Can a relationship work without you being in love?
Can a relationship work if the people are not in love with each other, or if only one of the two people is in love with the other? I am guessing that most people will immediately clamber on to their soap box and start claiming that there is no future for a relationship where the two people are not in love, and that this is obviously a very unhealthy arrangement. But stop, wait a minute and think this through properly. There are situations where this kind of relationship can work very well. Remember I said 'in love' not 'love', and sometimes love is enough even without the absolute passion of being in love with the person you share your life with.
I have written this article to explore the types of committed relationships where simply being able to say we 'love' the person we are with is enough, and we don't need to be 'in love' (as in the 'old fashioned' sense of the word), in order to see a long and healthy future for the relationship.
Think about marriages of convenience or arranged marriages. In the former case the people are often already good friends, and in the latter case if they don't fall in love with each other over time, they frequently end up loving each other in a way that is unique to the cultures where such marriages are commonplace. We are programmed from an early age to believe in a 'happily ever after' plan for our future lives. The fairy tales we are read as children involve idealistic views of life, where the Prince or Princess of our dreams will end up being our lifelong partner if we try hard enough to find them. The reality is frequently very different, and a vast amount of us end up 'settling' for a partner in life who is not perfect, but is good enough and who we love in a way that is not lifted straight from a fairy tale.
There are various scenarios where a marriage or relationship can work without the two halves of the couple being in love with each other. Imagine for instance a scenario where a mature man has no real interest in a sex life any more, or maybe he has a problem with impotence. He is a comfortably off gentleman who wants an attractive lady on his arm when he attends various functions, and is essentially looking for a companion as opposed to a lover. Then bring into the equation an attractive lady who has medical problems that have effected her libido and ability to work. She is a warm and genuine person who needs security, and he is a lonely man who needs companionship. If these two people hit it off and they grow to love each other as close friends, why would them having a successful relationship be so unlikely? They might marry and live an ideal life as both of them are getting what they need from the relationship in a symbiotic way.
What about a situation where one person is best friends with another? Neither have been lucky in love, but as friends they love each other and in many ways they are soul mates. Would it really be so bad if they were to decide to marry each other or become a long term couple! These two people have loads in common, they know each other inside out, and even if they aren't capable of being passionately in love with each other, they can still love each other to a degree they would each willingly sacrifice their own life to save the other.
Many of us in life met someone once who we will always remember as 'our first true love'. Sadly in most cases this relationship does not work out for all different reasons, one of which is probably our lack of maturity at the time we both meet, (usually in our teens or early twenties). As we go through our lives we have other relationships, but deep down we know the latest person we are seeing is still never going to be 'that first true love'. So what do we do? Well generally we 'settle' for someone who we are either in love with, (but not to the same degree), or someone we deeply care about and love, but are not 'in love' with. Frequently these relationships will last for many years and work well.
There are cases where one partner is 'in love' with the other, but the other person only 'loves' them back. This is not to say that the relationship is a bad one, but just that there are different levels of emotions involved. The latter partner might desperately want to be 'in love' with their partner, but simply cannot feel that way. This is not to say they would ever willingly hurt the other person, and it does not mean they would ever want to be with anyone else. It only means that they cannot quite achieve that depth of feeling for the partner they are with, possibly as a result of previous relationships where they have been hurt very badly and they have now put emotional barriers up to protect themselves against further hurt.
How about a situation where a person is terminally ill. Whether the other person was in love with them or not, so long as they cared enough to not to want to see them die alone, then they are showing them love. If they give them a 'relationship' based on this love for whatever time they have left, then surely this is a good relationship. Probably both of them will accept the fact the marriage or relationship is not based on being 'in love', but each of them has love for the other in their own way, and this is why they get together and stay together until the end.
Just recently I read of a case which was a very sad story. A married woman was diagnosed as terminally ill, (I believe she also had children). Her dying request to her sister was that after she had died she wanted her sister to marry her Husband. Ultimately she passed away, and just last week the sister honoured the dying wish and married her sister's surviving Husband. Now I am sure they are not 'in love' with each other because of the circumstances, but I am also certain they must have love for each other to be able to do this knowing the level of commitment they are making to each other.
There are marriages that are convenient because they allow people from other countries to live in countries they would otherwise not be able to (think green card). Whilst these marriages are sometimes completely fake, there are times when the couple do grow to have a love for each other as time passes. There are even occasions when the love was already there and this is why one partner agrees to help the other out by marrying them so they can remain in the country of their choice.
I have heard of many cases where elderly people have been left alone after their spouses die and decide to marry another elderly person in the same situation. This has been as much for companionship as anything else, and in some cases they were past the stage in their lives where sex was an issue for either of them anyway. Why would they want to spend the rest of their own remaining months or years alone when they could have a friend who they love as their spouse for the rest of their days, someone they could go on holiday with, share a joke with, have a cuddle with and have a good conversation with? They don't have to be passionately in love with each other, all they need is to have enough love for each other that they are compatible.
So this is why I do believe that certain relationships can survive and be healthy even if the couple are not in love with each other. Sometimes simply having love for each other is enough and the all the consuming passion of being madly in love is not essential. It is often said your Husband or Wife should also be your best friend, in some cases they actually are, and that is all they will ever be, but can we honestly say this is always a bad thing and that it cannot work?
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