We’ve seen plenty of images of love to know what it feels like when it’s good. Love is being able to talk for hours and never get bored. Love is spending all day in bed eating Chinese food and feeling like it was a day well-spent. Love is actually caring whether or not his parents and siblings approve of you.
But how do you know when it’s doomed? Or when being in love isn’t enough to keep you in the relationship?
Yes, he knows your favourite ice cream flavour and buys it for you without being asked, and maybe he is a perfect gentleman (or the opposite, in a good way) in the bedroom.
But is that enough?
I think it comes down to this: There’s being in love, and then there’s being in a happy relationship.
Falling in love is often portrayed as this rare, holy, profound experience. But it’s actually pretty common. People fall in love, or some form of it, all the time.
But being in a happy relationship is a much rarer experience.
You can be in love with someone and still see no future for the two of you.
Take just THREE examples:
1. You can be in love…and not respect his way of thinking, or his deepest beliefs.
2. You can be in love…and hate some of his most fundamental habits (be they emotional, sexual, or in terms of his ability to care for himself).
3. You can be in love…and think he lacks the capacity or readiness for a great, steady relationship.
And it doesn’t matter how much you talk it out, how much you both have the best intentions, or how much you both have wild, passionate romance, these gnawing annoyances will burrow into your soul and make you both miserable in the relationship.
These are the relationships that will confuse you and screw with your head the most. Because you’ll always be questioning whether it’s right or not, whether passion and love will get you through these conflicts.
I’m not saying situations or people don’t change over time. I guess I’m saying that love isn’t always the trump card it’s made out to be.
There’s still the need for RESPECT for someone else’s way of thinking about the world.
There’s still living with someone whose HABITS you approve of and admire.
There’s still being with someone who is READY for the same level of commitment you are.
What other qualities are as important as love for you? Let me know in the comments below!
Photo (Getty Images)
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Stephen Hussey helped co-write the Get The Guy book and is a wealth of knowledge on dating and relationships.
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48 Replies to “You Can’t Be Happy In Love If These 3 Things Are Missing”
Thank Stephen for another impressive article! Other qualities I look for in men are high levels of affection. Knowing when I need to talk things out or if I need a hug. So many others but don’t want to clog up your space here for comments :) Love your articles every Wednesday, keep up the good work!
my dear LC , if you want something from a man , then you have to tell him , because he won’t understand your hints . and if you have a standard to a man , you have to live up to that Standard too .
I am planning to for my future relationship, Kooky!
This is a timely post for me Stephen. Thank you.
I agree with LC’s post about the equal need for affection, but the main thing for me is the same level of “emotional availability”. I think this is harder the further down life’s journey you are…..especially for men, and even more especially for men with baggage/damage. Which frankly, seems to be most of them. Unless it’s just a protective excuse, which of course it may be.
Follow-up article, Stephen?
I always love your articles!
I have a question for you: At my age (26) it is very difficult to find a man who hasn’t had his heart broken by another woman. It seems to me that when a mans heart breaks, it’s completely broken and it begins to define him. Women, I find, seem to be a lot more resilient in the heart department.
As a result, every man I have met and dated who has once loved but had his heart broken declares that he will never love again like he once did – even if he is completely over his ex.
I know too men (friends, relatives, and exes) who think like this for it to just be an exception or coincidence.
My question is: is there anything a woman can do to help heal a mans heart that has been broken? What are some of the key elements that can help a man to trust and love again?
Because the truth is, there are many great men out there, but a lot of them are just too broken to let themselves love and potentially get hurt again.
Thanks for your comment + your question, Rozie!!!
I got to know a great guy, whose heart&mind got obviously pretty bruised in the previous relationship – as we keep seeing and getting to know each other, I am figuring out along the way the practical answer to your (+my) question about creating an environment from my part + together that’s heart-healing friendly.
And I still ask myself – besides what generally makes sense when it comes to build a true, loving relationship (check out Stephen&Matt for that..;))), what needs to be specially considered, supported…?
Some experiences I made so far: patience is your friend (well, not forever obviously); the man needs to want to understand, integrate/ overcome his experience & move on himself (nobody else can do the work for him), and already needs to have started to work it out, AT LEAST very seriously started; it is potentially cool and enriching to be with people who know the ups & downs of life, who already made a big deal of those mistakes we all have to make to learn & grow, who have fallen and have stood up bravely;
I look forward to comments, remarks, observations, experiences from Stephen, Rozie & the gettheguy-community!
AND TO STEPHEN HUSSEY: Thank you, Stephen for a truly great, relevant & to the point article!!!!!!!!!!!!!! MOST HELPFUL!!!
I guess I’m trying to figure out how to create that safe space… and it is up to him if he wants to heal and love again, but I can create that environment where it’s safe for him to be vulnerable and trust me.
I just don’t know how to do this in a way that men understand – since our ways of connecting and being vulnerable are so different.
I know that in the past I’ve unknowingly hurt guys by not recognizing those moments of them opening up and being vulnerable with me… or broken trust for reasons I don’t understand. I do not want to do that again.
Anna GREAT answer . I love your mind :)
Great article as always…great posts…
Yes that is a big issue for me too…how to create a safe space and still be challenging enough to keep his interest…not either just being taken for granted and used for comfort or him feeling trapped and running…it’s a very fine line to walk…I would very much appreciate any advice…
Thank you Matthew & Steven for all the advice you’re offering to us so generously…you guys are real & it shows :)
Great question/comment Rozie! I have also seen too many men like this for it to be just a coincidence. And I agree that while women do go through pain during a breakup they bounce back and are ready to be receptive to the potential of a new love.
I truly believe that it’s also important to have the same level of morals and principles (or personal ethics for a better way of putting it), the same life goals (differences with regards to wanting children could be a deal breaker for example) and same outlook on life.
totally agree with you Cintia . thats why I always insist to be with a man who is like me ( in one equation → nature = muslim :D )
STEPHEN … THANK YOU FOR ANOTHER GREAT ARTICAL
This is very insightful Stephen. I love that you are differentiating between being in love but being somewhat depressed in a relationship vs. being in love and being happy in a relationship. In the past I have struggled with being ”in love” with my boyfriends but still feeling mismatched because we were on different levels. Not that one of us was on a better level than the other- just too different for me to be truly happy in the relationship. I don’t recall ever approaching them about this, probably because I couldn’t make total sense of it myself lol. I tried to look at pros and cons but still felt confused when it came to dealing with the actual feelings. When certain areas seem right in a relationship people have a tendency to brush over things they don’t like and the things that are not compatible with who they are as a individual and just try to stick it out because some of it is pretty good. For me personally when I was in that situation I found that not only was it crazy-making but it also lowered my confidence in myself ( I had to work extra hard to get it back) and it sent me spiraling into a depression because I ignored that little voice in my head that told me something isn’t right. So, yeah it’s ideal and necessary to be both in love and happy so you can maximize the chances the best quality relationship for the two of you.
And what are some other qualities that are important to me in love? I would have to say sweetness/kindness, how they handle difficult/high pressure situations, making sure they are ambitious but yet don’t take everything so seriously it takes away their ability to have fun and enjoy life and seeing that they are interested in putting in effort into the relationship.
I enjoyed this article so much!!.. You were able to articulate an emotion I felt but could never really put into words. Great job! :)
Emotional Stability. Same level of Positivity about life. Same level of Adventure.
To completely like and respect the other person, then you will show the right level of care. xx
Amen to this! I hear it loud and clear, and know the struggle is real when it comes to trying to separate that “falling in love” feeling with long-term happiness within a relationship. Been there, done that.
I would add trust to this list, which in many cases could be considered a subcategory of respect – caring about someone enough to be honest with them, regardless of how difficult it might be.
It is also nice for a partner to have a certain level of confidence in themselves, and desire and gumption regarding pursuing their goals. An ambitious man with a sense of purpose? Yes please!
I was reading an old journal yesterday where I was essentially ranting about how I was so frustrated about feeling like I was taking care of my partner… not in the sense that I can do things for them here and there. It was more like feeling like I had become his mother. So, partnership is also important. I want person who can take care of their own needs, and be self-sufficient. It goes back to that concept that people talk about of not finding your better half (because you are not half of a person), but being whole, and finding another whole person to share your life with. Complimenting another person as opposed to trying to fill in the holes they might have.
Great article! Thank you for the inspiration to reflect.
I find so interesting to notice that what applies to romantic relationships also apply to all the other relationships and even the one with ourselves.
True and very timely. Thanks for busting that myth, Stephen. Appreciate the scorching honesty of this post… Falling in love isn’t actually that hard to do (well, for some of us romantics anyway); finding someone to fall in love with who you are actually compatible with is much more of a challenge. Extricating yourself from the mire after finally realising it’s never going to work is painfully devastating and time-consuming. Who ever needs another break-up?
We expect so much (too much?) from our partners these days – friendship, security, romance. All of these things were separated in previous times. People had their spouses, their friends, and their lovers…
I’m reminded of the options in Far From the Madding Crowd – love, desire, and security. Thomas Hardy’s book would have portrayed a very modern approach to marriage when it was first released because, eventually, she got all of those in the one person. That would never have been expected in those times – yet it is what we have come to expect now. Tall order..! No wonder so many of us repeatedly fail to achieve it…
I guess the lessons for our time are compassion and acceptance – for both our partners and ourselves, as none of us should be expected to be everything to someone else perfectly.
This article is actually perfect for what has been bothering me lately… I feel in love with the man that I am with and I know we make one hell of a passionate couple but beside romance I don’t see in him the qualities of the man that I want to be with forever… I feel like I need to leave the relationship (since it’s my first) to really understand what it is that I want and to see if what I want is out there. But I am afraid of not being able to fall in love again. What do you think about this?
This could not come at a better time Stephen,
I am dealing with letting someone go right now that i am in love with, and unforunsyly not just love but admire him in any way, well most of his life habits, principals etc. There is couple of huge problems:
He has commitment issues, and this relates that he doesn’t wanna relationsgi with me, in his words, its the distance, or whatever. I see them as excuses.
The second is lying. He lies, on silly things, for no reason, just to seem nice or make me happy. I am not sure if any of the promises he gives ever comes true, since half of them do and half don’t. So any sentence out of his mouth, is a 50/50 for me.
I am having a hard time letting him go, because he is in my mind most perfect man for me that I have met so far. Schedules, habits, personalities, admirations, tastes, sex. You name it we are perfect for each other.
But, I constantly feel rejected. Hard to move and meet anyone else, when no one even comes close to his qualities and the feeling he gives me when he smiles at me or I hear his voice. I love him and I admire him, %99 of the time. that %1 is killing me.
I can not tell you how co- incidentally creepy right the timing is. And I am going through the same problem as you are sweety . But it is really important to remember that if Only you be positive and look at the bright side, THINGS ARE NOT GONNA WORK. Not a day passes by , I feel like tearing myself up for him. It’s been 3 years now….. I have finally had it …. he was always having commitment issues and he could never step up his loyalty and it is true that I might be in love with him but I MOST CERTAINLY DO NOT LIKE AND APPRECIATE THE WAY HE THINKS THAT IT’S NOT WORTH BEING LOYAL , EVEN AFTER MARRIAGE; LET ALONE BEFORE ….. WITH ONLY COMMITMENT .. So my choice was clear. And I hurt everyday cause I long for the love and chemistry but at the end of the day , I AM HAPPY WITH MYSELF. I VALUED MYSELF AND MY DIGNITY.
Don’t worry sweetheart. I am not losing hope of being hopelessly and happily in love someday. Hold on tight. You will have that too.
Lulu. I am having the same problem. Distance and timing seem to be our issue. “He needs to work on himself right now”. We are in a horrible cycle where we go long periods of time not talking and then one of us will contact the other. When we are together it is so nice. I never want to leave. Why can’t these guys see what they are passing up?
Sex can do that. (don’t hate me)
It creates a level of attachment that’s just more for women.
This is a good time to fall for some hotties on screen or in the music world. Distract, distract, enjoy!
I’m sure he’s not the hottest guy you’ve ever seen. Unless it’s Matthew, but we’re in luck bc he’s all of our boyfriend in a way.
100% agree. I come from a big family where, against all statistical, relationships are lasting and happy. My parents will be married for 50 years next fall, and they dated only for 11 months before that!
I’m not saying that this pattern will work for everyone, less in today society. But from them I have learned that to love someone forever has little to do with the fireworks of the first stages of the relationship. Has to do with a deep respect for the totality of that person, who might start with a deep respect for whole yourself.
That’s what I’m looking for… has not come yet, but I’m patient because I don´t think that anything else worthwhile.
I totally agree and you must have a good friendship foundation I think for it to last as well. You can be in love but if you not friends too I don’t think it would last!
I’m seeing a guy who I’m really experiencing this mental conflict over. He’s a gentleman in every way, super intelligent, motivated and thoughtful. He ticks all the boxes for anything I’ve ever wanted in a guy. BUT I feel as if it’s almost too compatible and it’s lacking the ‘chase’ aspect. I don’t feel as if I’m able to leave him thinking about me and really wanting me, even though I seem to have that affect on a lot of guys who don’t have my respect. I’m so confused because I know the reason he broke up with his last girlfriend was because it was too comfortable and not exciting, and I don’t want that to play out for him again. I know you’ll probably tell me to just take it one step at a time and see how things go, but I’d to know your opinion.
I ALWAYS have an opinion!
Um, being with a guy who broke up with the last girl for that reason can be a bit like walking on eggshells. But relax. The only way to get him attracted/to desire you is actually for you to care/focus less on him. Take out a piece of paper and think of topics/activities/things you like to do and go at it.
Be nice and sweet but not too much.
That’s why all the guys you don’t like will often come after you. Men seem to like nonchalance. Wait let me dictionary.com that ;)
I totally agree, I was in such a relationship where we really loved each other, but these three things you mentioned were missing. I was too miserable at the end to continue and left. One more important thing for me was “how much the other person is willing to GROW beyond himself and want more in life”
Puuh that’s tough. My boyfriend an dIdef. miss some of the mentioned stuff. He for example isn’t ready for settling down with kids. And he doesnÄt like some of my deepest longings. Says that I am dreamer. Maybe I am a dreamer, but I am also a fighter who fights for my dreams.
It is really tough and energy absorbing at the moment. It is so paradoxal, I mean you love that person but still have these lacks :/
If it’s (palpable) negative energy that you can feel and it drags you down, maybe the setup is not a good idea.
Hmmmm, I can’t be in love with a guy I don’t respect. I can love him. I can care about his well-being. But it’s nearly impossible even to lust after a guy I don’t respect. In my life, respect is a necessary building block for love, which is probably one of the biggest reasons why I’ve never been madly in love.
I’ve never experienced the kind of love people talk about, or I read about, or I watch in movies or on TV. Do you know the song from “Footloose” about needing a hero? That’s what I’ve always looked for, and I don’t think heroes exist. I’ve never met a real life John Crichton or Steve Rogers (with or without super powers) or Curran Lennart. And I don’t know any men who’d want to be with an Aeryn Sun or Peggy Carter or Kate Daniels. Those aren’t the kind of women men want. My new favorite show is “Killjoys” — I love the main character and I really, really like the love story. I just don’t think that’s how men work. Strong men seem to prefer weak women, especially women that are physically weak, and Dutch is emotionally stunted but otherwise not weak in any way.
But, I agree with your points two and three completely. If the sound of his chewing makes you murderous, or if he’s just not capable of being in a real relationship, it’s best just to move on before you stab him in his sleep.
No love like the movies doesn’t exist. There are good men out there though who are strong men who want strong beautiful women. Now beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Remember to look up Matthews brothers pay about quality women…that’s most important! Show a man you can make him feel like a man in and out of the bedroom and he’s yours!
I don’t know. If I can’t see a future with someone in my own mind I don’t continue, despite other great qualities, to date him. I am old enough to recognize traits that I could not live with. When I see commitment issues I walk away.
I wouldn’t get in a relationship with someone I don’t respect.
I don’t fall in love easily. The Man of my dreams is the one I fell in love with Heart mind and soul. We value each other’s differences and our commitment
To each other is beyond my best dreams. We follow the three fighting rules Matthew gives and discussed that from the onset consequently we follow it. We further make time to still date and romance each other often.
Your teaching has affirmed to me, that if I love him truly love him I will respect his beliefs and the way he is made and I can still be the happy me without trying to change him and with your tips and techniques I can without stress
What if it’s the other way around? You are in a happy relationship and you work well together, there’s just not the feeling of being in love? Would staying together be settling?
The honeymoon phase has an expiry date. But you can try spending a little time apart and then coming back together. Separation can create desire.
Not saying break up, just do your separate things for an evening or two or weekend
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