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.

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  1. 61
    Karl R

    Abby said: (#59)
    “Now correct me, but if he’s STILL With me after this, it means something. RIght?”

    It means that you’re his buddy and his booty call, not his girlfriend. This kind of arrangement is usually referred to as “friends with benefits.”

    Abby said: (#59)
    “you may be asking, are you stupid still being with him?”

    As long as you’re comfortable being “friends with benefits,” then you’re fine.

    But if you want a real relationship with a boyfriend who loves you, who wants to hug and kiss you … then you’ll need to find a different man to fill that role.

    And when your buddy decides that he wants a real relationship with a girlfriend whom he loves, whom he wants to hug and kiss … he’s going to go find a different woman to fill that role. Someone other than you.

  2. 62


    Karl is right, hard to hear, but it’s the truth.   Better to hear it now and accept the reality and make a decision one way or another, then not recognize what’s really going on and hoping things will change.

  3. 63

    Curious, do guys even say the L word at all anymore? (other than at the end of a phone conversation with an SO: “pick up some milk on the way home, we’re out, have the dinner ready by 7, and clean that house, it looks nasty, okay hun, love you, bye”). I’ve only ever heard one guy use it, and he was a hopeless, 19-century romantic. I mean, the man saw “Titanic” five times and shed tears each time the ship sank… of course, saying “I love you” was nothing to him. But what about everyone else? Is the word in use anymore or is it now an archaism?

  4. 64
    Karl R

    Goldie asked: (#63)
    “Curious, do guys even say the L word at all anymore?”

    I tell my girlfriend that I love her on a regular basis. The same was true in one previous relationship. In my other relationships, I didn’t tell the women that I loved them, because I didn’t have that strong of feelings toward them.

    Goldie said: (#63)
    “I’ve only ever heard one guy use it, and he was a hopeless, 19-century romantic.”

    I’m relentlessly pragmatic. It makes my girlfriend happy when I tell her that I love her. Our relationship is better when she’s happy. So, I try to make a point to tell her that I love her about once per day.

    On the other hand, you’d be unlikely to overhear me telling her unless you have exceptionally good hearing. It’s something that I say privately.

  5. 65

    Saying “I love you” to the person you truly love is one of the most difficult things to do.   I’ve been with my BF for 11 months and neither of us has specifically said the words, “I love you”.   He’s said, “You are loved” on several occasions and his actions show me a very high level of love and commitment.   I have said, “It’s a good thing you are loved,” in a joking way when he does something silly or we are goofing around.   I am ready to tell him those 3 words and every time I get ready to, I completely chicken out. I know I will have to say it first and I’m not concerned for him to say it back immediately.   I KNOW WITHOUT A DOUBT that he loves me.
    I think when you have such strong feelings for another person it is SO MUCH HARDER to tell them how you feel.   Fear of rejection is unusually high when we are so emotionally invested in a person.    But I can tell my cats all the time how much I love them…not that they care…haha
    Funny…I was in a relationship with a serial cheater who told me he loved me all the time…later I found out he had another girlfriend the whole time.
    In my serious relationships, the words, “I love you” DO NOT come easy for him or for myself.   I think men have to be REALLY sure of their feelings or feel their relationship is in jeopardy before they will choke up their true feelings.   But I admit that I have been this same way for my 39 female years on this earth.
    I guess if the words don’t come very often, they have more meaning than when you hear it every day.   Personally, if someone told me they loved me every time I was on the phone with them, I’d start to think it was just a habit with little to no meaning.   I’d rather have him tell me at the most intimate and special moments than every day.   Maybe I’m a weirdo that way.

  6. 66

    Wow…everyone has some good and bad comments regarding this…I am in no way a relationship expert, but from my experience i was with a man for 11 years off and on throughout, whom I have kids’ by and put up with an INCREDIBLE amount of b.s, stress, verbal, and physical abuse. i was told I love you every day, every phone call, hell too much if you ask me!! Thing is..it was said and not really shown in terms of how he treated me or wanted me to be happy. I ended that once and for all a little over 3 years ago and it was the best decision I ever made!!! I took 2 years to fully heal myself and get ME back and when i least expected it, my now boyfriend of 8 months, found me. He made me wait for any serious talk, and showed me the importance of TIME. It can be a very good thing to be patient and wait and to really get to know someone well to decide if they are right for you, other then being attracted to someone physically. There are some men out there that do really take their time with such things, because they aren’t being little boys’ anymore and they want to be sure of a woman. i did indeed tell him i love you first, because I meant it and really felt it…i didn’t expect it to be said back, because i knew if he loves me or comes to love me, he WILL tell me sooner or later with no pressure. I’m so very blessed and lucky he is so patient and has tried his best at being understanding of my womanly ways lol…he made the effort to do so because he really cares about me…He shows how he feels more then he says and literally told me this so I know and don’t “wonder”. He may not have alot, but if i need anything he tries to help in ways he can, he listens to me daily and never judges me or yells or curses ever, i may not be told in the words, but his actions speak volume and I know and feel he loves me and cares deeply. And guess what?? I finally got the I love you!!!

  7. 67

    What i don’t understand is why are WE supposed to tolerate it even when WE know that its not good enough, and we were hurt, I’m supposed to sit back and smile calm and respect the fact that I’ve been so left behind. ?   I really don’t feel this way   –   Why do people want to make things all about themselves anyway?
    Say it back to yourself than speak to your partner.   Is the relationship you even have fair.   From my experience there is always one that is doing more or less than the other.   And there is one that likes to try to take it all but no one can just ignore their sad feelings for so long.
    What is your plan to balance this out?   Would you date someone that always expected you to just appreciate what they give to you as they are.   If you are never satisfied, there is continually no answer.   I am supposed to be happy.   Just because I am smiling, does that mean I really feel happy.   Put away your ego, because it doesn’t even matter any more.

  8. 68

    I was dating this guy for the past 5 months. I am in my late 30’s and I had never been in love before. I gave this guy a chance because he appeared to be “emotionally mature”. He helped me to understand my feelings, deal with them, express them.. We had an amazing connection. 3 weeks ago, I wrote him a long and fun letter and where I told him   that I loved him.. And that was the end.. He told me that I am an amazing women, but he does not have the same feelings for me.. I have mixed feelings.. I am happy bc I finally felt what is to love someone, but I am sad, because if this is the outcome, I don’t know if I want to go through this ever again… And it makes me sad, bc now I know how I made other people feel.. ;(… You live.. You learn.. I hope the next one is better!!

  9. 69

    My bf told me “I love you” after 5 months of talking serious. He was in the middle of a separation from his wife. We told eachother I love you everyday for the next 6 months. His separation was now turning towards a divorce. For the next 5 months we still said “I love you”s. After the divorce was iminent one day he told me that we needed to cool things down because he felt he needed space to work on his divorce and couldn’t be there for me emotionally and didn’t want to hurt me in the process. I was hurt but agreed to cool things down even tho I didn’t exactly know what that meant. The very next day he tells me his misses me and that he LIKES ME. I was annoyed….. LIKE ME? Anyway, it’s been 2 months of cooling down and we still have feelings for eachother and are still intimate but he is still solid on not using any reference to LOVE or FUTURE or EMOTIONS with me anymore. I don’t know how long this divorce process and after effects(kids, selling his house, finances, people finding out he’s divorced, personal growth, etc) will take. I’ve been feeling neglected at times because I guess Im so used to us sharing our love verbally. I’m trying to be patient and understanding but sometimes it’s hard. I just hope he doesn’t take too long to come back around. I’ve already heard comments from him about getting his life together and straightened out could take months or even a year. I love him dearly but am wondering if I can hold on that long…..

    Oh and when he stopped saying I love you he also stopped showing me in other ways as well. He stopped doing little things that helped me see he cared. I had to tell him that it’s ok that you feel unable to express yourself to me emotionally but there needs to be a way for you to touch base with me every so often to let me know that you still do care for me and want a future together. He got mad at first and frustrated but I told him that if he keeps neglecting me totally that when his divorce is finally over that Id probably hate him from harvesting all this feeling of neglect and resentmet. He said he understood and I noticed he started doing little things that meant a lot to me. It’s not as in your face as plainly saying out loud “I love you” but it’s nice enough for me to have a reason to continue to be patient as he deals with his divorce and personal issues.

  10. 70
    Katarina Phang

    Fruitfly, don’t invest too much in him.   He’s clearly not ready.   And he won’t be ready anytime soon.   Just date casually with him and date other guys too.   Don’t waste time on recently separated/divorced guys -especially when his divorce isn’t final yet.

    He needs to go through his transitional relationship before he’s truly over his pain.   Do you want to be his transitional gf?   It’s emotionally draining.

    Go out and meet guys who are on the same page as yours.   Use those who don’t as a stepping stone to raise your goddess vibration so you will attract the right one.

    Just have fun and be happy.  

  11. 71

    I was with my ex for 11 months. I never once heard those 3 little words. Plus his drinking buddies, fishing trips and his local bar were always a far bigger priority than I ever was or could hope to be. Long story short? I dumped his sorry ass and moved on. The thing that gets me is why tell a woman that you want something serious and that you’re feeling ‘clucky’ when you had no intention of ever making her number one? We may live in a modern society but there are still guys out there promising something more just so that they can get ‘some’.

    The best way to stop feeling like crap is to stop letting people treat you like crap.  

  12. 72

    Jen,”I took 2 years to fully heal myself and get ME back and when i least expected it, my now boyfriend of 8 months, found me. He made me wait for any serious talk, and showed me the importance of TIME. It can be a very good thing to be patient and wait and to really get to know someone well to decide if they are right for you, other then being attracted to someone physically.”

    I am going thru something  like what you describe, you seem much more mature then some others posting. Hearing you say it that way really makes sense.   My husband of 20 yrs passed away Jan. 2011. A man I dated 26 yrs ago found me and we have been dating for 8 months. I am working on me and my kids, he is very patient and I’m just not ready to commit but hope to marry again someday. I am  in my forties and he is in his fifties, I adore him and even though he doesn’t have much, he always offers to help me.  We are taking our time to ge to know each other,   I am lucky  he found me.          

  13. 73

    these comments are really helpful. i am female, 36, and rarely say i love you to anyone, including family. i show my affection/love through my actions and always have. then, i meet mr. right and he is the same way – he won’t say the words and we’re at the 6 month mark now (and i haven’t said them either, and won’t ever unless/until he does). the thing is, he told me on our first date that he would have a hard time saying the words because emotions are difficult for him, so, thankfully i was pre-warned; he also told me i could expect to see his love in other ways, and i have. he is very caring, respectful, and just treats me right and maturely. women should recognize the extreme difficulty men have with the words and look at the actions/behaviors for the meanings – and why rush love? if you are truly meant to be with a person take a long time to be friends first and see if they are even worth entering into a relationship with. i think couples skip the friendship part and end up angry with the partners’ shortcomings. become a friend first and you’ll know what they are capable of.

  14. 74

    I told my BF I love him because I do love him. Not because  he had to say it back to me. It woul dbe nice to hear it from him too . It didn’t happen so what the heck I still love him. The fact that he didn’t say it doesn’t make me love him any more less  .   He can be an a Douche bag at times but what man isn’t? I would rather be with him than anybody else. I will take that chance

  15. 75

    I am one of those guys that “show” how I feel vs verbalize things early on.   I think I would verbalize when I got to the point of where I felt things were mutual.   In my last “relationship” I felt like I was the one always doing the nice things for her, treating her well with dinners, little things but not getting the appreciation back.   I brought it up with her but she didn’t seem to know how to say “thank you”.   When we broke up she said she felt like we weren’t connecting/getting deeper.    I definitely was holding back because she wasn’t showing that she cared in a manner that I could relate to.    So, maybe for some girls out there, keep an eye out for the guys actions… He will show that he cares if he does…. if he doesn’t show he cares it doesn’t matter what words he says.

    1. 75.1

      Actions aren’t enough.   Sorry 🙁   Most girls want both.

  16. 76

    I am waiting for the three words from my guy of three months.   I keep thinking this weekend will be the weekend.   I am almost 40 and he is almost 52.   I don’t know what the hold up is, but I have almost burst and told him a few times.   Actually, I have almost said it in my sleep as I roll over and we hold each other.   We have such a great connection and he even says we have something special.   He is not a player at all.   He is doing all the right things.   I would improve his during the week connection if I could, but I think it is too soon to make demands, it is also then too soon to throw in the towel if I am not able to say I have this need that in a relationship i would like met.   If I say I have this need or that need now he would think it was insecurity.   He is doing a lot of things to show he cares and the relationship is progressing.   I did not sign his valentine card with “love” I signed it with a heart and then my name.   I am not sure that word means anything until you hear “I love you” and not just “I Love your eyes, your this your that…”  
    I want to hear those words so I know I am not wasting my time, but then after I hear that I will want to have a ring so I know I am not wasting my time….It is a maddening cycle.   If I don’t have a ring at a year mark I will dump but it will be clear that I am leaving bc I don’t have time to waste on a man who is not sure about me and certainty means a ring on my finger and a date on the books.   
    I dated a guy for almost two years that didn’t treat me well and he always told me he loved me.   He also talked about a future and he said we should look at rings, well we never did.
    My new guy has asked what kind of diamond ring I like, if I want a wedding, and where I want to live.   So, I would think he is thinking along these lines.   He said he hopes I keep my hair long when I am older b/c he likes long hair….so he seems to think we will be together.   I am not as sure however until I hear the words I long to hear and until I have a rock on my finger.

  17. 77

    I broke up with my boyfriend maybe 4-5 times before he finally broke up with me after 11 months of dating. It was important for me to know whether our relationship was serious or not and many times I just felt so uncertain that I felt it would be best to just walk away. In the end, I think he was just fed up with my back and forth drama. A part of me was actually glad it ended, because now I could give myself the opportunity to meet a man that would be a better match for me. The sex was great and there was a deep connection, no doubt. But he almost never expressed his emotions nor did he ever say “I love you” without me saying it first. After incredible love making or even after sharing a special moment embracing, there would be no “I love you”, and then I would be left with a very sinking feeling. The one many of you know too well. I met up with a very close male friend at a dive bar one night and cried my eyeballs out just talking about how heartbroken I was because I felt so close to a breakthrough with my boyfriend….because many times he did show me that he loved me, just didn’t say it….if only I could give it another try….another 6 months/year…perhaps it’s not too late, etc. My male friend shook me so hard and told me he’d slap me if he wasn’t such a gentleman. He said it’s like this: When a man really loves a woman, he will ensure that she knows it and saying “I love you” will flow easily. A man that loves a woman, but intentionally withholds the “I love you’s” has serious psychological issues that might mean he detests and cannot love even himself. If this is the case, I just dodged the bullet. So no more crying.

    Yesterday, I was at a bookstore and I met a really good-looking, smart and funny guy who sat next to me. Totally spontaneous!
    His cell phone rang, it was his older sister, and he said he had to answer it but only for a moment to say he couldn’t talk but he would call her later. He was so tender and sweet on the phone and he said “okay, okay, I promise this is important… I just met the prettiest adorable girl and I love her smile. Oh there it is again, she’s smiling and I have to go. I love you. Tell mom, I love her too. Good-bye.”

  18. 78

    i have the same problem,,never heard those magic word for a long time,,,,my past relationship was boring,,i tried my hardest but didnt work out! now i think i better be alone for sometimes Mr,Right may come very soon;)

  19. 79

    “Aiden hasn’t said ‘I love you.’ Until then, you’re a free agent”. -Samantha
    I know quoting Sex and the City is not the most original thing, nor is it necessarily an ethical perspective, but it’s how I’ve been feeling nevertheless. I know I’ve loved my boyfriend for months already, to the point where I’ve even started to say “I love….” and have ended the phrase with “you hair” instead of “you” for fear of the “risky investment”.
    So, to distance myself, I rationalized on my past trip to Vegas that it was okay to live life as a single girl over my birthday weekend; besides, is he truly invested?
    Now, just days after my trip I still feel the longing to hear those three little yet ever-so important words. Why?
    Could be guilt. Perhaps I need him to not say “I love you” to justify my wrongdoing. Or because I desperately want him to say it so I can finally say it in return.
    Love is not something you can control, but you can control your actions. My boyfriend’s actions may show he loves me, but I’ve invested so much in hearing those words that I’ve compromised our relationship.
    How legitimate is a relationship before those 3 words? Is Samantha right?

  20. 80

    @ jbv # 75

    It’s so interesting what you say. My boyfriend  shows his devotion and faithfulness to me in a hundred different ways every day, he’s good to me and makes me feel good every day.  We spend all our free time together and I feel loved all the time.

    But he almost never says I love you. I asked him why this was and he implored me to judge him on his actions rather than his words. He said at a bachelor party he was recently at, most of the married guys were phoning their wives to tell them that they loved them, but half of them went home with other women.

    I can’t say I entirely understand this male perspective, but I did accept it and left it at that.

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