The poor guy who sent me this email said that I could respond publicly because he’s certain there are guys out there in the same situation. So here goes:
“…My girlfriend wanted to know where we were going and said that she could see herself falling in love with me. When she said it, I didn’t know what to say because I’m not sure if I’m in love with her. We’re cool, we’ve been together for about a year. Is she asking me to tell her that I love her?”
Excuse me while I sigh for about 5 minutes…
3 Words. 8 letters. 1 meaning.
Yes. She’s asking you to tell her.
Except…you don’t know?
I’m going to assume some facts that weren’t in the email. I’m going to assume she is your girlfriend and not an “arrangement”. I’m also going to assume this relationship has gone past simply dating and that it’s exclusive.
Okay. So you’re in an exclusive relationship, what now? All relationships have milestones; you go from a date, to dating, to not dating anyone else, to possible cohabitation or marriage. The transition time between the first three steps is much shorter – much, much shorter – than the time between exclusively dating and the “major step”. More often than not, she gets to that stage before you.
Perception. How you’re viewing the relationship and how she’s viewing the relationship are obviously different. She’s played it safe by saying that she can see herself falling in love with you. That statement is a bit passive; if she can picture it, then she already is falling (or has fallen) in love with you. But before she makes that declaration, she wants to know if you view her and the relationship in the same way. She’s not going to put herself out there without that safety net.
Yes or no: do you think about her when you’re not with her? Do you envision a future with her in it? Do you ever wonder what your kids will look like (assuming you two don’t have any)? Does the thought of NOT being with her upset you in any way? Does the thought of not being with her freak you out more than thoughts of saying I love you?
Now, I could easily say to you “go back and tell her that you care deeply for her, but that you haven’t reached that point yet…” But that would get your ass seriously whipped.
One would think that you’ve examined your feelings, but maybe you haven’t…so you better get on it hunny bunny. She’s forced your hand in this situation, and if you can’t picture a life with her past your immediate future, then you’ve got problems.
She’s pictured it. She’s wondered what your kids will look like. The thought of not being in a relationship with you upsets her. Ultimately, she wants to know that this relationship has an end goal and that you’re “working” towards something.
“I love you.”
This says to her you’re serious and that there is an end goal. This says that you will one day take that major step with her. This will be her comfort a couple of years from now when your relationship hasn’t evolved past what it is today. Knowing that you love her will be her response in five or ten years when people (including the little voice in her head) doubt the relationship and wonder why you two still haven’t taken the next step.
Yes or no: do you love her?
I will say this: if you really did, you wouldn’t have emailed me in the first place.
You’re not ready. I’m sure you care about her… otherwise you wouldn’t have emailed me. Your question then isn’t about her honey. It’s about you. You want to know how to preserve what you have right now, today and not lose it.
Straight goods: your answer will be her yes or no. If you love her, she stays; if you don’t (know yet) she goes.
I don’t know how long it’s been since you two had that conversation. If she’s brought it up since then and you still haven’t responded, then she is definitely waiting for you to say it/confirm that this is a relationship worth her time and investment. If she hasn’t brought it up since that convo… well, you should.
Don’t hide from it and ask her where she sees the two of you going. I WILL warn you, she’ll interpret that statement on it’s own as a sign that you do love her. So if you ask, you need to tell her that you don’ t know.
Her response will be something like, “you don’t KNOW?! Motherfucker how do you not KNOW? You either do or you don’t!”
So…tell her that what you don’t know and then tell her what you do know. Tell her all the reasons you’re with her today and then give her a choice: you two can continue on with what you think is a good thing, while you figure your shit out. Or you’ll have no choice but to accept the consequences of not saying I love you today and watch her leave your ass behind.
BUT, if you do love her and you’re just too chickenshit to say it because the last time you did you got your heart broken…
Nut up and tell her, or run the risk of losing a woman you love.
Disclaimer: I’ve never been the one to say those 3 words first…ever. Ladies, weigh in on this: what should he do?