8 signs you’re not in love, you’re just attached to the idea of being in love

Have you ever wondered if what you’re feeling is truly love, or just an attachment to the idea of being in love? 

I’ve been there – mistaking a deep longing for love as the real thing. It’s an easy trap to fall into, especially in a world where love stories are idealized, making us yearn for our own fairy tale. 

This realization isn’t about self-blame, but about self-discovery. It’s a journey from illusion to authenticity. 

In this article, we’ll explore 8 signs that might indicate your feelings are more about the allure of love, rather than love itself.

1) You idealize the relationship

The first thing you should ask yourself is how you view your relationship. Can you admit it has things for you to work on, or do you idealize it, wanting to see it as perfect?

A few years ago, I found myself doing just this. I was in a relationship that, in my mind, was the epitome of romance. 

I would often daydream about our future together, imagining only blissful moments. If we had a disagreement, I’d brush it off as a minor hiccup, not acknowledging the deeper issues at play. 

It was as if I was living in a carefully curated movie scene, avoiding anything that didn’t fit the script.

This pattern of idealization is a sign you might be more in love with the idea of being in love than with the relationship itself. 

It’s important to recognize and accept the totality of your relationship, including its imperfections, to truly understand and experience love.

2) You lack a deep connection

Thinking back to my own experiences, I remember how I mistook shared interests and long conversations for a deep connection. “We’re so deep together! We’re so in love!”

But a true connection in a relationship goes beyond discussing intellectual topics or sharing similar hobbies. It’s about truly understanding who your partner is at their core – their feelings, thoughts, fears, and dreams. 

It’s not just about the highs but also embracing the lows, being present for the difficult conversations, and showing a willingness to meet their needs, even when they differ from your own.

While I could talk with my ex for hours about art or travel, I eventually realized our connection was only surface-level. We seldom delved into understanding each other’s emotional worlds. 

Tough conversations were avoided, as I feared they would break the idealized image I had of us. 

The absence of this depth might indicate that your affection is more for the concept of love than for the person you’re with. Building a deep, meaningful connection requires vulnerability, honesty, and a willingness to see and accept each other in your entirety.

3) You compare your relationship

Years ago, I found myself constantly sizing up my relationship against others. Whether it was friends’ love lives or those picture-perfect couples on social media, there was always a nagging voice in my head asking, “Why isn’t my relationship like that?” 

This habit of comparison, I later realized, was less about my partner and more about my own need for external validation. 

When you’re truly in love, the focus is on appreciating your partner for who they are, not how they stack up against others. 

But if you’re more attached to the idea of being in love, you might catch yourself showcasing your relationship, almost like a trophy for others to envy. 

It’s as if the relationship’s value lies in others’ admiration, not in the genuine connection you share.

Constant comparison can reveal an uncomfortable truth – it’s a pursuit of an idealized notion of love, one that looks good on the outside but lacks the depth and authenticity of true emotional connection. 

But recognizing this, and dropping the need to compare, can be a step towards understanding what you truly seek in a relationship.

4) You don’t know or ignore your core values

pic1564 8 signs you’re not in love, you're just attached to the idea of being in love

In a relationship that’s rooted more in the idea of love than in love itself, there’s often a disconnect from your own core values. 

You might find yourself making compromises that go against what you truly believe in, just to fit the mold of what you think a perfect relationship should be. 

This misalignment can be subtle – perhaps you’re not as honest about your beliefs, or you find yourself going along with things that don’t sit right with you, all in the name of “love”.

I remember a time when I did just that. I had always valued open communication, but found myself holding back my true feelings to avoid conflicts in my relationship. 

This avoidance wasn’t about preserving harmony, as I told myself, but about clinging to the idea of a conflict-free, ideal love story. 

And it was a wake-up call. Real love doesn’t require you to lose sight of who you are; it flourishes when you and your partner can be yourselves, fully and unapologetically. 

5) You over-rely on your partner for happiness

Do you find your mood swinging wildly based on how your partner treats you?

If their good morning text is the highlight of your day or their moodiness ruins your entire evening, it might be a sign that your emotional well-being is too closely tied to their actions. 

This was a lesson I learned the hard way. I used to gauge my happiness by how much attention and affection I received from my partner. 

On days he was loving, I felt on top of the world; on days he was distant, I was in the depths of despair.

But I didn’t realize back then that in a healthy relationship, each person should have their own foundation of happiness and self-worth that isn’t entirely dependent on the other. 

Your partner of course adds to your happiness, but isn’t the sole source of it.

If you find yourself relying too heavily on your partner for your emotional well-being, it may be time to reassess the nature of your attachment.

6) You ignore red flags

Have you ever found yourself brushing aside concerns or issues in your relationship, labeling them as ‘minor’ or ‘not a big deal’? I certainly have. 

Thinking back now on my time with my ex, there were clear warning signs – moments of disrespect, incompatible values, even a lack of mutual support. 

Yet, I chose to overlook these red flags, convincing myself they were just bumps on the road to our perfect love story.

This tendency to ignore red flags often stems from a desire to preserve the idealized image of love we’ve created in our minds. 

It’s an attachment to the narrative of being in love, rather than facing the reality of the relationship. In doing so, we risk staying in situations that may not be healthy or fulfilling.

True love involves acknowledging and addressing problems, not evading them. It’s about seeing your partner and your relationship clearly, warts and all — and being willing to walk away if it turns out it’s not what you want, rather than pretending it is. 

7) You don’t grow together as a couple

Growth in a relationship is like tending to a garden – it requires care, attention, and the willingness to evolve together. 

Reflecting on a past relationship of mine, I realize now that we were more stagnant than growing. 

We clung to the comfort of familiarity, avoiding any challenges that might push us out of our comfort zone, or bring to light issues that I didn’t want to admit we had. 

This lack of growth was a sign that our connection was more about the comfort of being in love than about truly flourishing together.

When you’re genuinely in love, you and your partner encourage and support each other’s personal development, even if it might mean making some sacrifices on your end such as spending less time with them, because you want what’s best for them. 

That’s how your relationship evolves. But without that, you’ll find yourself stuck in the same place — and inevitably, that attachment to the idea of love will not be strong enough to hold it together for long. 

8) You’re afraid of being alone

In my journey through relationships, I’ve learned that sometimes the fear of being alone can masquerade as love. 

I stayed in this relationship I’ve been talking about long past its expiration date, not because the love was alive and thriving, but because the thought of being alone was terrifying. 

This fear of solitude can trick us into believing we’re in love, when in reality, we’re clinging to the security and familiarity a relationship provides.

Being afraid of loneliness is a common human experience, but it shouldn’t be the glue that holds a relationship together. 

True love is about choosing to be with someone because of the joy and fulfillment they bring to your life, not because you’re scared of the alternative. 

If the fear of being single is a driving force in your relationship, the best thing you can do for yourself is to face that fear — get to know who you really are as an individual, and find fulfilment in the other relationships in your life, starting with the one you have with yourself. 

Finding true love beyond the facade

In navigating the intricate paths of relationships, it’s crucial to distinguish between genuine love and mere attachment to its idea. It’s a journey that calls for introspection and honesty. 

Recognizing these signs is the first step towards understanding what you truly seek in a relationship. 

Remember, true love flourishes in reality, not in idealized visions.

Picture of Silvia Adamyova

Silvia Adamyova

Born in Slovakia, raised in Canada, with a translation degree from University of Ottawa and an editing certificate from Simon Fraser University. Now based back in Slovakia (if you’re wondering why - have you seen Canadian winters?). Full-time freelance English teacher, translator, editor, and copywriter. Part-time avid reader, self-development junkie, and cake addict. I hope my writing inspires you in some way — if it does, find me on LinkedIn or Instagram and let me know!

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