“We Practically Live Together But He Doesn’t Love Me Yet”

My boyfriend and I met in late June, and in mid-July we went on our first date. Two weeks later we were pretty much inseparable, but it took until December for us to officially call it a relationship. Now it’s May and while we don’t officially live together, we might as well as I’m with him all but four nights a month. We help each other with bills, we talk about trips we will take and the house we want to build, and I know all his friends and they all know me. But he hasn’t said “I love you” or introduced me to his parents. I told him a few weeks ago that I loved him. I just got, “I’m not emotionally there yet” and “You are really important to me and I like you and care about you a lot,” but his actions still make me feel loved.

I get that he has had some major relationship traumas like being cheated on and having the last long-term girlfriend dump him over text on his birthday after a year together. Even there he said he had feelings (not love, but feeings) and never told her. How long do I wait and what happens if it’s years from now and he hasn’t said it? He “doesn’t do emotions well,” so I’m not sure what to do. I just know that his actions make me feel loved and it’s not a lust thing because we only have sex every few months, so he’s with me for me, obviously. — Feeling Loved But Not Feeling Loved

Ok, I haven’t done a “he hasn’t said ‘I love you'” post in a while and my in-box has been pretty empty for the past few weeks, so I guess I’ll answer this one, but for the record, if you did even a minimal search on my site, you’d find literally three pages of columns addressing this one issue. Honestly, I’m not sure what I can say to you that hasn’t already been said ad nauseam on this site alone, but I’ll try. I’m also deeply intrigued over why you only have sex every few months! What is that about? Obviously, you aren’t a virgin and you aren’t waiting for anything. You’ve already had sex together; you just don’t do it regularly, I guess? I think that’s worth some investigating, especially as it might relate to your boyfriend “not doing emotions well.”

Another thing worth exploring is WHY it’s so important to you to hear your boyfriend say “I love you.” If you’re already inseparable and you already feel loved, what’s missing that you think those three little words will give you that you don’t already have? If there’s something missing, and you worry that your boyfriend has an emotional block that keeps him from feeling actual love, let alone verbally expressing love, why are you are committed to him? When it took five months of dating before he could actually call what you had a relationship – you don’t have to explicitly tell me he was the one holding that up – it’s obvious! – why have you practically moved in together just a few months later? Even with the most emotionally available people, it seems a little fast to go from calling your relationship a relationship to spending every single night together and paying each other’s bills and making plans to build a house together just a few months later.

I think you must know on some level that you’ve been moving quickly and you are seeking the “l-word” as validation for the speed, or confirmation that the feelings you each have match the actions you’re taking. And you’re not getting that confirmation. And since you cannot control your boyfriend’s feelings or the way he expresses them, focus on what you CAN control. You can slow the pace of your relationship – essentially, the actions you’re taking to propel things forward – to better match the feelings that have been expressed. Your boyfriend has literally told you he is not emotionally at “love” yet despite really liking you and caring for you. Maybe you shouldn’t be helping someone with his bills who doesn’t love you. Maybe you shouldn’t be spending every single day together. Maybe you should hit the pause button on planning your dream house together, because those are actions that create expectations that are not being met, which makes the disappointment so much more acute.

So, in short: Pump the brakes a bit, and maybe consider having sex more than every few months.

The person that I’m currently seeing — “Henry,” is still communicating with his ex. They were together for seven years, and they had been engaged. A few months before the wedding he found out she cheated on him. It was a mutual breakup. I then entered the picture, spending time with Henry even though he was still living with his recent ex. She told him that after their lease expired in two months, he could move out. We are not an official couple as he had said he wanted to move out before things went any further with us. But once he did move out, things still didn’t progress.

I then found out that Henry is still in contact with his ex, chatting with her on the phone regularly. He says it’s nothing and I left it at that, but I still get this uneasy feeling that there is something more. I have spoken to him numerous times about how I am uncomfortable with it, and he told me to get over it and said nothing will happen between them.

Recently, I saw messages between the two of them about his going over to “drop something off.” She responded, telling him to let her know if he was still coming up and that she was in the bath at the moment, etc. When I tried speaking to him about it again, he brushed it off and said nothing is happening and he wants to be with me. It’s been months since they broke up and he has moved out, but he still hasn’t made things official with me. His excuse is he can’t be in a relationship with someone he doesn’t know well, but I can’t help but think that the reason he hasn’t made things official with me is because he still has feelings for her. — Ready to Progress

It doesn’t matter what the reason is that Henry isn’t making your relationship official, does it? You want things to progress with Henry and he doesn’t, and that’s really all that’s important here. That you are uncomfortable with the post-breakup relationship he shares with the fianceé he broke up with just a few months ago and was still living with when you two started dating is only further evidence that he is not a match for you at this time. He was not physically available to you in any serious way when you started dating, and he is still not emotionally available to you and there’s no sign that he will be any time soon. You need to move on before you torture yourself trying to figure out what his feelings are. His feelings are very clear: He doesn’t want what you want. MOA.

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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. What a total record scratch on LW1. You’re together four nights a week and don’t have sex?! WHY NOT? And you just threw that detail in at the last minute!?

    There is some money weirdness here too. Helping each other with bills? When you don’t live together? Again, why? I wouldn’t give him any more money, because he is not in fact all-in with you. Dating is not the time when you help each other with bills.

    1. They’re together even more than four nights a week – she said all BUT four nights of the whole month. And no sex.

      1. They do have sex, it’s just rare – every few months. I dunno, I just took that to mean they both have really low sex drives. Which is fine, as long as they’re both happy with the frequency.

        The relationship just seems really out of sync. Spending nearly every night together, sharing bills, planning to build a house together. That seems like pre-engagement stuff to me, and yet emotionally the relationship isn’t anywhere close to that, at least in his case.

      2. only having sex once a month is really unusual, especially for people who just started dating. It *could* be that that they both just have low drives, but it seems like it’s a significant warning sign.

  2. Talking about building a house means absolutely nothing. My ex-bf was always talking about building a dream house, and he STILL has not, despite being 47 years old and married 7 years. Talking about future kids and baby names also means nothing. I’ve had friends who did that and the guy was married to someone else or otherwise just not at all serious about it. And sorry everyone who thinks having a joint bank account makes you “a team,” but paying someone’s bills means nothing either in terms of commitment. Anyway. Sorry to be harsh, but WWS. Snap out of it.

  3. Sex every couple of months? So maybe 5 times since you met? No. Just no.

  4. LW #1 didn’t say how old she and bf are. With the very low sexual frequency they may very well be senior citizens.

    LW#2 is moving way faster than LW#1. Her bf has had zero time to be alone, adjust to the cancellation of his engagement. Hard to say why he still talks to ex. Perhaps still trying to process why she cheated, what she found lacking in him. Breakups between engagement and marriage can be more devastating than divorces, in part because one party still thinks they are in honeymoon phase and all is fine with relationship and world. Everyone who is telling you that this guy hasn’t been available even one day since you met him is absolutely right. You are the rebound and, it seems, a half-hearted at best rebound.

    You need to move on. There is nothing for you with this guy. Maybe in a year he’ll be ready to seriously date someone.

      1. I know senior citizens who have parents. Not people in their 70s, but certainly people who are 65.

  5. anonymousse says:

    LW1-I’m very curious about the four nights a month you aren’t staying over, why you only have sex every few months and who is getting help with bills.

  6. anonymousse says:

    LW2- You should definitely listen to Wendy. Move on. He can’t be the partner you really want.

  7. dinoceros says:

    LW1: The issue here is that you chose to turn your relationship into something super serious without making sure you’re on the same page. Anyone can spend most nights together and help with bills and meet friends. That doesn’t mean they love you. That’s why people choose to wait to progress their relationship because then they don’t get super invested in someone without even knowing how they feel.

    But I guess I’m confused because you’re asking Wendy how long you should wait until he says ILY, but then you repeatedly say you feel loved. The issue is that there’s no handbook that says how long a person has to tell you that, and it comes down to you when you feel like you need to hear it by. And you’re sort of being wishy washy (at least to us) about it, both acting like the words aren’t important, but also writing into an advice column because he hasn’t said the words. Which is it?

  8. I have no idea what is involved in “making it official.”

    1. I visualized a social media post.

  9. Mellanthe says:

    LW1: there’s no timeline. Some people feel ready right away, others take a lot of time. My mum always tells the story of how long my dad took to say those words, for example. Multiple posters here have written about their happy relatonships where those words were said late and rarely. conversely there are a ton of people who are lavish with those words but are rubbish partners!

    What matters is: are they showing you that you are loved, special and abslutely central to their life and future plans? In which case the words are a technicality and likely to come along at the right time. And lastly: do you feel you have a timeline that you need to hear it by?

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