Why Doesn’t My Boyfriend Tell Me That He Loves Me?

Woman lying beside a man on the bed

I have been dating a guy for over eight months now. At the start he told me he was looking for a long term relationship.   He has yet to tell me he loves me. For his birthday last month, I signed the card “love”. He gave me a thank you card after and signed the card “love”. He does talk about me being in his life in the future. So why hasn’t he told me that he loves me? I thought it was the man who was supposed to tell the woman first.


Dear Sabella,

This reminds me of my list of 10 Secrets About Men:

Saying “I love you” is a major step in a man’s life. That’s why we wait for you to take that step first.

Yes, it’s a joke, but like most jokes, it’s wrapped in a great deal of truth. So why would a guy not say that he loves you?

Let me count the ways:

1) He’s not expressive. Men aren’t taught to share their feelings, blahblahblah. Do you buy this for even a second? I don’t. Everybody knows that women want to hear “I love you.” So what the hell is they guy waiting for? Armageddon?

2) The Chump Problem, My Why You’re Still Single co-author, Linda Holmes, nailed this one in our 2006 book. Essentially, by saying “I love you” first, you’re risking that your partner will not reciprocate, thus making you feel like somewhat of a chump. You, Sabella, took the risk, and here you are asking this question. He, on the other hand, already KNOWS you love him, which is why he’s not risking anything by reciprocating. This leads us to the unfortunate conclusion that:

3) He doesn’t love you. Or perhaps he’s not sure if he loves you. Either way, at this point, your feelings are stronger than his. This has to sting a little bit, but that’s the risk you take when you declare your love first.

Then again, that’s the risk anyone takes when taking any bold action. A guy can go to a bar and gawk at cute girls, but until he risks being rejected and feeling foolish, nothing’s gonna happen. High risk, high reward. That’s the stakes of the love game.

So what does this mean for you? Well, first of all, you learned a valuable lesson: it’s not the man’s job to say, “I love you” first. Especially if he doesn’t mean it. After all, it’s a bit of a dated cliché that a guy says “I love you” in order to get laid. These days we sleep together way before “I love you.” Thus “I love you” instead marks a turning point in the relationship. “Are we serious? Or are we just passing time?” A man who says “I love you,” willingly!, is indicating that he’s serious about a future. …

Ultimately, Sabella, you can’t twist a guy’s arm to say those three magic words, nor do you want to. Better for your boyfriend to make a statement by NOT saying it than to tell you what you want to hear. You don’t need a false sense of security from a guy who’s on the fence. Just know that every month that goes by without a reciprocal “I love you” is another month you’re investing in a very risky stock.

Just know that every month that goes by without a reciprocal “I love you” is another month you’re investing in a very risky stock.

It’s up to you when it’s time to sell.

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  1. 21

    Straight couples have it so easy and yet they just cant see it. Now I understand where you ladies are comming from becuase I am just as guilty when it comes to wanting to hear those words. I believe this is becuase I am a vocal person, my partner on the otherhand is not. He said it to me very early in the realtionship and I told him to shut up – say it when he means it, feels it, wants to scream it from the hill tops.
    That was a little while ago and now he does say it, not as often as i would like (every sentence shouls start and finnish with it 🙂 ) I realise that his was of SHOWING it is different to mine. Watch his actions, his body language (you girls are masters at this). And there you will find what you are looking for.

    Please remeber that men in our society are often told weather it be direct or not that showing emotion is a no no. We are expected to be the “strong silent type” the men you are dating are lucky enough to have a woman that can help them break down these barriers (slowly slowly or he will run). Can you imagine how difficult it can be with two guys?

    I think alot of straight people simply take for granted what society will allow you to do with no fear of reproach. I cannot hold my partners hand or show affection in public – becuase he is not all the way out (as a teacher in an all boys school this could mean the end of his carrer).

  2. 22

    I’ve been dating a man for 12 months and he hasn’t said he loves me but, I have (oops) He has 2 teenage girls and they’ve been difficult in accepting me. There mother is still very much in the picture. She left him 13 years ago for another man. The girls are tough on him (always) but, he doesn’t have a problem saying I love you to his family members? How long should I wait before hitting the road?

    1. 22.1

      Cissy your post caught my eye. Same situation! In the same boat here except going on 2.5 years. My how time flies. The ex and kids are going to be lifelong drama (theirs, I stay out of it) in my case. Don’t forget the kids will always come first. Always. If they don’t accept you, that’s going to affect his decision about his feelings for you.

      It kills me that mine says I love you to family members in front of me, (as well he should) but even after we had an honest talk about why he won’t say it to me!? Claims he doesn’t know what love means. Come on. Ouch. What do you think of that, guys?

      Right now I’m thinking about my needs, and are they being met? If he can’t or won’t meet them, it is what it is. I need to end the relationship out of practicality. Doesn’t matter how much I care – if he only “likes me a lot” but can’t or won’t meet my other needs for expression or connection, it’s time to move on and look for someone who can. I’m not going to stay out of pity because he can’t say it back. 7 billion people in the world, I’m guessing there are other choices.

      It seems silly to me now, 2.5 years. The benefit of the doubt has run out.

      Good luck 🙂

  3. 23

    downtowngal wrote:
    “I disagree that a women should have to say it first – the beginnings of a relationships the guy is supposed to impress the woman to win her affections.”

    I disagree that either gender should have to say it first. Actually, at the beginning of a relationship, no one is “supposed” to take an initiative based simply on their gender.
    m wrote:
    “And for the most part, we have to do that sitting and waiting because doing ANYTHING ELSE spooks you all and then you run off like scared rabbits.”

    Quite a generalization/stereotype here. Things like this really depend on the individual person.
    downtowngal wrote:
    “Steve, a woman’s ‘job’ is to be happy and make the guy feel like he’s #1; a man’s job is to make the woman happy.”

    It’s a couple’s job to make each other happy. And no, not every guy is out to have his ego boosted — just as I wouldn’t imagine the same is true in general for women. I’m surprised that some people still cling to such outdated values, or feel that their personal experience applies to everyone.

  4. 24

    The guy I have been with for almost 5 yrs, no longer says he loves me, sex is only a memory. I have asked over and over till I have no more tears to shed, as to why. He claims he loves me. He claimed the lack of sex was due to a woman who seduced him and then laughed at him when he was 15 and she was 25. He fears rejection I thought. I praised him, loved him, did everything to prove my love. I never once laughed at him. He got drunk and finally made love to me but the next morng he had no clue what even happened per say. He has no problem looking at other females. He gets mad when another man pays any attention to me. It is like he doesnt want me but doesnt want anyone else to have me either. He has left me several times and come home with hateful comments like I got laid, If you think your the best your crazy. I even caught him picking up a hooker but again he pleaded black out. How can a man switch so fast from being a loving man to ignoring completely. He will talk about the future and us being together. I gave up talking about sex period. Ppl says put a video on to excite him but I feel if I cant excite him to the point of making love then why should he watch a movie and then act out fantasies because of the video and not because of me. Like I am just there to please him. ?

    1. 24.1

      Patty, your man sounds like a narcissist. If you don’t know what that means, look it up. You can’t change or fix a narcissist, you really need to end this. It will be hard of course (believe me I know!) but the longer you stay, the longer it will take to heal when it ends, and I’m sorry to say, but it is only a matter of time before it ends. It usually escalates to abuse the longer you let it go on. Good luck to you.

      1. 24.1.1

        A narcissist, huh? I sometimes wonder if mine is. I feel for Patty. I’ve been with my guy about 14 months now and i love you is like a game now. If I don’t say it first he doesn’t but when on the phone..sometimes he’ll say it first.   He turns hot and cold, always blames me yet says “just because he doesn’t want to talk (to me about our relationship )doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me”. I get confused. Then I ask him randomly and sweetly, tell me something you love about me..crickets…i tell him how i love how he cares for his daughter. He tells me he loves that i do that too..and that I buy him stuff. Lol. Sigh

        Sometimes i feel like I’m dating a 15 year old. :/ yuck

  5. 25

    Well, now this is a conundrum, isn’t it? On the one hand, per another post by Evan, when a man says one thing and behaves in a contradictory manner, he was “just being in the moment”. Ok, fair enough. But does that mean you put any stock in it when he says it? By the same token, if he says it too quickly, you’ve probably got another issue on your hands, because you know it’s not sincere (yes, yes, there are exceptions).

    I also see the point that it’s not the “job” of the man or the woman to say it first; but I’m not sure I want to be the first one to say it, because then it feels like I’m the “pursuer” at that point. And it does seem that once the woman says it first, things start to head south from there (again, I know there are exceptions).

  6. 26

    Sometimes I just am not sure really what this deal is.. I have dated guys in the past that I was more distant from and they gave the “I love you” within a couple of months.. and always cards and flowers and very sweet. and in turn I am very sweet to them..

    .. Now I am seeing someone I am actually into and he seems into me (from what I can tell). We have been dating a few months and nothing is stated in the way of “I love you”.. OK, so it is still early on and I can have some patience but only so much cause I am not wasting my time or his..

    But what kinda blew me away is that for xmas he got me a Victoria’s gift card which was very nice but no card or anything of true sentiment, not even a little card for the bag and I knew he went shopping for cards for others (probably family).. and the gift card really is more for him than me when it comes to Victoria’s… I have given him a couple cards since we started dating including christmas but nothin really in return.. and I am not stating the “I Love You” if he is not on the same page.. and after not getting a card or something of sentiment? well

    I can’t tell if he is just not that way but he did make efforts to go get cards for others while he was shopping..

    At this point I already feel that I have put more into this and should probably back off a bit.. I really don’t want a guy that can’t put his emotion out there if I am going to put it on the line.. might as well be alone!! my girl and guy friends give more heart than that!

    No Love? No Sentiment? No Heart? He acts like he really is into this relationship…


  7. 27


    Well, you could refer back to the post in which Evan says, “sit back and do nothing”. Watch and see what he does. If he behaves as though he’s into the relationship, that’s probably worth more than words.

  8. 28

    Heck if I have to wonder then there is really nothing to “sit Back” and wait for. If a guy doesn’t have the ability or want to make a woman feel as if he is into the relationship or leaves her guessing.. well that speaks for itself.. and at that point it is a waste of my time to give up on others would enjoy my company and treat me with more respect and decency.. I really like this guy no doubt, but to put my emotion out there and not get enuf in return? that is a waste of my emotion and time and both are precious to me.. Thanks for your advice but heck if I am sitting around waiting for reassurance from a guy that pulled me into this relationship. Single works for me!! Does waste my time keep coming up?? yup… if anything I have learned is life is just to short for bs.


  9. 29

    Snwgrl, I see where you are coming from, but I think maybe my point wasn’t clear. I’m not saying you “sit back and wait for him”. What Evan said in that post was to watch what the guy does. If you like it, stay. If you don’t, go. Listen, I’m with ya. Cut to the chase. Evidently, though, men don’t work that way. Or I am missing something. Most of the dating/relationship advice I see says women should keep their emotions to themselves until we see how he behaves. I had been working on building a connection with someone who was special to me. I didn’t chase, pursue, do drama or any of that monkey business. I still lived my life, went on with my pursuits. If I did anything wrong, it was to be open about my interest. He’s disappeared. Well, what do you do but forget it and go on with life?

  10. 30


    Well I guess sometimes the distance that I showed with this gentleman musta snapped him because he initiated a conversation inquiring what was going and why I was so distant by taking me to dinner and we talked over a bottle of wine.. I shared that I didn’t appreciate not receiving a card and I don’t want to just hang out or I should just be single.. He said he tried to find a card but couldn’t find the right one and doesn’t want to loose us and does have deep emotion but also fears. I am fine with the openess of emotion and fear.. Don’t we all have those fears of being hurt or used or taken for granted? I suppose we learn more if the effort is put forth… and I told him also that I am not going to sit back either.. Either we have something or we don’t!! He does want this relationship and will be more aware of my emotional and mental needs.. and I for him as well…


  11. 31

    Snwgrl, good for you! That sounds like good news for your relationship! Just as a side joke, there really is someone for everyone. Just watch “My Big Redneck Wedding” on CMT.

  12. 32

    I think either way you approach this is hard… you can wait it out and still get nothing in return another 8 months down the line OR you can pressure him into saying something he isn’t authentically ready to say and go ahead and blow it now. It’s a double-edged sword isn’t it? I’ve been with my boyfriend for a year and a half. He’s only told me he loves me a few times… recently I expressed that I need to hear words of affirmation from him (i.e. I love you) and for him to express his feelings in WORDS. He finally did ONCE, but I pressured him again about it and he got pretty irritated. His explanation for not expressing his feelings is that he just wasn’t raised that way and that he doesn’t put a lot of value on words, but he feels that his actions should be enough to reassure me of his feelings for me – he does SHOW his love through actions. Well, I am a woman with a big heart and I want it ALL!! Actions and words! But, I love him (even though I don’t tell him which I hate b/c I want to tell him every day, but I know it will make him uncomfortable) and I think actions do speak louder than words in the long run. My ex-husband told me he loved me several times a DAY, flowers, cards, you name it… but, he was having an affair, going to strip clubs and addicted to porn at the same time. I guess if I have to choose, I’ll take actions of love rather than empty sentiments. The bottom line is, do you trust him?

  13. 33
    A strong womans perspective

    I’d just like to say, that relationships are not only about perspectives… but also personal standard. I have been in quiet a few relationships, not all for the best. But none the less most were very good men just were not the right ones for me. First off you can try your very best to communicate in a mature and heartfelt manner and hope they get where your coming from, and change whatever it is that needs attention. Honestly… you have 2 choices after this if things dont turn around… You can either wait around hoping that one day your going to get what you need in this relationship and hurt continually until then (which no one should have to endure) or Walk away. I am VERY strong believer that god has a plan everything will work out just the way it’s supposed to…. so if u let go he may or may not come back but atleast u know that pain is only temporary… rather then staying in an unfullfilling relationship. Why be with someone who can’t or won’t offer you what you need… when someone else out there will!!

  14. 34

    I think it is so ironic nic31 about what you say about being told all the time that you are loved but by someone who cheated.. I have been with guys that say Im their life and they love me more than any other woman but they were cheaters.. and as I say they, I do mean more than one and one that I was married to.. the others just supposedly committed their love … ha

    I think actions are very important but if the words can’t be expressed than the guy is just plain out and out selfish or really doesn’t have the feeling.. yes the word doesn’t mean crap without action but it takes both.. just like it takes two people to make a relationship.. and who has time to wait around wondering if love is really there? Does the guy not really care enough to hold on to say and show love and emotion? Are you there just to fill space and his selfish need for a woman who loves him but no responsibility on his part for emotion? Really as partners both sides need to be connecting and sharing emotion.. if there is nothing after 3-6 months than time is just standing still waiting.. unless you are in the relationship just for kicks, than maybe it is better to jump ship and be open for other opportunities in life.. Life is 2 short to wonder about a relationship and have no security shown. You are better off alone and at least the only question is what is on the agenda today and not what does this man feel for me? does he really love me? Do I stay or go? all said and done.. Maybe a good romance novel into fantasy land would be more fulfilling… lol

    I am in the process of testing out my own situation and I am not pushing forward in the relationship unless I have more from the guy I am involved with.. we are only 3 months in to the relationship but after another 3… well I have to make a cutoff of some kind just for my own sanity and self fulfillment. I am good on my own with no commitment and heck if I will be the man or the pursuer in a relationship.. just doesn’t work out well like that most of the time (and yes I have seen exceptions but I don’t think I am willing to take the time or chance)..

    So set your own limits and security… he will either be there or not.. and if not.. well it wouldn’t be the first heartbreak for anyone and like I said.. the biggest question of the day would be, “What do I do today”…

  15. 35

    another little tidbit..

    A friend of mine was recently dating a guy that really didn’t give much in the way of emotion but he held on to her as if something was really there.. well low and behold the guy ended up doing her friend.. now that is worse than not saying I love you and a lesson.. if the guy is not worthy and does not show or express emotion than you are just being played and used to fulfill his male ego and needs..

    I know too many women that crave the emotion and just aren’t fulfilled..

    The ones that do OK are the ones that have basically set their own standards and live their own life and don’t let a man dictate their happiness based on what emotion he is capable of sharing… Her terms!! Let him earn the emotion instead of the woman trying to push through to emotion.. if he has issues, well that is his problem!! maybe he should get counseling..

    Make sure to have a good friend support group that you can get with and find activities that you enjoy that take you to your world and not worrying so much about him and his world…


  16. 36

    That is something to think about Snwgrl. Thank you for your words of encouragement. We’ll see how it goes… I’m not giving up on him yet, but the lack of expression has definitely raised a red flag. The problem is, he has always been this way, and now he feels like I am trying to change him, which really is true. HE hasn’t changed, it is me who has changed. As the relationship grows and we get deeper, I want more emotion. So, to him it looks like my demands have changed and my expectations are higher. I think that is natural. It’s called progression. I guess I feel I’ve earned it at this point. Like I said, we’ll see…

  17. 37

    Good Luck and I wish you all the best Nic31… if relationships were so easy there would not be so many divorces!! better a breakup than a divorce.. One think I remember in alot of books on troubled relationships (such as women who love too much).. what a man lacks in a relationship b4 marriage or long term will decrease by 50% at least if not more.. So if the dude doesn’t show emotion or love enough now, imagine later when he feels set in the relationship.


  18. 38

    Yikes… that’s a hard reality to swallow. I’v never heard that statistic, but it makes sense. Well, best to you as well. Thanks for the advice; I will carry it with me. 🙂

  19. 39

    I got a wacky idea: seeing as how we are no longer living in the Dark Ages, or Saudi Arabia for that matter, maybe you could spring into the 21st century, stop waiting for a guy to do everything for you, and open your fat mouth and say it to him. Maybe he is waiting for you to say it. It’s amazing that we’ve had women in politics, the military, business, sports, etc. yet women like this seem content to play the traditional role.

  20. 40

    I’ve read all the posts and I just would like to say that i think alot of people really pull out of a relationship too quickly. I think being too pushy and not willing to wait will also turn a guy off. I too am finding this balance extremely hard.

    I have been going out with my bf for 3 years now. Last week before we fell asleep he told me he loved me. I was shocked as it really came out of the blue. . When I mentioned to him and asked him where it came from he really took it like I was doubting him. But I was really just shocked where it came from. He knows that I need that from him but have been upset recently that he is unable to give that to me. I’m waiting a couple more months before I make the decision to leave or not. I feel I’m swaying that way to leave. Anyway now he’s stopped saying he loves me because hes scared that he will be shut down again if he says it. And that I need to earn his trust again…Anyway I flat out asked him if he was saying it because he felt it or if he was saying it because he was trying to make me happy. It was the latter and I got really upset.

    I think he honestly wants to make me happy thats why he said it, but he told me before that he would only say he loves someone when that is the person he wants to marry.. But now he’s only said it to me because he wants me to be happy, that or he doesn’t want me to leave…

    Its really tricky knowing when you should hold on to something or you should let it go.

    1. 40.1

      I’m in the same boat. 2 years in, but started having doubts about 4 months ago. It is VERY hard. I truly love him and I believe he loves me but sometimes that’s still just not enough to be fulfilled in a relationship. I feel we need to be moving ahead together and I don’t feel like that’s what we’re doing. We’ve gotta focus on what we want and know that we can have it. I’ve been guided to get very specific about what I want in my partner. So I continue to construct those wants knowing I can birth this vision – It may be with him, may be with someone else, but it’s possible and we have to be true to what our hearts need.

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