Sure, saying "I love you," is a huge deal, but after a while you might start wondering why he's not saying it to you. One Reddit user had the same concern. After dating her boyfriend for a year and a half, she wanted to understand why he hadn't said, "I love you," yet. The men of the Reddit community responded with their own experiences about what holds them back from saying those three words:
1. He wants you to feel it first
"I like the George R.R. Martin phrase, 'Words are wind.' Saying it is nothing if you can't make her feel it. When you say it, it should be to confirm what she already knows because of all the things you've already done for her."
"I am very careful with saying that because it means a lot to me. I want to be sure it's true when I say it. I also don't much trust my instincts, which makes figuring these sorts of things out...complicated."
"I can only say it when I know for sure."
3. "Love" isn't a strong enough word
"Because words can mean absolutely nothing, so many people can say one thing and then do something else. Saying 'love' can also be completely meaningless. I love Star Wars, I love fruit, I love my dog, I love my parents. I love all these things yet the difference between one and the other is huge."
4. He's waiting for fate to decide when to say it
"I say it when I am in love with them. You just know. There's no 'it happesn [sic] after 3 months 5 days and 2 hours' or anything, it just happens when it happens."
5. He's haunted by his past
"Perhaps he is avoiding saying 'I love you' to you because it never worked out with the girls he dated before you. It might feel uncomfortable for him to describe his feeling for you with the same word he used to describe the feelings he had for his past gfs (ie girls that he doesn't want to be with anymore)."
6. He doesn't feel like it's time yet
"[E]very relationship is different, and operates at different speeds."
"I put off saying the L-word to a girl I was dating for ~1 year or so. I had some reservations about the relationship and was actively making plans to leave the area. I didn't cheat on her, and definitely cared for her, but I didn't seriously love her and didn't plan on continuing the relationship. Not saying I love you is easier than saying 'you're a space filler.'"
8. He's saying it through your love language
"I like to reinforce my feelings through actions and in some contexts non-verbal sounds. If you subscribe to the theory of the 5 love languages, words of affirmation are not very important to me when either giving or receiving affection. Instead, I much prefer Acts of Service (mostly for showing affection), Touch (mostly for receiving affection), and Quality Time (for both). I could conceivably not ever exchange words with someone and still feel like I have clearly demonstrated both how I feel about them and have a clear picture of how they feel about me."
"Saying 'I love you' doesn't really feel like it says anything. There are so many different ways of loving someone that the words have lost any significance."
As you can see, there's a range of reasons he might not be saying, "I love you." For this reason, it's important that you talk to him about what his reasons are. If saying, "I love you," is something that's important to you, you need to communicate that to him for the health of your relationship.
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