How Can You Tell If Your Boyfriend Really Loves You?

I am 25 years old and I’ve been dating my boyfriend for 3 years. I’ve had a couple of relationships before him, one was serious.  He’s had several relationships before me but he told me he’s never been in love. 

We have a good relationship, we do lots of things together, have the same friends, we like watching sports together, we have a really good friendship. We do have some pretty bad fights, some important and some ridiculous, but we usually bounce back pretty fast. I really love him.

Up until a few nights ago, he never told me he loved me. I’ve been going through a rough transitional period and feeling very insecure.  He just started a new job as a teacher and his life seems pretty set. 

We’ve had conversations in the past about marriage and he would always say he wasn’t sure if he wanted to marry me, but he knew he wanted to be with me. I never put any pressure on him to tell me he loved me or marriage or anything else. 

I’ve been really depressed about my life lately and the other night we had a fight and after we were talking things through. He went to bed but then called me over to lie down next to him. He said: “I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about you and our relationship, and I want you to know that you really mean a lot to me. I’ve never felt this way about anyone before and I want you to know that I do love you. You deserve to be loved.” I started to cry a little, hugged him and told him how much that meant to me. He said he doesn’t want to say it all the time, only when he feels it and that he never wanted to say it unless he was sure he wanted to marry that person. I’m positive that he still doesn’t know if he wants to marry me. 

My question is:  

Does it sound like he told me that to try and make me feel better, because he felt bad for me? I want so badly to believe he really loves me but I’m starting to think he said it because he felt he had to and thought it would make me feel better. I have a tendency to over analyze things and I don’t want to ask him a million questions and make him regret telling me that. How can you tell if your boyfriend really loves you? I know I must sound crazy. I’ve been going through a rough time and I’ve been having trouble processing thoughts and emotions. I would appreciate any thought or advice you might have to offer.

Thank you,

Lisa

William Goldman said this about Hollywood, but I’d say that it’s more apropos in describing matters of the heart:

“Nobody knows anything.”

That’s right. I may be a dating coach, but I’m not omniscient. I certainly know less about your life and your boyfriend than you do. So whatever I’m doing here is just making an educated guess.

I’ll admit, I was a little choked up when you got to the part where he told you that he loved you. It’s really hard for some guys to say those words, and that’s not just an excuse for my gender. Since women place such great meaning on “I love you”, men have learned to adapt in one of two, super-logical ways:

Saying they love you without really meaning it.

Not saying they love you until they’re really, really sure.

Sounds like your boyfriend is in the second category. And yet, you’re not sure if you even believe him. Well, what could he tell you that would make you believe him? “I love you-will you marry me-here’s a ring-do you believe me now?”

You’re really asking two different questions here, Lisa.

You want to know if he means that he loves you.

You also want to know if this means he wants to marry you….

I would say that, from what you wrote above, I do believe he loves you and that he doesn’t know if he wants to marry you. Understand that this is not a contradiction. Love happens before marriage. That doesn’t mean that marriage results every time two people are in love. If it did, most of us would be married a good three times before we’re 35.

The reason I believe that your boyfriend loves you is because he did make a big deal about not saying it unless he meant it. And if it took a moment when you were feeling sad and vulnerable to allow him to express his feelings, so be it. Men want to make you feel good. They want to be your heroes. Trust in that.

The problem is that you’re looking for clarity. You’re looking for definites. But there’s no value in asking a question to which you can never actually know the answer. It’s a ticket to paralysis.

Think of it like religion. You can either 1) take a leap of faith, 2) agonize over not knowing, or 3) accept the fact that you’ll never know. I choose the latter. After all, nobody knows anything. We’re all just guessing.

I get why you want to know if he’s in love, but the truth is that he probably doesn’t even know. He said it once and I believe he meant it.

But just because he loves you now doesn’t mean he’ll love you forever, and just because you love him now doesn’t mean you’ll love him forever.

There are too many variables, too many unknowns.

So don’t spend your time questioning him. You’ll just drive yourself (and him) nuts. Continue to love him, continue to let him invest in you and open up to you, and if you’re not getting the consistent feedback you need to feel secure, you know what you need to do.

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  1. Pingback: Dating » How Can You Tell If Your Boyfriend Really Loves You?
  2. 2
    Ryan Hilario

    your boyfriend is probably at a crossroads between priorities in his life. its obvious what you want but his wants and needs are in a juggle. he has yet to figure that out. what i would suggest is to help him find that balance. He probably does love you but is scared to think about marriage at the moment. He doesn’t want to keep your expectation levels at a high point with a time line. Give it some time and don’t pressure him. He will come through and appreciate all you have done for him. He will see why you helped him cross that bridge because it shows you truly love him. Since love is so powerful it will over ride all those mind blockages that are troubling him at the moment. there will be a time when you know for sure what’s best for you and him.

  3. 3
    mrs. vee

    Hello Lisa –

    Well I probably seem a boring old broken record by now because all my posts on Evan’s blog seem to repeat the same message:

    IT’S RIGHT IF IT’S EASY.

    And honestly I do believe that, 99% of the time, if the relationship is a struggle, if you’re worried about him, if there are trust issues in the mix, then you’re probably incompatible as a couple.

    However, in your case, I get the feeling that your fears and worries are what’s creating strife in the relationship. You’ve told us things about your boyfriend that bode well for both of you – things I think you should be focusing on more:

    He’s lasted 3 years with you already.

    He speaks with integrity, making sure you understand what “I love you” means to him.

    He told you in a very thoughtful and deliberate way that he truly cares about you after a fight.

    You said it yourself, that you’ve been going through an insecure period. Don’t you think that perhaps your questioning his motives is just a symptom of that same insecurity?

    Seems quite obvious to me that HE is not your problem. Because you say you’re “depressed about life”, that’s what I think you need to work on. A happy relationship depends on two basically happy people. Your boyfriend’s presence is a GOOD thing in your life, not yet another reason to think it sucks.

    He wants you to be happy, but he knows – and I think that you know too – that he can’t be the cause of your happiness.

    It’s even possible that your depression is what’s making your boyfriend uncertain about a longterm future with you. He probably loves you very much, but fears a future with a needy or emotionally tumultuous wife. Remember that he has needs too. How can you be there to support him if you’re embroiled in your own issues all the time?

    First things first. You must find a way to be happy with or without him. Why don’t you put down your worries about him for awhile and place your energies into getting out of your depression/confusion? If fear or uncertainty starts to get to you, use the thought of him as reassurance. Use stress management or positive thinking techniques when you feel worry setting in. May I also suggest doing something highly physical, like going for a run or bike ride to control anxious thoughts. Consider seeing a therapist or life coach to help you formulate some goals or establish a direction for yourself.

    It may be a long road to get to where you want to be in life, and you want him to be there with you on it. So concentrate on having fun times and making your relationshipeasy for both of you. When he sees you demonstrating independence and stability, it may be the very thing that makes up his mind for him about marrying you.

  4. 4
    downtowngal

    Ryan (poster above) brings up some good points you have to figure out what you want. If your boyfriend is not sure what he wants and you do, then I don’t know if status quo is going to get you two to be on the same page.

    If after 3 years you’re not getting what you want out of the relationship – or mixed signals – then I suggest pulling back a bit. Doesn’t mean breaking up with him, more like doing things for yourself/build self-confidence while giving him some space. This way he’ll lean to appreciate you and try to figure out how to fit you into his life and make you happy. If you keep things going along the same way he’ll just get complacent.

    Ryan, I don’t know what your experiences have been, but I dated a guy once who was at a crossroads – I was suportive, gave him his space, didn’t push – but at the end I got nothing in return. I learned that if a guy is not sure you can’t make up his mind or try to get him to do what you want him to.

  5. 5
    Jacky

    Many romantic things are dominated by reality. Give him more time.

  6. 6
    Simone

    I have been dating my boyfriend for 7months,i do everything for him and i mean everything, now he tells me hes goin on a date with an older woman from work.. Am i supposed 2 accept this? I dont know what to do… I realy love him and if i do anything stupid he gets mad..Or if i start seeing other guys he wont hear of it.. Does he really love me or am i just stupid to stick with him? Please help!

    1. 6.1
      Nikki

      In his mind he is single … Even though you have dated for 7 months thats all it was dating … Nothing serious … You need to kick him in to touch and tell him what you want and if he doesn’t want the same then move on …. He’s being very disrespectful

  7. 7
    B

    Hi. I’m not sure of HIS age, but I agree that if he is closing in on a multiple of 7 hes is transitioning…which might be great for you.
    I’ve been with my man for almost 7 yrs and we’ve been very up and down. A lot has been my fault with holding things in and being overly sensitive about other things. Yet we continue to work on things…coming to several epiphanies even this week that will make a huge difference. He’s 37, I am more than 1 cycle older, and yes, we broke up when he was 35 but he came back after taking a 9 month break. Now he is communicating and opening up (which allows ME to do the same). Seems he sometimes thought I didn’t love him (when I actually loved him TOO much).

    Bottom like? Communication!!!! Be willing to be open… if he continues to act loving, let him know it means a lot to you. Ask him what makes HIM feel loved (words of affirmation, touch, acts of service, gifts, etc) … key in on what it takes for him…his language is different from yours…you want to be TOLD he loves you…so express this to each other, but start by asking HIM…then let him know that you understand his style and he will likely start trying to love yoiu the way YOU want..

    Yes, it seems we have to let them chase, and also do a lot of decoding for them, but like a beloved puppy, once they learn how to get the treats, they become loyal and hopefully lovingly protective (that is a positive comment, not a negative, guys).

    Good luck !!

  8. 8
    jbo

    My boyfriend is 48 and I’m 43. I want sex more often than he does and he seems to think I’m a ‘nympho’, but I’m not. I haven’t been with a man since my Ex. and I told him this… Am I with the wrong guy or is he just getting to old to keep up w/me. BTW we tend to have sex on weekends only. I’d love to have it 2-3x’s a day or week, but 1x/day and week is fine w/him. Am I asking for too much?

  9. 9
    jsfkjaksj

    i think he should tell you if he loves you or not

  10. 10
    InaccessibleRail

    If he didn’t want to marry me after three years, I’d cut him loose (well, unless we were both under 25). Studies show that if a man hasn’t proposed by a year and a half, the odds that he ever will start to gradually FALL, not rise. After the three year mark, the odds start to decrease dramatically.
    So does he love you? Maybe he does- in fact, he PROBABLY does if he has never given you a reason to distrust him before.
    But will he marry you? The odds aren’t looking too great- and the outlook becomes bleaker by the day. You deserve someone who’s sure about you, IMO.

  11. 11
    Beth

    He might have ED and not want to talk about it to you for fear of losing you.

  12. 12
    tay

    i knw.i have certain jealousy issues with my boyfriend.i knw he is handsome.and i knw im not the only gurl looking at him.he tells me that he loves me pretty often.i have actually begun to believe it now.he told me he loved me first.thats a plus.sometimes i get really insecure and we will have a bad fight about it..they are mostly my fault because he says i have trust issues..which i do!and he says things like”i love you,i want you.and i hate when u start acting up like this”then i realize it is my fault for most of the arguments and disagreement.

  13. 13
    Liz

    Where is the original person with the question………because it is scary how similar our situations are.

  14. 14
    sharon

    well im only 16 ive been with my boyfriend for almost a year and a month and he told me he wanted to marry me about a month or two ago.sometimes i doubt he really means that but then again he only tells me i love you in realy special moments and even after we have a fight.. but what im trying to say is that he might really mean it if he tok the time to pul you aside and tell you that he wants you to know that hes being serious about bwing with you i might beyounger than you but i can take in a lot of knowledge about love.because ive been through it a lot an als have read about psychology and love as well. but i you evr doubt what he tells you just let him know what youre feeling and thinking itll really help your state of mind and take the confused tougts out of your mind

    well i hope this helped you

    sincerely,

    sharon..

  15. 15
    Courtnie

    Everyone goes through this in their life every once in a while and trust me I have and it was NOT a pretty site (lol)

  16. 16
    Marie

    To the original poster: 3 years is MORE than enough time for a man to tell you he loves you – often and freely. Even if he is young, needing 3 years to express that either means (1) he’s still unsure about you (and you will spend the rest of the days of your days trying to convince him and ‘win him over’ – talk about stressful and lonely….) or (2) he is seriously lacking in communication skills. Neither of these situations is good. Poor communication skills (even if a man does truly love you) can lead to exactly what you are experiencing: doubt, uncertainty and hurt. All of that inevitably leads to the destruction of the relationship – and…you know what? Not a moment too soon! You are wasting your precious, lovely young life with someone who doesn’t appreciate you and/or doesn’t know how to be there for you on a regular basis. Who wants to wait until a crisis situation occurs to hear that your boyfriend thinks well of you or loves you?? No. Move on. A man should be so excited about you that it kills him to hold off (for maybe 6 months or so) on saying how much he loves you for fear of scaring you off! You should feel adored and cherished in your relationship. Life is too difficult and too busy to bother with anything less. Trust me – been there.

  17. 17
    priya

    Maries post does make sense.I have been there myself where after one year i kept wondering if he feels for me or not.That made me miserable and insecure.I was not even able to concentrate on my work and studies properly.
    If you have gone through Evan’s blog his previous post does mention that boyfriend must make you feel secure.If he isnt doing that relationship isnt worth it.
    I totally agree with him on this.
    Apart from what Evan has mention two reasons why men dont say those three words there are others reason i have discovered.
    I see there are forum and even dating coach for men who advice them to be mysterious by not openly declaring their true feelings to women and keep them in guessing wonderland.I wonder if he is following any of that bad advice.

  18. 18
    Moe

    “Nobody knows anything. We’re all just guessing.”

    Most rational thing you have said on this site EMK!  

  19. 19
    maggi

    I would say, you desrve some other good guys than him. three (3) yrs is quite a long period of time. from the first moment he met you is where these three letter words would be spoken out and continuesly. i’v been with my bf for 3yrs and he loves me like no bodies business. we planned to get marrid after 2yrs time. he was the one saying all these.( lol) (:

     

  20. 20
    Elli

    You are definitely not crazy at all.. I believe that based on what you say, we’re going through very similar situations. I also have a difficult time processing feelings and emotions. I am afraid that my sensitivity and depression could conflict with our relationship. I try not let it show.. I really honestly love him, I just hope he loves me and it scares me that I’m questioning his love for me.. I didn’t mean to make this about me I just wanted to let you know that you’re not alone in this. I hope everything works out for you.

  21. 21
    Esined

    Well before I give you advice…let me tell you about me and my relationship…I met my fiance when i was 15 in school…at 17 we both moved out of our homes to live together…at 20 we had a beautiful little girl…and now at 21  we are engaged to be married…with that being said …i dont think there is a certain rule book as to when a man needs to propose a marriage…although me and my fiance have been together for 5 years before he proposed DOES NOT mean he didnt love me or want to marry me all those years…same aplies to you…there should be no timeline as to when u both should get married…however i do feel like you should ask him how he feels about marriage or if that is even something he is concidering with u…u guyz hav obviously been together for 3 years for a reason…talk it out…n let him know that sometimes u just need to hear that he loves u once in a while…communication is the key to success…no matter how hard things may seem…if it is true love it will make it…but u hav to believe in ur own love before u even begin to starting a lifetime together.
    ~ best wishes~ Esined*

  22. 22
    Becka

    yeah, Marie’s conclusion and suggestions makes sense indeed! But how can u let go of the man u really love? I wish it was so easy. :( my bf and i are almost a yr now on our relationship. But he seems to be like your bf and sometimes i want to break up with him. He said he is not ready yet to have a baby.we are both 35, his wife died 3 yrs ago and they have an 8-old girl. I have done so many things to work this out but i feel i am the  one who is only in love. he doesnt say i love unless i say i love him. He says i love you on text but not verbally. I am an emotional perso that i often times what’s the next chapter of out lives. Maybe because i am getting older and wanted to have a baby which my bf said he is not ready yet.. Omg.:;
    i dont want to lose him bec love hin.i have done my part loving him ang his child.sometimes  i wanna give up… This is so sad…………………..
     

  23. 23
    Anma

    I do not believe three years is that long my parents have been married 20 + years, and are at each others throats, they would be better off divorced, anyway I think it has so much more to do with then just love, marriage Is a huge commitment, people change and today the person you might love may not be the same in 10 years, your goals and views on life might change, the way you believe in raising children might not be the same, ect… Marriage is more then just love it cannot survive on just love, you both have to be willing to compromise with holding a grudge in your heart (like my parents)

  24. 25
    Lucy

    My husband proposed to me after 4 months. We were married after 7, had a baby after a year. We had another baby 18 months after the first. We are still together 30 years later and the kids are nearly 30 and 28 and successful professionals. I am sorry, but a man definitely knows if he wants to marry someone within months of dating that person. If he truly loves and wants to spend his life with them, he will propose. They do not wait indeterminate years to discover this. The older they get, 2 things happen. 1. They get set in their ways and are reluctant to commit. 2. They are desperate to commit because all their mates are married and have kids etc.  and they are getting on. Your boyfriend clearly falls into the first category. Any woman that has to ask a guy they have been with for years, if he wants to marry her, already knows the answer. Its a resounding NO. I know this, because my husbands girlfriend prior to me. dated him far longer than I. They even had a child (admittedly, it was not planned, but neither was ours). Their relationship went no further. When history repeated itself and I fell unexpectedly pregnant, he took control and dried my tears. rushed me down to the jewellers and bought me an expensive engagement ring and booked the wedding. We were married in registry office. It does not take mega bucks. There you have your answer. No one is unsure if they are with the right person.

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