulder. I didn't wake up loving him from the start -- he wasn't some demigod who was so great that I was head over heels because of his inherent magic. Rather my feelings grew because I was committed. Sometime near the start I decided for myself that I would be all in, and do my best in the relationship for as long as it lasts. After that decision my feelings grew.

On the other hand, he was still hung up on his ex and spent a lot of time looking over his shoulder at her, hanging out with her, and poking around with other people, spending quality time with women he was attracted to, and reminiscing about a feeling he had earlier in his life with the ex. I'm not saying he could have fallen in love with me if he did a better job, but from my perspective: he was uncommitted in his actions, even in small ways, with actions begetting thoughts and thoughts begetting feelings.

Is there something holding you back from liking this guy? Comparison with an ex or with some ideal person or situation in your head? Do you act on any of that in any tangible ways? I am projecting here, but don't string him along if your heart's not in it. If you have some hangup, whatever it may be, resolve it on your own time while and not on his time. It's not fair to use his emotional stability while you poke around, if he likes you. That probably sucks for him. Date him if/when you're ready to and leave him alone before (if he'll still have you when you're ready). Or never.
posted by kellybird at 8:25 AM on December 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

After your follow-up post I think it's easy to confirm you're not "settling" - you're in a new relationship with a person who you truly like and are attracted to, who sounds like quite a catch! I'm not sure how that could be possibly construed as settling.

There are many people out there who are living quite happily in arranged marriages. I'm not advocating arranged marriages for all, but shouldn't that tell you quite a bit about whether or not "giddiness" is important?
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:14 PM on December 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

Stop second guessing a good thing.

Marriages don't last when the woman loves the man more than he loves her. Start noticing how much he loves you over time and you'll start to see why he's the one. Love will grow over time, trust me. Frankly, if this guy is as privileged as you make him out to be, you should be thankful that he's interested in someone in their 30s...most guys from my socioeconomic class date girls in their 20s if they can get away with it. (Speaking as a 20 year old from a relatively privileged background.)

Also, if you want him to start doing stuff that turns you on, tell him to start focusing on "good guy game" a la Athol Kay's Married Man Sex Life blog.
posted by lotusmish at 12:11 AM on December 17, 2012

Marriages don't last when the woman loves the man more than he loves her.

You base this on what, besides your reading of The Rules?

Frankly, if this guy is as privileged as you make him out to be, you should be thankful that he's interested in someone in their 30s

What the fucking fuck are you on about? Read more statistics, less Cosmo.

Athol Kay's Married Man Sex Life

By all means, take your relationship advice from a man who rates his value to his wife's vagina and calculates "bulter and hooker math" to maximise how often his wife is willing to have sex with him. That is a great, great plan.

Speaking as a 20 year old

posted by DarlingBri at 3:22 AM on December 17, 2012 [19 favorites]

Oh boy, this is hard and I genuinely wish you all the best. But my gut feeling says that while thoughtful analysis of your relationship is healthy; feeling like you have to justify your decisions or seek external validation is a sign that there's something not quite right.

It sounds like the strength of his feelings for you are the ballast of the relationship - but what happens if he experiences trauma or depression or even extreme success and his feelings are all over the place? Will your sense of loyalty and respect be strong enough to keep the relationship afloat during a difficult period? It may well be. My observation is that people who have successful marriages aren't the ones who consistently feel loving towards each other, but who consistently ACT in a loving way. So what will sustain you to act in a loving way to him if for whatever reason he can't do the same for you?

It may be helpful if before you start figuring out where you'll go as a couple, you can clarify what YOU want (now, and in the future) irrespective of what your partner wants. And you need to think about the reality of what marriage and commitment means for you and what your expectations and boundaries are, rather than automatically trying to squish them to fit the mould of your current relationship. Good luck!
posted by rockpaperdynamite at 4:09 AM on December 17, 2012 [2 favorites]

most guys from my socioeconomic class

Economics aside, lower, yes?

Good lord, don't take advice from that blog/that answerer... Previously, from answerer: "Men don't have expiration dates...but women do." Yeah, that's not the sort of thing you need weighing in here.
posted by kmennie at 8:40 AM on December 17, 2012

Similar situation, in that we were a good match but there was no thrilling giddiness. It took me four years to fall head-over-heels in love with my boyfriend. I mean, I really liked him back then, but I didn't love love love him until only recently. I was all "What is wrong with you, he is great! Everybody says so! Why can't you get it through your head!" and "maybe I should break up with him, he deserves somebody who loves him as fiercely as he loves me".

But you know who that person is now, who absolutely loves him to bits? Me. It just took a bit of time, and er, emotional fluffing. What I did (and still do): make a list of his good traits, or just occasionally reflect on the wonderful things I love about my man. Then I get that lovin' feeling. He's really a wonderful guy. Thank you for reminding me. Now excuse me I have to go give him a hug right now.
posted by pimli at 12:05 AM on December 24, 2012 [1 favorite]

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