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.

Join our conversation (60 Comments).
Click Here To Leave Your Comment Below.


  1. 31

    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

    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

    Action speaks louder than words! 

  4. 34

    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

      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.

  5. 35

    I’ve been dating a man for a month. In the throws of deep passion, I asked him what he wanted me to do…he said “I want you to tell me you love me”. I was surprised to hear that. I told him I love him. He said it back to me. We’re in our early 60’S. It made me wonder: do some men need to hear that to validate a relationship? I have no expectation regarding saying I love you leading to marriage or forever, etc. But was glad to read the ” right now” feeling of saying it is valid. Thanks, I’ll now stop the overthinking!

  6. 36

    Hi I happen to stumple across your post here and felt i could give my option.
    Me as a man truthfully we probably talk about this kind of stuff more than youd
    Realize, But that’s only if we have gotten to that point where were on a schedule visiting as much as  txting calling actually putting ourselfs and efforts into it, at this point it is on our mind it is something us dudes talk about it just usually last 20 seconds and ends with a di*k joke

  7. 37
    that one juggalo

    I tell my girl I love her all the time. I get responses like ily and it fucks with my head. Yes I love hearing I love you back. All this text shit in a love letter/message is don’t shorten love. Some guys are more sensitive than others. Even if they don’t look like it take juggalos for example.

  8. 38

    My boyfriend told me he loved me after 2 weeks. 2 years on he tells me every single day. He is the kindest most loving man in the world who treats me like a Queen. So not all men who say I love you quickly have ulterior motives or cannot deliver on those feelings for the long term. My ex husband took 8 months to tell me he loved me. Men are emotionally individual just like the rest of the human race.

  9. 39

    Have been dating a lady for some time now. if I tell her I love her,she will say thanks,or thank u.. now I feel she is not ready to have a long term relationship…

  10. 40

    Stop dating her. That may be hard for you to hear, but you need to stop. She’s not into you. So many men and women can’t see it for what it is, or want to hold out hope that the other person will come around. She’s not into you. What she is doing is being just nice enough to keep you around.

    She either believes she can do better than you, or she is actually interacting with someone she believes is better. It could be anyone. It could be a friend of the boyfriend/husband of one of her friends. It could be one of your friends. A friend of her family. A guy who works with her, or just comes into where she works. Etc…Etc…Etc…

    She may have even gone on a date or two with this man. But, it is clear that she is not into you. Don’t be surprised if she is suddenly interested in you if you do walk away. Don’t fall for that because that is just her insecurities, or instincts telling her to try to keep you around.

    If you married her, this will be your life. The more sweet, loving, and attentive you are, the more she will pull away. To get her to stop pulling away, and be sweet, loving, and attentive, you will have to pull away from her. Is that what you really want for the rest of your life?

    1. 40.1

      I think it depends on why the person isn’t saying I love you.  I told a guy I loved him, and then when we broke it off (my choice) he called me out on when I stopped meaning those words. I hurt him.


      So after that experience I made a promise myself.  The next time I say I love you it will be to the person I am ready to marry.  I was only serious with one other guy afterwards and I was very upfront with him about  my feelings on the subject.  Now that I am older I may not want for an engagement.  That might be nuts to expect a guy to propose without knowing if I loved him.


      The way I see it is love is a choice.  Real love.  Its not just about fuzzy feelings.

      1. 40.1.1

        Besides love is more than just about words its about actions.  My goal is to show the right guy I love him first by my actions. I just don’t want to say the words until I know I am ready to mean them forever.

  11. 41

    I am a man and when I say “I love you” I mean it. To me there are no stronger words in the world than those 3. To me those words mean I can’t live without you in my life. They mean everything. My world revolves around that person.

  12. 42

    For me, actions speak louder than words.  My boyfriend and i took a year to say the actual words to each other.  We had both been hurt in previous relationships.   However there was never any shortage of love.  Our actions towards each other showed love more than just saying I love you.   That’s more important,  show love dont just say it.  

  13. 43
    T Rhoades

    sexuality can make us feel in love. It is difficult for me to keep being sexual and not hear or say I love you. I have been with someone for 4 months and feel strongly that I love him. He isn’t ready and says he has feelings of love in his heart but it takes time for deep love to develop. We are long distance so our time together is limited for now. We talk daily and text often. I am feeling disappointed that he hasn’t said the words. It makes me feel that we shouldn’t be having sex

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *