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, click here to get more information on our intensive workshop that saves marriages!


  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!

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