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Boyfriend hasn't said he loves me after 3 years together

  • 01-07-2020 4:49pm
    #1
    Registered Users Posts: 166,026 ✭✭✭✭


    I read something similar on a previous thread and it's something that's been on my mind. I'm 46, boyfriend is 10 years older, together 3 years. We don't live together. I told him I loved him after about 15 months, he replied that he wasn't ready to say it yet, so I haven't repeated it and he's never said it.

    My question is, is it enough that a person treats you well and never says these 3 words? I feel I want to say it to him again soon - should I?


Comments

  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 15,408 Mod ✭✭✭✭woodchuck


    I think after 3 years together, this something you should be able to talk about!

    Does he show that he loves you without actually saying it? Maybe he feels that his actions speak louder than words or he's just very uncomfortable talking about his emotions. Even if he's uncomfortable talking about it, you need to know where you stand after 3 years with him. If he's still "not ready" to say it after 3 years, will he ever be?


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,743 ✭✭✭✭Dial Hard


    Jennwren wrote: »
    My question is, is it enough that a person treats you well and never says these 3 words? I feel I want to say it to him again soon - should I?

    Only you can answer that question. Some people will say actions speak louder than words and how he treats you is more important than what he says but for me, they're not exclusive states. If I love someone I show it *and* I say it and it's important for me that they do the same.


  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭bitofabind


    Jennwren wrote: »
    My question is, is it enough that a person treats you well and never says these 3 words?

    Well is it enough for you? It doesn't sound like it is. Three years is a long time to not tell a partner those important words. Frankly 15 months would be a bit of a stretch for me.

    Does he struggle with intimacy and expressing his feelings in general?


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,061 ✭✭✭leggo


    Personally I think that phrase and its importance is way overrated because we've all been influenced by shows and movies that needed to show a dramatic juncture in a relationship and this was an easy narrative tool they could use. As a result, we've ended up with a generation of people growing up convinced that saying/not saying three words is a 'stage' of a relationship unto itself. I've said those words to people whose names I struggle to remember or who I'd run a mile from if I saw these days (and meant it at the time).

    Point is that it's not the huge deal it's made out to be, and people can also have weird hang-ups about saying it. Maybe their idea of love was corrupted when they were young. Maybe they've said it before to people who hurt them and feel scared about putting themselves in that pronounced position of vulnerability. There's a lot of valid reasons why someone may feel uncomfortable or exposed saying it.

    As others have said, what's he like otherwise? In his day-to-day treatment of you does he act like he loves you and treat you as such? All of your OP focuses specifically on those three words. The fact that he's said he's not 'ready' to say them yet makes you asking the question, and that's totally fair because it makes it seem tied to you. But have the conversation at least it's never a bad idea to have a "Where are we?" chat. The only reason you wouldn't is because you're worried the answer might come back negative, but even then if that is the case is it worth clinging on to begin with?


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,675 ✭✭✭Xterminator


    Here is a question OP.

    Have you told him you need to hear how he feels about you? If so what was his response.

    Some people do struggle to express their emotions, and they to show rather than say how they feel. And he may think you are happy with that. Just you saying it to him doesn't communicate the fact you want or need to hear it back.

    Or maybe he doesn't love you back?

    I dont think anyone who doesn't know you can tell which it is. You are best placed to judge this, but IMO it seems that the important communication in your relationship is avoided. Otherwise you would have expressed how you feel to him, and gauged his response. So perhaps his lack of verbal expression is partly a symptom of this inability/unwillingness to talk about the relationship, how its going, if your happy, and what could be improved on etc.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 939 ✭✭✭bitofabind


    It kinda doesn't matter what the status quo or general consensus is about the "I love you" stuff, it's entirely down to what the OP's needs are in a relationship. Some people need it, some people don't but I think the most damaging thing you can do to your own self-esteem is to settle for a relationship that doesn't fit your emotional needs and spend years feeling insecure, unfulfilled and frustrated. This personally wouldn't work for me, and I'm someone that grew up in a household that didn't say it (but I felt it everyday). It's a pretty normal and expected thing to say to the person you invest the most time and energy in.

    OP - is this an aspect of his personality that you've gotten used to, i.e he's not very emotionally available or forthcoming, or do you get a healthy amount of affection and emotional reassurance and this is just one aspect that he's never met you on?


  • Registered Users Posts: 12,750 ✭✭✭✭Thelonious Monk


    leggo wrote: »
    Personally I think that phrase and its importance is way overrated because we've all been influenced by shows and movies that needed to show a dramatic juncture in a relationship and this was an easy narrative tool they could use. As a result, we've ended up with a generation of people growing up convinced that saying/not saying three words is a 'stage' of a relationship unto itself. I've said those words to people whose names I struggle to remember or who I'd run a mile from if I saw these days (and meant it at the time).

    Absolutely, we never said it in my family, and I would struggle to be saying it to a partner over the phone and all that jazz. It just doesn't feel right!
    It's a silly American import.
    I know I've had a couple of partners for 2 years or so and not said it, maybe once or twice when drunk, but it is kind of ridiculous that this is seen as some kind of turning point or sovereignty of the relationship. The one girl who used to say it to me all the time certainly didn't behave in a way that would suggest it was true. Another girl who turned out to be a bit nuts a couple of years ago started blabbing it over and over and over in a pub and we had only been out about 5 or 6 times, I was genuinely frightened, never saw her again obviously!
    I just think actions and behaviour speak louder than words though, that's the mantra I would live by now.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,675 ✭✭✭Xterminator


    bitofabind wrote: »
    I think the most damaging thing you can do to your own self-esteem is to settle for a relationship that doesn't fit your emotional needs and spend years feeling insecure, unfulfilled and frustrated.

    i completely concur. But her partner is not professor Charles Francis Xavier.
    so it is important to discuss how they feel and what their needs are with the partner.

    it is one thing if your partner does not meet your needs but does not realise it, and thinks the non verbal communication suffices, EG actions speak louder than words approach.

    It is quite another if your partner knowing withholds affection.


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 48 anniewilkes


    Look up the 5 love languages. We all show love differently.


  • Posts: 26,052 ✭✭✭✭[Deleted User]


    If it wasn't important to me, but I knew it was important to someone I love (even if unsaid), I'd want them to be happy and feel secure and so I'd say it. Even if it didn't come naturally. It's three words, he's an adult. I'm sure he could cope with the fleeting discomfort if it meant his partner was happier.

    If he's purposefully withholding saying it because that keeps his partner guessing and needy and he feels then he has the upper hand, that's a whole other issue. We don't know which it is without more information.

    I've no problem saying it and thankfully neither does my husband. It would be a dealbreaker to me if he refused to say it, I was raised hearing it around me and it's important to me to hear it from him. Which doesn't make me silly, or it some stupid import. My needs are different from others, not lesser and not silly and the same is true of the op. If someone doesn't say it then I won't dismiss them as unfeeling, if both are happy that way.

    If the OP can wait years to hear it, I'm sure he can overcome the discomfort to utter three words for her and I would consider it telling if he didn't.


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  • Registered Users Posts: 15,457 ✭✭✭✭Kylta


    Jennwren wrote: »
    I read something similar on a previous thread and it's something that's been on my mind. I'm 46, boyfriend is 10 years older, together 3 years. We don't live together. I told him I loved him after about 15 months, he replied that he wasn't ready to say it yet, so I haven't repeated it and he's never said it.

    My question is, is it enough that a person treats you well and never says these 3 words? I feel I want to say it to him again soon - should I?

    Whether he tells you he loves you or not, you will know whether he does or doesn't love you. If you know he loves you why bother with any words. Maybe he thinks you know the answer to this and doesn't need to say it.
    Or maybe he is romantically or emotionally stunted. Or maybe he told the last woman he loved her and it didn't work out and his afraid in case it ruins everything. Men have peculiar ways of going on when it comes to love.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,061 ✭✭✭leggo


    Candie wrote: »
    If the OP can wait years to hear it, I'm sure he can overcome the discomfort to utter three words for her and I would consider it telling if he didn't.

    See there’s a line between ‘unimportant to someone and causes mild discomfort’ and ‘is totally okay saying it’. Someone disliking saying it but showing it in other ways is also a totally valid option. Just as your needs are ‘say it and mean it or it’s a dealbreaker’, their needs are valid too. It’s unfair to expect someone to respect your needs while you disregard theirs as nothing more than ‘discomfort’ that they can suck up to accommodate yours.

    There’s no one right or wrong way, but there is compatible and incompatible. I feel you’re being unfair on OP’s partner by implying that he should essentially suck it up and minimising any potential reason he might have for not saying those words. What’s needed here is an open conversation between the two to determine why he’s not saying it. He may love saying it normally but just not feel that strongly about the OP and her gut is correct. He may adore the OP but have an issue with the words himself, and hearing that issue may make the words unnecessary for the OP. But just as the OP should respect her own needs and not try compromise them to keep someone else happy, the exact same thing is true for him. That’s a healthy, equal relationship. If they’re incompatible, they should break up before someone starts throwing out ILYs they’re not comfortable with, that kinda stuff is when a relationship begins to become a house of cards and people get REALLY hurt.


  • Posts: 26,052 ✭✭✭✭[Deleted User]


    leggo wrote: »
    See there’s a line between ‘unimportant to someone and causes mild discomfort’ and ‘is totally okay saying it’. Someone disliking saying it but showing it in other ways is also a totally valid option. Just as your needs are ‘say it and mean it or it’s a dealbreaker’, their needs are valid too. It’s unfair to expect someone to respect your needs while you disregard theirs as nothing more than ‘discomfort’ that they can suck up to accommodate yours.

    There’s no one right or wrong way, but there is compatible and incompatible. I feel you’re being unfair on OP’s partner by implying that he should essentially suck it up and minimising any potential reason he might have for not saying those words. What’s needed here is an open conversation between the two to determine why he’s not saying it. He may love saying it normally but just not feel that strongly about the OP and her gut is correct. He may adore the OP but have an issue with the words himself. But just as the OP should respect her own needs and not try compromise them to keep someone else happy, the exact same thing is true for him. That’s a healthy, equal relationship. If they’re incompatible, they should break up before someone starts throwing out ILYs they’re not comfortable with, that kinda stuff is when a relationship begins to become a house of cards and people get REALLY hurt.

    She's waited three years. His way of doing things has been the status quo for three years. When do her needs come first? That's not a healthy or equal relationship, if only one persons way of doing things - again, for years - is acceptable, and the others ignored.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,061 ✭✭✭leggo


    Candie wrote: »
    She's waited three years. His way of doing things has been the status quo for three years. When do her needs come first?


    So there you’re equating a relationship to more of a battle where one partner’s needs must come first at the other’s expense. He’s had his turn, now it should be hers etc. That’s unhealthy and the house of cards I spoke of.

    In reality, their needs should align and sync up so both are happy and get what they want out of the relationship. They should be able to talk about them openly and accommodate easily. You’re not going to get two people who feel the exact same way on every issue but, as you described yourself with your own partner, when you’re compatible it’s easy to accommodate. No taking turns having it either their or your way, nobody needing to make giant sacrifices and left insecure like the OP to accommodate someone else. That’s the healthy way. So just talk it out and see if they’re compatible rather than him having to do a shift of 3 years forcing himself to say something he doesn’t mean for the sake of avoiding that conversation and preserving a possibly incompatible relationship.


  • Posts: 26,052 ✭✭✭✭[Deleted User]


    You're advocating for a situation where one persons needs aren't being met because the other won't compromise. If he can't/won't say it, he does so knowing it's important to her. The solution there isn't just for her to put up and shut up, or him to do similar for that matter.

    If a man needs sex twice a week to feel loved but his partner feels it's too much to expect so they settle on once a week, that's partnership in action. If a woman wants to be told she's loved and three years pass without it happening, it's not partnership in action.


  • Registered Users Posts: 9,061 ✭✭✭leggo


    That’s not partnership, that’s lunacy. There’s a WORLD of difference between negotiating frequency of sex and trying to pressure your partner to commit at a level they’re not willing to out of a weird sense of duty towards the nature of ‘partnership’.

    Why would OP try and do that when the option to just have an open, honest conversation about the subject is right there on the table?! The ONLY possible reason you would is because you’re afraid that that course won’t lead to the answer you want, so you play this roundabout game where you try gaslight them that they NEED to say “I love you” in the name of ‘partnership’ because it’s ‘fair’ and OP has ‘waited long enough’. That might sound nice and logical, but it’s not how any of this works in the real world. In the real world this is the kind of solution that ‘fixers’ who are attracted to bad relationships and projects come up with en route to getting hurt. And personally I’d feel a bit pathetic trying to convince a partner that they had to pretend to mean to say they love me because it wasn’t that big of a deal to them. Meaning it is the part that matters.

    You can’t logic someone into loving you, and honestly who wants to be told by their partner that they’re loved because they had to pressure them to say it instead of just asking the question and finding out the truth of the matter (which they will eventually either way)?


  • Moderators, Society & Culture Moderators Posts: 6,484 Mod ✭✭✭✭Hannibal_Smith


    Mod Note

    Posters are reminded that when replying to a thread in PI/RI you must offer advice to an OP. You are welcome to disagree, but it must be in the context of directly advising the OP.

    Candie and Leggo Please do not talk around the OP.

    If you have any questions on this, please PM me or one of the other moderators. Do not query it on thread.


  • Registered Users Posts: 4,055 ✭✭✭Emme


    OP is he good to you in other ways? Does he include you in wedding invitations and other things or are the arrangements more casual? When you go out do you do what he wants or is he happy to go along with your suggestions some of the time?

    Men of a certain age are used to women fawning over them and getting their own way. They often think they can treat women badly as a result. On the other hand women often put up with bad treatment or sell themselves short because they think they can't get better even though they know they deserve better.

    Not every man says "I love you" but actions speak louder than words. If he supports you while a family member is sick and hangs in with you when times are tough that means a lot more than 3 little words and no action to back it up.

    I think the real question here is does he see this as a serious relationship and do you see him committing further to you down the line (engagement, marriage etc.) if that's what you want?


  • Registered Users Posts: 11,845 ✭✭✭✭cj maxx


    I think emme is right about where he sees this going.
    I'd try to start a conversation about what you are ,and where it's going. Moving in together, marriage etc . Do either of you have exes, kids. ?
    At 56 he may think the time of being lovey dovey has passed him. Talk .


  • Closed Accounts Posts: 4,676 ✭✭✭strandroad


    Does he show affection in other ways?
    Does he show commitment in other ways?


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