Have you heard that phrase? Have you ever spoken that phrase? It’s one of the more common things we hear when women tell us of a breakup. The problem is, in itself, the phrase is meaningless.
What does “I’m not in love with you” really mean?
It can mean one of several things:
First, it can mean that for the person saying that, limerence has ended. Limerence is that sweet, sexy, glue-y feeling that you get at the beginning of a relationship (or sometimes even before it starts.) Limerence is not love – it is a drug cocktail pumped out from our brains making us think we’re “in love” – but it’s evolutionary role is to glue people together long enough to make a baby. And even though lesbians can’t do that unaided, we have all the necessary chemistry anyway. And it doesn’t last forever – it will end, anywhere from 3 to 6 months later, sometimes as long as a year. The brain will stop pumping out that mix of endogenous opiates, oxytocin and other hormones. And when it stops, things will feel a lot different, especially if we didn’t choose our girlfriend well.
Second, it can mean that there is something getting in the way of emotional intimacy. Intimacy killing behaviors, such as speaking with criticism and defensiveness will erode intimacy. And not handling our triggers, leading to fights or tension, will erode intimacy.
Third, it can mean a realization of a relationship vision mismatch. One person in the couple might realize that the relationship that they are living out is not the one they really want. And it might not be very clear – it might just be the realization that the life one is living isn’t the right thing.
What do I do if I feel this way?
Figure out which of the things above it might be. If you’ve been together with someone for over a year or so, it’s probably not the first one. Inventory intimacy killing behaviors, figure out whether you or your partner have been eroding intimacy and endangering secure attachment by your speech and actions. If you realize this is the culprit, definitely check out our Lesbian Couples Communication Toolkit. And if you realize that the problem is that you aren’t living out your relationship vision, get a handle on what your vision is, and have a conversation with your partner (potentially mediated by a counselor or coach) about it.
What do I do if I hear this from my girlfriend or partner?
It’s time for you to take stock of what you want. You have no control over what your girlfriend or partner says or does. You can ask if she’s willing to take a course, or get some counseling. Or if she really wants to break up, then it’s time to do your own work of healing and reflecting on the relationship – how you got in it, and what happened while you were in it. Remember that you are worthy of love, and that you can heal, gain the skills you need to build intimacy and not kill it, and can find the relationship you really want. Our 12-week Roadmap class can help.