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Should I express "I love you"

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This topic contains 7 replies, has 3 voices, and was last updated by  anita 2 weeks, 2 days ago.

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  • #331253

    Michelle
    Participant

    First a little background info. I’m a 32 year old female, in a four month relationship with a 35 year old male. We are exclusive, and as far as I know we are pursuing a long-term relationship. We’ve had a few short discussions about what we both want and with some probing, he has said he is on board with a relationship with me, and is not interested in dating anyone else. It’s not that I really doubted this, but he is not vocal about declaring exactly what he wants, nor about how he feels. He is most demonstrative in action and consistency. He makes efforts to see me (we live an hour a way from each other), text me, he plans dates, pays for quite a bit, helps around my home, etc. We spent this past Christmas together, one day with his family, one day with mine, and that was quite a bit of a step for him I feel. He had not introduced anyone to family in about 8 years.

    There are a few sore spots in our relationship, but they are minor. One, he has met a few of my friends (we spent new years with my one friend just the three of us). He does not see his friends as often as I do (usually about one to two times a month), but he has not extended any invitation for me to join him when he does. I even asked him why recently, and he said he’s waiting for a casual gathering, and he doesn’t see them often. Also that there is limited room at their place. I feel like there is more to that story, but I don’t press. I know that if he wanted to introduce me he would find a way, so I’m getting a little disheartened and am trying not to believe he’s ashamed of me or something. His friends are all married and professionals (teachers and such). I know that introducing me will mean things are more serious, and it is probably a big step for him to introduce someone to that particular group. He went out twice around the holidays with friends and I wasn’t invited out on either occasion. He told me that he told them about me, but I don’t really think they know much. I makes me anxious because I think that a lot of articles preach that meeting the friends is a sign that he’s serious and if you’re not it’s a red flag. He lives with his parents at the moment, and will for a brief time, so I met them quite early on, but Christmas was a bit more formal with his sibling and them.

    I really don’t know much about his past relationships, except that he has only had a few long term ones and they all lasted a year and a bit at most. He seems emotionally reserved, and yet he does not hold back affection and quite a bit of it makes me feel quite loved. He is my ultimate match in terms of affection, well almost. I feel like I will always be a bit more touchy and giving in that department. He will often give forehead kisses, look deeply into my eyes, give passionate kisses (in and out of the context of sex). The sex with him is also easily the best sex I’ve had in my life, it’s as though I stumbled upon my drive when I met him. I feel we connect really well. We do engage quite a bit outside of the bedroom, and have gone on local trips, we go out to eat, to museums, shows etc. I met him online and had a moment of recognition when I saw his profile and had the same event happen when I met him in person. I felt safe, and at home. Lucky. I also acted like a complete fool on our first date. I’ve been writing letters to him (that I don’t send) since our first date, as I want to remember the set of emotions I felt as our relationship progressed.

    Now I quite surely have an anxious attachment style, but I cannot say what I would label him as. I am aware of my insecurities and I question my thoughts as they arise, or I try to sit with them before acting. I know I have issues from the past that tend to hover over new relationships, so I have been less than impulsive in this one. I am usually one to be quite verbal expressive with my feelings, but in this relationship I have held back quite a bit more. I will often stick to telling him what I appreciate about his actions and how grateful I am to spend time with him, to have met him etc. I will also tell him he is handsome. He is slightly insecure and will often believe I am “blowing smoke up his ass” but he says he likes hearing it all the same. He will often reciprocate but he is not one to be lavish with compliments of my beauty or otherwise on his own. The most he has verbally expressed is that “this has been the best ______ ever”, whether it’s been Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, NYE.. He also tends to let ideas slip about what we might do in the future, or where we could go. Otherwise, he’s pretty quite about how he feels.

    My dilemma is that lately I’ve come to realize I love him. It’s almost as if I was denying it for a little as well, because ultimately if I realize this, it means I have something to lose. I have not said I love you first in the past. I’ve been in three long term relationships (one 2 years, 5 years and 3 years). I also don’t know how meaningful it was for me when I did say it. I just felt excited enough about the relationship at the time. This relationship is quite a bit more meaningful to me, and I have almost let “I love you” slip twice. The two times it almost happened, I cried a bit silently, but he did not notice as it was dark and we were cuddling. In one instance, he did look down at me, and kissed my forehead. Almost this moment of recognition.

    I have pondered a lot what it will mean for me to say this and why I want to say it. As an anxious individual, naturally in the past I’ve required a lot of reciprocation and I would declare “I like you” to get reassurance in a relationship. This is not the case in this relationship. I am sure that there is care, although I am not sure that he is aware of his own feelings yet. I do feel love when I am with him. I am okay with him not reciprocating and progressing at his own pace. My only true worries are that with this declaration I will inadvertently put pressure on the relationship and his ability to express his feelings to me. I’ve sat with it for some time, to know that I will be sincere in saying it and I could wait, though it is bursting inside of me a bit. I have a friend who’s significant other waited a year for her to say it first, because he knew she was more uncomfortable with the phrase. I want to be authentic with myself and not hold it in out of fear, but I want to be compassionate with him and allow him a chance to feel comfortable enough to hear it. I don’t know enough about his past relationship to understand why it might be hard for him, but I get the feeling that it may be. I am really trying to be as mindful and delicate as I can with it, but I am starting to feel like I am holding a grenade.

    I have made peace with the impermanence of relationships, and ultimately if a declaration of love ruins this one, it was likely not on very firm footing to begin with. And still, due to the difference of feelings for this man, I don’t wish to ruin it so soon, if I could wait just a little longer.

    #331653

    Inky
    Participant

    Hi Michelle,

    I would hold off on the love declarations until after Valentine’s Day and AFTER you have met his friends. I’m sorry, but the friend thing is a bit of a red flag.

    You can say, “Hey, let’s have some of your friends over!” He may hem. He may haw. That is all the information you need.

    Sorry to be a Debbie Downer, but friendship comes before love, right? Meet his freaking friends.

    Best,

    Inky

    #331679

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    I think it is not a good idea to tell him that you love him. This beginning relationship reads good to me, so yes, the announcement can ruin it because you know that you will be waiting for him to say it back. As an anxious individual, you don’t need more anxiety, and more anxiety will not help this relationship.

    I hope to read from you again and learn how this relationship progresses.

    anita

     

    #331775

    Michelle
    Participant

    Hi Inky, I was looking for some honest feedback because sometimes others can see more about a situation than we can. I agree, I’d like to meet his friends and I don’t completely understand the reluctance there, but there are some reasons why your suggestion won’t work. There isn’t really anywhere to have his friends over too, because he is briefly living at home, so we would need to go out with them or visit them. Since I’ve discussed it with him and he seemed receptive to my feelings, I don’t believe he is actively looking to avoid it. He was even considering inviting me the last time he went, but his reasoning was that it would be too intimate of an event for an introduction. It was his best friend’s birthday and his friend’s family was there and their closest friends. It didn’t seem like an appropriate time to throw me into the mix. Honestly, we’ve spent A LOT of time together and when he goes to see his friends, which is infrequently, I think he enjoys it as a chance to have some time apart. The anxious side of me sees it as a red flag, but usually when a guy isn’t interested in inviting me into his life, he is reluctant in a lot of other ways, and inviting me to Christmas with his family would not be a part of that. I dated a guy I now call “the napper” for a month, who consistently couldn’t make it out to see me because he was “napping” after work. It got to the point where the napping just took over.. and it was too hard to ignore the lies. That guy was all happy to introduce me to his friends though.

    Another thing I guess I forgot to mention is that my ex was an alcoholic and my new guy knows about this. I have discussed how hard this was for me, especially because I had an aunt who died recently from alcoholism. When he goes out with his friends he will often partake in more drinking than usual. I believe he is trying to be respectful of me and not introduce me to that side of him so soon or too often, because of my past. He is not a big drinker at all, but on a few occasions he does throw a few back with the friends. So this might be another reason I haven’t been invited out yet. He is very willing to come to my family events and he has met my friends like I said. I feel like my new guy is a little more cautious and it may actually be a good thing.

    I was mostly kind of mulling over it because I would hope that we could share time with different people, and I hope that he thinks I will be a welcome to addition to his group eventually. Really I’m also curious to see a side of him that I do not see because he has a long history with a few of these friends. It would be nice to get to know some of that, and to see the kind of company he chooses to keep beyond me. I think because he is one of the few single friends among this married group it’s a bit of a declaration to bring a new relationship into it. There will be questions, especially if I disappear and I get the feeling that that has happened to girls he’s dated in the past.

    I sound like I’m being defensive, but I think I’ve made more peace with the not-meeting-his-friends-thing. It will start to bother me only if it goes on for a long time. As long as he continues to put effort into his relationship with me that matters a little more for now. He has turned down a few weekend outings with said friends to go on trips with me and such. As we’ve been settling into our relationship a little more, a few weekends ago he said he really needed a boys night. I could tell he didn’t want me to be upset about it. I’m happy he wants to do those things because my last ex didn’t have any friends. Also, when he gets his own place again there will be more of a common ground for us to hang out with various people together.

    I do agree that maybe I will wait a month or so to see if Valentine’s Day does reveal any extra feelings on his part.

    Anita, I also appreciate your input. I’ve come to realize that part of my being cautious about revealing my feelings has to do with not knowing how exactly I should express it. Part of that is because I realize the choice to be together is not mine. I have made up my mind. Declaring that he loves me will mean far more than me declaring that I love him. Not that my love is any less, but it has always been easier for me to give. I’m brave that way. Still I may declare it, to allow him to have all the information he may need. I will do this once I am comfortable with all the anxiety of the unknown of whether it will be returned. I am already programmed to expect the worst most of the time, so I can’t even picture a reciprocal scenario really.. I guess I’m always prepared.

    Occasionally I get these flashes of intuition about our future. I’ve been trying to ignore them, because they’re good. It’s so hard for me to believe that good could come for me. My life hasn’t played out that way.

    #331777

    Michelle
    Participant

    I want to hear from anyone who might want to play devil’s advocate and argue why I should tell him hah.

    #331821

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    The combination of the fact that you’ve been seeing him for only 4 months, and that he sees his friends “one or two times a month” makes it a non-alarming fact that he didn’t yet invite you to join him when he does see his friends.

    Maybe spending time with his friends before he met you was a sanctuary for him away from his parents’ home where he lives. Fast forward, his friends are still is a sanctuary for him, time away from his parents and from anyone and everything else.

    I don’t think it is a good idea to tell him that you love him because you wrote: “he is not vocal about declaring exactly what he wants, nor about how he feels”, and because it took some probing for him to say that he is in a relationship with you (“with some probing, he has said he is on board with a relationship with me”), and because it’s been only four months.

    You wrote: “I am already programmed to expect the worst most of the time.. I guess I’m always prepared”- when we are prepared for the worst (in this case it would be the ending of this new relationship), we tend to make the worst happen sooner than later, so that we are no longer anxiously waiting for it to happen. Is this your experience?

    anita

     

    #331979

    Michelle
    Participant

    Thanks Anita. I agree. I feel that the friend thing is more my issue than his. He probably does see them as a nice reprieve from everyone else, where he can be completely himself.

    Regarding him not being vocal about what he wants… Part of of it has a lot to do with him living with his parents and seeing it as a real step backward. On New Year’s Eve we discussed the highlights of 2019 and he said his had its ups and downs. He didn’t foresee moving back home, but he also met me, so overall it felt good. I think he may feel more decisive when he is not living in limbo. I think career changes are also on his mind. I always seem to find men who aren’t exactly settled and feel the need to be settled before they can offer me things. That being said he has been more consistent and forward in action then anyone I’ve ever been with. He’s surprised me with quite a few events, and I never had to guess whether he was going to still be interested in seeing me after a date. Very early on he was the one to be asking for repeated dates and saying that it felt like a while since we’d seen each other (yet it had only been a few days in between meetings). He still contacts me every morning and throughout the day and is always concerned if I am sick or have another issue. He is expressive in those ways. In time, in service and occasionally in gifts. His love language is not words, and that is why I am the one to be more expressive in that way.

    I feel that I am different than other women he’s been with, because to say that any particular holiday has been the best ever compared to all other holidays like it in the past, feels quite expressive to me. He’s not always wordy in the ways I’d like, but he surprised me with nice things he says nonetheless.

    My dilemma Anita, is how long should I be waiting to be authentic? I am a social studies grad, so I am constantly reading about relationship stats. Most people fall in love between 4-6 months in, and declare such love to their partner. Should I be patient because I am waiting for him to be more verbally expressive about how he feels and where he wants things to go? What if he is never able to do that unless I declare first, but he continues to show his love in other ways? I mean obviously I wouldn’t be the one proposing, but is there really a right time or wrong time to tell someone you love them? I don’t think I’m looking for the worst to happen sooner rather than later, I think I am looking to be truthful and see what is reflected back at me. I find it hard to have surface relationships, I like to go deep. A lot of my qualms in my past long-term relationship surrounded the fact that I wasn’t being true to myself and my needs. I was just allowing someone to decide what they needed with no real concern about me, or meeting me half way. Basically I want to be able to be me, without fear of breaking dating rules, or scaring someone off with my emotions.

    Is there an amount of time that you would feel is an appropriate time to wait to express my love? Does he really need to do so first? I already know he’s going to have trouble expressing it back, or at all on his own. But it doesn’t mean I don’t feel it, and want him to know. One of my best friend’s told her now husband at about 6 months in, and it took him months after that to return the sentiment. She said she loved him so she just kept saying it and didn’t care that she was waiting. Sorry I’m not directing these questions at your pointedly, I’m just trying to figure it all out.

    #331989

    anita
    Participant

    Dear Michelle:

    You want to be true to yourself, to express your love with words, to be verbally expressive- why not do just that, express your love with words, authentically, honestly,  genuinely.. just don’t say these words: I love you. These three words  mean different things to different people. Some  women say it and mean: I said it, now you say it! Or they mean: ask me to marry me now, or next month! Some men say it and mean: have sex with me.. now that I said it. Some men hear it and think: oh,  oh, I’m in trouble now.

    So tell him how you love him, not that you love him. Tell him what it means to you without using the word. Later on, when he knows the how, you can tell him I love you, and he will know what you mean by it.

    anita

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