I was very flustered and embarrassed, and he at first didn’t recall saying it. He said things like, “If I said it, I meant it,” and realizing that I was becoming very concerned, he said “Don’t over think this,” and “It’s OK.” I know those sound like reassuring things, but I feel very conflicted and also upset. I know timing is important for saying it (something I haven’t said in a relationship for the past five years), so I’m concerned: did I say it too soon? And do I just pretend it didn’t happen when we talk again? — Anxious About Love
It’s been a while since we had a L-word related question, so I decided the time was ripe to answer this one. At its core, your question isn’t really about the timing of you dropping the L-Bomb, or that you feel embarrassed that you didn’t get the reaction you expected; it’s about your boyfriend’s response: “Are we there yet?” That’s what little kids say on boring road trips, not what grown-ups say when someone has just professed feelings of love.
Whether he’s there yet or not — and we’ll get to that in a minute — obviously, you are, so at least half of the “we” in question is, in fact, there. What does “there” mean? Well, that seems to be the real issue here and the one you need to address with him. Obviously, there’s a destination he feels the L-Word implies your relationship has arrived at. Where do you feel like your relationship is now? Where do you think it’s headed? Once you can answer those questions for yourself, you need to find out how your boyfriend answers them. In short, you have to find out if you’re on the same page.
What would think that him having already said, “I love you” would imply that you are on the same page, but apparently there’s some confusion about whether he actually said those three little words and whether he meant what you think he meant. You may never know if you were simply “hearing things” when you thought you heard him drop the L-bomb, or if he “forgot” he said it, or if he simply said it in the heat of the moment — after an intense amount of quality time together — and later regretted saying it. But by focusing on what your relationship goals are, rather than on a single word or phrase, you’re much more likely to get the answers you want. The L-word isn’t the best way to measure where you stand with someone. Having a relationship check-in is.
*If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org and be sure to follow me on Twitter.