Signs You Weren’t Actually in Love After All

When you’re truly happy with someone, there are a lot of things that can give you a euphoric feeling that isn’t quite love but sure feels like it. Many times, it’s only after you end things with your partner that you realize that although you really, really liked him. The difference can be hard to see, but here are the signs you weren’t in love even if you thought you were.

  1. You only miss the idea of himYou’re not happy that it’s over, but mostly because he seemed like the perfect guy on paper. He had the dreamiest eyes, an impressive job, and great taste in movies, and that can be hard to let go of. But if you’re fixated on why he could have been the one and not missing the essence of who he truly is beyond all that, it might not have been love at all.
  2. You only dated for a brief period of time. This is one of the most obvious signs you weren’t in love. Falling in love at first sight is certainly possible, but if it fell apart after a short period of time, it’s more likely that you were merely in lust. Both can be consuming and totally real, but if the feelings came on quickly without a lot of emotional commitment, there’s a chance that they’ll go away just as fast.
  3. You felt relieved when you broke up. True love often lasts, but when it doesn’t, it can be devastating. If you were sad following the breakup, but also felt like a weight was lifted off your chest, it might be a sign that the relationship wasn’t right anyway and that you’re moving in the right direction now.
  4. You’re already in love again. If you’re head over heels for someone else almost immediately after a breakup, it wasn’t love before… and it probably isn’t love now.The odds of being in love twice in a month aren’t great, and it might be a sign that you tend to rush into things because you like the feeling of infatuation.
  5. You want him to feel bad. If you were really in love with him, you wouldn’t want to parade your new boyfriend in front of his face or make him feel like a bad person. You might hurt people that you love, but you shouldn’t WANT to. Real love means being empathetic and ultimately wishing the best for the other person even after you go your separate ways.

More signs you weren’t in love after all

  1. You never really had that spark. If this isn’t one of the biggest signs you weren’t in love, I don’t know what is. You might have been fully committed to him, but in retrospect, you realize that you never felt that magic when you looked into his eyes or felt like you could melt off the planet when you kissed him. You will with someone, and when you do, you’ll wonder why you ever settled for less.
  2. You had an easy time walking away. It doesn’t really matter why you left him, whether it was over something he did or whether you felt yourself becoming attracted to someone new. If the decision was easy for you, it wasn’t really love. You did yourself a huge favor by walking away and giving yourself the opportunity to find something real.
  3. You don’t think about him. It’s natural to want to avoid thinking about your ex, but it’s completely different when his memory doesn’t even try to enter your mind. When you loved someone, you’ll think of him from time to time, not because you necessarily want him back, but because he made an impact on your life that can’t ever be totally erased.
  4. He wants you back and you don’t care. You might know better than to get back with an ex, especially if the relationship wasn’t healthy. But if he came crawling back to you and you didn’t feel even the slightest bit of conflict over whether you should take him back, you probably didn’t love him to begin with.
  5. You didn’t learn anything. Love comes into our life to change us in good ways, often expanding our world and forever changing us from that moment on. But with change often comes some lessons, and if a relationship didn’t move you or leave you with any lasting impressions, it’s possible that whatever bonded you two together wasn’t love at all.
  6. Your feelings just vanishedYou might have had a week or so of the breakup blues when it ended, but then, just like that, your feelings were gone. You don’t feel like barfing when you see his photos on Instagram, you aren’t secretly hoping to run into him, and you’re not even sure why you thought he was cute in the first place. If whatever you felt for him practically evaporates the moment you break up, you definitely didn’t love him… and you probably didn’t even like him very much.

Why you shouldn’t stress if it wasn’t love

  1. That doesn’t make your relationship meaningless. You don’t have to have been head over heels in love for a relationship to mean something. Just because your feelings for him were a little more even-keeled, that doesn’t mean it didn’t leave a mark on you. It’s still likely to be something you carry with you moving forward, and that means something.
  2. You learned a lot from the experience. Again, fiery, passionate love is great, but it’s not necessary. Think of everything you learned from your ex and from your relationship with him. Chances are, those things are valuable and important and you wouldn’t have learned them without him.
  3. You know yourself and your feelings better. Whenever you leave a relationship, you do so with a lot more perspective than you had at the beginning of things. You have more insight into your feelings, how you process them, and how you react to certain situations. This is the kind of knowledge you’ll be able to carry with you into your other relationships.
  4. You figure out what you want in the future. All the signs that you weren’t in love help paint a picture of everything that was missing in the relationship. This, in turn, helps you figure out exactly what it is you want when you date someone again. What feelings do you want him to evoke? What kind of dynamic are you interested in having with a partner? All of these questions will be much easier to answer now.
  5. It was fun while it lasted. Sometimes a relationship doesn’t need to be some monumental love affair in order to be a whole lot of fun. Sometimes dating can be a means unto itself, something to do to pass the time, get to know someone new, and just enjoy life. There’s nothing wrong with seeing things from that perspective.

What does it mean to be in love?

Now you know how to recognize the signs that you’re not in love, how do you know when you are? Those emotions tend to be much more intense and hit a bit more deeply. Here are some giveaways.

  1. You can’t stop staring at him. It’s like he’s the most beautiful human being you’ve ever seen and you never want to take your eyes off him. While this is also a sign of lust, that faraway look in your eyes when your gaze is on him tells a different story. “Why wouldn’t you want to look into the eyes of someone who you experience as the most beautiful and attractive person in your world?” psychologist Marc Hekster told The Independent. “You are looking for something. If you have ever seen a mother looking at their newborn baby, or looking at their child in a loving way, then you will recognize some of this constant staring at your love object.”
  2. You even love their flaws. While these things may become annoying down the line, when you’re falling in love, even the most obnoxious traits your partner has give you those little cartoon heart eyes. “Love can be immensely powerful and can be associated with the loss of all inhibition,” Hekster explained. “Think about parents who are in love with their baby and how they will acknowledge that they love their child no matter how dirty they are, or how much they stop them from sleeping.”
  3. Your whole world seems a little bit brighter. Even if you’re a natural pessimist who’s cynical about pretty much everything, that all changes when you fall in love. All of a sudden, you feel full of hope and positive thoughts. As dating psychologist Madeleine Mason Roantree explains: “You might also feel a little more energetic for no apparent reason. This is the result of all those ‘dopamine hits’ you have been getting from thinking about your partner and doing things, either with them or that remind you of them. The act of positive anticipation helps reduce feelings of stress, so the anticipation of being with your partner boosts your mental health making you feel better about life.”
  4. You can’t keep your hands off him. Lust is part of falling in love, and that desire to be kissing him, touching him, and having sex with him. This is thanks to oxytocin, the feel-good bonding hormone that is released every single time it happens. Is it any wonder, then, that you just can’t keep your hands to yourself?
  5. He’s always on your mind. Even when you’re taking care of other responsibilities and hobbies, you’re always thinking of him. You’re able to separate yourself from him and value your life outside of him, it’s just that you can’t help having him on your mind. You wonder how he is, what he’s doing, and when you’ll see him next. That’s love.

Kate Ferguson is a Los Angeles local and freelance writer for a variety of blog and magazine genres. When she's not writing, the UC Davis graduate is focused on pursuits of the entertainment industry, spin class, and hot sauce. Look for article links, updates, (and the occasional joke) on Twitter @KateFerg or @WriterKateFerg, or check out her personal blog