Recently a friend told me about one of her good friends who told her he wanted to date her. "He's really great!" she said. Then almost apologetically she added, "But I don't want to date him, but maybe I should just do it. I'm not attracted to him at all, but he's such a great friend. Is it bad I don't want to?"
I've had dozens of conversations like this. Forcing yourself to love someone isn't always obvious, and it sounds kind of ridiculous, but surprisingly it happens all too frequently. You might not think it can happen to you, but trust me, it easily can. The signs are subtle, but if you're in a relationship where something seems just a bit off, consider these seven things. Do several describe you? You might be forcing yourself to be in love.
1. A small part of you hopes he will break up with you
When you're forcing yourself to love your boyfriend, it might not mean you're miserable all the time. It's likely your significant other has some great things about him or her. But when you're truly honest with yourself, is there a part of you that hopes they'll end things (even if you know you'll be sad)? This isn't normal for functional relationships.
2. You wonder if happy relationships actually exist
People might look at your relationship and think it's great. And maybe it is ... sometimes. But does a future with him seem bleak? Is it hard to believe life will continue to be happy with them? Happy relationships do exist, but if you're forcing yourself to love them, it's going to be a long, hard road.
3. Your emotions are uncharacteristically high
Has your anxiety spiked since you started dating? Do you find yourself crying an abnormal amount? We all have ups and downs, but if you're suddenly experiencing extreme mood shifts, it might have something to do with the relationship you're in. While you might not mentally realize it, forcing yourself to love someone suppresses your instinct and shoves away your other emotions until you can't help but be a mess.
4. You hate hurting someone so much that you avoid it even when it hurts you
When you know someone loves you, it's hard to hurt them - even if in the long run it's hurting you. Maybe he pursued you for a long time. Or maybe she tells you how she just can't imagine her life without you. It's HARD to tell someone you care for that you just aren't right for each other. But keep in mind that only delaying the breakup will hurt them even more in the long run.
If you've broken up several times and each time your significant other comes back begging for more, in time you can end up just giving in. If you felt right about your choice to end things, remember that feeling and close that door for good. Studies show that couples with relationship cycling (breaking up, getting back together, breaking up again and getting back together again, etc.) are more likely to have less-satisfying relationships than others.
Desperation rarely leads to good decisions. Here's a secret that everyone needs to know: If you're unhappy single, you're eventually going to be unhappy in a relationship unless you change your life. Don't jump into a relationship because you're so desperate for someone to make you happy. It doesn't work like that. Get into a relationship when you're with someone you genuinely enjoy who feels the same way about you.
7. "He's a great guy, but ..."
He probably is a great guy. That doesn't mean you need to be in a relationship with him. If you find yourself justifying your relationship frequently, take a look at why you're really in it. There are a lot of great people in this world. Both of you deserve to be in a relationship where the other person doesn't want to change things about you.
One of the reasons we get caught in these types of relationships is because it's hard to be truly honest with yourself when you're in one. If a few of these apply to you, do yourself a favor and have a personal heart-to-heart. What you find out could change your life.
Amberlee is the content manager for FamilyShare.com and earned a degree in journalism. She creates beautiful things with her experience in writing, graphic design, photography, video and music. She loves her family, the outdoors, baby foxes and podcasts.