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I Can't Say I Love You

Group Therapy: I Can't Say I Love You

This question is from a Group Therapy post in our TrèsSugar Community. Add your advice in the comments!

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.

Have a dilemma of your own? Post it anonymously to Group Therapy for advice, and check out what else is happening in the TrèsSugar Community.

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karlotta karlotta 4 years
How about just telling him what you told us? Maybe he doesn't care, because he can tell you love him from your actions (which speak louder than words anyway) and he'd let you off the hook, which may actually turn out to make you feel MORE comfortable saying the words with all pressure and neediness gone.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 4 years
Short term, if you feel it but don't like to say the words, maybe you can have some sort of code. My parents squeeze each others' hands three times for "i-love-you." When we are in public my fiance and I say "Gesundheit" so that we don't gross other people out by being too pda-ish. Long term you might think about expressing yourself, since I can almost guarantee this bothers your boyfriend on some level. But baby steps.
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 4 years
Short term, if you feel it but don't like to say the words, maybe you can have some sort of code. My parents squeeze each others' hands three times for "i-love-you." When we are in public my fiance and I say "Gesundheit" so that we don't gross other people out by being too pda-ish. Long term you might think about expressing yourself, since I can almost guarantee this bothers your boyfriend on some level. But baby steps.
testadura67 testadura67 4 years
I'm in the exact same situation only in your boyfriend's shoes. My boyfriend will say it back if I say it first but it always comes out sounding weird and almost bedgrudgingly said. We've been together over 3 years and I know he loves me because he shows me every day. He includes me in every part of his life and does sweet things for me all the time, but never makes a production of it. I'm super affectionate and verbal and love romance so it took some getting used to, and yes, it used to hurt my feelings a lot. But after a while I realized, he may never promise me anything, but he has never let me down. And on the rare, RARE occasions he actually says it without me having to say it first, it almost brings me to tears it means so much. After 6 years, I'm willing to bet your boyfriend has come to the same conclusion. He should know you well enough at this point to know you're not verbal about your feelings. But if he honestly didn't think you loved him, I doubt he'd stick around. If you're really concerned, then talk to him about it, but I think you may be worrying about something that's probably not an issue.
dahliadreamer dahliadreamer 4 years
Saying 'I love you' can be a big thing for a lot of people, and I want to say I can relate, because I'm exactly like that. From my POV, I see it as a commitment. If I tell someone I love them and somewhere down the line they break my heart, well, it feels like a broken promise. Like I put my life on the line, only to fall into the water instead of hit an island. So my advice may not be as deep as Joe's, but really though it's more of a suggestion: Take baby steps. When you go throughout your day, really look at the things that you love about your man. Then go with words like, "I love it when you _______".or "I love that thing you do when _____" Can you sort of see where I'm going with this? The more you encourage your man that you enjoy what he does, you'll slowly be able to express how you feel without feeling like you took a five-story leap.
dahliadreamer dahliadreamer 4 years
Saying 'I love you' can be a big thing for a lot of people, and I want to say I can relate, because I'm exactly like that. From my POV, I see it as a commitment. If I tell someone I love them and somewhere down the line they break my heart, well, it feels like a broken promise. Like I put my life on the line, only to fall into the water instead of hit an island. So my advice may not be as deep as Joe's, but really though it's more of a suggestion:Take baby steps. When you go throughout your day, really look at the things that you love about your man. Then go with words like, "I love it when you _______".or "I love that thing you do when _____" Can you sort of see where I'm going with this? The more you encourage your man that you enjoy what he does, you'll slowly be able to express how you feel without feeling like you took a five-story leap.
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 4 years
Then be honest with yourself and be honest with him. Admit first to yourself and then to him that you need to learn how to express your feelings better. Then, you need to work with him together as a team for him to help you learn and practice how to express your emotions better. (And maybe the same for him too?) There is one more thing to consider. Does your boyfriend help you enough with your emotional needs, and does he give you enough emotional support when you need emotional support? And vice versa? Or are the two of you just "hang-out buddies" when it comes to (not) giving each other emotional support when it is needed?
JoeTyndall JoeTyndall 4 years
Then be honest with yourself and be honest with him. Admit first to yourself <i>and then to him</i> that you need to learn how to express your feelings better. Then, you need to work with him <i>together as a team</i> for him to help you learn <i>and practice</i> how to express your emotions better. (And maybe the same for him too?)There is one more thing to consider. Does your boyfriend help you enough with your emotional needs, and does he give you enough emotional support when you need emotional support? And vice versa? Or are the two of you just "hang-out buddies" when it comes to (not) giving each other emotional support when it is needed?
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