8 signs you never really loved each other, according to psychology

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We’ve all been there, ruminating over a past love. Or should I say, relationship.

When my first long-term relationship came to an end, I dated here and there over the years.

Whenever these things ended, I started ruminating on the past, once again.

I wondered, was I ever really in love back then? Did either of us actually love each other? Was it just lust or a comfortable confidant we found in each other to fill the loneliness?

Sometimes it’s hard to tell the difference between real love and something else entirely – like lust or comfort.

But if you recognize these 8 signs in your past relationship, psychology says it might’ve been the latter.

1) You only loved the idea of them

When you think about what you loved in this person, was it the future you had planned?

The idea of staring into each other’s eyes as you said your wedding vows, raising a family together, cuddling peacefully on the sofa, and growing old together?

We romanticize a lot of stuff in our head – except for the present.

Falling for the potential of someone isn’t the same as falling for them.

Neither is falling in love with the idea of them – the thought that “one day” they might be everything you want and you’ll be happy together.

Experts say it’s hard to know if you’re in love with them, or a version of them from the past.

Or even a version of them that lives in your head!

But if you always felt disappointed by them, or daydreamed about who they could be rather than who they were, it probably wasn’t real love.

It was probably just love for the idea of who they could be…

2) You never worried for each other’s safety

When you care about a friend, you might think about their safety occasionally.

You might ask if they got home OK or stay with them until their cab arrives.

But you probably don’t fear something bad happening to them regularly.

You probably ask/do things like wait for their taxi out of politeness, care, or just habit.

Being deeply in love with someone means you care a lot more than normal about their wellbeing.

The idea of losing them isn’t paralyzing (experts say this might be a sign of generalized anxiety disorder, rather than love).

But it’s DEEPLY troubling.

I’ll be the first to admit that in past relationships, I’d always assume he was just fine when I didn’t hear from him for a while.

He did the same with me, since my phone would die on a night out and he wouldn’t even notice!

But with my partner now, everything is different.

We both don’t just THINK about each other’s safety, it’s a priority.

When you never felt this way with an ex, you probably weren’t really in love.

You probably just cared about them like you did with a friend.

3) You always had your doubts

Ask yourself, how did you feel about them when you woke up each morning?

How did you feel every time they went out with their friends?

Did you feel totally loved and in love?

Did you know that everything was always going to be OK between the two of you? Did you live in peaceful contentment?

If you were never really in love, I’m guessing you didn’t.

I’m guessing you felt anxious or sometimes even relieved.

Some people have relationship anxiety that stems from past traumas, but that isn’t what we’re talking about here.

We’re talking about a constant doubt that this person a) doesn’t truly care for you and b) is never going to be in your life forever.

These kinds of feelings weren’t good signs.

4) You gave up easily during fights

Two people in love are always going to have fights. In fact, many experts say that the more fights you have, the stronger your bond can become.

There’s just one caveat. You have to work THROUGH the fight.

To make that happen, you have to actually care about making things work – both of you!

I’ve been there in relationships, not caring enough to speak up when they said another hurtful thing.

Admittedly, I’ve even said sorry for things just so we could move on and stop talking about it!

But you won’t do this when you’re genuinely in love.

You’ll actually care about working through your issues.

You’ll care about telling the truth and creating a solution that works for the long term.

You’d never be happy with just putting a plaster over things, hoping it goes away for just a little while…

5) You could go days without talking

When I was dating an ex, I went on a week-long vacation with a friend and I didn’t talk to my ex once.

We didn’t message, speak on the phone, Facetime, or anything of the sort. He didn’t message me and I didn’t message him.

With my partner now, I couldn’t imagine doing that.

He wouldn’t like it and neither would I. We want to talk every day and love doing it!

There are mixed reviews about what it means when you can go days without speaking to your boyfriend or girlfriend.

Some experts say it’s OK if you both lead busy lives.

Others say it isn’t right at all and that daily communication strengthens your bond and alleviates stress.

But what everyone agrees on is that minimal communication is a bit odd.

If you could do what I did, you both probably weren’t that in love.

Or you were intentionally giving each other the silent treatment for days. Which again, really isn’t a sign of love…

6) You struggle to say what you loved about them

Think about it now, what did you really love about this person? List 20 things.

If you were madly in love, I’ll bet you could list more than 20 with total ease!

A million things spring to mind, even if you can’t put a name to them, you know what they are.

When you were never really in love, you’ll be struggling right about now.

You might think of some things, but everything will have a caveat.

Like, “I loved how kind he could be, I just wish he was like that all the time”.

Or, “I loved the dates we used to go on, but we didn’t have many dates like that”.

When your reasons for loving them are non-existent or caveated, you probably weren’t really in love.

You might’ve just loved the idea of them or loved what they did for you.

7) You never opened up to them fully

We’ve talked about how important communication is in a relationship, but good communication doesn’t automatically lead to love.

You could be excellent in calming them down, listening to their day, and relaying your dinner plans, but that doesn’t mean your relationship is strong.

Experts allude to the idea that talking isn’t enough for true love to exist.

You need to have a deep, meaningful connection with the person you’re dating.

I know I’ve dated people in the past where opening up to them felt like the worst thing in the world!

I’ve also dated people who felt the same way about opening up to me, when I had no issue with it.

In these cases, it’s all too clear that something wasn’t right.

Realistically, you weren’t as in love as you thought if you couldn’t talk about the deep stuff.

The same applies if they couldn’t do the same with you…

8) You’re glad it’s over

Nostalgia is a bugger.

It can make you long for the past, but if the past were truly to come back to you, you might not like it as much as you think.

Even though you might be looking back on all the good times, reminiscing about the laughs you had or even the intimate moments you shared, are you secretly glad the relationship is over?

Does the idea of being back together feel better in your head than in your memories?

When you look back on past relationships, things can have a rose tint to them.

But when you imagine your lives being merged together right now, it can feel awful.

If you look back fondly on the memories you shared, but feel glad it’s over, it might not have been deep love you felt. It might’ve been temporary love or just comfort.

Either way, it definitely isn’t a sign that you should text them…

Final thoughts

Looking back, some relationships seem perfect.

You think about the good times, the laughter shared, and how things could have been if only it hadn’t ended.

But our brains can quite easily play tricks on us, especially in the dead of night when loneliness takes over!

When you recognize these thoughts, feelings, and emotions from your past relationship, things probably weren’t as good as they seemed.

As hard as it is, it’s probably time to take off those rose-tinted glasses for good.

Because the sooner you move on from the past, the sooner you can fall in love with the here and now.

And, of course, the sooner you can find someone you genuinely love and who loves you just as much!

Amy Reed

Amy Reed is a content writer from London working with international brands. As an empath, she loves sharing her life insights to help others. When she’s not writing, she enjoys a simple life of reading, gardening, and making a fuss over her two cats.

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