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How has this happened?

(36 Posts)
WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 06:23:19

There wasn't a lot of love in my home growing up and I've never had a relationship in which I've been loved.

I had some rubbish relationships in my late teens and early 20s including marrying a man in my mid 20s knowing that we didn't love each other. On reflection, I can explain these as being due to my experiences with my family.

After we split up, I was single and had years of counselling and therapy and did a lot of work on myself. I'm unrecognisable as that person I was and I can see that quite clearly. I'm more confident, I take better care of myself, I have better boundaries, friends, a good job, hobbies etc... I'm not perfect but, on paper, I think I'm a good catch and I am reasonably attractive.

I have met several men over the past few years and dated a few. Most didn't go beyond a few weeks of dating when I realised that they weren't the sort of man i wanted to be with. I have had 2 or 3 relationships of several months including a relationship of almost a year but it was clear they didn't love me and never would do. So i ended them too.

Last year, I met a man through friends who seemed to have real potential and I thought that the 'becoming the best version of myself' approach and not actively looking had finally worked. He was kind, thoughtful, respectful, compassionate, no red flags... yet we have been together for a year now and he doesn't love me either.

All of these men have previously been in long term relationships and either married or co-habited so the issue isn't that they are incapable of love or relationships. They were decent men with careers, friends, full lives no issues with drugs or alcohol - just normal men. No immediate red flags and none have been in 'complicated' situations with exes or other women. The current one is no different. I usually see him every weekend for most of the weekend and, for the first time, I have found myself not wanting to see him this weekend because he doesn't love me and it is starting to show. He's made no claims of loving me and whilst he has treated me well until now, there are signs of disrespect creeping in that I recognise as being symptomatic of this. So I'm going to end it. I am content for there to be no love (I've never known any different) but once there is no respect either, it's time to go.

They all liked me but none fell in love with me or loved me.

How can I have reached my mid 40s without anyone having loved me?

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leafeater Wed 09-Sep-20 06:36:15

Do you think you would recognise love from another person?
I don't mean that glibly, but you are so adamant that this man and previous men 'haven't loved you', I just wonder how you know?
It may be that your idea of love is out of kilter.

MagMell Wed 09-Sep-20 06:37:13

What strikes me about your post is that there’s no mention of whether you loved any of them, only whether you felt they loved you. Where are your feelings for them in all of this?

WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 06:46:10

leafeater I know what love doesn't look like. It doesn't look like unfavourable comparisons, unkind comments and obvious disrespect.

If someone tells you that they don't love you, then I think it's pretty clear.

MagMell I have felt love but I think its hard for me nowadays. I don't expect love to come from a relationship so I don't feel it myself very often. I am definitely open to it. In my current relationship, I definitely thought it was possible and developed feelings for him but I shut them away a bit after a few months because it was obvious he wasnt feeling the same about me.

I'm always open to it, I often feel the potential but I don't receive the same back from them.

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WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 06:49:12

I him but the signs over the past month or so are consolidating my desire to end it. I just need to be sure because I've already decided that this will be the last time i try.

When he and I breal up, I won't try again. I'd rather be unloved because I'm single than because I'm in another loveless relationship.

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rorosemary Wed 09-Sep-20 07:03:50

I'm going to be brutally honest here but of the women I know that have reached middle age without ever building a good relationship there always is a clear reason for it. It's something they do. Either they hold back emotionally too much out of fear or have trouble showing empathy or something like that.

Does any of this ring a bell? Or do you have really good friends who you can ask what the reason could be? It's all changable but you need to know what it is that is sabotaging your love life.

WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 07:16:02


I'm happy for you to be brutally honest!

I have spoken to friends about it. I've asked a couple of truated male and female friends, who know me well, and they've also been honest with me. A couple have said that I keep people away from me if I don't want them to get too close but they generally can't see a reason for it. So I know that, in the past, I have been emotionally distant but that hasn't been the case for the past few years.

I have been described by previous boyfriends as 'loving' and 'easy to love'. I'm no longer emotionally distant but there is clearly something about me that clearly makes me 'unlovable' sad

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WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 07:17:35

They say I've just been unlucky but this is a hell of a run of bad luck!

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WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 07:39:46

Sometimes I wonder if I should ask themselves. Not in a "but why don't you love me!" self pitying sense but just an objective question.

None of them have ever criticised my my personality or character although I have been told I'm just not slim or pretty enough for them to be fully attracted to me/for it to the long term a couple of times 🙄

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ihatethecold Wed 09-Sep-20 07:45:38

Using the term “unlovable “ is interesting op.
You say you’ve had counselling in the past. Did you have the type of therapy that goes back and looks at your young life and attachments?
This may be helpful for you.

It’s called psychodynamic therapy.

TwoBoysTooMany76 Wed 09-Sep-20 09:01:42

@WorldsSmallestViolin Have you been to therapy recently? I know you said you have done lots of work on yourself and have had therapy but maybe having someone to talk to about your current thoughts might help? Last year, I had a series of sessions paid for by my private insurance after the end of a potential relationship that hit me hard and even though I have had therapy on and off for years, I still found the sessions I had last year really illuminating and useful to help dealing with the end of that particular relationship.

However, I also think 'finding love' is equal luck and personality. I have been divorced quite a few years now and have two kids. I have dated quite a lot over the past couple of years and nothing has really 'stuck'. All my friends think I am a catch - great shape for my age, fairly 'good-looking', my kids are older, financially secure so cannot understand why I am single. When I think back of how my exH and I met, it was purely fluke/luck combined with us being at the right stage of our lives - we worked together and the relationship came really easily. IMO, I did nothing 'right' or 'wrong' in that relationship. I did none of those stupid dating things touted by all these dating gurus now... We split when my exH met someone else but we had also outgrown our relationship... I also identify as an avoidant so I can be quite a difficult person to get to know once you get past the bubbly, fun exterior.

I am dating now and dating in your 40s is so different from your 20s. Do you still hope to have children? What do you want? A partner? Marriage? Someone I am dating now asked me that recently and I was a bit stumped. Because I have kids at home still, I don't want anyone involved in my home life but I can see now as well that I have not thought of how that might affect the person I am dating. Who might want something more than seeing someone twice a week. So that's given me a lot of food for thought. Also, I had a date say to me recently how he loves that I am not reliant on other people for my happiness. I realise I give out that vibe and a lot of men are looking to 'rescue' women and have women reliant on them and I'm just not one of them.

I guess what I am trying to say is that don't think of you not being in a relationship as a 'failure', it really isn't. You must have done something right to be fairly secure and stable in your life now. And your ability to see your current relationship is not right for you. I think you meet people at different stages of your life to meet your different needs at that time. There isn't 'the one'. Just keep persevering. I know how disheartening it is to keep seeing people pairing up but logically, I also know a lot of relatioships I see around me are not happy ones. But I also yearn for that someone to love! You are not alone in that. And don't be embarrass about that either... Good luck!

RandomMess Wed 09-Sep-20 10:18:46

Your friends have said you keep others emotionally distant and you've worked on the that for only the last few years.

So I would say that you can only consider it the last few years as you know what the issue was before.

The single men around your age are also single for a reason... many of those won't have worked on themselves so aren't actually free and available to love a new partner.

So it's a small pool of "suitable men" within a hive pool of unsuitable ones and you've only been trying to weed them out for a years.

Give yourself time! Also sometimes you meet a perfectly lovable person but the chemistry isn't there on both sides sad that's a tough one.

It sounds like your boundaries and self esteem are decent so I think the unsuitable men get to know you and realise they can't hoodwink you...

Horsemad Wed 09-Sep-20 10:33:56

Have they outright said they don't love you and what are their reasons?

Maybe you are missing their 'love language' - I hate that phrase but people show live differently apparently.

What signs of disrespect are they showing?

I think you sound very self sufficient, so maybe that is what puts them off but don't change! You have good boundaries imo.

WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 12:56:44

ihatethecold I mean more in how they perceive me rather than how I see myself.


I don't want children, no. I'd like a real relationship where i feel I have a partner and not just a 'companion'. I'm open to living with someone but not desperate to.

I dont play silly dating games either. I want someone I can be with someone because I want to be and not because I feel I need to.

Have they outright said they don't love you and what are their reasons?

What signs of disrespect are they showing?

Dismissiveness mainly.

The man I'm with now has been honest tthat he doesn't love me but hasn't really said why. He wants to ensure he's not making a mistake and that sort of thing. As far as the disrespect goes, ok, we spent a bit of time with other people at the weekend. In front of them he was fine and we feel like a couple but the minute we were on our own the just stopped talking to me. Responded to me in single words and maintained a physical distance. He just seemed disinterested as soon as there wasnt an audience. That sort of thing.

Previously, I've had criticisms about my looks/size/age or they've cancelled dates with me at the last minute because they got a better offer with their mates (not for valid reasons and sometimes without warning).

I went away for the weekend with one boyfriend and discovered he'd invited all of his mates long too. He was in his 50s.

Making negative comparisons between me and other women. Or complimenting/commenting positively on other women whilst never saying anything nice to me.

None of these have been there from the start, they've crept up.

That sort of thing. Which is why I've ended it.

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RandomMess Wed 09-Sep-20 13:00:10

You've managed to date some quite frankly hideous "men" shock

So proud that you bin them off!

Horsemad Wed 09-Sep-20 13:49:52

God, yes I agree with RandomMess, you're dating shit men! Good for you for not tolerating poor behaviour.

Well, you can either stop and be happy in your own company, or keep going & see what turns up... 🙂

TwoBoysTooMany76 Wed 09-Sep-20 14:42:30

@WorldsSmallestViolin It sounds like you know what you want. And your current man is a bit shit, I think it's time to bin it off. He seems to making you shit about being in a relationship, no wonder you feel slightly hopeless!

People seem to associate men you meet through friends as somewhat better than men you meet online... I am not sure why. I never meet anyone through my friends and I would say a majority of my friends' partners, I would NOT date even if they are single. So just because you met him through friends and he showed potential means he should be the one to stay with... Just saying...

I have been quite lucky and seem to have met mostly 'good' men online. There are definite weirdos or men who have lied but most I manage to filter out.

I think what is important though is to treat meeting man and getting into a relationship as a bit of a 'sideline' even if it is the ONE thing you need/want to complete your life. And I don't mean to treat it flippantly or anything. I mean keep your boundaries strong but be open-minded, some of the men I have dated and the ones I have been most fond of I was totally prepared to dismiss from day 1. And they have surprised me. And fill your life with other meaningful relationships/connections like close friends etc. So you don't end up settling for someone just because you are lonely.

It's very hard during COVID though, because we are not really allowed to socialise in big groups or no longer in the office seeing colleagues, I find myself checking my phone more and getting obsessive about people ie dates messaging me, which I never used to do. So I find myself having to consciously 're-focus' on my other meaningful connections like friendships and taking time off technology. Is that what you are doing too? Don't underestimate how much this can affect your mental health and the way you think now. Good luck working it all out... flowers

WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 18:36:12

You've managed to date some quite frankly hideous "men"

To be fair, they've all been variations on a theme. This is what I mean, I've never dated anyone who cared about me. Not genuinely, not once the initial mask began to slip. I'm not an idiot and I don't have low self esteem. I've never had friends warn me off a man because they got bad vibes about him. They've always been thoroughly decent chaps. Until they weren't. And they've all had friends and exes they remained on reasonable to good terms with in the main.

They were only 'hideous men' in relation to me.

My dad once said of my mum that she had the unenviable ability to bring out the worst in people. There's a massive history there that I won't get into now but he was, essentially, right. She didn't mean to, she just did. She had very few friends because of it and offended people wherever she went without realising it. I worry that I'm like her.


That the thing though. They weren't hideous men. I mean, they were in relation to me but other people spoke very fondly and highly of them, including their exes where applicable.


I have no interest in online dating. None at all and I had very little interest from men when I tried it despite having my profile looked over by male friends who were very positive about it. It just feels utterly fake.

I was single for a couple of years, no dates at all, before meeting this guy and pulled myself out of dating retirement. It just felt nice to think think that I might actually have found someone decent it would work with. There was so much potential and, after all, I've seen how he treats his friends and heard how he speaks to and of people. But it's not like that with me.

I can deal with him not loving me but this cold disregard is new.

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Readandwalk Wed 09-Sep-20 18:47:00

I think its entirely possible to reach your age without having the madly in love mutual feeling. You've had lots of relationships and dating experiences. It's sometimes a matter of luck. To have this all reflected back at you as something essential wrong with you is damaging. We all flounder about hoping for love.

WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 19:08:07

I think its entirely possible to reach your age without having the madly in love mutual feeling

Tbh, at this point, I think I'd accept mutual like and respect. I've almost taken love out of the equation although it does make me really sad sometimes.

I'd just really like to know what it feels like.

I know there are plenty of people in shit relationships but I know plenty of people.who arent. And have read all the decent partner threads on here.

I wouldnt mind if I'd even had decent relationships that just lacked the 'spark' but i haven't even had that. It would just be nice to have felt important or special to someone.

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WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 19:11:20

I don't even watch films with love or romance themes. It just upsets me.

I have a good life other than this. I'm not sitting around waiting for love to find me. I have friends, hobbies, a career. I do things on my own and I'm pretty self sufficient. Everyone tells me how they admire my strength and independence but it would be really nice to have someone else to travel through life with to celebrate the good stuff and support the shit stuff with.

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WorldsSmallestViolin Wed 09-Sep-20 19:17:36

And I think it must be something wrong with me because relationships exist between people. I'm not dating men who are incapable of love. They've loved before and expect to again.

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AnaViaSalamanca Wed 09-Sep-20 19:30:13

OP you come across like you have quite a lot of self knowledge, but your posts also sound analytical and unemotional. Are you working in a male dominated field and are quite senior? Would you describe yourself as a warm and nurturing person or cool and analytical? Have you ever been in love? Are you able to open up to a partner and let tthem in?

I feel like you are attracting the type of emotionally unavailable and avoidant guys who are more comfortable with emotional distance. A sort of a self fulfilling prophecy.

Just a thought. You sound great though. Hope it all works out.

Rigamorph Wed 09-Sep-20 20:43:25

'If you would be loved, love, and be loveable'. - Benjamin Franklin

If it were possible to make somebody love you then artists, poets, actors and musicians wouldn't have as much to do! Neither would therapists. It's one of the great mysteries of life.

FWIW it sounds as if you are already loveable, but perhaps you need to be willing to show love first.

There are some MAJOR caveats to this tho, as you will risk having your heart broken if you show love to the 'wrong' person.

It's a very hard thing to do, and that's why many people don't do it. They wait until the other person shows which time they have come across as unloving. It's a major catch-22.

I have had my heart broken many times....been there, done that, got the t-shirt, wrote the book, made the movie! But I have also been loved in return quite a few times. I think you have to risk something to win sometimes BUT again only if you are in a strong enough position not to be taken advantage of or deliberately hurt by unscrupulous persons. It sounds as if you might be strong enough now.
What do you think, OP??

Closetbeanmuncher Wed 09-Sep-20 21:22:31

although I have been told I'm just not slim or pretty enough for them to be fully attracted to me/for it to the long term a couple of times

I'm not fucking surprised you dumped them.

Have you ever heard of love languages? It might be worthwhile exploring your own and maybe actively try to choose someone who has a high chance of meeting those needs with their personality (if that makes sense).

For example if your love language is gestures you might veer towards someone thoughtful, generous and romantic.

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