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Could someone please explain the exact meaning of 'I'm not here to'? I've found info that it might possibly show some sort of disapproval of the speaker and that they don't want to make effort to do something or don't have time to do something as their focus is elsewhere.

I've read it might be similar to 'I've no time for this'.

The exact words were:

I'm not here to reassure you. I'm not here to say I love you.

It was said in an argument, the background is that one side was busy and preoccupied but pushed to say they love someone.

Does this mean this person doesn't ever want to reassure the other or say thay love them, it's just not something they believe they should ever do (similar like in: it's not my job/role to...) or were they just angry or fed up with this request, or maybe had no time or nental space to say these at this moment? Or anything else? Thank you.

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  • Normally "I'm not here to..." is used to indicate that the speaker does not have the function or the duty to perform the specified action. For instance "I'm not here to value your car, I'm here to fit a new windscreen." but it's normally used in a professional capacity. I can understand how someone could say "I'm not here to reassure you, I'm here to tell you what you need to do about your diabetes." but I find someone being pressured, in a professional capacity, to say that they love someone very odd. Can you give more details of the context please?
    – BoldBen
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 6:02
  • This could be apophasis (ostensibly backgrounding an issue but really subtly giving it prominence) or a straight statement made merely to set aside a matter on people's minds / scotch a rumour. Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 11:23
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    I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him. Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 12:16
  • My role is not to [blah blah blah].
    – Lambie
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 18:57

4 Answers 4

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Others may have a deeper understanding but this is mine.

In general the phrase acts to negate some expectation of the listener.
The expectation may be expressed (explicitly said) or unexpressed (implicitly understood or imagined).
The phrase may therefore be used at any of several levels. Let me essay a few examples:

A plain negation at the front door, when I imagine your implied expectation, in this case - that you might think I am collecting for charity.
Hello?
I am not here to collect for charity. I am here to deliver some letters.

A plain negation in the context that you have some explicit expectation of me. I arrive at the door when you expected a painter.
Are you the painter?
Sorry, I am not here to paint your windows. I am here to read your electricity meter.

An emotionally charged negation to an explicit expectation, with a hint of judgement in it.
Lend me some money please” “You think I am going to lend you money for your debts? I am not here to protect you from your own imprudence”.

A general negation to define your position against any expectations, whether expressed or not.
Expressing a social attitude at a business dinner.
I run a business. I am not here to give money away”.

Introducing yourself to a couple as a marriage guidance counsellor. You wish to stop any expectation that you will judge or otherwise criticize them.
I am not here to judge.

A negation to complain about your circumstances. You are employed as an accountant but are expected to look after the director’s children for the afternoon.
I am not here to be a child-minder”.

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    Plus apophasis. “I am not here to talk about the fact that Mr. Jackson invited ninety people to a party during lockdown.” Oh yeah! [Wise geek] Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 16:29
  • @EdwinAshworth Nice one! And you have reminded me of apophasis too. Many thanks.
    – Anton
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 17:43
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To complement the good answer by Anton:

Regarding your questions about whether the time frame is immediate or long term: on the face of it, the time frame is immediate. But depending on the context it could be a recurring theme.

"I'm not here to [something that would typically be viewed as positive]" is an assertive statement.

You provided more context in a comment (a couple had had an argument, and A asked B if B still loved A). Often this description would make sense if A was feeling anxious and B found that annoying. It might be especially annoying if the behavior has become ingrained, despite many requests not to display the behavior.

A would do well to:

(1) use an I-message, such as, "I feel anxious about our relationship because of the big fight we had."

(2) work with a therapist.

B would do well to:

(1) acknowledge A's feelings, e.g. "Reading between the lines, you seem to be saying that you're feeling anxious about our relationship because of the big fight we had. But I'll be fine after I've had some time by myself to calm down."

(2) check in with A, e.g. "What is a less scary way for us to work out our differences? A way that won't trigger anxiety about our relationship?"

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I am posting this as an answer following jsw29's reaction to my comment laying out my view of the use but asking for more context.

Normally "I'm not here to..." is used to indicate that the speaker does not have the function or the duty to perform the specified action. For instance "I'm not here to value your car, I'm here to fit a new windscreen." but it's normally used in a professional capacity. I can understand how someone could say "I'm not here to reassure you, I'm here to tell you what you need to do about your diabetes." but I find someone being pressured, in a professional capacity, to say that they love someone very odd.

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One thing I think is clear about this sentence is that the speaker (who says this) does not intend to do something but is infact

  • clearly nagging about something that has been asked from him/her
  • generally pointing to something that should be done
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  • It was not in a professional capacity but personal. It was between partners who had an argument, one person said if the other still loves them. And the response was: I am not here to reassure you, I am not here to say I love you. You have no clue what I am going through right now so I'd suggest you leave me alone.
    – Isa
    Commented Jan 12, 2022 at 13:07

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