I Can't Fall In Love: What Is Wrong With Me?
After falling hard from a breakup, I’ve never been able to rekindle the same spark with anyone else.
The last time I felt I was in love was in 2016—at least, I think I was in love.
I felt excited every time I would see my then-partner. He was the person I wanted to tell everything to, and I couldn’t imagine my life without him. We discussed what kind of furniture we would have when we moved in together, brainstormed names for our children and had those grown-up conversations I imagined people in love would have.
But then, out of nowhere and without an explanation, he broke up with me. It wasn’t a gradual erosion of the relationship where I had time to prepare. It was simply, “I don’t want to do this anymore.” I couldn’t understand at first, and I went through some of those stages you hear about. There was definitely denial, bargaining (with a bit of begging sprinkled here and there), lots of anger and then, finally, sadness. I felt like my whole world collapsed, and I couldn’t visualize my future anymore.
After a while, I decided to just accept that people’s feelings can magically change and that love can suddenly run dry from one day to another. And just like that, I tried to move on. Although I never really had another serious relationship after that, I have dated almost nonstop over the past six years. I want company but not commitment. I might even go as far as calling myself a serial dater. I love meeting someone new, going on dates, and having superficial and casual fun.
The issue is, I haven’t been able to fall in love again. It’s as if my “fall in love” switch has been turned off or is out of service, and I don’t know how to fix it.
My Relationships All End Through Self-Sabotage
I’ve become extremely savvy and comfortable in the early stages of an almost-relationship, when everything is exciting and new. But then, with each day that passes, I grow more anxious.
I begin a twisted mental countdown of when things will end and even daydream about how it will happen. If there isn’t a good reason yet to break up, I visualize starting a dramatic fight about something petty, even though I am very much the opposite kind of person. During the fight, I yell and say things I know I can’t come back from, and I imagine my partner just walking away, leaving me there, sad but secretly relieved. Other times, I daydream I’m the victim, and I catch him doing something that merits an instant and justified breakup, and I’m the one walking away, guilt-free.
I have not been able to figure out what is wrong with me because surely it can’t be that I haven’t fully moved on from my breakup six years ago. There is no way I haven’t gotten over that, because I genuinely feel I have. And yet.
It’s like a very deep, hidden and mysterious defense mechanism kicks in whenever things start to get more serious with the person I’m dating, and my brain starts to send warning signals. I will either get annoyed by something random, get bored or become cold. And so I convince myself to run away because running away to a “safe place” and starting from scratch again and again feels like the right thing to do. I don’t realize I’m doing it, but looking back, it’s definitely a pattern.
I’m Worried I Won't Be Able to Fall in Love Again
In my mid-30s, it seems that everyone in my social circle is either married, living with their partner or in a happy, stable relationship. And the honest truth is that I don’t envy them at all; I feel grateful that I’m single and independent. I can’t picture myself in their shoes anymore. The person I was six years ago—younger and in love—is not the same person I am today. I don’t miss being in a relationship; I feel happy as I am right now. The very idea of living with someone seems suffocating.
I don’t know if this is extremely selfish—if I am genuinely not ready for a new relationship or if something else entirely is wrong with me, but I do get worried. I worry that I am a woman whose biological clock is ticking. I don’t feel pressure to have babies, but I know I don’t have forever to make this choice. But even if I wanted to try, how do you go about falling in love with someone?
When I date someone, it’s because I like them. There is all the potential in the world to fall in love, but something holds me back. It might be because the last time I fell, I fell hard. I was genuinely content, trusting and unexpectedly all in. But for months (even years) after the breakup, I didn’t feel like myself. I felt like my own shadow. It reminded me of when I lost my sense of taste and smell from COVID-19. Life goes on—you still eat, but you don’t enjoy it that much. The breakup was the anti-love virus that robbed me of that happy, bouncy sense of life that everything was going to be OK.
The very idea of “falling” in love seems scary and risky. It’s dangerous, but we do it because we hope and trust love will catch us. Can we not “float” in love instead? That sounds much better, like clouds gently moving along in the sky. I think I would like to find love again someday and walk hand-in-hand, without the fear of throwing myself into the vast unknown. And I hope that whatever net love is made of, it’s strong enough to support me.