“Are His Kind Gestures His Way of Telling Me He Loves Me?”

I’m hoping for some insight on a “situationship” I am in. I was seeing a man for a year and a half. A year into it I divulged I was falling in love with him, at which point he told me I was a wonderful woman and, while he trusts me, he couldn’t offer me any emotional attachments. I’d like to add that while we would go to dinner and movies and I might sometimes spend the night with him, I never was introduced to any of his friends or family. Well, I fell in love with him and, while he was always loving and kind towards me, I wanted more and so I ended it. We would still chat from time to time, and I considered him a friend.

A few weeks ago I found myself in dire straights. He had been messaging me on social media and I didn’t respond for a week or better, out of embarrassment of the situation I found myself in. When I did finally respond and tell him of the situation, he immediately said “I’m getting you out of there.” He told me I would be staying with him until I could get back on my feet; he also purchased me a phone and wants to buy me a vehicle — none of which I have asked for from him, nor ever would.

While he says we are friends, we are having sex and I sleep in the same bed as he does when there are other sleeping options (his idea). I have since met his best friend, and he plans to take me to meet his mom and step-father this weekend. When asked what gives, he said “You’re going to be staying here for a while and they are going to find out, so you may as well meet them.” He has also included me in plans for an out-of-state trip with said best friend and friend’s wife this November.

He has commented on how he and I have “crazy stupid sex” (his exact words) and there have been times when it feels as if he’s come close to telling me he loves me, but he never has. I’ve never felt such intimate intensity, and we have great rapport.

Am I reading way too much into his wanting to help me get my life back together, or are these gestures his way of saying he loves me without using the actual words? — Love Without the Words?

Do you need the actual words? What would the words give you that you aren’t currently getting? It sounds like the guy DOES love you, he cares deeply for you, and he enjoys your company and your physical relationship, but obviously, he’s not committing to you. Telling you he loves you wouldn’t be a commitment either. Are you looking for a commitment? If so, don’t fool yourself that an expression of love is going to give you that.

But to be honest, you don’t sound like you’re in a position to build a relationship anyway. You aren’t self-sufficient; you’ve gotten yourself into a “situation” in which you needed someone to come save you. You don’t have your own home. These aren’t small things. These are things worth the main focus of your attention. I mean, sure, enjoy the attention and expressions of care and love from this man, but don’t make him the center of your world. And definitely don’t count on this to be a permanent solution to your problems. His keeping you at arm’s length by NOT saying the words he knows you want to hear is his way of telling you not to get too comfortable. So don’t.

Be grateful you have a safe place to stay, but be looking for your own home immediately. Relying on help to “get your life back together” from someone you’re head-over-heels in love with who cannot or will not give you what you want is a recipe for disaster. Any relationship that will stem from this is almost surely doomed, as is your self-esteem.

Get your life back together and THEN worry about “what gives” with this guy and your status with him. After all, a relationship isn’t going to save you. You need to save yourself. And you can’t have a healthy and satisfying relationship as long as you’re in a position of being completely dependent.


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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.


  1. When someone tells you that they won’t want to commit to you, believe them.

  2. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

    A person who wants you to get rid of an animal for having an accident is a POS. Remind him that he’s likely to be having some accidents himself one of these days and give him a brochure for a lovely state run nursing home. They’re no kill also! Move out and give your doxies some extra love.

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      @juliecatherine – you made me snort. Thank you.

  3. Ele4phant says:

    In general I agree with the advice to LW2 – this man does not seem as invested in the LW as she is and it’s time for her to move on.

    As an aside – an animal urinating or defecting is a huge no go for me (outside off of course a letterbox or a piddle pad). I would lose my shit if an animal went pee or poop in my house – that animal would not be welcome. Especially if it was going to be a reoccurring thing. It’s not innate object > animal, it’s the cleanliness and hygiene of my home > animal.

    I mean, he shouldn’t of moved in with her if he knew one of the dogs had potty issues – that’s on him and he’s an asshole for other things – but I’m totally sympathetic to him wanting the dogs out after that.

    1. Avatar photo Dear Wendy says:

      Yeah, but if your significant other refused giving up offending pet, you wouldn’t accuse him/her of choosing the pet over you, would you? To me, that’s the same as saying you would be choosing a carpet over him/her.

      1. Dachshund mom says:

        As an owner of a dashound I can tell you these guys have a mind of their own. Aside from that if you can’t handle messes now and then I truly hope you have no animals. This guy is a jerk through and through. He values his rug (HIS RUG!) over his live in relationship. I would take my pets and go. He also seems like a pro gaslighter

    2. Every single animals has accidents even if they generally do not have potty issues. If this is so over the top that he is freaking out he shouldn’t be with someone with pets ever. EVERY single pet will at some point have an accident for a number of reasons.

    3. Northern Star says:

      An incontinent animal can be a deal-breaker. I moved in with my husband, and one of his two cats has occasional (unpredictable) nighttime bowel problems, while the other is so fat he doesn’t always clean himself thoroughly. We had to come up with a solution, because I can’t live in a house with potential poop remnants everywhere. Especially with carpet. And my husband understood, so we DID come up with a solution.

      It’s not a matter of “rugs over relationship,” it’s a matter of feeling like your HOME is disgusting, smelly and embarrassing to visitors. I can’t live with that.

      The way the guy handled it shows he wasn’t interested in figuring out a way to deal. But possibly it’s because the letter writer is in denial about the extent of the issues her animals cause, too.

      1. Motherhood’s going to hit like a ton of bricks then ?

      2. That’s awful. Kids are going to be awful for you. I would have lost all respect for my significant other if he got rid of loved pets because the new spouse didn’t like them.

    4. Avatar photo juliecatharine says:

      Seriously if you can’t deal with accidents never get an animal, have children, or grow old. Shit happens—literally—and you will need to deal with it eventually.

    5. LisforLeslie says:

      Recurring accidents are not the same as the occasional accident. We know this. Nonetheless, one is generally considered to be an supreme asshole if one kicks out (or kills) a long term or disabled companion.

      This guy is a dick. Seriously. No one likes living with pee-smell, so if that’s the issue, then get rid of the carpeting if possible and get some better pet stain/smell remover. But if the issue is the inconvenience or something else… kick the guy (not the dog) to the curb. The dog loves you unconditionally. Same can’t be said for the guy.

    6. I agree that the incontinence would be a big problem for me. LW, is it the incontinence that is the problem or your lack of response/problem solving. Is your dog very old? What does the vet say? Are you still working and is it happening during the day? When a mess is found, are you cleaning it with a strong enough cleaner?

      For me, I have found that some pet houses you would never know there was a pet and some the smell hits you when you walk in the door. If you have a partner that you really care about, I would take his needs seriously. Get a dog walker or walk the dog more, get a bissel smart cleaner with a great spot cleaning solution. There can be a middle ground here.

    7. I’m curious: Are pets a deal-breaker for you feeling how you do about accidents? I don’t want to live in an unhygienic home, either, but accidents do happen sometimes and if they’re occasional, to me it’s like, ok, no big deal. If I felt that way about any accident ever, I think pets would be a deal-breaker.

      Anyway, what’s weirdest to me here is that there didn’t seem to be any option between the extremes of moving out or giving the dogs up. It’s hard to tell what’s causing the dog’s issues (old age? medical issue? poor training?), but there should be at least one more option to try first. Dogs are unlikely to soil their “dens” — is crating an option? Gating off a small, uncarpeted area so that accidents are easy to clean up? I wouldn’t want to be with someone who made these kinds of demands — seems too controlling to me, too rigid.

      1. Dashound mom says:

        Dashounds are known for not being easy to train and will be incontinent on rainy days.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Men come and go but a dog’s love is forever. Dump the man and keep the dogs.

  5. When someone’s says it’s me or the pet choose the pet. They are going to to leaving anyway.

  6. dinoceros says:

    LW1: I think when you are in love with someone, you get tunnel vision to where you only see their actions in the context of romance and you forget that normal human beings are often kind to people they aren’t in love with and may enjoy spending time with/having sex without wanting to be in a relationship with them. If you honestly believe that a person helping you out in a hard time would only do that if they loved you romantically, then that makes me sad for how you see human empathy and friendship.

    He’s done nothing to indicate he wants more than what you guys have — a friendship with benefits. You act like it’s shocking that he’d offer to let you sleep in his bed — he gets sex from it, why wouldn’t he? And his reason for you meeting his family makes sense.

    Work on getting back on your feet and aim to move out as soon as you can. Being dependent on someone you are in love with who will not commit to you isn’t a very stable place to be.

    LW2: A person who assumes their partner will get rid of their pets for them (outside of life-threatening allergies or the like) is selfish. It’s not just about pets vs. boyfriend. It’s about someone who thinks they have unilateral control over your life. You’re better off without him.

  7. Dinoceros —
    She already has more than fwb with this guy. They live together. It sounds like he is basically supporting her. It may not be what she wants, but some people live together and have a committed relationship without ever marrying. It doesn’t sound like he has reached that level of commitment, but his is more than fwb.

  8. sarahbelle says:

    LW2 – For me pets are forever, once you take one in it becomes my furry never talks back to me, always glad to see me, and always loves my cooking child. That said we now have 3 dogs a Aussiedoodle (15 weeks), Cockapoo (8 years), and the Demon Spawn Chihuahua/Jack Russel mix (9). Even during potty training or when my now husband moved in and the demon spawn and him were vying for my attention we have never ruined a rug/carpet, so it might be time to get new cleaning tools and sprays. You need to figure out a way to not have constant landmines and puddles (confined areas, crating at night, and pet diapers are options). We try to be a natural household however for Pet potty accidents we use Woolite pet stain oxy spray and we have no marks on my white dining room rug or the cream bedroom carpets. My never owned a pet but have a full time housekeeper in-laws are amazed that our house doesn’t smell like dog, which is my range on how good we are at housekeeping.

    The Demon Spawn and my husband have never gotten along and they are at constant war with each other for my attention. My Husband then boyfriend asked once when the Demon spawn was a year old to rehome him. I said no that the dog leaving was a deal breaker, so he asked to move into a house and to get a second dog that would like him and to crate the dogs at night. That was a reasonable plan, If he had questioned my feelings for him against the dog and left for Chicago there is a good chance he would have discovered that the dog needs me more than he does and would have found his stuff packed and at his mothers when he returned. I don’t now nor have I ever loved my dog more than my husband, I love my dog differently than my husband and have different expectations for both.

  9. many old animals become slightly incontinent, while still enjoying happy full lives. Many children are born with medical conditions which mean they might never be continent either (yet be fully able to take off their adult nappy) . Many many old people end up having the odd accident. anyone who would ask their SO to betray the trust of a dependant of any kind for the sake of “cleanliness” should never have a relationship with people who have dependants. And should probably not have kids either, as there is no guarantee of perfection.

  10. Allornone says:

    My boyfriend said very early in our relationship that if I didn’t like dogs, it would have been a dealbreaker. I had never thought about it along those terms, but loving someone who didn’t love fur babies would’ve been damn near impossible for me to do too. Sadly, our apartment complex does not allow for doggies. The moment we move, though, puppies all around!

    Dogs are family, almost like children to some. You don’t give them up. And someone who can’t understand that is not for you. Sorry.

  11. Bacon Mistress says:

    I dont think LW 2’s man is a POS for not wanting animals in his house that ruin his carpet and make it smell like animal waste. The breaking up on the birthday weekend was shitty. He may or may not have owed you one more talk about trying to get past the dog issue. If you guys couldnt work it out then he should have had a mature break up conversation with you after your birthday weekend. But no he is not a heartless demon. I couldnt live like that. Good luck to you LW 2!

    1. LisforLeslie says:

      I couldn’t live with pee smell. But I also wouldn’t ask someone to give up their pet. I’d find a different solution.

      She moved out so she could take care of her pets and he took it as a personal insult and he behaved like a child by going away without her on her birthday weekend.

      He says she’s choosing her pets over him – because if she’s not living with him, then she’s not taking care of him. The LW says she’s 68. That means that traditional gender roles are still in play and she is morethan likely taking care of the house, taking care of dinner. Doing the laundry, the ironing, the grocery shopping blah blah blah. When she moved out – he had to do all of those things by himself again.

      LW am I right – when you moved in did you start doing all of those things?
      Has he at any point said “But I need you to take care of me?” Or “You’d rather take care of those dogs than take care of me?”

    2. LisforLeslie says:

      I couldn’t live with pee smell. But I also wouldn’t ask someone to give up their pet. I’d find a different solution.

      She moved out so she could take care of her pets and he took it as a personal insult and he behaved like a child by going away without her on her birthday weekend.

      He says she’s choosing her pets over him – because if she’s not living with him, then she’s not taking care of him. The LW says she’s 68. That means that traditional gender roles are still in play and she is morethan likely taking care of the house, taking care of dinner. Doing the laundry, the ironing, the grocery shopping blah blah blah. When she moved out – he had to do all of those things by himself again.

      LW am I right – when you moved in did you start doing all of those things?
      Has he at any point said “But I need you to take care of me?” Or “You’d rather take care of those dogs than take care of me?”

  12. LW1, I think you’ve got some big-time wishful thinking going on. I’ve done it myself. You want SO badly for them to love you that you start seeing proof of love in everything they say and do.

    He’s been clear from the beginning that he doesn’t want an emotional relationship. Even now, he calls you his friend. I think he likes you, likes having you around, enjoys your company, likes having sex with you. Maybe likes the feeling of being a white knight and coming to your rescue. Maybe even loves you.

    But I think you’re asking if he’s *in* love with you. As in wanting to commit, be in a monogamous relationship, even marry you. All the things he didn’t want before. That, I don’t see in your letter. Maybe he is. Maybe he’ll get there. Maybe not. I think you need to ask him that.

    But before you ask, I would put every possible effort into becoming independent. Imagine the hell you’d be living in if you’re still financially dependent on him and have nowhere else to go, and he says he doesn’t feel that way about you.

  13. On LW#1, I don’t see much point in asking the question you already know the answer to. He clearly doesn’t feel about her the way she does about him. He clearly isn’t seeking a permanent, monogamous commitment of any sort with her. He’s been as clear as he can possibly be about that, without being unkind about it.

  14. I posted prematurely. The ball is in LW’s court. She needs to decide whether what he is willing to give her is enough for her. Is not getting the sort of commitment she desires a deal-breaker. If it is, then she needs to put herself in a position to leave and live on her own. She isn’t there now and may not be for quite a long time. She’s said zilch about the nature of the problem he rescued her from, but seems totally dependent at this time.

    It’s hard to imagine his position is going to change. He likes her, likes their current arrangement, possibly even ‘loves’ her in a tepid sort of way. If he saw the possibility of actually fully loving her and being willing to commit in the future, his conversation with her would have been very different.

    There is no ambiguity.

  15. @LW2 – yes you both jump the gun on moving in together. IDK why but I get the impression you might have not been honest about your dogs potty behavior. If he is this anal about it then something tells me he was under the impression your dog was potty trained. Do not get rid of your for babies over him. What you need to do is take a step back and get your own place. He has a right to feel the way he does. I dont think people realize how bad a habit can be until others point it out. To you its not that big of a deal because you have dealt with it and your okay with this. But he doesn’t have too. Its kind of like smokers;they dont realize how gross their habit is until non smokers start pointing it out. Ive been in plenty of homes to tell you that some people with pets have nasty homes, like real nasty, like women chillin in her bed with dog shit on her bed gross. They get use to it and so they don’t realize it until its pointed out. We have two fur babies. My petey is 12 yrs old and still pees and poops in the home knowing damn well he isnt suppose too. His age has nothing to do with. He is a schnoodle if that says anything. He is in great health for his age but he is a little shit. His pee has a distinct odor. His seems more behavioral than anything. Its more like “ill show you who’s boss” kind of thing but it is gross. He doesnt do it all the time but still. I have to constantly stay on top of it. I deep clean our home alot. Our other dog is a lab and he is the best dog ever but he is offically outside because he sheds like crazy and has that lab odor that can stink a house up real quick. You dont mention the age of your dogs but i wonder if you can start redirect training or talk to your vet about better ways to be on top of this.

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