He looked her straight in the eye, “I don’t love you.”
“What?”, she asked, groggy in the bright morning light.
“I don’t love you”, he repeated, in a neutral tone.
He started, then paused with a puzzled look. “Since always, I suppose. I’ve never loved you. I love a model of you that lives in my head. I love the idea of you.”
“Oh”, she mumbled, slumping back onto the pillow, “that’s all right then.”
“No, no it’s not.” he nudged her until she opened her eyes again. “It’s not all right at all.”
“Because when we create these models, we fill the missing bits with ourselves. We can’t help but love ourselves, it’s the downfall of man.”
He furrowed his brow.
“But the more we learn about each other, then more accurate the model becomes. Less me, more you, less to love effortlessly. Love becomes work, accepting the flaws that we didn’t even acknowledge at the start. Love is difficult.”
“Tell me about it.” she whispered, and rolled over.