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Old 11-05-2010, 07:20 AM   #1
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He cannot say I love you

I have a question that seems to be more common than I thought. I have been with my boyfriend now for nearly 10 months and he cannot say the words "I love you." About 6 months into the relationship, he confided in me that his childhood was somewhat difficult as his Mom left when he was only 11 and his Dad only told him twice in his life that he loved him. He admitted that it has affected him tremendously as it took him years before he was able to tell his own child those words. He also told me he has a very difficult time expressing his feelings but the longer we are together, he has really made an effort and his actions speak volumes.

We've had a conversation about this several times and he has assured me that he will say it when he is ready but that at the moment, he is still s truggling to feel good enough about himself and until that time, he just can't. At least he is being open and honest and we have great communication. We've even spoken about the long-term future so I have no doubt we are committed to being together 'til old age. I initially hadn't planned on ever saying it to him until he was ready as I didn't want to be the only one saying it. He told me that he knows how I feel because he can see it in my eyes. But I finally said it to him on a day that was r eally special and I have no regrets because the look in his eyes and how much his face softened, I knew it was right.

I guess my question is, how to have patience when I so long to hear those words from him. most of the time I'm fine but every now and then it gets me down. I fully understand the reason behind it even though I will never understand what it must feel like to have such a hard time. I'm just the opposite, I have no problem sharing my feelings and grew up in a very affectionate household. I never want to put pressure on him because I know once he's able to say it, he will really mean it and it will be that much more special. I also know he has to be the one to figure out how to feel better about himself and that it's not my job. But those times that i get down, I start thinking self-defeating thoughts such as "what am I doing wrong that he can't tell me".

Has anyone ever experienced this from either end? I'd really appreciate some insight.

 
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Old 11-05-2010, 10:51 AM   #2
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Re: He cannot say I love you

On one hand, they're just words, and I think it's mostly through actions that you tell someone how you care for them.

On the other hand, his issue seems a little strange. I guess it's good that he's honest, but I don't see how a rough childhood can affect your ability to say three words to another person. Is it the act of saying the words that is so hard for him, or is it actually loving you that is so hard for him? I guess that's what I'm missing.

 
Old 11-05-2010, 02:08 PM   #3
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Re: He cannot say I love you

A rough childhood, even a rough marriage or bad relationships, can make it very hard to say those words to another person.

And 10 months is a very short time really. Give him time, continue to say things like, "I love the way you look so happy when you eat your favorite food" "I love when you watch a movie that I want to watch" "I love how your son is always so happy to see you." Things like that. Make it normal for him to hear the word, but don't pressure with "I love you."

My husband had a very hard time saying those words, he hadn't even said them to his own children. We had talks about how important the words were a couple of times, and I left it alone. I just started using the words "love" and "like" a lot and he finally told me he loved me after 13 months together. He also now tells his children how he loves them. It has become very normal for him as he became more secure in the relationship, did not fear that I was going to leave him and understood that I meant what I said.

Just give it time, read his actions, and make him secure in your love for him without pressuring him. Maybe he never says the words, or maybe he says them a few times - what's more important? The way he treats you and makes you feel, or words that he says?

 
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Old 11-05-2010, 05:38 PM   #4
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Re: He cannot say I love you

patience is the key. words are only words. its actions that are very important. so long as you have a good time together and are both happy waiting for them words will be worth it in the end. 10 months aint that long. just enjoy the moment and don't worry about it he will get there eventually in his own time. he loves you hes showing you.

 
Old 11-06-2010, 09:24 AM   #5
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Re: He cannot say I love you

Yeah, 10 months isn't really very long at all in the big scheme of things. I think there are sacrifices and little dreams we give up when we decide to be with someone, as no one is a perfect fit, and the perfect prince charming who is everything we ever dreamed of simply doesn't exist. Maybe never hearing him say "I love you" is the sacrifice you will have to make in order to be with him. You just have to decide whether everything else about loving him is worth that sacrifice. He might never say it, and you can't force him to, and I think it would be a mistake to put so much hope and so much focus on needing to hear him say it one day, because that one day might never come. You can't ever love someone for who you hope they'll be one day.

 
Old 11-08-2010, 09:13 AM   #6
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Re: He cannot say I love you

I like the idea of using the word "love" to say things like "I love how it feels when you...". In fact, I've done that moreso recently (I was careful not to use that word for some time 'til I knew we were committed long-term). I imagine since it's foreign to him, it may be a long time before he's comfortable enough to use it himself.

I don't expect him to change but I do admit hoping he can become comfortable with himself. I want for him to be happy and in turn, it will be health for both of us. Heck, we both have our differences or challenges and it's the great communication that's key to making it work.

I know that he has his own insecurities (as do I) but he hides them much better. I never point out when I notice (his) but I make sure to thank him whenever he does something nice and assure him how much I believe in him.

He is, without a doubt, the man I want to spend the rest of my life with and I know he wants that with me so that does tell me something. And I also realize there are much worst things so I am thankful

 
Old 11-24-2010, 11:12 PM   #7
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Re: He cannot say I love you

Girl, I hear you! My boyfriend of a year is BARELY able to say it. We've had the "talk" about it several times now, and it's improved somewhat, but it is hard not to take notice that I say it much more often then he does. He also had a pretty emotionally absent mother, and has been divorced--at the young age of 27!
It's hard not to take their inability to say it personally, but I have to remind myself that I grew up hearing those words constatnly, and affection was very abundant in my family. He didn't have a terrible childhood at all, he just wasn;t accustomed to hearing or saying those words. In fact, his mom did not even tell him that on hir recent biorthday, which blew my mind. It helps me to bear in mind our different expereinces of those words and that even if he cant say it as often as I wish, there is still time to build that skill, and more importantly, he SHOWS me all the time in his actions....which is quite the contrary to most of the romantic men I have dated.
Good luck hun!
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Old 12-09-2010, 08:14 AM   #8
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Re: He cannot say I love you

Thank you everyone for putting things in perspective. Most of the time I am fine but as I said, every now and then I get a bit down.

What's happening is just like what happened to my Dad, it's weird that it's so similar. My bf has been laid off and has had a really hard time finding a job. He, as most men, put so much emphasis on their ability to provide that it effects them in such a huge way they lose sight of everything else around them - which includes me. I saw my Dad go from a loving, fun father and husband to a withdrawn, angry, moody man and it was so sad. That is what is happening to my bf. I try to tell him how much faith I have in him and what a great guy he is but he doesn't see it.

We had another talk because aside from him not being able to say I love you, he struggles to show his feelings in general and isn't consistent on being affectionate. It's hard for me because on one hand, I know it's important to show him I support him and to be patient, but on the other, I so badly want him to look at me, really see me, and let me know what's in his heart.

I feel so selfish when I start spiraling myself and think that the more depressed he becomes, the harder it will be for him to find a job, the worse he'll feel about himself, and I'll never get to know the true man he is, which means I'll never know how he truly feels about me.

How do I support him while feeling this way? I know it's not my job to 'save' him and walk the fine line of not becoming a co-dependent but I don't want to lose him like I did my Dad. I guess you can say I'm a bit scared for us, and sad too.

 
Old 12-10-2010, 12:08 PM   #9
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Re: He cannot say I love you

I'm sorry to hear what you're going through Blue Topaz. It's really tough to be supportive while still struggling to have your needs met. That said, what I am going to say isn't going to be very rosey.

While you may love him dearly, what you have to decide on your own are your specific needs in a relationship. It appears that some of your most desired needs are to be reassured from your partner that he loves you by showing you (affectionate) and saying it.

First off, I'm not saying that there isn't anything wrong whatsoever with that. That's in your personality (and mine) in that we came from loving and affectionate families. Your bf however isn't from that type of environment and sadly can not and will not be able to provide you what you so desire in relationship. That's just his personality (which no matter how hard you try, you won't change him) which there's nothing wrong with that. The problem is if you're trying to fit square piece in a circle slot. Stuff like that will never get through unless you get a hammer and just mash it in there, which of course is always messing and not worth the trouble.

11 months isn't a lifetime and and it's why we choose to be in a relationship to find out whether we're both circles or squares. Your happiness should ALWAYS be based on your basic needs. It's your choice whether you can sacrifice those needs just to be in a relationship.

 
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Old 12-10-2010, 03:53 PM   #10
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Re: He cannot say I love you

Blue Topaz,

I think if you love someone you should accept them as they are. A common misconception is that you can change someone for good. How many women think, "he's got some rough edges but after I marry him, I'll straighten all that out." That almost never happens, as far as I know. The person you get involved with is the person you get for the duration of the relationship. (And I'm sure there are men who think they will change women too.)

Here's something else to think about: Suppose a man and woman agree to say "I love you". The love they feel for each other, at the beginning of the relationship, is not going to last forever, is it? What happens when or if romantic love fades?

Last edited by JohnR41; 12-10-2010 at 03:58 PM. Reason: punctuation

 
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:03 PM   #11
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Re: He cannot say I love you

i think a relationship can last when in love and saying it early on in a relationship suppose it all depends if the relationship works through out. i think your definately right that what you see is what you get.

 
Old 12-10-2010, 06:24 PM   #12
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Re: He cannot say I love you

I am so happy to hear from a man's perspective. I certainly did not come on here to be justified, in fact, I want constructive criticism because I care so deeply for this man and know he really is the one I want to spend the rest of my life with. I never think of myself as done learning and always think I can be better - for myself, for him, and for others in general. So the feedback is appreciated.

It's true that we have to accept the people we meet and can't expect changes. He has told me that when he's ready, he will say it and that it will be worth it. Though it will always be something important that I hope to get from him, it's not a deal breaker because he is the most kind hearted and fun man. I was moreso looking for ways of dealing with it better and it seems that keeping a constant perspective is the answer.

Maybe in some strange way, having the various levels of the relationship I had with my father was preparation for the man I hope to be with. I saw my Mom completely devoted to my Dad and that's how I feel - that no matter what, the most important thing is unconditional love. Maybe I have to look inward and figure out why I at times am ok with it and other times not.

Thank you everyone because it has made me realize what's truly important. And he is definitely worth it.

 
Old 03-15-2011, 12:54 PM   #13
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Re: He cannot say I love you

I wanted to update because although I should be taking the advice already given to me, I'm having a very hard time with this. The situation has not changed. My boyfriend is still job searching. I spend every day during my lunch break at work helping him by sending out his resume basically "cold calling" companies, as well as networking with people. He is picking up side jobs here and there but it's not enough work to even keep us current. Because of this, we are BOTH stressed, handling it in different ways, so it's a vicious circle. He is feeling "worthless" by not contributing to the household even though that's not how I view it and have never once made him feel that way, it's all his own doing. But because of how bad he's feeling about himself still, it has made him unable to move forward with us, therefore still not being able to say (or feel) I love you.

It is killing me. I admit that I so long to hear those words, to actually know that the person I'm with - and building a life together with - feels the same way I do. I can't even say it to him any more because it hurts too much to not have it returned. He makes references about the future enough so I know he wants to be with me but not knowing if he even loves me is becoming more and more hard the longer we go on. And of course, the times I've shown my stress hasn't helped. We have slowly worked at communicating better and have had a great month, better than it's been in a while. But as soon as I start thinking about this issue, I just want to cry and I just can't let him see how much it's affecting me.

Am I asking too much? I'm starting to become resentful - not towards him - but just in general. We haven't even hit the first stage of a committed relationship yet we are experiencing what some couples go through after being together for years. It's so depressing and it's effecting me outside of our relationship, including work. I am already seeing a therapist but it's not enough. I just don't know what to do. It's getting harder and harder to deal with.

Last edited by blue topaz; 03-15-2011 at 12:57 PM. Reason: typo

 
Old 03-15-2011, 07:04 PM   #14
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Re: He cannot say I love you

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnR41 View Post
Blue Topaz,

I think if you love someone you should accept them as they are. A common misconception is that you can change someone for good. How many women think, "he's got some rough edges but after I marry him, I'll straighten all that out." That almost never happens, as far as I know. The person you get involved with is the person you get for the duration of the relationship. (And I'm sure there are men who think they will change women too.)

Here's something else to think about: Suppose a man and woman agree to say "I love you". The love they feel for each other, at the beginning of the relationship, is not going to last forever, is it? What happens when or if romantic love fades?
I think the entire point of telling someone you love them is to share that feeling with them. I'm sorry but if someone cannot tell me they love me, even if they have their own quirky way of doing it, I can't help but believe they don't. And the above explanation, even though I think it's trying to support the idea of not saying "I love you" although I admit I might be missing the point, is confirming exactly my perspective. If you are in a marriage and the "I love you's" stop (or a relationship) I would see that as a big red flag. I don't care how many excuses, how much does it actually cost you to tell someone you love them.

Let's say you are with someone who really can't due to some horrible trauma, grow to say those words. But they really do love you. Would it be impossible to think of an alternative? Like stopping once a month and buying a card with a heart on it and just laying on the other person's pillow. Is that too painful? Or even putting a heart in lipstick on the bathroom mirror so the next person sees it. Leave a single carnation on the seat of their car. It just seem absurd to me that a person who can function in life as an adult, can't find some way to make the person they love know they love them. Unless they have a very good reason -- they don't.

Maybe I'm being cold hearted. I admit it's been a wicked back year already replacing one of the most wicked back years I've ever lived through. So maybe I'm becoming less soft over people who have these "issues". (Not the poster, but the boyfriend). If you give him other options as to how he can express himself and he can't man up and try them, then --and I really hate to say this -- but I"m not sure he does love you. And I do not blame you one bit for now not being able to tell him. Love is many thing and it is patient. But it doesn't wait forever. And if you are still stuck in neutral, I think you need to start a list of alternatives. Unless you want to live a very long sad life feeling unloved. There comes a time when you realize that was about as big a mistake as you could have ever made.

Last edited by resolution09; 03-15-2011 at 07:07 PM.

 
Old 03-16-2011, 05:47 AM   #15
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Re: He cannot say I love you

I have been in two major relationships in my life. The first was with a man who found it very difficult to say "I love you." I was with him for 13 years. Since I had never been in another serious relationship before him, I didn't know that it wasn't really normal not to say "I love you" to the person that you supposedly love. I do know that he loved me but him not saying it to me really hurt me more than I ever told him. Looking him in the eye and telling him that I loved him and then not hearing it back......wow that really hurts!

In hindsight, I ask myself, why wasn't I worth a little discomfort? If it made him uncomfortable to say it, so what? Why couldn't he be uncomfortable for a few seconds just for me? I did things for him that I didn't necessarily want to do but he couldn't do this one thing for me? And like another poster said, why couldn't he say it in a different way? Remember the movie Ghost? He had trouble telling her that he loved her so when she said it he said "Ditto?"

Now, I am with a man who tells me that he loves me all of the time. It is sooooo much better!

 
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