He Said “I Love You” on the Fifth Date and I’m Freaked Out!

A man trying to kiss a woman on the cheek

Dear Evan,

So, I met this great guy online. We’ve been exclusive nearly from the start and we really like each other.

However, he’s moving really fast. He said I love you on the 5th date. I just had a deer-in-the-headlights look on my face. He’s said repeatedly that he will take this at my pace, but he’s made it clear that he’s found “the one” and that’s me! While all this is great, it’s a little frightening. Are these red flags? He’s been divorced and dating for about 6 years, so he’s been there and done just about all of that. I’ve only been divorced and dating for about a year and a half and am still finding my way through life as an independent person. He says, and he’s proven in subtle ways, that he’s willing to give me whatever space I need-that he loves me and that’s it for him.

Is this normal? I’ve never experienced this kind of strong emotion from a man. Was I just with the wrong guys if they were more apathetic? If I was more apathetic?

I am falling in love with him, at my own pace, but I’m just wondering if my dating radar isn’t picking up on something here.

Help me figure out if I’m missing something here or do I have a really great guy?


Dear Steffi,
I really relish these role-reversal emails, because it just goes to show that it’s never just a “man” thing or a “woman” thing.

Men can be prudish about sex and emotionally vulnerable.

Women can be on the fence about commitment and concerned about clingy men.  

Relationships are about people with emotional needs. And those needs are universal.

The above links are probably somewhat instructive. After all, you’re not the first person who’s been concerned that a man has fallen for her too fast.

But let’s take your question on its surface, based solely on what you told me.

Let’s give this guy points for the important things. First of all, he’s being real with you. No games here. (Funny how people complain that they don’t like games, then when someone is nakedly honest with them, they get that “deer in the headlights” look?)

You’ve become the perfect vehicle for all of his dreams and desires, and, from that pedestal, you can’t be on equal footing.

Second of all, he’s self-aware enough to see that he’s freaking you out, which is why he came back with, “We’ll take it at your pace.” Which means, roughly, “I’m going to do a very poor job of pretending I’m not totally whipped on you, and I pray for the day when you show me you’re whipped on me, although that probably won’t happen because it’s hard to respect a guy who is so whipped so soon.”

What’s heartening about your situation, Stef, is that you say you’re falling in love with him at your own pace. That’s usually not the reaction that women have to guys who come on too strong. Credit goes to you for seeing this guy as the man he is, rather than being overwhelmed by his one-sided passion. That said, there IS a red flag. This guy is projecting a LOT onto you. You’ve become the perfect vehicle for all of his dreams and desires, and, from that pedestal, you can’t be on equal footing. I suspect he knows intellectually that you don’t walk on water, but when he’s going through that “puppy love” phase, there’s no room for realism….

I spend a lot of time thinking of the value of passion in a relationship, and what I’ve figured out is this:

Passion is blind. It may or may not mean that you’re compatible or that you truly love each other. What passion DOES do is provide such clarity of purpose that there is no second guessing. Sam Harris does studies on the biochemistry of belief and I suspect that he can affirm this. The chemical rush that we get when we’re in love is the same one that allows people to be suicide bombers as well. Helen Fisher’s book, “Why We Love,” delves into the same thing. The kind of love that your boyfriend is experiencing is like a cocaine high-with all the highs and lows that come with it.

People get carried by passion all the way to the altar, and never stop to think whether this person is the best long-term investment.

The problem, therefore, comes when that high goes away. What do you really have? This, I suspect, is the greatest cause of divorce. People get carried by passion all the way to the altar, and never stop to think whether this person is the best long-term investment. They’re too blinded by “love.” All those couples who say, “You just know” sound really positive and passionate…until they get divorced. Thus, passion creates a bond; it doesn’t necessarily portend a healthy future.

So, Steffi…you’re much better off with this guy than a guy who is apathetic about you. But only if you respect him. And that’s where this kind man is going awry. By laying his cards out on the table and telling you that you’re in control and that he’ll do whatever you want, he loses a piece of what makes him attractive. It’s hard to be a masculine leader if you’re so willing to follow behind a woman like a lovesick puppy. My guess is that this guy is a really good man who is in that delightful space where he just wants to declare his love with reckless abandon. As long as you don’t hold this against him, as long as you realize that this is a GOOD thing, as long as you realize that you can’t ask for much more than a DEVOTED man, well, you may just be the big winner.

Let us know how it goes.

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  1. 41
    Michael Ejercito


    You obviously have a bigger problem than Steffi does.

    A man telling you that he loves you on the fifth date is little cause for alarm, unless the five dates happened within three days. But calling you his wife before you are married is definitely creepy.

  2. 42

    Hey Everyone,

    Thanks for the words of wisdom and support – Alot has been happening since my last post but I will try and give a “compressed” version of events. I called the guy up and he was leaving work and asked to call me back. Armed with the advise from this site, my mum, friends, and “bitchy attitude due to lack of sleep” – I nervously waited for him to call me back.

    He called at went straight to “hi baby, how was your day” – and before I could respond – he said “I was thinking that perhaps you could come to AZ with me for thanksgiving and we could celebrate Christmas in GA” – Not sure what happened to me but I just told him.. NO! I don’t want to do this anymore, I can’t do this anymore! and he said “what do you mean”? and I flat out told him that I felt unheard, suffocated, smothered and I was flat out scared that things were moving a little too fast and I thought that we should end this – whatever it was right away.

    He literally went insane! and told me that he was madly in love with me, that he was ready to marry me, start a family and that I was his soulmate! He said that he would come to GA and find me if that is what it would take to convince me that he was serious/sincere. I could write down word for word what he said – but it would take up the entire night – but in a nutshell – I had told him that we were not working out and he went insane.

    I hang up the phone and my VM was filled with messages – some scary, some heartbreaking, some outright bizarre. I could not stop crying – I know this will not make sense but I felt bad for him especially after listening to some of the voice messages. I called a friend who is married to a detective and he walked me through what I should do. We actually sat in my living room and read through all the responses and he helped me understand my rights etc.

    I know you will all scream at this point – but the next day – he sent me a text message and I responded. Soon after – we were on the phone for 6 hours – (I am only telling the truth because one post advised me against as he would suck me in) – and yes – he sucked me right in.. making promises of taking things slow. He said that he had booked a flight to come to GA and was going to come to my workplace and declare his love. He had told his boss that he had a family emergency – I should have hang up at that poing – but he said that he was willing to respect my boundaries – to include getting a hotel room, rental car whenever he came to visit. He said that he had never fallen so fast and so hard before because he had not connected with anyone on such a deep level. He talked about his childhood, his struggles etc – he explained that his job had required him to travel around the country for many years and he did not think that it was fair for him have a family under the circumstances.

    He said that he has always had a passion for cars, pursued that passion and chose work over relationships. (he designs parts for NASCAR). He has been in 3 serious relationships – two for 6 years and the third for 4. – They all ended because he did not want to get married at the time – or atleast until he had accomplished all his goals. – He says that he has done everything he could ever have hoped to do and is ready to get married/have kids – thus the “intensity”.

    He said that he was so desperate to express his feelings and may have come off as insecere and apologized for that. For the next day or two – it was lighthearted conversations until I told him that I was going out with the girls for movie and drinks. He sounded a little cold and he kept burning up my phone all night long!! I got home and he wanted to know where we were, what we had done, if any men had hit on me.. etc. – Suddenly, the true colors were back – We argued for 3 hours straight and then he finally said – “I am making so many sacrifices for you and to be with you, my trip up there is costing me $1200”!! Don’t you get that I am in love with you and I want you all to myself??!

    I reminded him that we had discussed this and he said – “to be honest with you – I am dissapointed that I cannot stay with you when I get there” “I am so desperate to be with you” “you are all I want” “you are my soulmate” “we are meant to be together” “you are my wife” etc.. – He also told me that he had gone back to the online dating site and my profile still listed me as “single” – “why don’t you delete it:” – you are off the market now!

    Let’s just say after that incident – I changed my phone number, closed out my e-mail accounts, deleted my profile and had a meeting with my boss and office manager about security. I will be honest with you – I am a little scared. My friends, family and co workers have rallied around me and we are taking every precaution. All our e-mails, voicemails have been notarized and are with the detective for safe keeping.

    When we went to the police station – I was told that I could not get a restraining order since he has not “threatened to cause any bodily harm”. I told them that he had told me that if he can’t have me then no one else will” but since there is no evidence – they called it heresay. – Anyway.. I am a little on edge..and I pray that things settle down.

    Thanks for you all your support – Jess.

  3. 43

    Oh, Jess, I’m so sorry! Please, do not talk to him again (though it does not sound possible for him to get ahold of you). Did you e-mail the dating service you were using? I would. Oh, what a horrible thing to have happened. I am thinking of you…

  4. 44


    Thank you so much for updating us on how you’ve been doing. I’ve been worried about you!!!

    And PLEASE, no one should judge you for responding to his text message–you’re human and had a bond with him. Plus, he was following the typical cycle of violence–moving into the honeymoon phase (playing REALLY, REALLY nice and saying EVERYTHING you needed to hear after a huge blowup to win you back), and that’s why so many women continue to stay in abusive relationships, because there’s that honeymoon period, which they keep hoping will last forever. Did you know, that, on average, it takes a woman 7 times of leaving and going back before she is finally able to leave for good an abusive man? So, you are way ahead of the game there!!!! Way to go, girl!!! Just continue to stay strong with the support of family, friends, and coworkers. I think it’s really courageous and wonderful that you reached out to everyone!!!

    If you haven’t yet, I would seriously consider contacting a domestic violence center near you. While the police have said there is nothing you can do, that may be true for a protective order, which in Connecticut, where I am, involves a criminal offense, such as assault and battery. However, a restraining order can be obtained based on the threat of bodily harm. Since he sounds so unstable (and I don’t mean to scare you by saying this), I would definitely look into whether or not you can get one. Plus, I would share his picture with your coworkers, neighbors, and security, just to be extra-safe. Most of these nut-jobs will NEVER follow through–thankfully, they lose interest when you no longer continue contact. BUT, better safe than sorry!!

    Keep us posted, sweetie!!! =))

  5. 46

    @ Hat P. – It’s people like you that discourage women like me to be honest and seek help. I went into online dating with an open mind, good intentions and I have taken every precaution possible. I had started to like this guy alot and unfortunately the situation is what it is. I do hope that your loved ones never have to go through this kind of sheer terror. I do not regret seeking true love. – Have a great day and thanks for your comments – they are hurtful, but I should expect this. – I don’t think I will post anything here anymore but I wanted to say thanks to everyone for their words of wisdom – You may have saved my life. Thanks, Jess.

  6. 47


    Get a big dog or a gun and learn how to use it. Under NO circumstances, NONE, should you let him into your house. Once he steps foot on your property you can call the cops. In fact, no matter how much they ignore you and make excuses, call the cops and make sure they note what more he has done. Good luck.

  7. 48

    Don’t feel you need to stop posting because of one idiot. Gotta wonder if Hat Pines is one of the internet manipulators, hmm.

    So sorry it turned out this way for you, but by sharing your story in this public forum, you may have helped many other women to pay attention to those “red flags” that can come up in internet dating and elsewhere. Thank you for being so honest.

    Stay safe. I’ll be thinking of you. (((Hugs)))


  8. 49


    Please don’t let one narrow-minded individual keep you from posting in the future. Your story obviously touched a great many people here, and like Selena said, your honesty may also help other women in similar situations.

    And the fact that you’re not one of the women who ended up in a 4 or 6 year relationship with this guy, but instead sought advice before meeting him, says to me that you are NOT easily manipulated!!! Even though you had feelings for him, you knew something was wrong with the whole situation. He’s 44, so he’s had years to become very good at what he does–so don’t buy into any BS about things you did, etc. Remember, it’s HIS issues, NOT yours!!!

    And please keep us posted, at least to just to let us know you’re okay.

    I’ll be thinking about you!


  9. 50

    It sounds like you are covering all of the bases by contacting the police, your boss, and consulting with your detective friend. I would also set your answering service up to record your phone conversations in case he finds your new number.

    Out of curiosity, why didn’t you just send a note explaining that he was stepping across healthy boundaries for you, him, and his love life before simply cutting him off? Why did you have those multiple awful conversations with him after you decided you wanted to end things?

    I’m not saying it is wrong. I am curious? What was the point if you wanted to cut yourself loose and if you left the guy a clue to help himself with?

  10. 51

    @Steve – because I am weak – period. There is no excuse.. I was beginning to fall for this man; and even when I thought that things were a little out of control and sought help.. I somehow had an urge to get back to make sure that I had not let a good man go? – I know.. I know.. it’s twisted.. but a part of me just wanted to make sure that my mind was not playing tricks on me.. and that he could be just socially “odd”… and as sick as this may sound – I needed to hear his voice one more time.. in a sane manner – Wanted to hold on to that and block out the threats… the hysteria, the demands.

    I thought it might also be easier if we talked (for him/for me) instead of sending a note. I wanted an instant response, I wanted explanations as to what was so hard/impossible about respecting my boundaries – etc. The other thing too.. is that I just felt unheard and when I looked back at our interactions – he would hear what I was saying and it would not “stick”.

    I am a what people like to refer to as “level headed” and I have made great judgements over the years.. but there was something about this guy that just captivated me as well?

    Crazy uh?

    (I have a feeling this post will open to more criticism and insults like I got from Hat P.)

    1. 51.1

      Jess, your being hard on yourself. Don’t be. I am a therapist and ended up in a relationship with a narcissist. The ‘scary’ side wasn’t shown right away although, when it started I didn’t respond in a way that was protective of myself until there was no way to avoid his hurtful and insecure behaviors. I ended up doing research and finding a site http://www.narcissismfree.com that helped me to understand. One of the reasons the manipulation works is because of the u ‘trance like’ state all the words of ‘specialness’ can put you in. People who have to be judging only do so because they have difficulty with acknowledgement of their own ‘issues’. As someone said earlier, you are a courageous woman. You actually did a great job of taking care of you. If you can don’t allow other’s words have you doubt that.

  11. 52

    Let it go Steve.

  12. 53

    Steffi…..I think my comment may give you some more perspective. This was a great post. I think us girls are annoying sometimes. We bitch and moan when a guy waits forever to say I love you, and than get creeped out when he says it on date five. Do I believe there is happy medium with love ? Absolutely, because I found mine. As I have stated in previous comments on this blog, when the realtionship feels right, things just happen naturally. Granted, we all have timelines in our heads about when a guys is supposed to say I love you, but if you feel the same, than him saying it on date five is not creepy or scary, but totally fabulous. No? In fact, one of my good friends has a friend (true stroy) who went on one date with a guy and they both said I LOVE YOU and are still together almost one year later. Now, do I think this was LOVE or most likely lust and two people, whom like Evan said, we in the same place emotionally? Some woman think it is totally normal to fall in love date one, and hey some woman cant wait to fall in love and hear a man say it, because it is what they need. (Hence my ex’s sister who got engaged with a three Karrot ring after one month of knowning her now husband. This is the same woman who went through men like toilet paper and settled on the ones who made the most money to take care of her and her daughter. Am I being harsh? No it is true. She was as transparents as a piece of glass but the guys she dated bough it and eventually bought her and her daughter.)

    As I digress, I make the point that we all have different needs. Let me tell you one more story about me and the ex. I have referred to him on many posts not out of anger but because I have learned so much from that relationship about myself and my understanding of love. I was 25 and my best friend of six years began pursuing me for a relationship for almost six months. He was absolutely sure I was “the one” as he told me so many times. I loved him and I wanted to date him and we did for six short months. In fact, the first day we made the step from best friends to dating, he told everyone we were boyfriend and girlfriend and he must have told me he loved me about ten times that night. It totally creeped me out and I was angry that he assumed I was automatically his girlfriend even if we knew each other for six years. It also bothered me that he proclaimed his love for not because I didnt beleive he didnt love me as we were friends for so long, but he was not able to nor did not care that I was not in that place and his need to say it was much greater than his recagnize that I wanted to take things one day at a time and just enjoy our new found relationship. In fact I felt daily that he just wanted a girlfriend (“insert girl here”) as most of the relationship came to be about fulfilling his needs.

    At 25 I didnt know how to use my voice and speak up for myself and my emotions. How could he know he loved me right away? Granted, I loved him but I was not “in love” with him as we were just becoming intimate. Of course I believed he loved me as he made me feel like a princess and told me over and over I was the best thing that ever happened to him, well for the first three months. After that it was like crash and burn as Evan said regarding the analogy to the cocaine high. My ex lusted after me and loved me so much for months that three months into dating, as I was falling more in love with him, he was pushing me away and making excuses about not seeing me and “needing his own time.” I was so hurt and angry and wanted to scream “You could not wait to date me, and now you dont want to be around me”!?” The rejection was awful and I ended it after six months. The same guy who swore I was his soul mate grew out of love with me after three months? You can sense I still have anger about it and although I have worked through most of it, it never really goes away as I loved him and I wanted things to work. I have always been honest about that and nothing hurts more than loving someone who cannot or will not love you back.

    Soooooooo my story has more to it as I totally 100% think and acutally always believed, even though I did not want to admit it, that he was gay. (This is where my anger comes in because I should have known better as they say, but I have forgiven myself.) This conclusion was not to make me feel better after he pulled away from me, but all the sign were there and I realized, like McGreavy;’s wife, I was there to be a stand in wife to a guy who could not admit the truth about himself. Now, you are thinking that has nothing to do with Steffi’s story but it sort of does in a way. As a woman, you have instinicts and when you ignore them you get yourself in a relationship that you are not so crazy about. That does not mean you do not want to date this guy, but if you feel him saying “I love you” is a possible red flag, than this guy is not for you. That does not also mean you have to write him off this second, but think about what your gut is telling you. The most painful and shortest relationship of my dating years turned out to be the biggest life lesson for me. Never settle on love. It will find you.

    My happy ending came after many years of dating and being single after the ex who was in his world, supposed to be my husband and happily ever after. I accpeted that if I feel something does not feel right, than I move on. As hard and shitty as it is to be single and dating. I actually met my fiance on JDate two years ago and we are getting married in Nov. I have to say that when we dated, not one thing was creepy, weird or awkward. Everyhing just sort of happened naturally. He said I love you when I least expected it and when I was ready to hear it but he didnt know that. We moved in together when it was right and he proposed with out me having to ask, beg or give altimatums. I guess in my very long winded and poorly spelled post, when we have to ask all of these questions, we know what the answer is. I dont think love is simple or easy by any means and my man is not perfect nor am I, but overall the natural course of our relationship has been the core of my love for him.
    Only you know what you want, when you want to hear it. If the bells are going off, it is probably for good reason and it is time to think about what you know rather than you what you think!

    Good luck….love it out there!


  13. 54


    Post #51. I wouldn’t say you are weak. You had a rational explanation. You didn’t feel “done” with the guy and wanted to hear what he had to say in response to your issues. Thanks for satisfying my curiosity. As far as criticism goes I wouldn’t take it personally. Everybody gets it all over the internet.

  14. 55

    @Jessica – all the best – I thought you might find this article from USA today regarding many “over 40 somethings” find love – most have never been married and are now finding love.

    I thought it might be interesting to read some of the reasons why and as with your case – most of these men put career over romance. I hope this renews your faith in online dating and helps you know that there are some good guys out there – some older (which is a preference for you) that are true and honest.

    WITH THAT SAID PLEASE BE CAREFUL – My sister was murdered by her overly obsessive husband and I am glad that you had the courage to speak up. You are a shining example to other women.

    @Steffi – who knows – maybe you are the “cat’s meow”! – I am sure that things will work out for you as well.

    As a man – this has been a very eye-opening “forum” for me – and a healing of sorts.

  15. 56
    Michael Ejercito


    Almost everyone has weaknesses. We just have to learn from them and to overcome them.

  16. 57

    jess – you’re not weak for falling for the guy, or even hoping you could fall for the guy.

    we’re always told that in any relationship you have to overlook some of your partner’s flaws. it just takes time to decide for yourself which ones you’re willing to overlook. they never talk about how difficult it can be to discover your own parameters.

    but that’s what all our failed relationships are for, I guess.

  17. 58

    Regarding post #41 – yes, and that’s why I just stayed in the background and let Jess get some needed advice. This is what is so wonderful about the open forum here.

    Regarding me — we had a long talk this weekend and I’ve voiced many of my concerns and our relationship is going to be a lot slower and more fun and light. It’s nice to know this, but I don’t want it to overshadow something really great.

    Thanks everyone —

  18. 59

    hi i had just recently met a guy online who sounded wonderful to but he sure scared me off before i even met him he was saying i was the one!I’m a very attractive 48 yr old part time model and he’s 35 he kept repeating that I was everything he’d been looking for,i recieved sms’s everyday and he would start texting me and asking me the stupidest things just so he could hear from me,he even told his mother,father,and sister about me and he started planning our future together and saying if i was with you i would give you 110%and started saing things like(when your with me if you want to go out with your girlfriends at anytime thats cool,just let me know and there won’t be any dramas!!!)HELLO RED FLAG AND POSESSIVE ALREADY!!!)THIS WAS BEFORE I EVEN MET HIM??? and after only one meeting he told me he was in love with me and wanted to buy me flowers every friday and he would wait for me as long as it took and would pay expensive money to have my hair done if i wanted ect…,i told him to back off and had enough of this too much too soon drama and making me feel uncomfortable and told him we are just going to have to stay friends as we are,then after a second meeting of just being friends and wanting to hang out with me(as he tried to make me think) he tried to get into my bed when i told him he could sleep on the lounge it was so scary and creepy,yes we have to be very careful no matter how nice they are there is always a motive to me theres more than desperation here i think its very unstable to even make any comments like that when you don’t even know each other,its just not normal!!!even now at my age iv’e learn’t neer give your nmbr out to any guy you don’t really know!!!

  19. 60

    I’m sure most of you are aware that there is a reverse phone number search available on the web. Please don’t think because we don’t give out our real names or addresses at first, they can’t find it…..

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