I Love You, But I’m Not In Love With You

Upset young couple having marital problems or a disagreement lyi

Often it is the kiss of death.

One says to the other, “I love you, but I’m no longer in love with you.” The person speaking either wishes for a relationship with someone new or already has it. The “I love you” phrase often means, “I’m not really that angry at you; you’ve got some good qualities. I hope you fare well. Now, don’t try to make me feel guilty for leaving you.” The “I’m not in love with you” phrase usually means, “You don’t evoke emotions within me like you once did. I know your good, bad, and uglies. Whatever we had has died and I’m not happy. You’re not what I want, but there must be someone out there that is.”

In our turnaround workshop for marriages in crisis, Marriage Helper 911, I hear this “love, not in love” sentiment regularly. Often, the spouse saying it is already deeply involved with another person. Sometimes people that have been cheated against say it, not because there is someone else in their lives but because of their hurt and anger. Occasionally, there are those who say it because they simply want to be free from the misery their marriage has become. Whatever the case, when I hear people utter those words I know that they want someone other than their spouse to be their “true love.” If they are not yet involved with another person, the odds are very high that they will be.

We could explain many reasons why a person evolves from “I’m in love with you,” to “I’m not in love with you.” In The Marriage Clinic John Gottman sums it, “‘feeling unloved’ was the most commonly cited reason for wanting a divorce (67% of women)…and sensitivity to being belittled (59% men and women)…We must conclude that most marriages end…[as] the result of people…not feeling liked, loved, and respected.”

Did you notice that “not feeling liked, loved, and respected” part? If the one who should be fulfilling their needs for emotional closeness and being liked, loved, and respected is not doing that, folks become vulnerable to having someone else fulfill those needs. I’m not justifying it, but I do understand it.

So does God.

When Paul gave command that husbands and wives must sexually fulfill each other, he pointed out, “so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.” (1 Corinthians 7:2-5) God didn’t justify sexual immorality, but He did predict a person’s vulnerability to it if the marriage isn’t filling that deep-seated human need for sexual fulfillment.

The same goes with other human needs that should be fulfilled in marriage. Gottman reports that most affairs are about seeking friendship, support, understanding, and validation.

Be assured that I am not claiming that all who say, “I love you; I’m not in love with you” are in affairs as they say it. However, I am saying that quite a few are, and that the others who say it are vulnerable to infidelity or divorce. It’s basic human nature to want an emotional bond with another person that we feel likes, loves, and respects us.

So what does all this mean?

If your spouse says, “I’m not in love with you”
Believe it.

It’s foolish to shrug that statement off thinking that they are just having a bad day. A much greater likelihood exists that your spouse already has drifted far from you emotionally and either consciously or unconsciously is vulnerable to developing a relationship with someone new.

Get busy now repairing your relationship and getting back on the Love Path. If it’s not too bad yet, there are books that can help, such as my book The Art of Falling in Love. If the problems are deeper and you discover that your marriage is in peril, even in early stages of peril, find the help you need to turn it around quickly. Click here to learn about our workshop that can save your marriage.

I’m not trying to panic you, but you need to open your eyes to see if your spouse’s need for like, love, and respect is already being fulfilled by someone else. Look for signs such as:

  • Your spouse’s appearance (body shape, fragrances, or dress) has improved recently,
  • Money is unaccounted for,
  • Time is unaccounted for,
  • Cell phone bills are hidden and/or your spouse spends time on the phone where you cannot hear,
  • Facebook or email accounts are protected from you,
  • Your sex life recently changed (either more or less),
  • You discovered that your spouse told you they would be one place and you discover they were in another,
  • Your spouse drifts from happiness to sadness to dreaminess to irritableness,
  • Your spouse starts telling you that you are “crazy” or confused,
  • Your spouse gets defensive when you ask about a certain person, activity, or time period

This isn’t a definitive list, but it gives the sense of the matter. Even good people who love Jesus can do stupid things when caught up in the throes of emotion. Don’t be blind.

If your spouse is involved with someone else, you can walk away if you wish. However, if you desire saving your marriage, seek help, no matter how hopeless it may seem. For example, our success rate when working with couples in trouble is that three out of four couples stay married and make their relationship stronger if they attend my workshop. I encourage couples to come even when one of them is “madly in love” with another. It’s fascinating to watch God’s process that saves three/fourths of those marriages. And, yes, we have the same success rate even if your spouse doesn’t want to be there. If the two of you go through three days with us, you have a great chance to save your marriage and make it good again. If not us, then find someone who can help.

Do not let your marriage die. Most can be resurrected when love has lost its way.

If you say, “I’m not in love with you.” (If you are in a relationship with someone else)

If you are already in a relationship with someone that you do not have a right to, we know that you will not end it as long as you can justify it in your mind through whatever rationalization you can muster. Rationalizations are lies you tell yourself. Like all lies, the consequences are bitter.

Be honest with yourself and stop:

  • Bringing up your spouse’s failings or shortcomings to justify your involvement with another, (no one’s sins justify you sinning)
  • Claiming that God brought you and your paramour together (He doesn’t violate His own commands about adultery and undefiled marriage beds),
  • Telling yourself that as long as you don’t cross a certain barrier until you are divorced you are not doing anything wrong (admit that this is a game where you try to manipulate God by following the “letter of the law” while ignoring the “spirit of the law”).

Overcome your own desires and live by integrity.

Integrity is giving up everyone and everything for this rare jewel; I did what was right.

(If you are not in a relationship with someone else)

If you are not in a relationship with another, please consider your vulnerability. Not you, you say? “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall” (1 Corinthians 10:12).

Rather than living in misery and being susceptible to temptations, fix your marriage now. If your spouse doesn’t want to, then be strong enough to insist. Make yourself heard. Clearly explain your misery, danger, and potential future. Involve your pastor, your spouse’s family, your kids (if old enough), or whatever it takes. If you ignore the situation, it will get worse.

Falling in love is a process. Follow the process and you fall in love whether you mean to or not. Vacate or violate the process and you fall out of love whether you mean to or not. You can be in love again. Anyone can follow the Love Path at any time in life, no matter what state they are in now or what has occurred previously.

If you are no longer “in love” with your spouse, or your spouse is no longer “in love” with you, act now, before it is too late.

If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper 911 workshop for troubled marriages. We can help you save your marriage even in cases of infidelity, loss of trust, anger, sexual problems, and other issues. (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.


  1. George says

    My wife told me she loves me but not in love with me. She cheated and told me and we are trying to work on it. We been together for almost 20yrs. It will be 20 yrs this October 15 th . I am deeply desperate in saving my marriege.my wife still lives with me and we still have sex together but sometimes she she’s we need to follower what the counselor said. To give each other space . If hurts bad when she says I love u but not in. Love with you. What can I do to save my marriege

    • says

      It’s not easy trying to forget a thing like that. One must truly be will to forgive, not constantly bring it up, and go on. If that can’t be done, there is no use in trying. One never forgets, but has to push it in the back of their heart & mind. Something was missing in the marriage, she was not fulfilled. But, she didn’t talk to you about it,nor you didn’t believe her,nor chose to ignor or the warning signs. We all love many peopke; family, friends, etc. But “in love” is different. In love is unconditional, being best friends, doing anything for another or each other. It’s working together in all things. It’s consideration, kindness, thoughtfulness, giving into or giving up what WE want to give happiness to the other. Compromise, is very important. Not letting the sexual part become boring & mundane. Keep it interesting, trying new ways, read a book on it to teach new experiences. I hope your marriage is successful & you share love again, stronger than it was even before!

      • says

        Forgot to mention, I went through it with my husband. We spent 50 years together. I found out about his affair after being married 10 years. I am a Christian woman & trusted the Lord to give me strength & the Will to get through it and He did. Since, my husband passed away. I am thankful I kept my views, till death do us part… But I am older & a lot of the younger peopke.give up on marriage like it’s just something you throw away & start all over. If, I believe , you do it with one, it could very well keep happening, marriage, after marriage. People change, we grow in many ways, so we must learn to grow TOGETHER, or one can be left behind. I could go on & on, but I think you get the message……

      • Kimberly Holmes says

        Forgiveness is crucial to moving on. We have some posts on forgiveness as well…there is actually a process to forgiveness. If you wait to forgive until you feel ready, it will never happen. Forgiveness is a decision.

  2. Mark says

    I’m 43. My wife is 42. We have been married for 23 years. We have 3 children: 21, 6 and 4 years old. We had beautiful life and my wife always was most important person for me on Earth. 2 month ago she told me she is not in love with me and she is deeply unhappy in marriage. She filed for divorce. Also I found she has a boyfriend who is 10 years younger. She turned in to different person overnight.She smashed everything without any regret.

  3. Brittany says

    I have been in a 17year relationship where after a move my partner claims to have fallen in love with a neighbors daughter(about 10 years younger than us). Now I am being told that “I love you but am no longer in love with you.”. This year has been the hardest in my life and taken me to places I never thought I would go. I still want to save the relationship but my partner says there is no hope.

  4. abdul favors says

    me and my wife have been married for a little over a year,when i met her she was already pregnant by another man but after she had the baby her attitude towards me started to change,we moved to texas where things got worse there was no intimacy n a lack of understanding on both sides,also there was some hidden emotions brought by her into the marriage, i tried my best to be of help but she always blocked me out or ignored me n was always on her phone she even deleted me on fb, feel she still has feelings for her old flame which is why i think she told me she was nor romantically in love with me tried to save our marriage several times but she thinks she wants to be with somebody else. what does this mean

  5. Kay says

    Why does it sound like it is the faithful spouse’s fault? What if the faithful spouse was supportive, kind, and loving, but the cheating spouse enjoyed all the attention he was getting from someone new? What about cheating spouses that seem to need constant validation?

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      Kay, you bring up a very good point. And while the behaviors of the cheating spouse are never validated, there are some situations where the environment of the marriage has primed the temptation of an affair. This is not always the case, however. There is something called “Attachment Theory”. Basically, there are four different types of attachment. One of those, called preoccupied, basically encapsulates people who need constant attention from the opposite sex. These people are also more likely to be limerence addicts…always in search of new and exciting feelings that come with the beginning of a new relationship. While this presents its own set of challenges in a marriage, it can still be overcome.

      • Kay says

        I have been told that I have always been just an option to my husband and that it wasn’t until his recent affair that he even thought about possibly changing his womanizing/fantasy behaviors. What situations in a marriage prime the temptation of an affair? If he has narcissistic personality traits, can he really change? What would keep him from not acting out again if he should meet another woman who is more than willing to commit adultery with him? How would it be overcome?

  6. Sakouya says

    Been marriage for 5years and my husband have a mixed family. I came in the marriage with 3 children and him part time with 1. We have 3 year old together now. My husband says that we are not compatible and this marriage is not what God has put together. He says my believes are different then his and therefore God would never bring confusion in a God sent marriage. And that we have 2 different spirits. I can never speak to my husband with out him saying that I’m to dramatic and I don’t know how to talk and that he wants out of this marriage. He also states that there is no other person involved, he just wants out of his misery in this msrrisge. He says that he’s starting to think old situstions from his past and feels it’s this marriage that making him. And that God did not approve of this marriage in the beginning it was not his will to get married. He says that he tired of being the only one that puts out the fire in the marriage. It’s always him that has to speak first when we have a problem. I do speak up but when I do it always is that I’m to late. That I need to speak before he does. Basically, we are not compatible, he seems always irritated when we talk or if I talk to him.

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      It seems that your biggest issue in your marriage is trying to juggle two different personalities – and neither of you understand the personality of the other. We spend a lot of time talking about personalities in our Path to Soul Satisfying Love online video series and at our 3-day workshop for marriages in crisis. I know that understanding each of your personalities and how to talk to each other would make a world of difference in your marriage – and it is possible!

  7. Sara says

    I found evidence that my husband of over 10 years has been having an affair with a coworker for years. He has been cold to me for the past few years and rejected any affection I have tried to give. I have evidence and he refuses to speak to me about it and only replies that I think I know everything. He simply will not admit it and he is not remorseful at all. He is actually acting mad at me as if I did something wrong. It is like the past few years he has been doing cruel things intentionally hoping I will file for divorce, but I never do. I didn’t get married to give up. I still love this man even though he seemingly does not love me anymore. Is it even possible for people in a situation like this to turn it around? Can you turn it around even when the Cheater will not admit it with hard evidence in front of him? It is actually absurd that he says nothing when confronted. We have two small kids together.

    • Kimberly Holmes says


      Although it seems completely hopeless, you would really be amazed at how many times we do see a situation just like this turn around. We have a couple of different options of things that you can do. You’ve already found our articles. We also have an online video series for people in situations just like yours called Marriage Recovery. It is a 7-part video series that focuses on exactly what you can do to get your spouse back and stop the affair from happening. You can find out more about Marriage Recovery here:

      The absolute best thing that we have is our intensive 3-day workshop for marriages in crisis. You may be thinking “there is no way my husband would go to a three day seminar” but we actually have a lot of ways to help you persuade your spouse to go, and these techniques have worked for many people (they are not manipulative or pushy, they are actually very logical and effective). For more information about the workshop, please fill out a form here and our representative will be in touch with you. Or you can call him at 615-636-8086.

  8. Susanna says

    I left for the army for one year and neglected to stay in regular touch with my wife due to the exhausting training I had to do. She met someone else during that time and had what’s called an emotional affair with this person. Upon my return we went to couples therapy and even separated while trying to work things out. My wife says she felt abandoned and this new person helped her during this time. They both talked about being atracted to each other and exchanged some sex text and lots of one one one conversations holding hands but didn’t have sex or kiss. We’ve being doing better after many months of therapy but my wife still misses this person a lot and is still in touch with her and this is just a constant remainder of bad times for me. How can we move on from this situation? She said I should trust her and all she wants is to keep the frienship with this person.

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      Your wife will have to stop all communication with the other person in order for the marriage to work in the long run.

  9. Lynn says

    When my husband and I met we were both in different relationships. We both were involved with people who didn’t respect us and cheated on us. We talked to each other about how wrong they were and realized we both wanted a loving and loyal relationship. So we grabbed on to one another and years later married. Within the first two years my husband no longer had sexual relationship with me on the regular. It was once every 3 months. When I talked to him about it he told me “I was complaining and if I’m not happy why not get a divorce? ” this went on for the past 8 years. .I’ve even invited him on outing with me but he refused because he was not interested. We’ve been married 10 years. The last year and a half, my husband has left or bed and been sleeping on the sofa. I have since come to lose all emotional attachment to him. I am not in love with him anymore. I also refuse sex when he finally decides he wants to. I have spoken to him constantly over these 8 years with no change. Until recently. I have not cheated but decided it’s time i make me a better person. . Like losing weight and getting my career started. He now wants to move back into the martial bed and work on the relationship. I asked him why would he do these things and he just said he knew it was wrong I really don’t want to have that with him as he has become a stranger to me. I don’t feel I can. How can this marriage be saved? How can I change my feelings now when the emotions were cut off almost from the start?

  10. Martie says

    My wife and I dated for nine years before we married in 2013. In a conversation we had some weeks ago, I expressed to her that I love her but not “in love” with her. The descriptions of “in love” matches how I felt for my high school sweetheart. The problem with that is our relationship was very unhealthy. I was very much not in control over my emotions and and I hated the way I felt. We had a very nasty breakup and I never wanted to feel that way again. Now that I’m with my wife, she’s extremely upset because she’s “in love” with me and the feelings aren’t reciprocated. I haven’t cheated on my wife and I really want our marriage to work. She says she doesn’t think our marriage can be fixed. I’m at a crossroads here. What should I do?

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      If your wife is still in love with you, and you are wanting to be in love with your spouse again, then you have everything going right for you. Your situation may seem dire, but this can actually be fixed relatively easily. You just need to know the right way to do it. We can teach you.

  11. Serenity says

    My husband just had an affair with someone 26 years older than him. He was remorseful and guilty at the start,showing all the emotions of guilt. Then he started to analize us as a couple. We have know each other for 22 years and been together 19 years. Now out of the blue he is saying he don’t love me and has never been in love with me. He is messing with my head tellin me he wants to work it out we are in theropy but I’m not sure this is working. I’m starting to hate the person he has become. He has said real cruel words that has never been said before. He has never physically or mentally hurt me. I am at a total loss the mind games are messing with my head I carnt eat or sleep. Any advice would be greatly appricated. I have been researching and the signs I’m seeing is midlife.

    • Kimberly Holmes says

      It definitely sounds like limerence. Therapy is not likely to work because he will just view any person who tries to get between him and his affair partner as the enemy, and will discount anything that they say. Your best option is our Marriage Helper 911 workshop.

  12. ced says

    My husband has all the signs you had mentioned that he is involved with simeone else /someone elseis fulfilling his needs.. how can i win him back to be inlove with me again .he told me that “he loves me but let me be”. He always comes home late, never talked to me or doesn’tverbalize his problem with me but instead he opens to her 22 yr-old bestfriend that he only knew last august 2014. Please help me to save my marriagem thank you and God bless

  13. ray says

    Ok i have been married to my wife of 17yrs. I have stepped out of my marrige earlier in our my marriage. Long story short I’m in love she is not. Our relationship is great but intimacy from her has died. Need help!!

  14. says

    My boyfriend has told me he loves me but he’s not in love with me,he just had open heart surgery,I’m going through menepause,we had 8 yrs together 8 yrs ago ,I left him now we are back together for a yr,I’m madly in love I thought we were special to each other come to find out he sais he can’t be himself because I’m too controlling I’m bossy ,and I ride him a lot over girlfriends I’ve got rid of by intemidation,I’m very over protective over him because he has a bad heart I’ve lost time with him because of what happened yrs ago I’m trying to show him I love him again but he doesn’t feel the same I’m lost I don’t know what to do should I let him go or should I fight for him he was my very first boyfriend Shen I was 13 ,then when I was 31 for 8 yrs,now I’m 48’and so is he ,we are back for round 3! Should I go again ,since he sais he loves me but he’s not in love,thanks I’m signing out as lost in love

  15. theresa says

    I have been married for 24 years and with my husband for 28 years. I have never thought of being with another man but my husband told me thathe loves me to death, but he is not in love with me. My heart feels dark and I just want to cry all the time.
    please help

  16. Jess says

    I’ve been married for less then six months. My husband and I have been together for and a half years I had two children previous to our relationship. We have a child together and one on the wat. My husband told me he’s not in love with me and never was he doesn’t want to leave because he doesn’t want to hurt me. He also says it better to stay since we are into deep. He doesn’t show me affection I feel so alone. I am completely in love with him and I don’t know what to do I’m going to hurt either way. I’m 4 months pregnant btw.

  17. Hannah says

    About that “not in love” part of your article: I am wondering if I love my husband who I have known for over 33 years. Right now I am pretty numbed by the revelation not long ago that he cheated on me at least 9 times in our 30 year marriage, mainly on business trips. The last time was 12 years ago. He slept with 5 different women, each time coming home and pretending that all is well.

    We are people of faith and are not in a hurry to separate or anything like that. If this was to be revealed, it would shock and destabilize our children. Both families, our friends and colleges would be blown away, having thought that our marriage was ideal. He is very remorseful and was the one who revealed all this after I put one and one together and asked him some very simple questions.

    Right now all I feel and see is filth. I cannot bring myself to be intimate with him. We always had so much fun laughing at everything but this has ceased. I have began to see flaws in him that annoy me now and which I could pass over easily before, flaws that any normal person can have. I no longer find him attractive and really cannot let myself trust him anymore even if as he says, it was a long time ago. I really cannot get over this alone but by Gods grace. Seriously, I am wondering if it is only because it is too much of a shocker for our family and too much of a bother that I do not kick him out of my life. It would also be very costly to divide all our investments and we are not exactly young. May time as it goes by bring forth a positive from this awful mess!

  18. Erin says

    I first met my husband when I was a junior in high school, he was 22. We dated and fell in love. He proposed to me and we got married August 16, 2008. I was 19 at the time. From day one he had issues wit my family, especially my mom. He felt that she was constantly interfering in our life. I knew no different so I didn’t realize how much it was affecting our relationship. In 2011 we welcomed our first and only daughter. Life was perfect in both of our eyes. I developed severe post partum depression. I haven’t always been great at communication and expressing my feelings. Not only with him but in any relationships. I spoke with my doctor when I couldn’t handle it on my own anymore. He put me on antidepressants, it helped a lot, but of course my libido was non existent because of them. I was embarrassed, i didn’t want anyone to know I was depressed especially not my husband. After about a year and a half I finally told him in the midst of a fight. He was really angry with me because I didn’t tell him , but he was even more angry because he automatically assumed that I had told my mom. Which I hadn’t, no one knew. Last year I started a new job. I had an awful boss who was out to make sure that I failed. It was what I thought the worst thing I could ever possibly have to go through. Well I was very wrong. In March of this year, a girl whom I went to high school with messaged me through Facebook one night, informing me that my husband was having an affair with a coworker… I was devestated. At first he lied and told me it was just a kiss one time. Then he finally decided to come clean and told me that it had been occurring the previous 6 months. At first he promised to do anything to fix it. To fix us. But then after a few weeks he changed what he wanted. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to be married to me anymore. He wasn’t sure what his feelings were for her. He still works with her. He spends 9+hours a day with her. He says that nothing is going on with them anymore. I have forgiven him. I want to move forward. But I can’t because he is so stuck in the past. We have both been to a counselor individually and as a couple. There has been some definite pros going. But we have been stuck in a limbo state. We still live in the same home. But we rarely do anything as a family or as a couple. He hasn’t slept in our bed since March. We have only made love twice since everything was revealed. I can’t keep going on the way things currently are. And he is afraid that things will go back to the way they were. The more he pushes me away the more distant my feelings continue to become for him. I love him and he says he loves me that is why it is so difficult. But are we in love with each other? I am so lost and confused and I don’t want to make the wrong decision. But I feel some decision needs to be made. I’m so concerned that we will start to hate and resent each other and neither of us want that. Any advice is welcomed!

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