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Those Three Little Words

He’s shown his feelings … is it important to hear him say the words ‘I love you’?
 
By Adam Segal
 
I have been seeing someone for about eight months and he is the first guy in several years that I have totally fallen in love with. From the beginning, our vibe was super strong: We have hot sex and great conversation, can spend a lot of time together and get along easily. Part of what I really like about him is the way he shows his caring side—he sends sweet texts, cooks for me and is very affectionate. And he even talks about the future in a way that shows me he is invested in a serious way. The thing is, he has never said the words ‘I love you’—something I have already said to him. I get that it can take a while for some folks to say this and I’ve genuinely tried to be patient. But it’s starting to feel impossible to ignore, and I wonder if he is having serious doubts and unable to share them with me. Is it ridiculous of me to worry about a few simple words when so much of our connection feels so good? —Ricardo
 

Dear Ricardo:
It’s possible that your guy may be on the fence—not sure if he feels as strongly as you do and therefore unwilling to commit to those three words. But I wouldn’t let the ‘he’s just not that into you’ hoopla convince you that there isn’t a strong romantic relationship developing here. For some people, saying those words feels incredibly scary and/or deeply vulnerable. It can be especially tough to be the first one to utter that phrase and not have it reciprocated on the spot. You can feel proud that you shared your feelings independently of having heard them from him—you were being authentic and true to your feelings.
 

There is a lot of room to take a stab at what’s behind his silence. Is he worried about the commitments he thinks are attached to those words? Is he better at showing his feelings through actions? Is he just warming up to an LTR more slowly than you are? The amount of space this murkiness is taking up is probably not ideal for you or the relationship in the long run. At some point, it will become vital that you share your concerns without pressuring him to say words he doesn’t want or isn’t ready to say. You could tell him that you are grateful for the many ways in which he makes you feel cared for, but ultimately the actual words will be important for you to hear so you can fully relax and move forward together. In the meantime, I would encourage you to let yourself enjoy his sweetness and attentions. There are many people out there who can easily throw out an ‘I love you,’ but are limp in their capacity to demonstrate true respect and affection—skills your guy is rolling out beautifully.
 

ADAM SEGAL, writer and therapist, works in private practice in downtown Toronto. Ask him your relationship or mental-health questions @relationship@inmagazine.ca.

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