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6 Reasons Your Partner Says You Don’t Love Them

Hoca

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Many clients insist to me that they really love their partners, but their partners frequently say that they don’t feel loved at all. There are many reasons for this disconnect, across arenas from intimacy to communication to empathy. Let’s explore the six most common reasons that I see in practice for a partner not feeling loved!



  1. They have preoccupied or fearful avoidant attachment. They didn’t get enough love growing up and now their need for reassurance and love feels infinite, to both you and them. Read about attachment here, and the link between childhood neglect/abuse and fearful avoidant attachment is explained here. If you grew up always feeling like a parent’s attention was rarely fully on you, despite their best intentions, you may struggle with ever feeling like a partner loves you “enough.” This episode discusses how this sort of childhood leads to a “scarcity mindset.”
  2. You don’t express love very well. You grew up in an inexpressive or even emotionally neglectful home (read the book Running on Empty for more on this). You may even be alexithymic. While you do feel love for your partner, it is a tree falling in the forest situation, as they would never know from how you (don’t) express it. Working on communication in therapy can dramatically help if you never learned how to talk about feelings or express emotions openly. Remember, contrary to what some men may think, healthy women love when men express emotions.
  3. You have an avoidant attachment style. If your partner is preoccupied as per point #1, then it’s almost certain that you are avoidant, as these two styles are subconsciously drawn to one another. You are the distancer to your partner’s pursuer, and while you may say the words “I love you,” your partner senses the ambivalence behind the words. In truth, you may be uncomfortable with need in general, especially emotional need.
  4. You really do not love your partner, at least not romantically. The elephant in the room is that you are not and may never have been attracted to your spouse. You think they are a good person and may have married them because you knew that they would make a great parent. You don’t want to divorce, so you convince yourself that you are happy and love your partner, but you aren’t as good as actor as you think, and your partner is picking up on something real.
  5. You are depressed… or your partner is. When you’re depressed, it is difficult, or even impossible, to express love in a way that feels genuine to the other person. Your facial expressions are constricted, and your voice is a monotone. If your spouse is depressed, they are likely rejection sensitive (read about rejection sensitivity in atypical depression here), and they are extremely sensitive to any perceived slight… which may be no intended slight at all. Even a small change in your tone, which signifies nothing to you, may be taken as very upsetting and indicative of rejection to someone who is depressed.
  6. Your partner is uncomfortable with vulnerability. When they say, “You don’t love me,” it is intended to make you come forward and reassure them. They find direct communication and expression of need to be overwhelmingly vulnerable, so they stick to little “tests.” This episode discusses exactly why women with preoccupied attachment say things like, “You never say you love me!” and how to navigate this when it isn’t factually correct! Spoiler: this isn’t a “shit test”… it is a bid for reassurance without having to directly ask. (Incidentally, while most women do not do “shit tests,” some women do; learn more in depth about who does and doesn’t do this here.)

If any of these reasons speak to you, recognize that you are not alone in this dynamic. Couples therapy can help partners who are stuck in this dysfunctional dynamic, although if you or your spouse are depressed OR you are not in love with them, individual therapy would be a better choice. And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Every Time You Understand A Part Of Our Relationship Dynamic In A New Way, Your Marriage Improves 5%. I Made That Up But It Feels Right.
 
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