7 Signs Your Partner Just Loves The Idea Of You

by Kristine Fellizar
Ashley Batz/Bustle

If you've ever had an intense crush on someone you barely know, the rush of feelings you get whenever you see or think of them can feel a lot like love. More often than not, you love the idea of that person and who they could possibly be to you rather than who they actually are. But this can happen in relationships as well. So how do you know if your partner is actually in love with you or just loves the idea of you?

People who tend to fall in love with idea of someone can be checklist daters. "You’ve created a checklist about the qualities that your ideal partner will have and you’re judging the people you date against that checklist," therapist Tom Bruett, LMFT, tells Bustle. "But dating and building a relationship is not like shopping for a couch."

People are dynamic and multi-layered, he says. Superficial qualities like looks, income, status, and what the inside of someone's apartment looks like should be the last thing anyone cares about if you're looking for a real relationship.

When you're already dating someone, you can only hope they love you for who you are. If you suspect that's not entirely the case, here are some signs that your partner might loves the idea of you, according to experts.


You Feel Like You Can't Be Your True Self Around Them

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At the beginning of a relationship, it can be difficult to figure out who someone really is and what their true intentions are. But you should reach a certain point in your relationship where you can comfortably show your true and authentic selves to each other. "If your partner makes you feel less than for being yourself, that seems like an important thing to discuss and understand better," Bruett says. "The last thing you want in your most intimate of relationship is to hide your true self." How can your partner love the real you if you're hiding it? So if you don't feel comfortable showing your partner who you really are, take note.


They Encourage You To Be More Of What They'd Like You To Become

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One telltale sign that your partner just likes the idea of you is they invest themselves entirely in who you can become. "On the surface they may come across as your biggest cheerleader and a catalyst for quick growth but, really, they aren’t supporting who you already are as much as they are anxious for you to become more of what you currently aren’t," Chelsea Leigh Trescott, breakup coach and podcast host of Thank You Heartbreak, tells Bustle. Although it's great to have a supportive partner who pushes you to reach your highest potential, it can become a problem as time goes on. If you start feeling like you aren't good enough as is because your partner keeps encouraging you to change in some way, they might not love you for who you are. Your partner should never make you feel like you're a project.


They Think Relationships Should Be Effortless

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Relationships, even the happiest, healthiest, and most compatible ones, require work. But as Vikki Ziegler, divorce attorney and relationship expert, tells Bustle, "Sometimes people think they are ready for a relationship but they only want to deal with the easy parts and none of the hard stuff." Being a significant other is more than just a label. As Ziegler says, it actually takes work to keep a long-lasting and meaningful relationship functioning smoothly. That means both partners need to be open enough to share and be vulnerable. "If you've been dating someone for a few weeks or months and they seem to be all about appearances but don't seem interested in getting to know each other deeper, it might be cause for concern," she says.


You Feel Like Your Needs Don't Seem To Matter As Much As Theirs

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When you are dating someone who loves you, they should be interested in your wellbeing and overall happiness. Instead, "someone who's just dating you for personal gratification may not be driven by this and won't feel responsible for any of your feelings," Ziegler says. So pay attention to how your partner responds when you bring up any concerns about the relationship. If they seem uninterested in talking things out in a mature way, they just may be with you because they love the idea of being in a relationship. "They may only be in it for the label and perks, without wanting to create real connection," she says. If a deeper connection is what you want, you may need to reconsider where things are at with your partner.


A Group Outing Is Their Idea Of The Perfect Date

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If your partner's idea of a perfect date is a party or group event where they can show you off to all of their friends, they may just love the idea of your relationship. "This usually happens when most of their friends are married or in relationships," Joyce Blue, empowerment coach and relationship expert, tells Bustle. Since they don't want to keep showing up alone, they might find themselves in a relationship with anyone. It's hard to tell what someone's true motivations for being with you are. But if your partner would rather take you out to group hangouts than have one-on-one dates, they may just love the idea of being with you.


They Tried To Move The Relationship Really Quickly

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"Someone who likes the idea of you will bond with you quickly, almost instantly, claiming to know and understand everything about you," Trescott says. "It’s the kind of relationship that will start out with more than a feeling of romance; it will feel like fate." Everything will feel effortless for you because your partner will put a ton of effort into making the relationship work. Sure, this may seem like a dream scenario for some, but according to Trescott, this is a major sign of someone who tends to fall in love with the idea of a person rather than the person themselves. "So much of this has to do with control, grandiosity, and ego," she says. "Your partner may come to think that if they see these picture perfect qualities in you then you will gladly and painlessly step into that persona." Unfortunately this type of high-intensity love affair will eventually burn out fast as these types of relationships are built on "empty promises, empty ideals, and a vapid detachment from who the two of you truly are."


At The End Of The Day, You Don't Feel Like They Truly Know Or Understand Anything About You

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"The trippy thing about being in a relationship with someone who loves not you but the idea of you is that they tend to pull out all the stops for you, treating you in ways that feel intimate, private, and special," Trescott says. But always remember, details matter. For instance, if you've mentioned that you hate seafood but your partner surprises you with reservations to the newest seafood restaurant in town, that's a red flag to watch out for. Small details may not matter much, but if your partner really doesn't take the time to learn your likes, dislikes, and who you really are, they may just love the idea of a relationship.

If you're with someone who might love the idea of you, it may be a good idea to take a step back and ask yourself if you're really in love with them. "I think people end up falling in love with the idea of someone because they are not being real and honest with themselves about what they want in a relationship," Bruett says. "It can be more productive to focus on how you feel when you’re with the person, the way they treat you and what your shared goals and values are."

If everything else seems to line up for you, then maybe having an open conversation with your partner can help them to get to know the real you. But if you realize you're only in love with the idea of them as well, it may be time to figure out if that's what you really want.