Why Stay With A Partner You’re Not In Love With? 5 People Share Why They Did
My 21-year-old New Zealand icon Lorde has a lyric about relationships ending that keeps me up at night, "When you've outgrown a lover, the whole world knows but you." Of course, in a relationship, the "whole world" doesn't really know sh*t. Only you and your partner know what's really between the two of you, and any onlookers' opinions operate externally to your relationship. From the outside, your friends and family may question why you would stay with a partner you’re not in love with, but the truth is, for most people in this situation, there is not an easy answer.
From comfort to stability, to just enjoying your time together, the "reason" people get in or stay in relationships is never easy to pin down. It's hard to navigate your own feelings with your own boo, and can be even harder to give support to a friend that's dating someone they're clearly not that into. Yet, when trying to understand other's experiences, it's important to listen first, and hold off on making judgements (which is way easier said than done!).
In an effort to widen the conversation around the complexities of staying in a relationships, I spoke with five people who knew that their special someone was no longer their "one," but chose to stay anyway.
1. Guilt is real.
My first boyfriend and I dated in high school and went to different colleges. Sophomore year he transferred to my school so we could be together. When I started to think I wanted to be single, it felt so overwhelming to bring up. He made this major life change for me. I felt like it was selfish to not stay in the relationship.
— Emma, 21
2. Some want comfort.
To me, love is the people who make me feel like a comfort exhale. Comfortability is a part of love for me. So sometimes my friends think I'm settling or I'm just complacent, or that I'm not like fiery passionately in love, and maybe I'm not, but I don't really care.
— Kyle, 26*
3. Sometimes it's just for fun.
I don't know, love means something different to everyone. For a while I was dating someone I had fun with, the sex was good, we liked the same food. That was enough for me, it didn't need to be some undying love story or someone I couldn't live without. Sometimes you date for a while just because it's fun.
— Prya, 21
4. You don't need to know right away.
Honestly, I don't know if I loved them at the beginning, I don't think I knew what love was. I think my friends would easily kinda pick at things I would vent about. I stayed with them because they were stable, and we had built a life together.
— Joni, 28
5. It's hard to know.
For me it was more, 'Am I feeling what culturally we are told love looks like and feels like?' It was hard to know what was us being us. Just because I wasn't 'in love' doesn't mean I wasn't happy or that I should end this nice thing I had with someone.
— Mo, 23*
Just as there are many reasons why relationships end, there are many why they don't. If you're dating someone you know you're not in love with, for whatever rhyme or reason, it may be helpful to check in with your partner about their perception of your relationship and their intentions for the future. Relationships can be hard, and though friends and loved ones can provide great support systems, the only one who knows what's right for you, is you. So, be kind and patient with yourself. Feel out what's right. And know that when it comes to love, it's OK not to know. It's okay to take the time to figure it out, on your own terms.
*Names have been changed