Ask Lynn-He didn’t say “I love you” back to her

She has professed her love for him twice, but he has yet to say those three important words. What’s going on?

By Lynn Harris

ear Lynn,
I have been with my current boyfriend and cannot believe how happy we both are. We’re both in our mid-20s but have had other relationships that make us both really appreciate everything the other person has to offer.

About three months into the relationship, I was ready to say those three little words. In the past, I had never been the first one to say them. When someone else
Hurt and worried, I decided to try again about a month later. Same response.
told me he loved me, I’d blurt it out too, just so he wouldn’t feel awkward.

But this relationship is definitely different, and — when the time felt right — I was not scared to just go ahead and say it first. I didn’t doubt that he’d respond in kind. (After all, his close friends told me he definitely was in love with me.)

Well, I said it. And he smiled big, hugged me hard, kissed me, and said… nothing.

Hurt and worried, I decided to try again about a month later. Same response.

Why is it he shows me unending love, and everyone says they know he loves me, but he cannot say it at all, even when I say it first?
—He Loves Me Not?

Dear Loves Me Not,
Oh, God, that’s awkward. “I said, I love you.” (Tap, tap. “Is this thing on?”) I’m sorry your revelation didn’t go the way you’d hoped, and that those three words have now turned into "What’s his deal?"

Here’s the good news: You have no idea what his deal is. No really, that’s good. “I love you” is, for many people, a big deal—and you have no idea what personal history he has with thinking it, feeling it, and above all, saying it. For some, “I love you” rolls right off the tongue; for others, it brings up all sorts of fears and associations—or, at least, hesitations. Maybe, in his past, he was on the receiving end of an awkward silence, and now he gets spooked. Maybe he’s cooked up
For the moment, let his actions speak a thousand words.
some notion that whomever he says “I love you” to is the woman he’s going to marry, and right now, after only three months, that’s a little much. Maybe it’s some issue from his childhood. Bottom line: For whatever reason, and whether or not it makes sense to you, he’s just not ready.

The crucial distinction for you should be: Is it that the feelings aren’t there, or just that his words haven’t quite caught up with them? From what you tell me — and what his friends tell you — it’s the latter. And that, for now, is where you need to look: does he show you “unending love?” Does he show you respect, affection, passion? If so, I’d give it time. Try to wait it out (without – and this is the tricky part – letting your focus in the relationship narrow to “Will it be tonight?” or “How about now?”) Reassure yourself that you two, for the moment, have different ways of expressing the same thing.

If you do sense that his moment of silence is symptomatic of something larger, then call him out – gently, and inquisitively – on that: not that you said it and he didn’t, but on whatever other hints you get that maybe somehow he’s pulling away from you.

Still, I doubt that’s the case, at least not right now. Try to tolerate, even embrace, the mystery and anticipation—the sense that your relationship still has many places to go and ways to grow. And, for the moment, let his actions speak a thousand words.

Lynn Harris ( is co-creator, with Chris Kalb (, of the award-winning website — you can visit BG's blog to discuss this letter! A longtime journalist, Lynn has written about dating, gender, and culture high and low for Glamour, Marie Claire, The New York Times,,, and many others. She is currently the communications strategist for Breakthrough, a transnational organization that creates pop culture to promote human rights. Submit your own dating questions for Ask Lynn via Your question may be answered in a future column.
Related Articles

print send feedback subscribe to
What kind of relationship are you looking for?

Marriage—I'm definitely looking for The One.

I'd like a committed, serious relationship, but not marriage.

I want someone to have fun with—I'm not ready to settle down.

Browse singles in your area.
About | Your Privacy | Terms of Use
Contact Us | Advertise with Us | Become an Affiliate

Copyright 2011, L.L.C.

partner sites:  HSN  Citysearch  Evite  Expedia  Hotels  Ticketmaster  ReserveAmerica  Hotwire   LendingTree 
Entertainment  TripAdvisor  CondoSaver  TravelNow  ClassicVacations  LiveDaily  Udate