I've been with my boyfriend for six years, and can honestly say that I love the crap out of him, but I seem to have a major issue with actually saying that out loud. For some reason, when the time comes it's like pulling teeth. I'm feeling increasingly bad about this, and as time goes by I am able to say it less and less. As for my boyfriend, he likes to tell me how much he loves me several times a day. This puts me in an awkward situation, as I can't usually force out the appropriate response.
I'm not sure how much it bothers him, but it has to hurt on some level. If I do manage to reciprocate it feels about the same way it felt as a child when my mom made me apologize to my brother after some injury. Forced and unnatural. I have to wonder if it has to do with our backgrounds. My boyfriend's family is very warm, open and loving, whereas in my family telling someone you love them is reserved for deathbed confessions. Literally, my uncle pulled me aside in his final days and said "well, I love you, dammit."
I never wanted to turn out that reserved, never letting someone know how much I care until the last possible moment, but here I am. I try to show my boyfriend in every other way how much he matters to me, but I feel that if I rarely verbalize it I might be jeopardizing our future together. I'm sure he doesn't want to be left hanging forever.