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

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.

Join our conversation (105 Comments).
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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. 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!!

  4. 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”…

  5. 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…


  6. 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…

  7. 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.


  8. 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. 🙂

  9. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 41

    I can’t imagine being in a romantic relationship for 3 YEARS with someone you are unsure loves you. Seriously. Why bother?

  12. 42

    He has never said he loves anyone before, he believes that if you love someone that you should marry them – and thats the person you are going to be with for life… He does everything else apart from say that…I have given him an a time limit so when thats up will see…

    everyone is different.

  13. 43

    Your Article makes great sense. Most of the time i come across Guys who say the ‘I love you’ too fast or too soon. And majority of times it is said to get the girl to share the bed.

  14. 44

    I’ve been with myguy for 2 1/2 years and he still doen’t want to tell me he loves me. He drunkenly said it 1 yr in and then took it back. He’ll say to me “I show you I love you” and I buy it!!! He hates when I say it to him, tells me I don’t have to say it. I’m in that relationship that “talks in terms of the future, but doesn’t plan one”. I think i’m done, I don’t know how much longer I can wait around for someone not to be scared.

  15. 45

    be patient maybe your boyfriend is scared of losing what? you guys have. My boyfriend hasnt said it because he says love is forever and he doesnt want to speak to soon. Hes probably not ready, dont pressure him into something he doesnt want to do or isnt ready 4 yet. Wait for him he’ll come around i garantee it. =))

  16. 46

    I’m struggling with a lot of the same issues I’ve been reading about here.? My guy is sweet and caring and supportive, he wants to be with me all the time, he makes plans for vacations and dates, he talks about the future like it’s assumed we’ll be together, and I’ve met his family and?his friends…but he doesn’t tell me he loves me, and it’s been almost 8 months.

    I was so upset about it this past weekend, I almost broke up with him, just to be done with the angst and misery.? I have been pretending that everything is fine for quite a while, and finally, these past couple of weeks, I just couldn’t do it anymore.

    Last night, I asked him point blank, “Do you love me?”? I figured the worst thing that could happen is he would say no, and I would at least be able to move on…Actually, the worst thing is being told that?your guy?is ‘falling in love with you,’ but that he doesn’t want to rush into anything,?as if it’s a painfully slow process you have to patiently babysit.? I feel like I’m being instructed to keep going even further with this painful holding pattern, risking my time being wasted and my heart being broken…again.

    I guess I should be happy to receive this partial positive as an answer, but I’m not.? It’s too much like my relationship with my ex, an epic failure that was characterized by the wait and see approach to every question…particularly when it came to love and committment.

    And for those of you who are wondering if I said it to him, yes, I’ve blurted it out a couple of times now, and I’m pretty sure he heard it at least once…so, no, I don’t think he’s waiting to hear it from me.?

    At least I finally spoke up that it’s bothering me.? I could have simply broken up with him rather than risking such a difficult conversation.? Now, the foundation is laid for me to break up with him in a few weeks.? I haven’t set up an ultimatum or anything, but he knows I’m not? happy, and it shouldn’t come as any great surprise if I can’t live?with these terms indefinitely.

  17. 47

    I stumbled across this post while googling “why he won’t say I love you”.   I found the comment section even more helpful than the article itself.  Now I don’t feel so alone and crazy for wanting to hear those three words.

    I’ve been dating a man for eight months now.  I adore him.  I couldn’t hold back the words three months in.  He didn’t return the sentiment and I felt crushed.  But I reasoned with myself that three months was actually quite soon and I should give him at least twice as long to fall in love with me.   I wasn’t ready to lose him and figured that IF i really did LOVE him, it shouldn’t be conditional.  So… no ultimatum yet. 

    Now, I’m sitting at the eight month mark and still no words of affection.  He doesn’t even say “You’re beautful”, “pretty”… or any other such physical compliment.  I’ve heard he likes my feet, my hair and of course my tatas.  But… what about my face?   Am I being unreasonable here?   I even got “You know I “L” you.”  Yes, he used only the letter “L“.  What gives?  He’s not fifteen years old for crying out loud.  This man is in his forties.  Give me a break!
    I’ve started to feel like we’re best friends rather than lovers.  Honestly, I have enough friends.

    I told him that I need to hear it… and maybe a few compliments thrown in for good measure.  He said, “I’m sorry, I’m just cold.  That’s how I am.”  “Well, I just have self respect… that’s how I AM.”  I’m not going to put up with the “cold” bull***t any longer.   Yes, I’m angry!  I’m angry because I’ve just wasted eight months rather than three.  My time is precious.

    I think we all have to decide for ourselves.  Just how long are we going to wait?  When truly, honestly… deep down we know beyond a shadow of doubt that IF it were TRUE, we wouldn’t have to beg to hear it.  He would be dying to tell me.   Although I’m forty now and time and my looks are slowly running out, I know there is someone out there capable of falling in love with me.  Someone who doesn’t think his d*** would fall off he says so.  

    1. 47.1

      I love love love your comment! My boyfriend is the same exact way and I am 30 and he is 36.  I cant deal with it anymore, he wont even say I look great on a certain day if I dress up.

  18. 48
    Karl R

    se2010 said: (#47)
    “I even got ‘You know I “L” you.’  Yes, he used only the letter ‘L‘.”
    “I told him that I need to hear it… and maybe a few compliments thrown in for good measure.  He said, ‘I’m sorry, I’m just cold.  That’s how I am.’ ”

    Either one of those statements would make me strongly consider leaving. And I agree that the first one sounds particularly immature.

    se2010 asked: (#47)
    “I’ve heard he likes my feet, my hair and of course my tatas.  But… what about my face?   Am I being unreasonable here?”


    I don’t know you, so I’ll have to engage in some speculation. I’ve dated a few women who were below average attractiveness. This tends not to be an issue for me, because I’ll focus on specific features of theirs which I do find attractive. And some features may not matter to him. I’m not into feet, so you’ll never hear me compliment a woman about her feet.

    If you expect him to lie to you, I’ll have to say that’s unreasonable. If you’d like him to be more generous with the compliments, that seems a bit more reasonable.

    Giving compliments is a learned habit. It makes my girlfriend feel good about herself when I do it, it improves the relationship, and it doesn’t cost a thing.

  19. 49

    Before you right this guy off, read Five Love Languages — or something like that.  The basic point of the book is that people express love in different ways.  The way you express love just may not be the way he does.  If he treats you well in other ways, perhaps that’s what is going on.    He has a different way of saying I love.  The problem is if he is speaking a language you don’t understand, you will misread it.
    Unfortunately for me, I read this book after I broke up with a boyfriend, but it helped explain soooo many things about his needs and my needs.  And if I knew then what I know now, I would not have been so annoyed with him for not navigating the world the way I do.

  20. 50


    While I think that is a good book to help us understand others, I must respectfully disagree that SE should stay any longer.  When a relationship becomes more upsetting and frustrating than edifying and uplifting, it’s time to let it go.  I suspect SE’s fella was/is quite satisfied to keep the status quo.  It requires nothing of him.  If he says he’s cold, that is not likely to change.  Evan has said time and time again that if a woman doesn’t like what’s going on then she should leave the situation.  Now, that having been said, we all have different thresholds of tolerance for things.  Sadly, for SE, it could very well be that said bf might just all of the sudden warm up and be openly emotional with a different woman.  It sucks, it’s not fair, but it is what it is.  If I were SE, I would make a clean break and move on to a man that is crazy about her.  If a man is truly over the moon about a woman, he will make sure she knows.

  21. 51

    The question is does he ACT like he doesn’t love her.  I’d prefer to have a guy who never says those words but demonstrates that he does over and over through his deeds and overall treatment of me versus one who says he loves me all the time and treats me like crap — which we know happens ALL the time.   The question she needs to ask herself is  HOW does he treat her, not just does he simply say words that can be hollow if not followed up with consistently loving behavior.  What if she is so focused on the words and overlooking the behavior.   That’s all I was suggesting — nothing more nothing less.   It would take her a day or two to read the book and get new insights.  I guess if I adored someone, one more day wouldn’t make a difference.  It’s not as if she said the guy was cheating on her or belittling her and doing anything bad.  Frankly, I think the fact that she says she needs to get out there and get a guy because her looks are fading suggests to me that perhaps she is a tad bit insecure.  When a woman is insecure, a man can never do enough to make her feel content because when you don’t love yourself, you don’t really believe that other people can love you.  She’s got to do it herself.  She’s got to believe the only person in the world who HAS to love her is her and getting love from anyone else is a delightful bonus.  Just my two cents.

  22. 52

    ive been with my boyfriend for almost 3 years. he has said he loved me on his own like 5 times. he isnt affectionate or he does not express his feelings. in order to get a i love u back i have to say it and sometimes he doesnt even tell me he loves me back. i feel like he is just use to me. we dont go out much anymore he sees me almost everyday and he just boxes himself in my room and watches tv. he doesnt communicate with his friends or his family much. a friend of mine wanted us to join her at a park for a bbq and he wasnt interested. hes always been the quiet type. i need advice on ways to change things around, he is not a approachable guy he has a temper so its not like i can just talk to him. i have been thinking alot on just disappearing and having no contact with him for a few days but before i do leave a email expressing my thoughts and feelings. i know i can do way better but just the thought of having to start over with someone new is exausting.

  23. 53

    i have been dating a guy for a year, and told him i love you.  he was in a very serious relationship prior to us dating, and he told me that he rushed to say it the last time, and does not want that to happen again.
    a lot of the time when im with him, i feel the urge to say “i love you” but i dont because when i told him, he did not say it back, and said saying i love you is very serious to him.

  24. 54
    Karl R

    helpme! said: (#53)
    “i have been dating a guy for a year, and told him i love you. […] he did not say it back, and said saying i love you is very serious to him.”

    Do you wish to continue dating this guy if he does not love you?

    If you don’t, then you should do the following: Tell him that you love him, and you understand that he might not feel the same way about you. Then tell him that you don’t want to continue to pursue the relationship with him if this is completely one-sided.

    If he loves you, he should take the cue and tell you. If he doesn’t, leave the relationship.

    You can’t make him love you. You (presumably) don’t want him to say the words if he doesn’t mean them. You want some clarity as to where you stand with him. Since you’ve been dating for a year, the guy should have some clue about how he feels towards you.

  25. 55

    KARL K – thank you for your insight. Your advice was very helpful, however, i feel as though that will take an awful amount of courage to say – seeing as if he doesnt say it back its over.  we have NO relationship problems other than this one thing.
    a lot of my friends are surprised to hear that he has yet to say it, since we are so close.  what if he says he is just not there yet, but knows that deep down, he can feel those feelings towards me? then what?

  26. 56
    Karl R

    helpme!, (#55)
    If your boyfriend doesn’t love you after being in a relationship for one year, than an extra five or ten years won’t change that.

    You need to learn whether he loves you or not. (Which is why you need to discuss it with him if he doesn’t say “I love you back.”) Then you’ll know whether another five years would be anything more than a waste of your time.

    1. 56.1

      Good advice Karl. I will take it myself. This whole issue is so much more than 3 words. Ok so we all have different love languages. If you love someone in one language, learn how to translate into words or another language! Or what they need to hear. Otherwise it’s an excuse and a cop out. Declaring feelings like that is serious to everyone, not just men.

      This issue has led to my relationship going downhill. I find myself consciously holding back my feelings. He stonewalls. Getting resentful. Don’t love me but want me to babysit your misbehaving teens? I don’t think so anymore. Forget about sex. Knowing he won’t say I love you is a complete and total turnoff. At this point I’m not sure I want to hear it. Everything happens for a reason, sometimes we never learn what that reason is.

  27. 57

    Yeah your right. I tried to bring it up today, but the timing was off.  He is finishing up school an hour away from where i live in toronto, so the next time he comes in i plan to bring it up.  i assume skype is not the way to talk about this or on the phone…

  28. 58

    Wow, I am amazed at how many people out there are feeling just like me.  I have been with my bf for a year now and are yet to hear the I love you from him.  I asked him one time when we were about 5 months into the relationship at that point he wasnt there yet.  He almost “jokes” around the issue by saying things like “i must love you because i cant stay mad at you” and he often refers to my love for him… by asking me to do something for him and saying ” since you love me so much ” He did slip one time a couple months ago as we were both driving away with our windos rolled down he said “see you later babe, love you”  but as far as him just telling me he loves me, he doesnt. He has no problem telling his mom, grandma, grandpa, kids, even his long time best friend, he tells them he loves them like the words are going out of style,  which is why I feel so confused… if he doesnt have a problem telling the people in his life that he loves them then why does he not say it to me?  We have been together one year this month.. we live together and have a great time together….. seems like he should know by now…

  29. 59

    My boyfriend hasn’t said I love you after 2 and a half years. But there are reasons why I can understand why he hasn’t. I have done some wrong things in the relationship, and I regret them (not anything like sex with another guy, more like lying about talking to an ex more than once, and not telling him about it. I;ve done this more than once, and for bad reasons) BUT i fully regret them and have tried so hard to prove my trust.
    And I understand if he wanted to break up with me for it. But he didn’t.
    Now correct me, but if he’s STILL With me after this, it means something. RIght? And if he says, he didn’t think he could love me he wouldn’t be with me.
    But 2 and a half years?
    None of it adds up.

  30. 60

    Oh, and he never compliments me. He talks to me like I’m one of the guys, doesn’t hug, hates to kiss, and you may be asking…is he gay? no definently, not. he loves sex. and you may be asking, are you stupid still being with him? the answer. possibly.

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