Leading a relationship without love: can it work?

Eternal love is considered the highest good in our society. But what if you are not one of the “chosen ones”? Is a reasonable partnership – i.e. a relationship without love – an alternative? And can that work at all? Here’s a little food for thought.

Relationship without love: continue or end?

Weak knees, a crackle in the air, butterflies in your stomach – romantic love is a precious good that many in our society strive for. But very few actually find them. Or to put it another way: Only very few of them correspond to our clichéd ideas.

And that brings us to the actual problem: we approach the subject of “relationships” far too emotionally. A little more rationality wouldn’t hurt us. In spite of the rather sober description, rational relationships are anything but doomed to failure. On the contrary: the couples and psychotherapist Arnold Retzer promises in his work “Praise of the marriage of convenience” that reasonable ideas, expectations and behavior would contribute to a good marriage.

A reasonable look at relationships and love

Resistance. That’s what makes us happy in relationships. Not the hormone-driven sentimentalism with all the ups and downs. Sure: A sizzling relationship is perhaps more exciting and intense. But it’s also more nerve-wracking. In addition, the height of fall from cloud seven to the hard ground of everyday reality is much higher than from cloud four, which Philipp Dittberner sang about.

You should therefore often listen to reason and not to the (non)existent buzzing smash blade in your stomach. According to Retzer, the key to happiness in love is common sense. Because a reasonable relationship is realistic, livable and successful. This common sense can be found today in the numerous dating sites. A “match” – i.e. a suitable partner – is filtered out of the crowd according to very rational criteria such as level of education, interests, age, place of residence, etc. Not being in love is the guarantee for a long-term relationship, but common goals, values ​​and ideals.

Relationship without infatuation – why not?

Let’s get to the question of how a relationship without feelings of love even comes about. There are roughly two possibilities, if we leave out the arranged marriage that still occurs in some cultures: Either, your relationship started with the absolute crush and has cooled off over time. Or you have consciously decided on a relationship that is based on friendship and not on an electrifying love affair.

But can this work? Can you have a relationship without love? The answer to that is also a question: why not? In this context, many often forget that love is not always love. There is not only romantic love, but also friendship. And anyway, who says affection isn’t enough in a relationship?

This thesis is supported by the sociologist John Alan Lee, who came to the conclusion in his study that relationships based on friendship bring just as much happiness in the long term as the often highly praised romantic love. Ultimately, everyone has to decide for themselves. It is important that both partners are happy with it and that this relationship is voluntary.

Should you continue in a relationship without feelings?

So a relationship without love is possible. But: In order for this type of relationship to work, certain requirements must be met:

  • First of all you should value your partner, respect them, trust them and – quite banally – like them . Being in a relationship with someone you dislike is never good and will never work.
  • Another advantage is when you and your partner have the same interests , when you pursue the same goals , when you can have fun and laugh together.
  • If you are happy with your partner and you can imagine a future with them, then these are good prerequisites for a relationship without love to work.

You should stay away from a relationship or even consider a breakup if you see the following signs:

  • If you have a bad feeling . Here you can also listen to your gut feeling.
  • When you’re constantly wondering if there’s someone “better” waiting for you out there.
  • If you are registered in flirt portals or you use Tinder and Co. – in other words: if you are indirectly looking further .
  • If you ca n’t imagine a future together with your partner.
  • If you are very bothered by characteristics and behavior that are important to you.
  • When you don’t feel treated and valued well enough .
  • If you are unhappy in the relationship .


Relationships without love have little to do with arranged marriages of convenience. Perhaps this form of relationship does not correspond to the great love that is celebrated in Hollywood films. But that’s not the point. We need to stop chasing an ideal and become more realistic about our requirements for a relationship.

Be open to new and unfamiliar things. Because a relationship based on friendship can make you just as happy as a romantic love relationship. Fundamentals such as mutual trust, appreciation and respect are also important here. If that is (still) the case, it is also worth saving a relationship or marriage and fighting for it.

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