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 psychologists, 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 may 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 choose 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.

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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 September 5, 2011, in men, psychology, relationships, sex and sexuality, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. I thought this article was extremely interesting to read, seeing as I had been on the receiving end of a lot of “Why do you love me?” questions. When I was asked, I always came up with the same reasons but I also found myself thinking about why I did love that person. There were things I could not explain but when I tried to articulate that, I was told the answer was not good enough or that I did not truly love them. This trivialized the relationship as it became an extremely common question that started to bother me each time it was asked. This article resonated with me for that reason. I felt if I was not asked so much about why I loved someone the relationship would have been better but instead I was subject to the repeated question where none of my answers were good enough. This will be an article I will refer my significant others to if they try to ask me this question from now on.

  2. Allyson Velasquez

    I think this is very relevant to many different people in relationships. I think it is completely normal to wonder and even ask these things. A person may be wanting to build a future with their significant other, and in order to do so they want to ask questions to make sure that they know what they’re doing. In some ways this can be seen negatively, because sometimes the way people feel about one another is unexplainable. Being unable to explain their feelings can make a persons significant other feel hesitant to pursue the relationship and could get them thinking and worrying for no absolute reason. Wondering and asking questions like this seems completely normal and healthy to me for the most part, when learning to build a future with a significant other.

  3. I agree with this post because in my relationship both me and my other half ask each other these same questions almost every week. It always goes like “Do you love me?” and most of the time our response is just “yes” but for some reason we are never satisfied with that answer and always continue by saying “Why do you love me?” like if we really have to ponder it if we both already know that we love each other and should leave it at that. I see where asking why then makes the list and causes problems because when we make that list for an answer it sparks debates about things said and at times leads to arguments so i agree that its better to not ask. Especially if its already known that you do for example my relationship that has been longer than a year theres no reason for either of us to ask if we love one another because its pretty obvious we do or we wouldn’t be together. Interesting post it really made me think about why we ask such things when they are already known hopefully with this new insight it won’t be a problem anymore.

  4. I agree with this post very much! My boyfriend and I were talking and he randomly asked my “why do you love me?” It totally caught me off guard and I just started laughing. I could not think of one thing even though he does things everyday that I love. I feel like if people over analyze relationships they are not going to get what they want out of it. People are not perfect and are not going to be exactly what you want but you love them for the things they do for you. I can name more things that annoy me about my boyfriend quicker than what I love about him but I believe those annoying things about him make me love him even more.

  5. I too ask my partner and myself that question and I don’t always like the answer. I have trouble with the “I don’t know why, I just do” response and proceed to the question of “well what is it you love about me?” I ‘m a very logical person and like things to be physically tangible, but emotions are not and often don’t make sense. Trying to analyze or overanalyze emotions just seems to make things more complicated. It’s one thing to want to uncover what your feelings are and it’s another to need to know all the “whys” and analyze them. And if I don’t always know why I feel the way I do how can I expect someone else to?

  6. Some things are better left unsaid, and a lot of the the time people will say “When you know, you know” when it comes to love. I think if you ask your partner WHY they love you, you’re just setting yourself up for disappointment, and instead you should ask WHAT they love about you. Not everyone is perfect so of course there will be negative traits that you’re lover might not like about you, but if there is more negative than positive, then that should be a sign that it’s not meant to be. I think people are afraid of rejection and to face reality when it comes to negative aspects of a person, so often times they’ll just try to overlook the bad with the good, and sometimes that can just end up leaving someone worse off than if the two had been honest with each other and came to their senses that it just wouldn’t work out.

  7. As I learn more about the brain, asking “why do I feel” a certain way gets strange. Thoughts and feelings are spontaneous outcomes of past memories/experiences being triggered. So the technically correct answer to the “why” question is “he/she reminds me of things from my past”. Boring. An interesting question is, “What reason do I want to give for why I love him/her?” Memory research now tells us that our memories are hugely influenced by what we’re thinking when we’re remembering. So we actually have power to change our memories, in a certain, useful sense.

    I (want to) love my wife because I love having a family with her. That’s what I say–and it becomes more true the more I say it.

    Good post. Thank you.

  8. I always ask this question to my mate and myself, but after reading this I really don’t know if I should ask that again! However, when you truly love someone, it will be a temporary thing because at the end of the day you will still love them. Maybe you will be confused on why but you will still love them. I enjoyed this post!

    • I agree. If the two of you have moved to the in-love stage, it probably won’t matter. Likely more of a problem at the beginning of relationship.

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

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