Relationships are a two way street. In order for one to work long-term, all parties need to be on the same page. That means not just having a shared vision for the future, but also being communicative about how your feelings for each other are developing over time. It can be truly heart-wrenching to be in a relationship but not in love with someone who you know is very much in love with you, and figuring out how to talk to them about it can be difficult. No one wants to break another person's heart. But, according to experts, there are a few things to keep in mind that might make the conversation go a little smoother if ultimately, your goal is clear communication.
Before you approach the topic with your SO, Joshua Klapow, Ph.D., clinical psychologist and host of The Kurre and Klapow Show, recommends making sure you've given your relationship enough time. "Falling in love, being in love, falling out of love are all challenging topics to process," Klapow tells Elite Daily. "You don't want to tell your partner you're not in love if, in fact, you're not sure."
Once you're sure of your own feelings, and you've realized you and your partner aren't on the same page, it might be time to have a conversation. "Love and related emotions can get very challenging to communicate," Klapow warns. But if you know for a fact you're not going to be in love with them ever again (or for the first time), it's probably best to be clear. "This is not the time for lies to protect them," he says. "Do not send mixed messages. You can say that you care about them, that you care for them, but be clear about where you stand on love."
"Be kind and honest," psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Grant H. Brenner tells Elite Daily. "Focus on caring about them. Be clear that the romantic love element is not there for you." Brenner also emphasizes the importance of not offering your partner any false hope. "Stay away from discussing the future, such as whether your feelings could ever change, and stay positive and focused on the present," he says. "Follow their lead in terms of emotional needs and be cautious about providing too much support given the change in relationship status while also being careful not to withdraw excessively."
Aside from telling your partner you're not in love with them, Klapow also suggests explaining what this means for your relationship next. "If you are telling them you are not in love, you also need to give them the 'so what' part," he explains. "Just telling them you are not in love doesn’t help move the situation. Let them know why you are telling them." Do you want to break up? Do you want to go to couples' therapy? Do you want to work on your relationship? Make sure you know where you stand so you can effectively communicate that to your partner.
Your parter may feel a wide range of emotions when you tell them you're not in love with them. They may be confused, shocked, despondent, and just downright sad. "They may ask for clarification ('What do you mean you don't love me?'); they may want to know timelines ('Have you always not loved me? Is this new?'); they may respond with a counter statement ('I don't think I love you either')," Klapow says. "Whatever their response, remember that you may be dropping an emotional bomb on them." Give them the time they need to process everything. Let them be, and don't try to force them to feel how you want them to feel, he adds.
There may not be an easy way to tell your partner you're not in love with them, but there are certain things you can do to help yourself better prepare for the conversation. Plan "without overthinking the situation," Brenner advises. "Make your best educated guess about how they will respond and think of a few other possibilities. Prepare for them all with what you might say and how you might respond." Doing this can help you figure how to communicate your feelings in the best possible way. And while this may be an incredibly difficult talk to have, try to remember that, ultimately, you and your partner both deserve to find someone you can be happy with. If that's not each other, that's OK.