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Thursday 28 August 2014

Dear Mary: My boyfriend is great but he has never told me he loves me

Mary O'Conor

Published 24/12/2012 | 06:00

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I am with an amazing guy for almost a year. I love the very bones of him and we are unbelievably happy together. We never argue, and although we are chalk and cheese, we get along so well. I've never felt so safe with someone. I know he adores me and he would do anything for me. But I'm not sure that he loves me – mainly because he hasn't told me.

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A few months ago it was his birthday, and I gave him a card on which I wrote "I love you" and left it on his pillow before I went to work. He sent a text later that day saying "thank you for your card. It was really lovely xxxxxxxxxx".

Ouch! So about a month later, I brought up the topic and he just said "But sure, what is love? I don't know. I'm mad about you, I'd be really upset if we split up, I see a future with you so I suppose I love you". My response was that if he loved me he'd know, but that it was OK if he needed more time. But I asked that when he did know, that he would let me know. We haven't talked about it since although we still discuss a future.

I know it's only words and I should go by his actions. I know he's crazy about me but he doesn't love me. I was with someone before him where the words came easily but the actions spoke volumes. My ex dithered over our future and procrastinated about taking things to the next level. My current boyfriend has our future mapped out and wants the same things I do. However, I ignored signs in my last relationship.

I listened to the words and ignored the actions. But I'm worried that in this relationship I'm just doing the opposite. I'm going by his actions and ignoring his words (or lack of!).

Maybe he's just looking to settle down and is happy enough to settle with me. He's an eternal bachelor type from a rural area. He wasn't even very affectionate when we met initially but now he is very warm and affectionate towards me.

I am younger than him by some years, very tactile and emotionally open.

I am torn between thinking that he loves me but his reservations and personality are stopping him from saying it, and thinking that he really likes me and can see himself being happy with me in his future but he isn't in love with me, he is just settling.

What can I do? I don't want to pressure him into saying it because I won't know it's real.

Nor do I want to waste more years on someone who doesn't love me.

How wonderful that you have met somebody with whom you are so compatible, especially after your previous experience. I think that your ex has made you particularly vulnerable because even though he 'talked the talk' he didn't live up to your expectations.

I believe your boyfriend was very honest when he asked 'what is love?' Love means different things to different people, and we love lots of people in different ways.

No doubt you love your girlfriends, your parents, your siblings if you have them, and you show this love by the way you interact with them.

Your boyfriend makes you very happy, he meets all your needs and you see a future together, and in so many ways he is showing you that he loves you. Young people nowadays are very comfortable with saying that they love each other, but he is nearer a generation where this wasn't so prevalent. In addition he comes from a rural background which traditionally is not very much used to talking about feelings, but much more at home with hard work and putting food on the table.

If you have already met his family you will probably understand what I mean.

Indeed you have obviously had a great influence on him, and changed him a lot to get him to the stage of being openly affectionate with you.

But remember, change happens slowly and he may never be really comfortable with saying 'I love you'.

I don't think you should do anything apart from continue to enjoy your life together, and make plans for the future. You are selling yourself short if you think he is settling for you – he sounds like he knows his own mind and having been a bachelor for so long would have been happy to continue like this, were it not for the fact that you came into his life. So put the love topic out of your mind and enjoy your life together.

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