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I Was in an Emotionally Abusive Relationship, and I Didn't Even Realize It

DearSugar Needs Your Help: Is It Possible to Love Someone Without Liking Him?

DearSugar and Completely Confused Constance need your help. She's been with her boyfriend for four years but her feelings are starting to change. She loves him, but she's not so sure she likes him anymore. They've been together for so long it seems like she's lost her clarity. Do you have any advice for her?

Dear Sugar,

Is it possible to love someone and no longer like them? I have been with my boyfriend for almost four years; we used to talk about marriage and children but for the past couple of months, I have been thinking that he may not be the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I no longer have butterflies in my stomach when we talk and I don't even look forward to seeing him sometimes. He is the perfect guy in every way — he's loyal, honest, generous, and family oriented; however, there are a lot of things that I never noticed about him which are beginning to make me not even like him as a person anymore. He is very anti-social, he's moody, controlling and incredibly jealous.

At first I thought I could live like this, and just spend all my time with him, but I just can't. I miss my life, I miss hanging out with my friends and going out — I'm only 22! I feel like I'm being suffocated with no room to breathe. I have talked to him about the way I feel a billion times, and he always changes for a day or so and then goes right back to his old self. How can I share my life with someone who is not willing to change? I love him, but I no longer like the person he's become. It seems like I am growing everyday and he is still the same person I met four years ago with little to no improvements. I'm so confused because I truly believe that he is my soul mate, but I just wish we had met later on in life. I don't want to sit around to wait for him to change anymore. I guess my question is can people with such different values live happily ever after?


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ali321 ali321 7 years
Yes it's possible to love someone without liking them but probably not ideal. If you're just worried that you've lost the butterflies than you need to know that that's normal. Life gets in the way. You have to keep that stuff up. People also change and you're getting a bit older. You could be finding out you require more from a person to make you happy. I went through that myself. If the guy is really moody and jealous then you're probably realizing that you don't want these things from a partner. I think people can have more than one soul mate. Maybe he was once right for you, but you're changing and he's not. People can be happy with different values. But you have to decide what you're willing to give up and what you really want in a partner. If he's not it he probably never will be. I agree with dgran that relationships have issues that need worked through. But if he doesn't see a reason to change for the good then it's a lost cause.
0danielle0 0danielle0 9 years
Definitely possible to love but not like. :(
dgran dgran 9 years
Don't delude yourself into thinking there's a perfect match out there where all your problems will disappear. Every relationship has issues that need to be worked out. That's how you show true love, by working through the difficulties, not by walking away and ignoring that you're half of the relationship equation.
dgran dgran 9 years
The thing with american women is being unable to accept that you might be part of the problem. If you loved him you would be working together (counseling, etc.) to see what the problem is. Not just walking away assuming you're perfect like so many women do.
herjoiedevivre herjoiedevivre 9 years
I think you should definitely take some space from him. and usually the only way to do that is to break off a relationship. if you feel stifled already and you were contemplating marriage with this guy, then obviously things really don't need to progress any further..right now, anyways. take some space and some time for yourself. and quite frankly, all of the negative traits that you listed for this guy are big screaming red flags. being controlling, antisocial and very moody- combined with the fact that you feel smothered and rarely see your friends- are signs that things to need to change before anything more serious happens. if that's how you feel now, how are you REALLY going to feel in five years, married to this guy? I'd watch out for him being controlling too. I had an ex like that...he showered me with gifts and his time. And then I realized when I hadn't seen my friends for months, and he screamed at me for hanging out with them- that kind of thing is unacceptable. I pretty much dumped him immediately after such a tantrum, but you probably have more time invested. but it sounds like his attitude ain't worth it if you don't even think that you love him. and if you question's not love.
mlen mlen 9 years
i still love my exbf- but i didn't like who he was at the end of our relationship. he had some major changes in his life and he came out of it a different person. i still loved the guy i knew- the guy he had been when we got together but i didn't like the new him. its hard to reconcile that sometimes because you think if you love them then that is enough- but if they aren't making you happy then it doesn't make a difference. you have to both love and like someone. simple as that.
almost-famous almost-famous 9 years
However you say it, he's still a messed up guy and she still needs to leave him!
sweetpeabrina sweetpeabrina 9 years
I was just in a similar situation! I was with my exhusband for 8 years. I thought I still loved him; I definitely was on the fence about liking him for the exact reasons you listed. Now looking back at the situation, I realized that I didn't even love him, I was fooling myself into thinking I did because I thought he was my "soulmate". Take another look at your situation. Are you in "love" with him because that is how you are supposed to feel about your boyfriend? Or have you really fallen out of love? Like my mom told me, get out while you're young and don't have any kids.
Rosa123 Rosa123 9 years
Don't Listen To People who are afraid to commite for they only give neagtive advice and then when you listen to them and do what they say later on you'll regrete it trust me I know. Rosa
Rosa123 Rosa123 9 years
Hunny Heres a wake up Call, Guys or Guys, I'm Married and I See My husband changeing more now then when we were Dating, why is this, Men have fears, fears of the future, 1 a guy will hold out on marrige intill he is ready why you ask, because when u forse them into getting married they're still ajesting to the new envierment before they had no one to care for intill now, before they just wanted space, intill now, and when they are tossed into being this husband to were he has to be mister perfect and change all their falws, it would create distences, and uslly its the one who can't wait to be married that backs out of a great relasionship, and later falls into a marrige they don't won't, Sweetly I'm going on my first year being married and I went in wanting it to be perfet, but set myself up, she I love him and want to spend my life with him intill we grow old and die, but I was so focus on him changing I lost sight of why I got butterflys or feel hearteach I hurt him, think though this, he loves you right, ok will put yourself in his shoes for a monent. see how he works hard on this relasionship, hes welling to see you every day, must men don't like that because they are afraid you might see them for who they really are. being 24 with a 1 year old child getting married in a rush before the baby was born, trying to get used to living togather, was hard, but give it time he'll ask you when he feels he has a home, moeny and a good support all the way around, when you get married everything change's from you doing things alone now there's two doing things togather when you have kids its all about them you uselly come last. you just need to look at what your doing wrong and when you figure that out he'll see that your not trying to change every problem he has and will feel more comterable and ask the ? By the way my husband was moody Ani-Socail Jealus and controling, he's changed his out look of me and started changeing things I didn't like but I figured out I need to change my self only I can't make someone else change because I didn't agree with there personilty I just remember why I loved him so much. and are relasionship is Great.
sunnyheart sunnyheart 9 years
It can be so difficult to leave a relationship if it's all you know because you are afraid you'll find out it really wasn't that bad after you've left it. If you are still in college or just starting out, could you try studying abroad or working in a new city for 6-24 months? That way you could explore who you are and leave the door open to love in the future, and then walk away for a while to gain perspective. In another 2 years he could be much more mature (women mature faster than men). I agree with ufshutter that if it is meant to be you will work your way back to each other...sometimes the timing is just off.
chatoyante chatoyante 9 years
There's just no reason to settle for a lover you don't like! Yes, he's familiar, yes you've been with him for a while, but sometimes people change or show their true colors when things get familiar. It's up to you to take action now to make yourself happy, especially since it sounds like that's not his #1 priority. To put it in perspective...let's say you've been using a particular foundation for years. The color is perfect but it's been making you break out recently. Most of us would take that as a cue to move on and try to find a foundation that is perfect in both ways rather than settle for something mediocre. So given how much more important the choice of a partner is...shouldn't you be just as discerning here, if not *more* so? Good luck!
snowbunny11 snowbunny11 9 years
UFshutter has pointed out the reasons why this does not sound like a good relationship. I think what you are feeling is more of an "addiction" than actual love. You can't live without this guy, but you know he does not treat you that well. This is not a very good thing. I think people CAN change to a degree. My boyfriend became like this after we had been dating a year. I couldn't handle it, and we broke up and he sought counseling. We got back together after a few months and he has been great in the three years since then. Occasionally, behavior I don't like will flare up, and it makes it REALLY hard on me. Even though it's one night every 3 months that he gets moody/anti-social/strange it drives me crazy and I immediately start freaking because I just can't get through to him. Feel free to message me if you want to talk more specifically since it sounds like the behavior might be similar. The next day, he apologizes and returns to his normal self. I think at this point, he has thing under control to the degree that I would consider marrying him, but I think it's such a risky decision that I would never suggest anyone else do that. I don't think you can love someone and not like him. It just doesn't make sense, love is based on something after all, not just some magical feeling. I would make an exception for family though, but that is can't choose family or dump them if you want to!
ufshutterbabe ufshutterbabe 9 years
*It is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde He's not "the perfect guy in every way" if he's "anti-social, moody, controlling and incredibly jealous." I think you know the answer to your question - just read your letter! I believe when you get together with someone when you are so young, you tend to mistake familiarity for love. Now might be time to move on and be on your own for a bit, maybe date other people thats what you want. It doesn't sound like you want to be with the guy forever if things are going to continue to be the way they are. If you really are soul mates, you'll end up together one way or another,
Marci Marci 9 years
Ditto to *everything* popgoestheworld said. And my own feeling is that if you don't like the person you can't really *love* them. Just my opinion.
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
There are some separate issues here. First of all, after 4 years, there will be times you won't be excited about seeing your boyfriend. And forget about the butterflies. At some point in a relationship, you need to forget all the crap, all in "in love", all the giddiness, and ask yourself, "Do I really want to be with this person for the rest of my life, and can I deal with all his issues?" Don't go planning on how you will CHANGE him, because you can't. So it's more a question of, can I deal, not, will he change. You are 22, unmarried, and unhappy. All signs point to bailing.
jJuliet jJuliet 9 years
Sure you can love someone and not like them, and sure it's normal to lose that "butterflies" feeling after four years...BUT I think those philosophical questions of love are irrelevant to this situation. Your boyfriend is preventing you from going out with your friends and having your own life? that's a REALLY bad sign. It's nice if your boyfriend encourages you to spend time with him, but it's not healthy if he is controlling where you go, what you do, or preventing you from doing things you enjoy (assuming those things are healthy...not like going out and taking drugs).
DreaAST DreaAST 9 years
You are 22! Think about all of this and don't rush yourself!
jill37 jill37 9 years
Try asking yourself, Do I admire him? That doesn't mean you worship him, but that he inspires you, makes you proud, shows strengths that you believe you can learn from. (He should feel the same way about you, by the way.) Not liking someone may be okay sometimes -- sometimes a boyfriend just gets on your nerves -- but I think mutual admiration is necessary for a long, happy relationship. If you don't like someone to point that you no longer enjoy who they truly are, then perhaps the love you're feeling is a strong attachment for what used to be. And, for what it's worth, I tried changing someone with similar qualities for over a year, and made myself miserable and angry and heartbroken. Now I'm with someone I love and like, and it's amazing what a difference that makes.
yaliyah yaliyah 9 years
it's just like family - you can love them, but not always like them. it sounds like you've moved into that zone. you need to move on and test the waters elsewhere.
RockAndRepublic RockAndRepublic 9 years
What exactly is the point if you say you love him but don't like him? You really can't have one without the other.
lms lms 9 years
I believe that you can love someone but not like them. However, I don't think loving someone is enough to keep you with them. If you don't like the person that they are or have become, then it will take its toll on you. You are probably better of starting new. I have fallen out of like with someone before I fell out of love with them. I had to remove myself from the relationship for my own good. You are young and should not feel stuck in a relationship that you are not happy in. I also don't think that love means you have to accept a person for how they are in all cases and still like them. For example, suppose a mother has a child (grown or not) that is genuinely bad(criminal, deviant, etc.) you will love your child, but you don't have to like them as a person. I know this isn't your situation. It doesn't even have to be mother/child can be any relationship. How many times do you hear about situations with women in abusive relationships that say "but I love him". I don't like him, "but I love him". It is not enough.
almost-famous almost-famous 9 years
Well I noticed you are only 22...Jeez chica calm down. There's no need to rush a marriage. You're very young and from what I noticed, You seem like you know when you're in a bad situation. This guy seems like what all those dating books describe as "DR Hyde/Mr. Jekell". Dr. Hyde is the one that gave you the butterflies whenever you talked to him. he's the one that's loyal, honest, generous, and family oriented. However, Mr. Hyde is the guy that gotten so comfortable, that he's giving you all his "shit". You know the part of him that's very anti-social, moody, controlling and incredibly jealous. Like I said you're only 22 years-old... Do you need a guy that put up a front within the first year or so? I don't think so!
kaenai kaenai 9 years
It's the same with my ex, whom I was with for nearly 9 years. I love him like crazy, but I don't like him anymore. I can't say it's because he's not the same (though in a lot of ways, he isn't), it's mainly because he IS the same. And... that may be exactly why he is the way he is toward you, whether it's subconscious or not. You are growing and changing as a person, and he probably feels on some level like you're leaving him behind. The moody and controlling behavior is a red flag (maybe some shade of reddish orange, though, since he doesn't seem to be emotionally crippling you in any way). You should be careful, because these are usually bad signs. I would suggest taking some time away from him, but I don't know if you're in that place. How about you try going out with your friends once in a while, like maybe once a week, you can meet up with them for lunch or dinner? Even couples need to spend some time apart; you need to have outside interests.
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