“I love you but I’m not in love with you” (ILYBINILWY) is classic cheater-speak. Chumps misunderstand this statement as a definitive goodbye — “Toodles! I’m leaving for my fuckbuddy!” — when really it’s more subtle than that. It’s impression management and an invitation to do the pick me dance.
I was just curious about your opinion on using “I love you, but I’m not in love with you,” to end a relationship. I have no doubt my ex felt some sadness over “falling out of love with me.”
Sometimes I wonder if he understood how allowing himself to get involved with his married coworker sucked the life out of our marriage? I felt the distance in our relationship, it seemed like something was wrong, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. Whenever I brought up my concern about their relationship he adamantly denied anything was going on.
On D-day he told me “I have so much more in common with her. All we ever had in common was the kids.” The last thing he said before walking out the door was “When I look into my future, you’re not in it.”
In Lyn’s scenario, the cheater leaves. But not before a long period of cake-eating. As Lyn points out, their marriage might’ve stood a chance if her husband hadn’t directed his energies to his co-worker. But to a cheater, they see a different justifiable reason for bailing — “I’m not in love with you.” Ergo I can cast about and love someone else. So, which came first? The falling out of love, or the permission they gave themselves to cast about?
We all know grown up love means not feeling “in love” all the livelong day. There’s no butterflies when you’re doing taxes, or visiting the in-laws, or cleaning up after a kid’s stomach flu. I love you but I’m not in love with you is simply impression management. Translated it means – “I did unloving things, but telling you ‘I love you’ makes me feel better about them.”
It has nothing to do with you, chumps. This is about maintaining the cheater’s self image. And it softens the blow — “Hey, you wouldn’t impose consequences on someone who loves you, would you?” They think they’re letting you down gently.
Cheater love is compartmentalized kind of love — “I love you, but I put that aside while I was fucking someone else.” The two things aren’t at all connected. Why should “love” get in the way of a good time?
Chumps naively assume that people who love us act like they love us. Cheaters subvert that assumption and turn it back on chumps. “But I’m not in love with you” is a subtle blameshift. “I don’t feel giddy and effervescent. I need sparkles. Alas, if you had only twinkled brighter, perhaps it would not have come to this.” It’s so disappointing the way you’ve let them down. What can you do to make it up to them?
“I love you, but I’m not in love with you” is your cue to perform the “pick me” dance (sung to the tune of “I’m Gonna Make You Love Me.”) They may be dumping you anyway for the affair partner, but some parting kibbles would be nice.
“I love you but I’m not in love with you” is cake speak. They want to have things both ways. Cheaters take credit for loving you (because they’re so noble) -– but they’re unburdened by their commitments because — King’s X! — they’re not in love with you.
Chumps, don’t try to parse with your cheater which parts of you they love or what their butterflies are saying to them today – state what you need.
“I need to be in a relationship where I am fully loved and respected. You don’t love me the way I deserve to be loved. Buh-BYE.”
Don’t ask yourself what you did to be so unlovable. Don’t dance the pick me dance. Just let ’em go. I’m sure their butterflies will be migrating again soon.
This column ran previously.