Here's What Happens When You Love Someone More Than They Love You

One thing that I've learned over the years, through lots of relationships both good and bad, is that one of the most important factors in relationship success (or failure) is balance — balance of commitment, balance of desire, balance of love. Relationships take work, so you both have to be equally invested if you're going to be happy and if you're going to go the distance. So when you love someone more than they love you, it’s time to ask yourself if that's really the kind of relationship that you want. Is this person really the right fit? Do I deserve more?

If this sounds familiar, know that I've been in your shoes, and it sucks. Maybe you're telling yourself that you love them enough for the both of you, or that they love you too but just need to catch up. When it comes to matters of the heart, anything is possible. But is it likely? To answer that and more, I reached out to the experts to get their take on being with a partner who loves you less than you love them. I asked if this kind of relationship is even healthy, and if it's one worth fighting for. Here is what they had to say.

Why are we sometimes willing to accept a partner loving us less than we love them?

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Out of context, it seems ridiculous to think you would be with someone who doesn’t feel as strongly as you do. But life and love are complicated, and sometimes it happens, especially after a string of failed relationships.

Relationship expert and author Alexis Nicole White says that when you’ve been let down by love repeatedly, over time you may just start seeking out someone who you can maintain a long-term relationship with, saying, “[they’re] more likely to accept the lack of reciprocity for the sake of saying [they have] someone. Regretfully, [they] inevitably end up settling.”

Dr. Lesliebeth Wish, a licensed clinical psychotherapist and founder of LoveVictory.com, has a slightly more hopeful way of thinking about the situation, in that what may feel like a situation where one partner loves more than the other may actually just be a difference in how each partner expresses their feelings. She says, “for example, one person might buy gifts, while another person might take care of finances, the household, and other responsibilities.” So, consider if this is a possibility before you jump to the conclusion that there is a disparity in attachment. “Don't hamper your relationship by getting trapped in the belief that one partner always loves more than the other," Wish tells Elite Daily. "This belief can breed resentment."

Is this kind of relationship healthy?

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While some couples may be able to chalk it up to speaking in different love languages (and hopefully try to bridge that gap), the reality is that for some couples, it could just be an imbalance of love. In those cases, the question becomes: Is this healthy for you? On this, both of the experts agree.

“No, it's not healthy or fair because the length of a relationship does not solidify the quality of the relationship," White tells Elite Daily. "People deserve to be in healthy relationships that can be fructified and productive; not mediocre and stagnant."

For Dr. Wish, it simply comes down to the fact that you deserve more in a relationship and you owe it to yourself not to settle for less. “It is not a good decision to settle for 'emotional crumbs,'" she says. "Unfortunately, many partners do out of fear of being alone or dealing with changes in finances, parenting, homes, and other major changes. But crumbs can never bake the cake of love.”

What should we do if we're in a relationship like that?

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So, now what? Is the relationship automatically a lost cause? Is there nothing left to do but to just pack your things and leave? Well, not necessarily. Dr. Wish says that if this is a relationship you really want to work, and your partner is willing to do the work with you, there is also the option of counseling. In fact, she recommends you give that a shot before grabbing your luggage and calling the movers.

“Before you decide to leave, get counseling to see if your view of the relationship is accurate or healthy," says Dr. Wish. "Learn ways to express your feelings of not being loved, and develop a different understanding of how you and your partner show love.” She also adds, “Counseling can help undo and redo these communication styles so that both partners feel loved. Remember, you can always leave — but don't leave home without understanding and counseling.”

However, if your partner isn’t willing to invest in the relationship and do the work, well, White says it's officially time to pull ripcord on this relationship. “It is never okay to just accept the bare minimum from someone; it's called settling,” she explains. While that may sound brutal in the moment, the truth is you need to be free in order to find a better and more fulfilling love. “Stand your ground and clear space for the real thing!” says White.

You deserve to be loved just as powerfully and passionately as you love. Accept no substitutes!

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