# 1. Follow the advice below
One of the most common romantic fantasies is the belief that intimately connected partners will love one another in the same way, at the same depth, at all times, and forever. Feeling secure in love relationships relies on both people believing in that premise, and new lovers find comfort and joy in keeping that faith.
At the beginning of most all new love relationships, both partners focus on the ways they love similarly and discount any potential differences that take away from those initial moments of ecstatic connection. They assume reciprocity of devotion, sacrifice, and treasuring, and have complete faith that equal balance between them will continue to flourish as the relationship matures.
The reality, of course, is very different. Love, and the way it is expressed, is never one hundred percent reciprocal at all times, even at the beginning of a relationship. All people love more deeply at different times and in different ways, and most all relationships have one partner who wants more connection more of the time and the other who needs less contact to feel secure. Also, both may be just as committed to the relationship but express that attachment in very different ways.
As a relationship weathers the test of time, differences in the way the partners feel about love, relationships, time commitments, sexual needs, financial obligations, family ties, religious affiliations, social obligations, future dreams, and past entanglements slowly emerge. With each new layer peeling back, the partners learn more about themselves and each other, either deepening their affection or placing obstacles in the path of continued devotion.
As new lovers get to know each other, one of the most painful discoveries they may find is that one may love the other more than the other can love back. What was initially thought of as a more reciprocal attachment turns out to be more imbalanced as the relationship matures. As that awareness deepens, committed partners may or may not want to recognize what is happening and go along as if that gap were not widening. But, even if they are willing to face the growing disparity of unequal ability or desire to love, they may still want to stay in the relationship because of the positives that still exist.
Unequal styles, unequal appetites, differences in the way love is expressed, and deepening dissatisfactions are part of every committed relationship. When intimate partners are courageous, authentic, and skilled in the way they share and resolve these conflicts, their love can grow deeper in the process. But, if one partner consistently needs more than the other can give, especially in areas of greater hunger, he or she may eventually lessen the value of the good parts of the relationship because of that growing ache. The other partner, if he or she still values the relationship, can begin to feel more and more inadequate and guilty for not providing what the other needs.
In helping so many couples with this kind of imbalance, I first explore with them whether or not they each believe the other has good intentions and is not using their situation fraudulently. That means that the partner needing more has done everything he or she can to modify those needs, get them met in other ways, or gives them less weight in the entirety of the relationship. It additionally means that the partner who does not need as much learns how to give more out of compassion, without falling prey to the indulgence of automatic unavailability.
If good intentions prevail, and both have done all they can to close the imbalance gap, yet there is still a growing heartache, the next step is to try to negotiate the difference. Both partners must feel okay about their ability and right to need or not need the amount of affection, emotional and physical availability, and heart connection that they each do. They cannot blame the other person for having those patterns or feel entitled to change them.
A simple example of a rational negotiation would be when one partner looks forward to, enjoys, and thrives on frequent sexual connection, while the other savors sexuality less often and in a different milieu. Though it is true that this situation is more often the male in the former position and the female in the latter one, I have seen them reversed as well. A rejected lover is not normally an empathic or cooperative partner. A partner feeling obligated to be sexually available who is not ready to be involved is not usually a great sex partner.
If the partners truly love each other and realize that an unequal sexual appetite or preference does not make either inadequate, they try to find a way to work it out. If, on the other hand, they fault the other for being inappropriate, they will eventually lose each other.
It is absolutely normal for the partners in a love relationship to love more deeply or differently at different times during the relationship. Sometimes those differences even out over time, and sometimes they become more distinct. Temporary inability to be intimately connected is often due to other stressors and normally returns to a better balance. Or, deeply felt needs at one time may be less strong at another as people mature and their attachments change.
If, over time, these disparities cannot be resolved, and one partner continues to love more than the other can return, the relationship can be in danger. It is important for each partner to look at his or her pattern of setting up these kinds of problems by being unable to sustain giving love with anyone, or not being able to take love in no matter how it is offered. If those patterns have prevailed in the past, no relationship will be safe from an eventual demise.
If you’d like more information on related topics, please feel free to check out the following articles I’ve written for Psychology Today Blogs.
How to End a Relationship when your Partner Still Loves You
The Myth of Romantic Expectations
Are You Withholding Love?
Is Lying Part of Loving?
Contrasting Expressions of Love
Are you falling out of Love?
Why Can’t I Let Love in?
When Your Partner loves you more than you can return
Dr. Randi Gunther – www.randigunther.com
# 2. Let him know where you are and where you think you’re heading
Every relationship follows its own course, and it’s common that one person in any relationship has stronger feelings for the other at one time. As long as the relationship is going in the direction you want, this probably isn’t a problem. However, it is something that you may want to share just so that everyone is on the same page and has the same expectations. Both of you can take the time to be patient and see how things develop. There may be no rush to move to the next level, whatever that may be. If your relationship is strong and you both have the same goals in mind, being in different places at any time is a great place to open up discussions on where you see your relationship now and in the future. What a great opportunity!
That said, there are a few things to consider. My first question, of course, would be to ask what do you mean that he has stronger feelings? Does that mean he’s planning your life, your wedding, the names of your future children, and your retirement plan together? Or is he simply thinking he wants to be exclusive and you’re still wanting to see what’s out there? Either way, if his plans are too much too soon, it’s time to say something. It’s not a bad idea to ask to slow things down if you feel they’re moving too quickly.
Let him know where you are and where you think you’re heading. And make sure he knows that you’ll get there in your own time, you simply aren’t there yet. Let him know how the strength of his feelings make you feel. It’s possible that you’re flattered, but it’s just as possible they make you want to run away. Either way, once he knows how you feel, you could also ask him to tone it down a bit.
The big warning here is to not allow yourself to be pressured to move into any relationship or any new phase of a relationship before you’re ready. Because the relationship involves both of you, you have as much role in decision-making as your partner. He may have to wait for you to be ready, and if he really does feel strongly about you, he will, even if he grumbles.
Your level of comfort comes from all your past experiences, and if something isn’t right, trust yourself. It might also be a good time to ask yourself why you are so uncomfortable with this and if it has anything to do with past relationships that you haven’t finished with yet. It might be time to do that. Do you have a fear of commitment? Do you have some idea of how relationships are supposed to go, and this one isn’t following your rules? Did you feel pressured in the past to commit to a relationship that was controlling or abusive? All of these are good reasons to be wary, and they’re all good reasons to talk to someone who can help you make the decisions that are right for you in your life right now instead of living in the past.
Becky Bringewatt, MA, LPC, NCC – www.mantiscounselingandcoaching.org
# 3. Give it some time
If he likes you more than you like him, give it some time. It may take you longer to develop feelings for him because of your history or other reasons. Maybe you are just the kind of person that takes things slow in the relationship. If he is rushing you, then be mindful of the reason behind the hurry. If it has been a while and you are just not that into him, then that is something different. If you have determined that you are just not compatible, it is important to honor that truth as well.
Some people are slow to warm up in a relationship. Maybe you like being in a relationship, but like your space and do not want to change that. What are the reasons that you are not that into him? Are there red flags? Is he too clingy or smothering? It is important to think about what it is that you want out of the relationship and that your needs are met. Make sure that you are not settling and giving into what everyone else expects of you because they think you are a great match. If you are just not attracted to him, then you cannot force that.
If you feel rushed that is a red flag. Is he pushy or toxic and something about his behavior just leaves you unsettled? If this is the case you need to pay attention. How does he behave around you and others? Is he more of a friend than boyfriend? What are your feelings toward him? It is important to be honest with yourself and address your concerns.
If you just are not that into him and he is a good guy, give it some time. There is a saying that “you learn to love what is good for you.” Is he the kind of guy that is a keeper? Do you have issues around commitment or being with a guy that is everything you need him to be? Does he have a good heart? Do you need a man with more “flash” and that is the issue? Be honest with yourself about your feelings for him and about him.
Give it time, but don’t string him along either. Even when we are not physically attracted to someone, we can grow fond of them because of the way they treat us. This fondness is not love. Do not use him or take advantage of the fact that he is into you more than you are into him. If you know that you cannot see yourself in a relationship with him, then be honest with him and let him go. Just like you don’t want to miss the opportunity to meet someone right for you, do not cause him to miss his opportunity to meet someone that might be right for him.
If you have issues with dating a nice guy, that is important to address as well. If the issue is that he does not have enough “flash” for you or he is not “bad boy” enough, you need to pay attention. Is this a pattern? Do you meet a nice guy and have trouble being into him because he is too nice? What is your history and what are some of the patterns in your relationships? Talk to a therapist and get some support around sorting through these issues. Ask for help to identify and understand some of the patterns that have developed around relationships.
In short, if you are just not as into him as he is into you, be honest about it. Stay in your integrity and don’t try to force something that just isn’t there. Process your feelings with a therapist. Be honest about your needs in the relationship and above all be honest with him. Being honest keeps you in your integrity and holds you accountable. Treat him the way you want to be treated. No one likes to be strung along with the promise of something that just won´t happen.
Ileana Hinojosa, MLA, LMFT – www.themindfullife.net