Should You Ask Why Your Lover Loves You?

We often ask our lovers why they love us.

That may not be such a good idea.

When people become analytical – making lists of pros and cons, what they like and don’t – they can end up misleading themselves.

Social psychologist, Tim Wilson and his colleagues, found that analyzing our feelings can actually make matters worse.

Unfortunately, we don’t always know why we feel the way we do. So we might latch onto reasons that are easily identifiable, and easier to verbalize, than what’s really in our hearts. Our reasons sound reasonable, but they aren’t necessarily correct.

Now comes the bigger problem: After looking at our list, we may change the way we feel, at least temporarily, to match what we wrote. Maybe the list doesn’t seem too spectacular and we reassess our feelings.

Wilson gives a couple of examples. Suppose you enjoy dating someone, and you wonder why: What is it about this person? As you think about it, you start to notice that you and your partner don’t have much in common. With so little in common, you can’t have much of a future! So you change your mind about the relationship.

Then there’s that episode from Friends when Ross makes a list to sort out his feelings toward Rachel and Julie. He loves Rachel but can’t figure out why, so he writes down whatever comes to mind: “She’s just a waitress… She’s a little ditzy.” In real life, Ross would have concluded that he did not love Rachel as much as he thought, because all he could think of were negative traits. (But when he thought about Julie, all he could think was, “She’s not Rachel, she’s not Rachel.” Perhaps fiction is more forgiving.)

If you ever do chose to list the reasons why you love your lover, consider that you may not know, or may not be able to articulate, your real reasons.  

Fortunately, the effects of “reasons-generated attitude change” are temporary. So at least don’t do anything rash based on your new perspective.

I once asked my husband why he loved me. He said he didn’t know. I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t push the matter.

Georgia Platts

Source: Elliot Aronson, Timothy Wilson and Robin Akert. Social psychology. Pearson/Prentice Hall. 2007

About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on October 18, 2010, in men, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I am engaged and I am happy with my fiancé and our relationship. We love the time we spend together and we create memories that I will try to remember when I am older. However, when we both get down to thinking about it, we have nothing in common. Basically, picture a unicorn dating a dragon and you get us. I am this being of rainbows and sunshine and he is dark with a very big no fucks given attitude. Just like you stated, once we tried to think of reasons why we loved each other the more it seems that we are two people that should have never have been together in the first place. In the end, there is no one I would rather be with then him. I am so unbelievably in love with him that even if I could not come up with one verbal reason I know that what I feel is good enough. Also just for fun I asked my fiancé why he loved me and he said ” ‘Cause magic”.

  2. I am a rather analytical person and to think that my lover couldn’t explain to me why they love me would be very upsetting. And when I used to ask my husband this question, he always came up with the same answer, “because you are beautiful, caring, and sexy”, this got old after a while. But in some recent troubling times in my relationship, I have come to a point where I decided that asking that question was mostly out of my own insecurities. I do think that being too analytical can be overbearing on your partner and truly make romance and fun go straight out the window. So now I have stopped being so analytical about those things, and just try to enjoy the moments my husband just feels like telling me how he feels instead of forcing him.

  3. Should You Ask Why Your Lover Loves You?
    I ask myself the same question every day but I don’t have answer. Seriously, I made a long list in the beginning of my relationship when love and passion filled me, and I believed that I found the perfect lover. But during the years when my personality has been changing because reasons like work, kids, etc. my list also changed and the reasons of habit and convenience fill the main issue. It’s true that when I saw my list I got some guilty feeling or will to return to the old list and then couple of days I tried to behave like twenty years old. But In this point I stooped and asked myself again “why I love my lover?” During my marriage I met people that interest me or make me passion, but every time I realized that in end of day my husband waiting just for me with understanding, love and smile and maybe this is my real list for the question “why I love my lover?”

  4. Taddshana Kelly

    This was a very interesting topic! I got married at a young age and I was constantly asking my husband why and how much did he love me. It was always the same response which was “because your nice, because your beautiful, and because your caring. I eventually got tired of hearing those same three answers every time. Love is an action word that cannot be put into words telling someone you love them is extremely easy but showing them can be difficult if it’s not genuine.

    I must admit I’m a big fan of weighing out the Pros and Cons. I am no longer with my husband we’ve been divorced for 2 years now but I’ve been dating someone for a year now and we’ve exchanged our likes and dislikes through open communication. I must say after doing this we’ve become so much closer and we now have a better understanding of each needs.

    This was great topic and it really gives us something to think about. Every relationship is different and it’s always nice to try something new and share different ideas.


  5. I guess ignorance is a bliss! I guess it also depends on the relationship and how long you been together to want to analyze your relationship. Are you suppose to just know? I ask my BF why he loves me all the time, I also guess its the satisfaction of just hearing it too. I know he loves me but I want to hear it. What is really the right answer depends on the person. I may not be content with “I don’t know” because I surely know why I love him. I agree with everyone else that its just our nature to be curious.

  6. This was a very interesting read. It is the nature of people to ask the question why all the time. While reading this I thought a lot about how we view relationships today. Back in High School, people thought oh I will make a list or always wanted a list of Why the person felt the way they did. As we get older we still have that Why Do they Love me question in our heads and a lot of people will say I don’t know. When someone says I don’t know you think, oh no! they don’t love me. but now I realize that they do you will just never know what they feel.

  7. I agree with Justin that “This was an interesting read!” For me, all the details about what someone looks like, what they do, etc don’t really matter. What we do together matters some. But the most important thing is how we are together. Do we both “light up” in each other’s company? Do we each grow and become more of who we want to be? Do we truly comunicate who we are..hopes, dreams, fears, imperfections, etc? Can I be “who I AM” with her?

  8. Justin Steinberg

    This was an interesting read! I never really thought about how much people analyze their feelings about someone and how that analysis could possibly change the possibility of a future relationship.

    However, from my own experience in relationships, analyzing my feelings wasn’t really what changed the outlook on the relationship itself; rather it was my fear of commitment that brought an end to the relationship. However, I still remain friends with the people I once was going out with.

    I agree with the previous comment posted that it is human nature to want to analyze some things. I feel, however, that a big step toward relationships is to fight that feeling of wanting to analyze and just go with the flow. Don’t list the different reasons why you like the person; instead, savor the relationship you have. It doesn’t matter why you like the person; just sit back, relax and enjoy the ride, but also remember to commit as well.

  9. Wow, interesting. Rather glad either my boyfriend or I have pushing this subject to one another.
    In my many years of taking classes and being in school, I have been told that I over-think a lot of things and at times, even over analyze some things. I think at times that may or may not be a good thing but when it comes to topics like this, definitely no good, haha.

    I think it is part of human nature to want to analyze something and it also may be part of human nature to over analyze some things. Maybe it’s how our subconscious prep for the worse possible situation.

    And at times, that back fires on us.
    Maybe we all need to think over things before we say it, not over thinking it though. Then it would just be a vicious cycle.
    Thus is life?

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