Definition of Love - do I accept it or try to talk it out?
March 26, 2020 10:32 AM   Subscribe

We differ on what love is. He says he does not love me. I say feeling butterflies is not love instead I say its a combination of attraction, interest in one another, compatibility, making shared memories, trust, respect, and commitment. I think we have those, although commitment is a bit in doubt (see explanation below). I feel frustrated that a good relationship has been thrown away due to semantics. Should I just accept that it’s over or should I try to talk to him when things have cooled down?

Background
My now ex-boyfriend (early 40’s) and I (late 30’s) had been together for just over a year and a half after meeting on Bumble. We had had a healthy relationship and have not had any problems. We have taken many holidays together and see each other approx. once a week (we live 1 hour apart) mostly with one- or two-night stays. We regularly text and phone. We were always affectionate and cuddly, have the same values and interests and always have something t talk about. He was always buying me presents and flowers and the sex was great. I had a kidney transplant 2 years ago and he has been nothing but supportive about this since the beginning of our time together.

About 9 months into the relationship he said he wanted to move in with me and started looking for jobs in my city. He was not successful and the topic went quiet. Due to a takeover at his current company he did not want to move for a while, as there was a chance of redundancy money, which I understood and accepted.

We had our only major argument in January this year. It was over something trivial that blew up out of proportion. We talked seriously after this and he was clear that still wanted to live together, but not in my city but his. This was Ok with me as property is cheaper, despite having many of the amenities of where I am. I work from home so moving would be simpler. He also said he could see us getting married one day. We reconciled. We agreed that we would talk seriously in 2 months’ time just to check that we were still OK with everything.

He visited my Mum at my childhood home for the first time last month (which he did with no hesitation) and I introduced him to my best friend from school and her family who still live in the area.

I had noticed that 2 months we had agreed on had come and gone and there was no discussion. I then asked for us to have a chat. He suggested that we talk the evening he was planning to visit anyway before we went on a day trip. So no alarm bells sounded. We had made plans for the next few months – like a holiday in May so I thought everything was OK.

In the interim extreme measures related to COVID-19 were announced by the government. As a transplant recipient, I am now not advised to go out of the house for 12 weeks from the start of this week. I have been extremely anxious about the pandemic and I have been very tearful since the announcement. Also, our day trip was canceled. He came anyway bearing lots of self-isolation supplies and he stayed the weekend. He was very cuddly and jolly throughout the weekend, we had sex, and he comforted me when I shared my fears about the pandemic say we would get through it together.

I initiated a conversation about the future how we were going to get through the next few months without seeing each other. This has been a bit worry to me. He said straight off that he did not love me and that he did not see a future with me and it was over. He rattled off a load of things that he thought I would want when we moved in together - like a big mortgage, and that I would not have any friends if I moved to be with him. Things we have not talked about and he is wrong about – I do not want to have a big mortgage and I (unlike him) have moved quite a bit and, do not need loads of friends and can make new friends. I guess these were excuses. He also says he does not want to get hurt – he lived with a girlfriend before and it did not work out.

I asked him what love is because I honestly think that love is what we have/had. He says it’s butterflies in your stomach and thinking about the other person all the time. He says he does not have that with me although there was a spark for the first year or so. He says that when he is in love he buys more presents and is more affectionate (I don't see how this is possible). I told him his definition of love is quite immature. I think it’s a combination of attraction, interest in one another, compatibility, making shared memories, trust, respect, and commitment and I honestly thought we had that. He is adamant that he does not love me and there is no future. He says he has been thinking about it for the past couple of weeks. His plan, however, if I had not asked directly, was to carry on until after the pandemic and then tell me.
posted by kittykat020 to Human Relations (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
I'm sorry that your boyfriend broke up with you during a pandemic, but he's flat out telling you that he does not love you and does not see a future with you, and no amount of arguing with him or telling him that he's immature is going to convince him to see things your way. You cannot get what you want out of this man. It is time to let him go.
posted by palomar at 10:37 AM on March 26 [55 favorites]


When people tell you they are not in love with you, BELIEVE THEM.
posted by DarlingBri at 10:43 AM on March 26 [32 favorites]


I'm so sorry this happened. He said he doesn't love you and see a future with you - that's really the crux of it and with that information, proceed accordingly (i.e. break up). Arguing about what love is and each other's definition of love is kind of a distraction to that main point. If I were to guess, the pandemic is really affecting him and this is how it's manifesting itself - him saying he doesn't see a future with you.
posted by foxjacket at 10:48 AM on March 26 [4 favorites]


Some people are shallow, and they want a happy shell of a thing, without the candy center, being the sticky love stuff that keeps the shell from collapsing, and so forth. Some people are so narcissistic they can have you in their lives as long as it isn't slightly problematic, and the services continue at the quality and pace they enjoy. As others have said, "believe him." I say fail to believe him at your peril." This is because he has already moved on, because also, people like this hedge their life bets, and he has found a better, whatever it is, he wants. That will always shift. I am sorry for your loss, and don't let it hurt you, take a deep breath regularly, and remember your value, and the value of your life. You don't have to have done a single thing, at any time, for your life to be yours to spend, as you like. Wrap your arms around you, kick back and isolate, and find things to enjoy, even if it is just the clouds. Do not chicken pick through the whole thing, looking for that one little bit, or other little bit, that would have made the difference. That lies in the other person...not you.
posted by Oyéah at 10:58 AM on March 26 [5 favorites]


I think that different people have different personal definitions of the word "love" and none of them are wrong. You're allowed to want what you want and so is he. However, he was a huge asshole in how he told you about his feelings.
posted by showbiz_liz at 11:17 AM on March 26 [6 favorites]


If someone says they don't love you, you can't logic your way into their heart. This idea of someone saying "fuck yes" has stayed with me. When I realize I'm investing way too much energy in someone that isn't excited to see me or work things through with me, I know it's time to let them go.
posted by pdxhiker at 11:18 AM on March 26 [11 favorites]


I’m really sorry about what’s happened. I’d suggest (as a guy) that your definition describes what to me would be a very good friendship. “Love” needs just a little extra on top, even if it’s not quite the full-on butterflies after a year or more. He’s told you he’s not feeling it, sorry. It’s quite possible that you would have been able to keep this going longer had the crisis not happened, but whether dragging it out for a few months or a few decades is a good idea is debatable.

I guess that isolation and lockdown (over here in NZ we are instructed to stay in our “bubble”) is going to be a significant test for many relationships, both nascent and longer term. If you don’t want to be in that bubble together, then it’s not really happening for one or the other of you.
posted by tillsbury at 12:11 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


the pandemic is really affecting him and this is how it's manifesting itself

I think this is true, but that it doesn't mean this is somehow temporary. Big crises tend to make people look at their lives and really see them. And sometimes that means realizing "wow, if heavy things go down, this is not the life I want to be living." He may have had that moment.

I'm sorry his timing and communication have not been the best, but it is right to believe him. Whatever it is he's looking for, your arguments about love won't change it. Focus on yourself and move on. I'm really sorry. Please take care of yourself.
posted by Miko at 1:47 PM on March 26 [5 favorites]


Even if you could, do you really want to have to twist someone’s arm into being with you? Don’t you deserve someone who loves you completely? The way your ex broke it to you was not kind, but he did what he felt he needed to do and it should be respected. You wouldn’t be helping each other by staying together when one of you wasn’t vested in the relationship anyway, it turns it into a lie and hurts more in the long run when it inevitably falls apart.

And the cracks would probably show up much faster during quarantine - imagine if you had moved in with him only to break up and be stuck together for months? I mean, thank God you didn’t. What a nightmare. So he did the right thing when it came down to the crunch. He’s not a bad guy, he’s just not the right guy for you, and that’s ok.
posted by Jubey at 3:04 PM on March 26 [3 favorites]


You can’t semantics your way out of this, I’m afraid. He is telling you that there is a feeling he has experienced and wants to try to have again, and that it’s not present in your relationship. Whatever the correct word for it is, or whether or not it’s a reasonable thing to want long term, he wants to try to achieve that thing. You deserve someone who wants their version of love *with you*, and who you don’t have to try to argue into loving you.

I’m so sorry this happened how and when it did, but your energy is better spent taking care of yourself right now and eventually finding someone who’s as excited about being with you as you are about being with them.
posted by Stacey at 3:14 PM on March 26 [6 favorites]


I'd agree that his definition of love sounds a bit immature. But also, that's his prerogative, and he's decided to break up with you. It's entirely possible that that's a poor choice for him as well as not what you want, but unfortunately people get to make bad decisions for themselves - or decisions for themselves that appear like bad decisions to other people, at the very least. He broke up with you. That's what the situation is. It sucks, and I'm really sorry you have that grief on top of all of the anxiety and grief of living with a pandemic. You are still absolutely allowed to feel all of the feelings about his choice, which might (in my experience of what sounds like a slightly related situation a number of years ago) include such feelings as anger, disappointment, hurt, but also worry for his well-being, frustration that the situation seems so clear and simple to you but he seems to be erecting pointless and artificial obstacles, etc. Just... the usual advice, find an outlet for healthy expression of those feelings that does not involve him. Distance hugs if you want them, and please stay safe with pandemic stuff too. That's a lot to be worrying about all at once, and you deserve to have support in that, so don't hesitate to reach out to community or mental health resources in your area, eg. for grocery deliveries or a listening ear.
posted by eviemath at 6:12 PM on March 26 [1 favorite]


Every day you waste on this guy is another day you're not available to meet someone who will love you
posted by Jacqueline at 11:24 PM on March 26 [2 favorites]


People get to break up and end a romantic relationship for any reason or no reason, and the precise explanation they give may or may not relate to true reasons (if they even know them), so I think it's important to understand a break up as a break up and not get too caught up in the words said during this conversation.

Based on nothing but my expert insight as a stranger on the internet, I wonder if he's someone who maybe thinks he wants to get married and such, but really he prefers shorter relationships with the intensity and excitement that comes from something being new. What he's calling love sounds to me like new relationship energy.

But you can't really know, and it's sad and hard and confusing, and it's coming at an extraordinarily stressful time. I'm very sorry for you for this loss, especially right now. Give yourself plenty of space to grieve.
posted by bluedaisy at 6:42 PM on March 27 [2 favorites]


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