Do You Love Him, Or Just The Idea Of Him?

By Debbie Lamedman

Many of us have been in relationships that simply weren’t working out, and yet, for some reason, we stayed in the relationship.  I know it’s happened to me.  Awhile back I was involved with someone who actually made me miserable.  I’m certain he wasn’t too happy with me either, but neither of us possessed the courage to break up with the other person.  Eventually we went our separate ways and of course it was painful because breakups are always painful, but in hindsight it was absolutely the right thing to do.

So why do so many of us choose to stay in bad relationships?  In a word:  fear.  We are afraid that someone better might not come along.  We are afraid to be alone.  We are afraid that if we fail at a relationship, then we are failures at life.  We humans certainly know how to be hard on ourselves, don’t we?  But I think the essence of why we stay with someone who isn’t right for us, is we love the idea of being in a relationship, but sometimes we don’t love the actual person we’re in a relationship with.  Does that make sense to you?  Let me explain further.

Our society certainly puts a lot of pressure on being a couple.  Our culture doesn’t blatantly make fun of single folks, but take a look at advertisements, television shows, magazines, etc. It seems the single person is always the poor, lonely sap, and the couples are always happy,  frolicking and having the time of their lives. Sometimes I think in reality it’s the other way around. I know plenty of well-adjusted single people; however, now that I think of it, many of them do wish they could find Mr. or Ms. Right. When we’re alone we want to be involved.  And sometimes, when we’re involved, many of us would rather be alone. But the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

The point is, we love the idea of being in love.  Who doesn’t?  Those early stages of love and infatuation are intoxicating.  The endorphins are flowing and at its base level it feels wonderful.  It’s impossible to sustain that level of passion and if we happen to be with the wrong partner, those feelings eventually sizzle out.  But we don’t want to give up the idea that those feeling might return some day.  So we stay with the guy or the gal who eventually make us miserable.  And we hold on as tight as we can because we like saying the words, “I have a boyfriend” or “I have a girlfriend.” But the truth is we may not be happy with the individual whatsoever.

If this concept resonates with you, you have to ask yourself why you’re staying with someone you’d rather not be with.  The longer you stay with the wrong person, the longer it will take you to find the right one.  Don’t be so in love with the idea of being a couple that you stay in a bad situation.  Start falling in love with the idea of independence and freedom.  If you’re miserable in your relationship, you need to do something to make a change.  If the relationship you’re in is salvageable, then by all means save it.  But if you’re loving an idea, and not a person, it’s time to move on and find a tangible place for your love.


Are you in a relationship that is right for you? Wrong for you? Tell me about!


Debbie Lamedman is a published and produced playwright, blogger and freelance writer who writes about online dating and relationships. Among the websites Debbie writes for is  She also writes a personal blog titled Confessions of a Cluttered Mind.

  • Red Flag Minor

    Good Article!

    I agree, it’s important to catch ourselves before we fall under that spell so to speak, where we become so caught up in that amazing idea of our partner that we begin to make excuses for them when they don’t live up to it.

    I think its important to ask ourselves that very question, do i love him, or do i love the idea of him?

  • Confused

    Hi Debbie!

    I came across your article “do i love him or just the idea of him” it’s so hard to really look at it from an outside point. I am dating a medical student who is so busy. He is a wonderful wonderful guy who possesses all of the traits i’d admire in a man. However, in a relationship, I don’t think i’m getting the attention or romance i deserve. Yet, we still have a great time together and get along beautifully. See it’s very tricky to see, do i love him? because he is so great and we get along so well? or the idea of him, because i have wanted such a successful great guy with all those great traits.

    I am confused!

  • Debbie

    You probably do love him, but if it’s not a two-way street then it’s not really a complete relationship. It sounds like the timing may be off for the two of you if he is busy with medical school. You’re the one who has to decide if you’re okay with seeing him only when time allows and understand his top priority is school right now. I will warn you though, that if he doesn’t love you now in the way you want him to, that may never change. And though you may have a great time when you’re together, it’s never going to be the type of romantic relationship you crave. You DO deserve romance and attention. He may not be the one to give it to you. It’s very hard to walk away from someone great, but remember that he is putting his needs first—you need to put your needs first as well. Good luck to you!

  • Darwin Escorts

    I’m very enlightened with you’re idea of staying in a bad relationship. I always thought it was all about love. Thanks thanks!