Can I love someone who has never been in love?

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    Hi all Tinybuddha-ers! I have tried talking to my friends and family and even my boyfriend about this but I don’t seem to be able to comprehend their thoughts or think it through properly and I know there are so many wise and loving souls on here to help 🙂

    The gist of it pretty much is that I am 21, my boyfriend is 28. The way in which we met was so spontaneous and we have only been going out for four months. He comes from a different culture where he must have witnessed a lot or experienced a lot of trauma, he managed to escape before he got in too deep with what was going on in his life. He’s been travelling since he was in his early twenties and has been living in my country for five. I am so jealous of him, because he’s constantly positive, he knows who he is, he’s always open with himself and with me.He is very simple, pretty much what you see is what you get, there is no hidden agenda no games no nothing. But I am insecure person. doubts, insecurity revolve around him even when I know truly there’s nothing to worry about, I overthink, I worry, I stress because I care about him so much, this insecurity has been increased hugely since I found out yesterday he has had one relationship before me and that he has never been in love, never.

    He has never felt love apart for his family, no strong feelings that indicate that he is in love, he also doesn’t express himself with words, he doesn’t say stuff such as “I’m glad I met you, you’re a great girl” or “you mean a lot to me”, he’s spent so much time alone with himself that it’s hard for him to express his feelings so instead he does it with actions, this is hard to understand because everyone likes being told lovely things about their relationship with someone and I’m a needy person, I need that reassurance that I mean something to someone. But its come to my attention that yes I am part of his life, yes he cares about me but there’s that undercurrent feeling that I’m not a huge part, that he can live his life happily enough without me as his partner, as his support person, his confidant. He relies on himself which is what he’s had to learn and it makes me sad because to be open to love isn’t there some form of attachment you get with being someone, has he relied so much on himself that he has stopped actually opening himself to love? He said he is open to love he’s open to pretty much anything but there is this niggling thought in my head that he may not end up getting strong feelings for me/loving or expressing himself a little more so I feel reassured verbally if you get what I mean..? How can I go about this, being in a relationship which may not have love???

    I love so easily that’s one thing I’m good at doing 🙁 maybe I love a little too easy?

    I know you can not force someone to love you and I guess I should just stop worrying about finding love with him and just be natural and let it happen by itself, I’m not in love with him yet but I care about him very much and I like him a lot.. I think I like him a lot more than he likes me 🙁 you guys would love him, he’s the kind who just goes with the flow, doesn’t live in the past or future just lives in the present moment. He doesn’t live by his phone or constantly check it, I just don’t know what I should do.

    I want help, to discern what I should do, just go with the flow and let things happen naturally? he’s helping me be happy and positive but the prospect of not being loved or really cared about is kind of sad and it’s making me sad 🙁 I feel an answer lurking in me somewhere I just need help to lure it out.

    Your wisdom and comments or experiences would be greatly appreciated brothers and sisters xx


    I think you’ve answered your own question in those paragraphs.
    Go with the flow…if it works great…if you don’t get what you want out of the relationship, in a time-frame you’re comfortable with, move on. As you say, you can’t make someone love you. The only person you can control is yourself.


    Just ask yourself one question. “Why am I in love with an emotionally unavailable man?”.


    Hi Lost 🙂

    When I got with my boyfriend at the age of 27, I’d never properly been in love before. I’d dated, and I’d come close to loving a couple of guys, but for various reasons, I’d never gone the whole way. Partly out of self-protection, partly out of fear… then when I got with my boyfriend, everything felt so different to previous relationships. Things just flowed. I never had space to doubt him. After a few months, I found myself whispering ‘I love you’ while he slept, just to get used to the feelings and the words. Finally, I plucked up the courage to tell him. I wasn’t sure at that point how he felt – I just knew that things were good between us, and if anything were to happen and I hadn’t told him, I would feel awful. So with several false starts, and feeling pretty sick, I finally told him.

    So up to that point, I guess I was similar to your bf in the scenario. And my point is – just because I’d never been in love with someone before, didn’t mean it was impossible to fall in love with my bf. I think some people take longer to let themselves open up to the vulnerability that comes with those words and emotions. It doesn’t mean we don’t feel things, or that we’re automatons!

    Now, here’s the fun part. Having finally got up the nerve to ‘expose’ my love for my boyfriend. I got the awful ‘Thanks – you’re great too’ – or something to that effect. My boyfriend wasn’t ready to say it back. And as a few months went by, it struck me that he was pretty damaged from his divorce. We ended up having a serious discussion about it when I built up the courage to realise that, much as I loved him, it was soul destroying being with someone who didn’t feel the same way back. I basically told him that I understood he had fears and had been hurt before, but that if he couldn’t allow himself to be vulnerable and open up to me, our relationship was doomed. We both got a bit tearful and he told me that he was having a great time with me, and really didn’t want things to end, but that he wasn’t ready or able to say ‘I love you’ yet – and wasn’t sure when/if he would be. I thought it over and decided that at that point in time, if I ended things there and then, I would be forever kicking myself over what could have been if I’d given him time. Our relationship was great in every other way, so I gave myself a time limit. I would wait a few more months and see if anything changed. At that point, if he was still afraid to open up and love again, I would honour myself by ending things and moving on to free myself up for someone who could love open-heartedly.

    I focused on the positives in the relationship, made sure we enjoyed each other, had fun, talked about important things. And a few months later I finally got an ‘I love you’. When he did say it, it meant even more to me, because I knew how much he’d had to open himself up to get to that point. These days we can both say ‘I love you’ and our relationship continues to get stronger. FYI, his first ‘I love you’ came after over a year of us being together – I guess many people wouldn’t have stuck around so long, perhaps my own issues with saying it gave me a bit more empathy!

    I guess the moral of this is: love can be a scary thing for some people – especially ones who, like your BF, have been through traumatic events and lots of disruption in their life. I think sometimes, the withholding of love can itself be a subconscious test of whether the person you’re with is really a constant in your life, or if they will be put off by you not being in the same place (a dangerous test and not one I’m endorsing but perhaps comes into play sometimes). If everything else about your relationship is good right now, and you and your bf can talk in depth about your hopes/dreams etc, you would probably feel awful walking away from that. And there is no reason to right now. But I think it’s important to give yourself a limit of when that might no longer be feasible. You cannot indefinitely put your love and dreams into someone who cannot meet you on the same page. I also think it is worth having a conversation with your BF about this. He needs to know that this is important to you. He needs to decide if it’s something he wants to work on or not. And you need to be brave enough to mean it when you tell yourself (and him if needed) that you will have to walk away if he can’t offer you what you want/need emotionally.

    Good luck!


    Thank you for your advice Holly it’s great to hear it from someone elses perspective.. The best way I can describe what’s going on is that my boyfriend hasn’t had traumatic relationships to go by. He’s just so used to being by himself that he finds it hard to express himself, he has said he is open to love and being in love but he’s never actually been in love. Which is terrifying for me as I’m typing this out I’m thinking “how can I be in a relationship where love may not happen?” it’s really soul destroying and it makes me feel sad, he would be completely fine if I walked away he’s very self-sufficient.. I don’t know how to talk about this without coming across as clingy or needy or putting pressure on him.. any ideas? I want to give it a try but it’s terrifying me and it’s making me anxious 🙁 your advice would be most appreciated!


    I know how you feel. My last serious relationship never made it the ‘I love yous’. I felt like I was heading that way but as I’d never been there before, I was very cautious about letting myself fully get into it without ascertaining his feelings too. He very bluntly told me that he was having a great time with me but ‘wouldn’t let himself fall in love’ – the reason was that he’d be moving away back to his home country a year later and didn’t want to get into all that. I realised how cold and clinical that was, and that I didn’t want to be with someone who ‘wouldn’t let himself’ fall in love. I wanted to be irresistable and for him to not be able to help his feelings! Now with the second guy (who did eventually open himself to that), I was willing to wait, because I knew his reluctance stemmed from his own fears and past experiences. Guy number one however was purely just not up for feeling that way about me. And the fact it was a decision for him told me everything I needed to know. I broke up with him so that I could be free to meet someone capable of actually loving me.

    It was the hardest break up I’ve gone through. I actually grieved that relationship on and off for over 2 years (we were only together 6 months!!) I occasionally wondered if I should have waited, and given him more time to realise how awesome I was so that he couldn’t help falling in love with me, but I knew in my heart that he wasn’t right for me. And despite the many tears shed, and the sadness and horribleness (new word!) of that break-up, one thing I could always hold on to was that I had acted with respect to myself because I knew in my heart that I deserved and wanted more than a guy who ‘wouldn’t let himself’ fall in love.

    Now I don’t know your guy, and I couldn’t say if he is more like my guy 1 or guy 2 (or in a whole new category of his own!). But I think you will know if you listen to your heart. Love isn’t always as straightforward as films and novels make out, and I think there are definitely occasions where patience is required. I think the biggest test for that is basically: are you happy to be patient? Are you enjoying this relationship, and getting to know this person enough that you can justify being in the relationship without hearing those words said to you? Is what the two of you have bringing you happiness and joy on a day-to-day basis? How long could you keep going with things as they are without having him confirm his love? If you could glimpse 3 years into the future, and see that he still hadn’t said it to you, would you feel awful about wasting time with someone who wasn’t on the same page as you? Etc…

    One thing for sure, there is nothing needy about wanting to be loved by your partner. Respect yourself. Trust yourself. Be brave to communicate your needs and wants and fears and dreams with this man. If he is the one for you, he will grow through this and take that leap. If he isn’t, it will hurt like hell, but you WILL move forwards and eventually he will become just one part of your history (always so much easier to say that to someone else than hear it for yourself though…).

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