Does a Man Need To Hear His Girlfriend Say I Love You?

Hi Evan. I love, love, love your blog! You have some really saucy, right-to-the-point advice. I’ve combed through many a blog post. Now, here’s a question for you: I find the topic of expressing “I love you” on my mind a lot, lately. I’m dating a wonderful man of 4.5 months, who’s exhibited superb “boyfriend behavior.” We see each other 3 times a week. I’ve met his family and he’s met mine. He brings me flowers when I’ve had an awful day, and shows me support when it counts. But… he has yet to say “I love you.” I know it’s a bit soon to say the words, but it got me thinking: do men need to hear I love you from the ladies they’re with? Do they even care? I have a feeling that men aren’t sitting around chatting with their buddies about the topic: “Bob, it’s been 4 months and no I love you’s yet! What gives?! Does she love me or is she scared of commitment?” What I’d like to know is this: do men say “I love you” to us because they know we like to hear it (and of course, they should mean it), or do they place any importance on those 3 words? Do men sit in angst, wondering when the “I love you’s” will come, or do they just get around to saying it because they know it’s a requirement for us. Thoughts? –Tanya

Dear Tanya,

As much as advice columnists need to rely on generalizations and stereotypes in order to make our case, it would be dangerous to consider men as if they were some sort of monolithic unified entity.

And while I’d agree with you that there aren’t many angst-y male conversations about the words “I love you”, I think there are many reasons that men say it.

Just because a man says “I love you” doesn’t mean that he’s a perfect boyfriend, doesn’t mean he wants to marry you, and doesn’t mean he’s going to still love you in a month.

The #1 reason that men say “I love you”?

Because they mean it.

It’s not something that’s calculated. It’s not something he’s doing to send a message or affect a change. It’s not just to be nice to you (unless you said it first to us, then it might be).

A man says “I love you” because he loves you and those are the best words to express what he’s feeling at that time.

BUT – and this is a tangent – just because a man says “I love you” doesn’t mean that he’s a perfect boyfriend, doesn’t mean he wants to marry you, and doesn’t mean he’s going to still love you in a month.

This is VERY important to understand. I can’t tell you how many women have clung to “I love you” as some sort of talisman. “He said that he loved me during our one month anniversary in Cabo and he’s never said it in four months since…and now I think he’s pulling away from me. How is that possible?”

It’s possible because he said “I love you” spontaneously – because he meant it – and then, upon further reflection, didn’t want to reinforce the message, because he wasn’t sure he was going to stick around.

The fact is: different people weight those words differently – and it would be impossible for me to say what YOUR boyfriend is thinking.

When I was younger, I said it a lot more often.

In my mid-30s, I had one girlfriend and I didn’t say it for 8 months, because I wasn’t sure I meant it.

And even with my wife, I waited six months, until I could say it without reservations. For me, it was my way of letting her know that I was seriously considering a long-term relationship.

For others, they may not have come from families where men emoted like that. Once again, it’s hard to say.

I do think that your belief that men say it to you first just to get you off their back or because you want to hear it is unlikely. Most men would rather say nothing than to say something that they don’t mean and may come to regret later.

All I’d tell you is to pay attention to how he TREATS you. If he treats you like he loves you, then I am quite confident that his feelings and words aren’t all that far behind. Patience, grasshopper. Patience.

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Comments:

  1. 31
    Drew

    I have been through a lot of these situations.  A lot of women in my experience don’t really say it, but they like hearing it.  Not every 5 seconds, but at least once or twice a day.  Saying those three words can mean anything from real love to wanting sex.  Not a lot of people, especially guys I’ll admit, are that loving.  I guess it’s the mighty and pride thing.

  2. 32
    Lucy

    What do you do if you say it too soon? Does it mean that the relationship is completely doomed? I said it too soon and the man is acting really different with me- not as effusive and starting to take me for granted. Want it to go back to how it was. :/

  3. 33
    Helen381

    Action speaks louder than words! 

  4. 34
    ds

    my girlfriend has never told me she loves me, she probably never will. she avoids it like a plague, but she shows me that she does all the time. Yet, I tend to think at times I’m being used for sex, for companionship, but the words  I love you is a true commitment to me and I don’t believe at this point that she feels that way about me and its been a great 8 months but also I sit in quiet pain losing hope…

    1. 34.1
      RustyLH

      It is likely that she is playing some kind of BS power game.  In other words, she has become convinced in her mind that once she tells you that she loves you, the power will shift out of her hands and into yours.  She fears being run over, taken for granted, etc…  Now, you can get on your knees and whine and moan, and dribble on an on to her that you are a nice guy and would never dream of hurting her, or you can man up and let her know that these kinds of games are just that, games, and there is no place in a healthy relationship for games.  Tell her, if she doesn’t love you then she needs to go find somebody she can love.  Then leave alone for a while to think.
      If you want an exclusive relationship, then say so.  If you love her, say so.  Don’t demand that she tell you she loves you…demand that she grow up and figure it out for herself.  She has to come to that conclusion herself, but you don’t have forever to wait for some woman to say it.  If you are good to her, she needs to recognize that and stop making you pay for the last 50 guys that hurt her.
      Point out to her all the ways in which you are good to her, and tell her that if she doesn’t appreciate this, if this doesn’t mean anything to her, then she is free to try to find somebody better.  Let her know that it is not going to work if she thinks that her best move is to try to withhold telling you she loves you, and praising you, etc., all out of some fear that you will get a big head.  Let her know that by making you feel good about yourself, she would be making it very hard for other women to compete with her.
      You need to figure out what to say, and how to handle this but the bottom line is that it sounds very much like she is playing some kind of game.  It may very well be for good intentions, but that doesn’t change the dishonesty of it.
      The final option is that she doesn’t love you and you are just Mr. Right Now, while she looks for Mr. Right Forever.  Time to find out which it is.

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