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What Happens When You Stay With Someone You Don’t Love

The easy answer to the question I pose in the title of today’s post is we just break up with that person. Right? Why waste our time and energy being devoted to someone we don’t love?

But I think if it was an easy question to answer, I wouldn’t be asking. Also, I only ask because I have answer of my own to the question, and I want to write it out here to bounce it off my readers. But first, an explanation as to why I believe the obvious answer isn’t necessarily the easiest one.

I have been told by more than several people, if you cheat on someone, you never really loved them. Maybe this is true, though I would disagree. I cheated on a woman I loved. I think the problem was it was a matter of not loving her enough, and when I say enough I mean more than I loved myself.

But still, I loved her. Even in hindsight, which we all know is 20/20, I think back to everything and I say to myself, Yep, that was love. To be honest, when it was revealed I did cheat and I saw the pain it caused, I was almost taken aback by how stupid I felt. I had to ask myself the question a thousand times, Did I really love her as much as I said I did and if I did, what to make of my actions? She would always tell me I didn’t love her, and explain it away by pointing to my indiscretion. I never thought it was fair, especially after we were trying to move on. The chorus line with her became so redundant it almost made me feel like she was projecting onto me her own feelings.

Once the relationship was over, I decided never again would I try to make it work with someone I cheated on. If I cheated on a woman, I’m leaving her just as soon as I get done. I made this decision because the last woman I cheated on convinced me it’s not an act you commit against people you love. And this is why I titled today’s post with the question, “What Happens When You Stay With Someone You Don’t Love?”

Whenever we have someone who seems to be a good match for us, but we don’t have that strong feeling towards them, what do other people say? Usually something like, “Well, you may not feel that way now but you can grow to love them or feel differently later.” Yeah, that seems so nice to say, and honestly, it doesn’t even sound unfathomable. We all can grow into our feelings for someone, but in the meantime, in between that time of acknowledging they’re not really the type of person we’re going to fall in love with, and that point where we are making an effort to do so, what is bound to happen? Well, my answer is, I think we might cheat on them.

I always tell people one of the main reasons I haven’t been in a relationship since my ex is when I saw what I was capable of doing to someone I said I loved, I had to take some time to figure out how strong love is and isn’t. One of the things I have come away with is the idea that if we stay with someone we don’t love, we are going to cheat on them.

Is this foolish to believe or does it make sense? Does it make as much sense as the theory that if we loved someone we wouldn’t cheat on them? Please discuss, in a civil manner.

I’m all eyes.


The Process: Thanks to everyone for the shin splints advice, I’m applying some of it like, taking a couple days off from running and icing them down. When I start back up, I feel like I have no choice but to run on softer ground. I really love my route, but the concrete jungle is causing serious problems. Also, my trainer suggested I take five days off from lifting weights, and do so every month at least. The extra time in the morning is welcomed.

Poppin’ Questions Podcast: Now up, Episode 29! Click here to listen. Hit me on my Formspring or email me at feedback@untiligetmarried.com for a question to be considered for Episode 30. I’m recording it today, so if your question doesn’t get on, maybe it will be considered for Episode 31 being recorded later this week.

See a mistake? Hit me here, typos@untiligetmarried.com

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  • SLB

    You are correct. And even if someone’s morals/sense of right and wrong prohibit them from executing the actual act, you better believe their mind, heart, and soul will be contemplating the possibility at every corner.

  • Candy

    If you stay with someone you don’t love will you cheat on them? Not necessarily.
    I know I have personally stayed “faithful” or “monogamous” to people that I was dating, liked a lot and cared for but did not love and I’ve cheated on people that I can honestly say I loved deeply.

    It depends on your relationship. We are all humans and we make mistakes just because you hurt someone and/or made a mistake it doesn’t mean you don’t love them.

    If your relationship is lacking then; yes, I think that will make someone cheat.
    But really I think some people are just prone to infidelity because of what they lack in themselves or because they enjoy being with more than one partner.

    Not to sound all woodstock-ish, but love has no rules. It’s very relative.

  • Ceej

    Who has ever defined love in a manner that is acceptable to everyone? My idea of love is not yours. Your idea of love is not your mom’s and NONE of our ideas of love compare to what kind of love God must have for us.

    So with that said… cheating is something you shouldn’t do if you love someone, but not something that means you don’t. People do bad things. Wrong things.
    We are destructive to ourselves and others at different times throughout life. How we respond to the bad things we have done is often times where we realize the value of something/someone.

    You actually hit the nail on the head of what the issue actually is. Selfishness. Just because your are selfish doesn’t mean you don’t love or care for others. It just means you don’t put their feelings, desires, wants or needs before your own if it inconveniences you or goes against what you want. That means you don’t love them enough. Approach loving another person as you would want them to love you. All of the things you would want and want someone to feel and do to you and for you should be your goal in loving them. Reciprocity is hard, but it should always be the goal. Why would you ever want anything less than greatness for yourself?

    Great post Joz.

  • Male Guest

    I don’t agree at all that cheating means you don’t love someone. I’ve cheated on someone I loved, not because I didn’t love them, or because there were any problems in the relationship, but because (like you said) I was selfish, and self admittedly immature. I loved and still love the person probably more than any other woman I have ever been with, which is why I’m still with her doing everything I can do to work things out and show her that I have matured. I didn’t say that I wanted to show her I changed, because I don’t think cheating is something that needs to “change”. You either do it, or you don’t. No one is predisposed to cheat in my opinion, I see it as something you do because you can, and you have to grow up to see that someone else matters more than yourself.

    For a long time (starting in college), cheating was all that I knew and I had never been with someone who challenged me to stop. This time was totally different. I actually told on myself (wasn’t caught) because I wanted her to know that I was making the decision to stop cheating, not because I was caught, but because I loved her and wanted her to know what I had been doing and that I was ready to stop. I did this not knowing whether she would stay or go, but because I knew that I had been selfish for so long, it was time for me to do something 100% unselfish and risk her leaving me and being unhappy.

    I see now that she is the perfect person for me, and I love her for staying and trying even though I was doing wrong for so long. Now, we have a great relationship, with 100% trust and we’re engaged and I can honestly say that this is the first time I have felt like a man and not a boy.

    “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

  • Acctzkk

    I, 100% believe you and as I say that I must confess to doing exactly what you did and am a bit ashamed to say that I am still in the relationship.

  • Gotta go gotta leave

    @male guest, bravo honey!! Selfisness will eventually kill a relationship! This post is right on time!! & im glad she stayed with you!! She believes in u!! Ur story excites me! Lol bcuz I’m n love with a selfish guy.. He says he loves me with all his heart. I dnt believe him. He wouldn’t b so damn selfish in regards to me if he did. I believed in him how ur fiancé believed in u! He didn’t realize tho until it was too late! Now I’ve had to realize how his selfishness won’t change for me, that’s selfish on my part to believe that it will. he’ll have 2 realize himself..But do it with me.. That’s my rant!! Thanks 4 listening lol! Love this post! Bookmarked.

  • KitKatCuty84

    I’m not going to comment on the cheating aspect of this post, because I don’t spend a lot of time contemplating infidelity. Infidelity and stealing money from me are two things that are automatic relationship deal breakers for me, so I don’t really care about the motivations behind either and wouldn’t attempt to work it out with anyone who’d committed those acts.

    As far as staying with someone you don’t love, that’s cruel. If they think you love them and you don’t, and they’re going about living their life thinking they found the one who loves and accepts them for who they are, meanwhile you don’t, that’s terrible. I’m sure whatever pain they’d feel when you left them would have nothing to do with the pain they’d feel knowing their loving relationship was a complete sham.

    All my regular blogs are talking about cheating today. It’s making me very uneasy. Am I the only person left who’s not into cheating? Someone please help me on this one, LOL.

  • http://twitter.com/msorvam myrna orvam

    I am curious though when you say …” to be honest, when it was revealed I did cheat and I saw the pain it caused, I was almost taken aback by how stupid I felt. ” Why did you feel stupid?
    Did you confess to cheating or were you found out? I ask this because if you confessed then clearly you couldn’t live with the guilt and that’s something that I have a problem with. If you cheat on someone that you love, then that guilty feeling should be your burden. But only if you plan on never cheating on that person again. However, if you were found out then one has to question your character. Cheating on someone takes time and energy. So why not put that energy into building your relationship and making it the best it can be.

    What I take away from today’s post is that you learned some valuable lessons in regards to infidelity. Which is, I guess half the battle, right?

  • Guest

    This article is definitely going to wake up many people who read this whether they’re attached or not. it is through the 5 Senses(Sight, Hearing, Taste, Touch, Smell) that helps one to know if a person is the right one for you. To LOVE is not the Loss of Valuable Energy, it is the Light Of Valuable Energy. If you’re not willing to give Light to the one you choose to love, then it’s best for you to not make a commitment. Remember, to love someone is the choice of an individual. Love cannot be forced.

  • Lurker

    I believe people cheat because they are selfish not because they don’t love someone enough. Love is a choice each of us makes. You love someone or you don’t. If you feel something is lacking, have the guts to get out instead of being so selfish that you deceive someone and use them. Time is the only thing we cant get back in this life and it is precious. So the worst thing you can do is take this from somebody when you already know you don’t want to whole heartedly be with them.

  • Guest

    As we’re told to love ourselves first before we can love others, wouldn’t loving ourselves include knowing what would hurt us emotionally, mentally, & or physically. Before a person chooses to cheat on the one they have a relationship with, perhaps they should consider empathy. How would you feel if the person you were in a relationship with cheated on you even if there was no love between you and the other person. What would be the point of being in a relationship with someone if you don’t love that person. You’d be wasting yours and their time and efforts. At least be fair if you’re going to choose to be in a relationship with someone.

  • http://acceptonlythebest.blogspot.com/ Tierra

    I’m glad you had the maturity to throw the brakes on getting in another relationship. To quickly jump into something else would be unfair to the next person. The truth is, we all come with some amount of baggage, most that we don’t even think about or consider. But this baggage is major and you have to deal with it before you move on.

    As far as staying with someone you don’t love, no, it won’t come to you. With my current guy, I felt that i wanted to love him by our second date. I didn’t say love at first sight — I WANTED to love him. There was something about him that was so compatible with me. I still feel butterflies every time he knocks on my door for one of our dates and its been 9 months. I was with my ex and the whole time I was with him, I thought he was semi cool, but he skeeved me out. I was waiting to fall in love with him. Not happening. So I always say to go with your gut instinct.

    I totally believe that if stay with someone you don’t love, you’ll go satisfy yourself elsewhere. Cheating isn’t all about the physical, but emotional aspects play a huge role. Either way, if you’re not getting it at home, you’ll go somewhere else.

  • http://twitter.com/cityfitch Terron Moore

    This article to me is eerily convenient. I had a smaller scale experience this weekend, when I was out with someone I liked and thought I cared about (even though we’d just begun really talking in a serious manner, hence smaller scale). I think you mostly hit the nail on the head when you were talking about what loving someone else means to you loving yourself. I have never cheated and never plan on it, and the reason why I realized I have to dead this situation I’m in now is because the day after, I literally could only repeatedly think “wow, if this went any further, i would ABSOLUTELY CHEAT.” It’s not that I don’t care about the girl, but it was an honest realization that she just wasn’t enough to end my curiosity about what else was out there. If I were to ever cheat, it would simply be because no matter how much I might love someone, they just aren’t enough. Unfair, but the truth.

  • Guest

    Feelings should be mutual before choosing to commit into a relationship

  • Guest

    There is a difference between selfish love and selfless love. Commit to a relationship because you want to not because you have to.

  • Shana

    *Snap Snap* Loved it! I said it before and I’ll say it again, “All men cheat, but all mean don’t cheat on every woman”. It’s good to know that you are doing all you can to be with this woman. We all make mistakes and none of us are perfect. I’ve been cheated on and being the “Negotiator” that I am, I tried to make it work out, to only find out that he continued to cheat and it continued until I finally left him. What most women need to realize is that when a man cheats on you, IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!! It’s usually caused by some insecurities and lack of self-respect and respect for his partner. You coming clean to your woman shows that you 1) have respect for her, and 2)have respect for yourself. And the fact that you’re doing everything in your power to gain her forgiveness and trust is admirable. Good luck to you and your fiance!


  • Smileyshante

    Really good read

  • Eleanorew

    I think it’s pretty hard for a grown-up to really love someone and yet cheat on him/her. We all know what kind of pain cheating causes, so deliberately inflicting pain doesn’t sound very loving to me. (Yeah, I know we generally think we won’t get caught, but still…)


  • Loyal?

    I stayed in a relationship with someone I didn’t love because I had loyalty and love confused. I geniunely cared for him, so I thought I have to be loyal and stay with him. I never cheated with another person, but I did cheat us both out of time and energy that could’ve been put towards others we really loved.

  • http://twitter.com/mynameismswhite Onedia bka MissWhite

    Another great post. Great question to ponder too. I think there are different degrees of love as well as different definitions. I believe you can love someone and cheat on them. I don’t think cheating has to necessarily be an act that’s solely based on what the other person lacks. It’s more a matter of what the cheater is not getting and them not having enough courage to share their dilemma with their lover. What’s it like to stay with someone you don’t love? Horrible. Not really worth living. But because a person has an indiscretion does not negate all chances of working things out. If that was everyone’s thought process, marriages aka relationships with legal and binding ties would be broken even more than they are now. Sometimes the hardest decision is finding out if there’s enough love there to even try. Now that’s love…struggling through some sh*t.

  • KitKatCuty84

    He DID cheat on every woman he’d ever been with, provided he stays with his future wife–she just forgave him and they worked it out. I don’t think all men cheat, but he is an example of why I have a hard time believing a cheater ever really stops…

  • guest

    The problem is that it’s either the man & or the woman that seem to think they should be in control of the relationship. But when it comes to choosing to be in a relationship, no one should be in control of each other. You don’t get into a relationship to be a boss of another and think that you can do whatever pleases you. If a person is going to be a player, then they should stick to being a player until they are serious about getting into a committed relationship.

  • Vk

    I don’t believe that cheating is a result of not loving someone enough. Cheating in itself is a concept that I personally see as an intensely selfish and insensitive act. You can make up all the excuses you want, but the truth is you were unfaithful. The reason I’m coming down so hard on the topic is because usually those wielding the knife know the cut: I’ve emotionally cheated on a guy before, and even though I ended it with him as soon as I realized I was being selfish, I’d always know I was not completely faithful when I should have been.
    We’re going to hurt the people we love, that’s a given. At the same time, I know if you truly loved someone, hurting them would be something you would try to avoid. So no. I don’t believe you would cheat on someone if you really loved them. Cheating kills. You don’t do that to someone you claim you love.

  • Pingback: What happens when you stay with someone you don’t love? | I'm not perfect.

  • http://twitter.com/lalanii lalanii

    “We all can grow into our feelings for someone, but in the meantime, in between that time of acknowledging they’re not really the type of person we’re going to fall in love with, and that point where we are making an effort to do so, what is bound to happen? Well, my answer is, I think we might cheat on them.”

    Jozen, strangely enough the example you spoke of above… was the only time I actually cheated. It was about selfishness and compatibility and the fact that although the person was (research lyrics to John Mayer’s-Comfortable, lmao) “COMFORTABLE,” and “honest” which a lot of people aren’t these days… I still NEEDED something else that was missing from the relationship despite my security.

    This is the reason I believe in the courtship phase. Because getting to know a person (at least a little) after the initial “like” is established is, important. If not only to attempt to discover how much you’ll still be looking for –outside of them– even after you’ve gotten to understand who they are.

  • Lohas

    Will you stay to a marriage just for the sake on the kid? If you don’t love your husband? He is trying his best he can but I just don’t have that affection to him. We’ve together for more than 15years. I am screwed. All these years that kind if love is not there. Why people fool themselves? Or people don’t know about love?

  • OneTimeOnly

    I know this is an old thread, but I just found it. I’d like to share my experience. First, I’m a very loyal person. I can say that with confidence. I have always highly valued integrity and honor, and above all, I have a sharp sense of right and wrong. I spent the majotity of my life believing firmly that I was incapable of cheating. And, until age 30, I was. I spent several years married to a woman and had three children with her. We weren’t truly happy. I knew from the beginning that I wasn’t in love with her, but married her because she was pregnant. I spent years “doing the right thing”, but being miserable and unfulfilled. Shortly after my 30th birthday, though, I found myself in a certain convergence of circumstances, my desperation overtook me, and I did what I’d never believed I was capable of. I confessed easily, without much of a struggle. Everything in my life exploded. I’m glad to say that the ending was happy, though the journey was miserable and grievous. The marriage was over, but I won custody of the children and we have made a much better life, though I know that the divorce will have an inescapable impact on them.

    In the end, though, I learned two very important things: anyone, under the right set of circumstances, is capable of anything (a deeply profound truth that I’ve since found to be 100% true), and be very careful as to whom you marry.

  • Ranger79

    If it does not feel right and those feelings does not happen at the start. Then move on until you find someone in which they do. I had just come out of a 9 year relationship, and then found a girl who said she truly loved me. And being in rebound mode and confused i did what i thought was the right thing, yet i did not have those special feelings for her. Bad move. Those 4 years were the worst of my life. More fights than i care to remember and always an inner struggle to wanting to break free. You can not force yourself to love someone if you do not have those feelings for them as they have for you. It will to 90% end in disaster. If someone says they love you, but you dont have the same feelings for them just tell them that you are flattered but its not mutual. You cannot force yourself to make others happy and being unhappy and having guilt.

    You dont either see famous people such as actors and musicians marrying or being together with someone just because they tell them they love them.

    Listen to your heart. If it does not feel right and you have doubts. Move on. We all deserve to be happy.

  • Disrupted Silence

    It’s been nearly 17 years of marriage for me. I’m in it for the kids, my benefit (he takes care of me), and I have a hard time dealing with the fact that he would be utterly crushed if I leave him. He and I have never had a “good” marriage, I had a period where I liteerally HATED him, but I am trying to make it work, we are trying. People use divorce as an easy out, and my vows said til death do us part, I may not have held tight to all of them, but this one I try to. I want a family unit for my kids, at least until they move out, only 11 years to go :-/
    I have thought of running off so many times, but I just can’t do it. There is no one in this world that will love me as much as he does.

  • Faith

    I am in a similar boat. Many times I’ve asked myself why I married him. I look at pictures of us before we were married and we truly look happy. I really can’t remember those feelings, though. He cheated on me when our first child was just a baby and that was it for me. For a long time I was mad at him, but I didn’t want his indiscretion and pitiful moral code to cause me to lower myself to his standards. I took a vow and I won’t let him cause me to break it. For a long time I was angry. I’m not any more, but the scary part is that I feel nothing for him, not anger or love, just nothing. We are kind of like roommates who share children. I pray every day that things will change, but I can feel the space between us widen. I am totally unattracted to him and sometimes I feel like I don’t even want to be his friend anymore, like I’m not sure what I ever saw in him. I had no idea this is what marriage would become. I do feel an obligation to make it better, but I find it hard to muster up the energy to work on anything with him. At the same time, I do believe in miracles and I believe that it is possible for us to fall in love again. There is more to life than sex and spousal love. I do not feel lonely and have mo desire to find someone else. I’m so happy I found this blog so I could see that I’m not alone in these feelings. Best of luck to all of you nd anyone reading this.

  • didi

    I don’t think you can truly, fully love a person and cheat on them. If you do love the person, I think the selfish ego is bigger than the alleged love. Cheating on someone can destroy their life and soul, like someone said here, it can be just like killing them. There may be those that get cheated on and move on with minimal scars but then there are those who are broken so deeply, that they are never the same… I am one of those people, I got cheated on and betrayed by the only person I ever loved and it destroyed me. He came back (like they all do) saying he was sorry and stupid for doing such horrible things to a wonderful person like me and me, being the remains of what used to be a person, took him back, not because of love or because I believed his apologies but because of loneliness and some sick sense of “I told you so”… when he hugs me or kisses me all I feel is disgust, with myself and with him, seeing the movie in my head over and over of what he did with the other woman as I cried and begged to die every night. I feel completely dead inside, I was such a happy, positive person, I believed in love and everything beautiful and now I don’t see the point in anything. I’m with a lying loser because I feel that everyone will eventually do the same… lie and cheat. So to everyone who thinks “oh I’m sparing the person from pain” by sneaking around think of how you are ending that persons life. It would hurt to hear I want to end this relationship but the pain is multiplied by a billion when you decide to do it behind their back.

  • Marie

    13 years and I want to leave him. The more I am with him I realize that we are incompatible sexually, emotionally and financially. I have two beautiful children and I am not willing to hurt them but I am very stressed and unhappy. He makes 5x mew money than me but dictates pretty much how money is spent. It feels like a parent-child relationship and I feel trapped. I am putting my kids first but I feel trapped. It is had to live like this.

  • Aklbob

    Im not in love with the woman I am with now, been 1 1/2 years. When we were just dating I had sex with 2 other women. After 6 months I told her quite a few times that I don’t love her but she loves me. We fooled around but never had full on sex, as she had herpes, and i was scared. We work really well together, but I still find I am attracted to other women. I have an inability to love it seems, or she’s not the right one for me. Unfortunately things got out of hand one night, first ever time unprotected, and now she is pregnant. We have had the talk, she knows I don’t love her but she still wants to have the baby, as she is 37. I haven’t cheated on her but I have told her I feel like one day I could. Not sure what to do now. Any advice ? Aklbob

  • jane spvey

    i know how u feel contact

  • nabila

    But if they don’t want to let you go even if you tell them that you cannot continue and you are going to hurt them and cheat on them. and still they want you to stay ??? what can you do in this case ??

  • Pl2006

    I’m married 8 years have one child. My wife told me she hates me. Don’t love me anymore. Everything I do irritates her. I still love her. I feel so lonely everyday . I listen to sad songs to see if she notice that I am depress but seems like she don’t even care. Just told me to turn it off or use head phones. We have hug kiss it have sexy for the pass 3 years. I was ok with that for a year or two but know I feel depress. She don’t live me but I still have a lit if love for her. I have told her what I feel like but she don’t seem to care at all. Should I just fils for divorce? Move out ? Please help?

  • Mar

    You need to be there for that baby. You are a grown man; so take care of your responsibility. As for the 37 year old woman I feel for her situation because she should have moved on because you were not into her, but for someone reason she held on. Please stay on your own and make sure to have protected sex.

  • mar

    Great advice!

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