Can Some People Just Not Fall In Love?

Photo taken in Trang, Thailand
Kraiwit Tabsombut / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images

We’re always hearing that we could be having better sex, a better orgasm, or a better relationship. But how often do we hear the nitty-gritty of how we can actually better understand our deepest desires and most embarrassing questions? Bustle has enlisted Vanessa Marin, a sex therapist, to help us out with the details. No gender, sexual orientation, or question is off limits, and all questions remain anonymous. Now, onto today's topic: what to do if you're afraid you can't fall in love.

Q: I'm 23, and even though I've dated a lot and hooked up plenty, I've never really fallen in love. Or at least, I don't think I have. One time I thought maybe it happened with someone I was with for four months, but after, I wasn't sure. All my friends seem to fall in love all the time. What if I just can't? Is that a thing, like asexuality? Or have I been in love and not known it? What if I just can't fall in love?

A: Thanks for the question! It sure is a biggie. Love is one of the most universally desired human experiences, but it can also evoke so much fear. Let’s dive right into nine questions to ask yourself if you’re afraid you can’t fall in love.

1. Do You Want To Be In Love?

Let’s start with what you actually want, since you didn’t mention it in your question. Do you feel the desire to be in love?

You brought up the topic of asexuality in your question. Asexuality is not the same thing as not falling in love. Asexuality refers to not feeling the desire to have sex, and it comes in many different flavors. For example, there are lots of asexual people who have and desire companionate relationships. They feel deep love for each other, but they don’t feel the need to have sex.

Although asexuality is not the same thing as what you’re describing, it does offer a good comparison about our ability to choose the types of relationships that suit us. You don’t have to have romantic love relationships if you don’t want to. You might be able to get your love needs from family members or friends, and have casual sex on the side. It’s worth at least taking a moment to ask yourself what you actually want.

2. Have You Had Much Or A Relationship History?

It’s hard to fall in love with someone if you’re not in a platonic or romantic relationship with them! Sure, some people believe in the idea of love at first sight, but love typically requires an ongoing relationship where you get to know that person on a deep level. Plus, you’re not going to fall in love with every person you date, so there’s a bit of a numbers game aspect to this.

In your question, you only mentioned one four-month relationship. Have you had any others? If you haven’t, I’d wait until you have at least three or four more relationships under your belt before getting worried about not being able to fall in love.

3. Why Did You Doubt Yourself After The Fact?

In the one relationship you mentioned in your question, you said you thought you were in love, but started to have second thoughts after the relationship ended. Why is that? Just because a relationship doesn’t work out doesn’t mean that there wasn’t true love there. There are plenty of people who are madly in love, but end up breaking up for a wide variety of reasons. Even if this relationship ended on a horrible note, don’t disregard the fact that you may have felt some very real and serious feelings for this person.

4. What Happens When You Start Getting Close?

Now we can turn to whether or not there might be something blocking you from allowing yourself to fall in love: Have you ever felt close to falling in love with another person? If so, what happened when you started noticing yourself developing feelings? Did you freak out? Did you try to convince yourself it wasn’t real? Did you do something to sabotage the relationship? Did any fears come up for you — like a fear of losing yourself in the relationship, a fear of getting trapped, or a fear of missing out on “something better”?

As much as most of us want love, we’re also really scared of it. Don’t be hard on yourself if you recognize any of these negative reactions. The first step towards developing a healthier relationship with love is recognizing the ways we push it away.

5. What’s Your History With Love?

Of course, our earliest models of love come from our family, and particularly from our parents’ relationship with each other. What did love look like in your family? If your parents had a terrible relationship or got divorced, it’s natural to develop a somewhat jaded view of love. If there was any sort of abuse in your family, love can seem like a way to control, guilt, or manipulate another person. Love can even feel downright unsafe. You may recognize some patterns between how your family treated love and how you now treat love as an adult. Sometimes just this awareness is enough to help us change our actions, but you may also want to talk it out with a therapist too.

6. Do You Think You’re Lovable?

Another dynamic that can block us from falling in love is if we feel unlovable. It’s hard to let in the love of another person if you don’t love yourself, or don’t think of yourself as worthy of love. Like I mentioned above, you may have never had good role models for love. Or you may have been derided or even bullied by family members or peers. You’re still pretty young, and it can take a long time for our self-esteem to solidify. This is another good topic to hash out with a therapist.

7. Are You Being Too Picky?

There’s no doubt that the Tinder era has made us all way more picky about relationships. There’s always a sense of “someone better” lurking around the corner, so many people have a hard time picking one person and committing. Do you allow yourself to give relationships a try, or do you tend to shoot people down quickly? Personally, I don’t believe in the idea of soulmates; I think there are many different people that we could fall in love with. Here’s a simple trick to try if you think you’re usually being too judgmental too fast — go on at least three dates with a person before deciding whether or not to continue.

8. What Are Your Expectations Of Love?

Some people have overly romanticized notions of love based on movies, TV shows, and even celebrity relationships. They expect to be swept off their feet, in a constant state of breathlessness and awe. They expect never ending passion and chemistry. In the real world, love is messy. You feel those moments that steal your breath, but then you also get annoyed that your partner forgot to make that dinner reservation you’ve been bugging them about for days. You get all googly-eyed just looking at them, and then you have a fight that leaves you reeling. A lot of people are quick to write relationships off if they’re not “perfect,” but there really is no such thing as perfect, especially when it comes to love.

9. Do You Have Other Close Relationships?

If you’re really scared about your potential of falling in love, take a look at the other relationships in your life. Do you love your parents? Your siblings? Other family members? Do you have close, loving relationships with your friends? If you realize that you block yourself from love in all contexts, then it’s time to start looking for therapists. But if you do have other loving relationships in your life, take a deep breath and try to be patient. You’ll probably fall in love soon enough!

Images: Kraiwit Tabsombut / EyeEm/EyeEm/Getty Images; Giphy