Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I Told Him I Love Him and He Said He Doesn’t Feel the Same Way”

I have been in a relationship for five months. We spend just about every day together — I either stay at his place or he will stay at mine (we don’t formally live together). He has taken me on multiple trips, and we have a lot of fun together. He even bought me a bike for Valentine’s Day so we can go on bike rides together, and he sent me flowers to my office. He usually treats me to everything because he makes more money than I do and I live paycheck to paycheck at the moment. He told me it isn’t about the money though.

I told him this past weekend that I loved him, and he said he did not feel the same way back. He acts like he does, and everybody around me was completely shocked that he did not say it in return. What I do know is his ex broke up with him a year and a half ago and that was the only person he had ever been close to/loved. He lied to me and told me it was a mutual breakup, but I found out she broke it off. He must have been embarrassed? Now he’s told me he doesn’t know if it’s going to work between us because the “L” word is in both of our heads and it will make it hard.

I am very open and understanding, and I told him it’s okay to not be ready yet but that, if we care for each other, I think we should try to make it work. He agreed. But now it feels different when we lie in bed together and when we are intimate. Does he just need space? Is this done for good? I’m so confused. — L Bomb

Yeah, spending money on someone isn’t necessarily a sign of love, obviously (or maybe it’s not that obvious?). Since you made the spending a main theme of your letter, I am inferring that you thought it was a sign of his affection for you. But now that you know he doesn’t love you, it kind of puts a different perspective on the many treats, doesn’t it? Sometimes people use money as an emotional placeholder, as in the money substitutes for the love they cannot give and serves to keep a person close to them. Often, money is a form of gratitude. Maybe the gifts were his way of thanking you for being so easy (no strings attached, no expectation)

Yeah, now you’ve broken the spell with an “I love you,” and the dynamic has changed. Listen to him when he says he doesn’t know if the relationship will work because the “L” word is in both of your heads. He’s not making that up. He’s actually saving you from months of guesswork. He’s telling you that the relationship worked because you had an unspoken “agreement”: He would lavish gifts on you and you would give him companionship, attention, and probably sex without the expectation of anything more. It’s unfair, because you didn’t actually agree to this, but as long as the dynamic continued, it didn’t matter. Now the dynamic has shifted, the genie is out of the bottle, and expectations have been presented.

I don’t see him meeting your expectations. I don’t anticipate a return of the love you give him. And I wouldn’t be surprised if the gifts and trips and stuff like that drop off. Lots of times people aren’t ready to express love at the same time their partners are. But the way your boyfriend responded to you does not indicate that an expression of love is anywhere on the horizon. I would probably move on if I were you. But if you need confirmation that that’s the right move, give it a couple weeks and see what the overall temperature of the relationship is. I would be surprised if it gets better.

My boyfriend and I met about two years ago and instantly fell for each other. He was always buying me flowers and telling me he loved me, and we started to plan a future together. Now he can’t even sleep in the same room with me. Three days ago he told me he’s being deployed. And now he’s being meaner than ever. We have an eight-month-old whom he barely holds, whom he will only play with on his own time, and whom he doesn’t really take care.

Tonight I asked him if he wanted to feed our son (as he was sitting there playing his games on his phone), and he said he’d rather not because he need to do some of his school work. That instantly frustrated me because he can sit there and play on his phone but he can’t feed his baby? Tonight we were all sleeping in the same room; our son is cutting teeth, so he kept waking up and crying a little, and instantly my boyfriend went out to the living room, swearing, and saying he can never get any sleep with the baby around. He’s continuously putting me down, telling me how he likes to be alone, name-calling me. and telling me he doesn’t want me to find someone better and that we should just get married.

I don’t know what to do. I feel like he has insecurities because, when I was five months pregnant, he cheated on me. Then he denied our son until a paternity test came back. I feel like he doesn’t know what he wants, and I don’t know whether to keep trying to love him or let him go and love him at a distance. — Trying to Love Him

Let him go and skip the loving him at a distance. He’s emotionally abusive, manipulative, a cheater (who cheated on you when you were pregnant–that is so LOW DOWN!), neglectful of his child (and you!), doesn’t love you, and generally doesn’t sound like a good person. Find a family attorney who can help you get the child support and benefits your child is entitled to as the son of an active-duty serviceman. As for you, aim higher. This is not the kind of partner you should be investing love and time and energy into.

NOTE TO ALL: Just because a man buys you flowers, does not mean he’s a good catch or that he loves you. Buying flowers is like, literally, the easiest thing a person can do. It’s super low effort and low commitment and can be as cheap as a few bucks. Sure, it can be a nice gesture — I love flowers, too! — but y’all need to quit tying any kind of meaning to it. They sell flowers next to the lottery tickets at the gas station.


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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.

39 comments… add one
  • Sarah March 13, 2018, 8:45 am

    Why do women reproduce with idiots???

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    • K March 13, 2018, 9:07 am

      Because those particular women are idiots too!

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    • Hannanas March 13, 2018, 10:16 am

      I don’t think calling people idiots when they’re genuinely seeking out advice is very helpful.

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      • Lisa March 13, 2018, 1:08 pm

        We all make mistakes.

  • brise March 13, 2018, 9:25 am

    LW1: there is something which I don’t agree with in your post. You say that he “lied” to you about his break-up, that he got dumped. Well, you don’t know that for sure, and you infer that his attachment for his ex means he can’t commit to you. But a breakup is not always black and white, may be he somehow agreed with it or saw that there was nothing to do. And perhaps his behavior with you isn’t due to a lingering attachment to her. So I wouldn’t take that road. Don’t investigate about his past but discuss the present. Tell him how it makes you feel if you are so close, he buys everything, but says he doesn’t feel love. By the way, what does it mean, love? For you and for him? A commitment? If you have an open discussion, it will lead to a decision – probably a split. You have to show that you can’t accept that situation, who would?

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      Cleopatra Jones March 13, 2018, 10:32 am

      You say that he “lied” to you about his break-up, that he got dumped. Well, you don’t know that for sure…

      True. And even if LW did know for sure, he’s specifically said that he didn’t want the same relationship that she wants. So it’s time for LW to move on.
      I always say that everyone is entitled to their own idea of happiness, just because it doesn’t ‘agree’ with your idea doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It means y’all aren’t compatible.

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    Bittergaymark March 13, 2018, 9:33 am

    Bittergaymark’s NOTE TO ALL: Saying “I love you” way too often and way too fast is just as easy for some. You ALL need to stop falling for that shit as well…

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  • anonymousse March 13, 2018, 9:44 am

    Jesus, ladies!

    LW1: what exactly makes YOU think you are in love with him? You don’t mention anything about him other then he spends lavishly on you.

    LW2: What the fuck are you doing with a mean, nasty, cheater?! He denied paternity until he got a test? Why the fuck are you with this man? He has no interest in his child. That’s a huge, red, waving flag that this man has no heart and he doesn’t love you, or his child. Get out of there so you don’t expose your son to this toxic, abusive relationship!

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    • anonymousse March 13, 2018, 9:46 am

      LW1: stop speculating on his last breakup. You don’t know what happened. Maybe he didn’t love her either.
      Five months is an insanely fast amount of time to say those words, IMO. There are exceptions, of course. But this isn’t one of them.

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      • Northern Star March 13, 2018, 9:59 am

        Five months doesn’t seem too fast to me at all, if you’re old enough to know what you want and spend all your time together. My husband and I exchanged “I love yous” about two months in.

        I don’t think LW 1 did anything wrong in saying how she felt.

        The boyfriend’s response is a slap in the face, though, so clearly even the mere possibility of love wasn’t on the table for him. I can understand LW 1’s confusion, since many people date to fall in love.

        She should move on. He’s never going to love her, and her saying the words “early” has nothing to do with it.

      • Hannanas March 13, 2018, 10:10 am

        To me there’s no standard amount of time after which you can say “I love you”. I told my now-husband a couple weeks in and meant it. He was surprised and said it back and meant it too.
        The boyfriend of LW1 doesn’t want to say it and now doesn’t think it can work between them. That means he never felt it and likely never will.

      • anonymousse March 13, 2018, 4:59 pm

        Guys, I wrote there are exceptions. This doesn’t seem like one of those times!

      • MaggieB March 14, 2018, 1:45 pm

        There’s a lot of different stances on the “love you” thing–what exactly it means, and when it’s appropriate to say it. And I think compatibility in that stance is somewhat important.

        5 months would be fast for me too–for what I consider loving someone to mean, it’s categorically impossible for that to have transpired in much less than that time. If someone told me they loved me in a few weeks or a couple months, I would be very spooked that we had such different views on love and intimacy, and it would most likely ruin the relationship.

      • Hannanas March 15, 2018, 3:15 am

        MaggieB, you’re right that compatibility is key here: they’re obviously not compatible.
        To me, if I wouldn’t get an “I love you” in 5 months, I’d be getting a bit impatient. I think it’s a long time to be investing in someone if it didn’t seem to be going anywhere (in my eyes).
        I also agree that it depends on your view on love. I don’t think that saying “I love you” is actually such a big deal. You can love someone right away – so why not say it? Meeting parents and friends, going on trips, moving in together, getting a pet, signing a mortgage – getting kids. Now those are the big steps here.

    • bondgirl March 13, 2018, 11:13 am

      to LW2, if he’s already abusive to you NOW and barely pays attention to his son, what makes you think he wouldn’t eventually shift the abuse over to this innocent child? Drop him. FAST.

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  • Hannanas March 13, 2018, 10:03 am

    He’s insecure because he cheated? Oh no no no.
    WWS. You have to protect your boy from the influence of asshole father figures.

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  • dinoceros March 13, 2018, 10:10 am

    LW1: Nothing you said indicated he LOVES you. You don’t have to be in love with someone to spend time together, give gifts, or go on trips. It’s a sign he enjoys your company and likes you. I think you’re assuming that he doesn’t love you YET, but it’s also possible he will never love you. I think he knows that he won’t, and that’s why he wants to break up. Sure, a lot of people aren’t ready to say ILY after five months, but that’s not the only issue. You told him how you felt and that made him decide you two should stop seeing each other. Do you want to be with someone who has that reaction to you saying you love them?

    LW2: I don’t think his issue is insecurities. He cheated, has no interest in his kid, no interest in you. I think you’ve been creating a fantasy in your head that he actually has an interest in being a family. Let him go so that you two can stop being miserable (your baby too — your kid will be able to sense that he doesn’t want to be there at least eventually).

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  • Pearl March 13, 2018, 11:01 am

    It is old school but I believe it is best to wait for a man to say I love you first. Saying it first is risky,although the L.W. now knows where things stand. I wonder if she was sensing/worrying that he did not feel the same and “pressed ” the issue.
    It could be that he would have fallen in love or said it,if she had waited-but likely not. Curious if they discussed what they were dating to find,when they met? If she was wanting to find a serious relationship and he was wanting a “fun” friend then she may have avoided this scenario. I would tell him that “we don’t seem to be on the same page” and break it off altogether-it will likely waste time and end badly for her otherwise.

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    • Lisa March 13, 2018, 1:07 pm

      I actually don’t think he would have fallen in love with her if she had waited. I think this is a case of bad timing. And often people that know they are not ready for love, date people they know they will never fall in love with. That’s not to say he does not enjoy being with her, just that she’s not the one for him and will never be. I think if you have gone this long into it, and the man has not said it, it is in your best interest to do so. as you indicate she found out where he stood.

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      • JD March 13, 2018, 2:42 pm

        I agree. Timing matters. I actually was not interested in being in a relationship with my husband when he was. It HAPPENED to work out as he gave me space and was there when I was ready. I am grateful for that but she needs to understand she shouldn’t expect anything if she does give him space. He would do whatever he wanted and it MIGHT turn around. I would never put my eggs in that basket.

    • Fyodor March 13, 2018, 4:08 pm

      I don’t think that it’s “risky.” She’s better off knowing where she stands.

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    Moneypenny March 13, 2018, 12:46 pm

    LW2 makes me feel so bad for her son. And I feel bad for her as well, just because she can do so much better without this loser. (A paternity test, really?!) And he doesn’t want her to be with anyone else, yet he treats her like dirt? Oh no. Get out of there pronto.

    Also I happen to love flowers! Yet my boyfriend gives me *not flowers.* (Which is totally ok with me, actually.) For instance, for Valentine’s Day I got a plant, because it will last longer. For my birthday I got an electric toothbrush. He’s very practical. 😛

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    • carolann March 13, 2018, 5:33 pm

      I would rather get a plant than flowers. My husband and I have been together 13 years and he hasn’t bought me flowers once. He knows I prefer more practical gifts.
      I got a Dyson Motörhead vac as my last gift. I was ecstatic! I had been wanting one for months!

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        Moneypenny March 13, 2018, 6:19 pm

        Omg, I would love a Dyson!!! 😀

      • sarah March 13, 2018, 8:32 pm

        A Dyson was my 1st anniversary present from my husband. I was so excited he remembered and last year for our 4 year anniversary he got me the Dyson hair dryer.

  • Lisa March 13, 2018, 1:05 pm

    LW1, I think this may be a case of bad timing. We women are often told by dating advisors to rely on a man’s actions, rather than his words. If you took that advice here I can totally see why you would think the feeling is mutual, most people would. But clearly it is not and I do not think it will ever be. He does not appear to be over his ex. Often times as women we fail to see that men on average take a lot longer to get over a breakup than we women do, particularly if someone broke his heart. He’s not ready to give you his and now he feels pressure to do so. Don’t think that I am saying that you should not have told him how you feel there is nothing wrong with that. But in doing so you just found out an answer that is going to save you from wasting time with this guy. Move on.

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  • anonymousse March 13, 2018, 5:10 pm

    I don’t think buying someone things is a sign of love. I’m sure some people have confused the two, and god knows that’s what our society tries to shove down your throat, but all bets are off when someone has a lot of disposable income. It’s just different. When I think ‘Actions, not words,’ I think- introducing you to his parents, and friends, including you in decision making, taking actual steps to progress the relationship forward. There are actions that show love that don’t have anything to do with money.

    However, I am very curious what kind of bike he bought you.
    Bicycles are the way to my heart. ♥️

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    • carolann March 13, 2018, 5:36 pm

      I used to have the most insane bicycle collection. I had to sell most of them because we moved from a very large house to a very small house with no basement or garage to store them all.
      My vintage beach cruisers were my favorite.

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  • RedBlue March 13, 2018, 5:24 pm

    As a guy who has deployed a few times, I can tell you that this behaviour is actually not unusual.

    I think it is a subconscious action that a person who is about to put his life in danger to push away those who love them so they will have less feelings for them in case they get killed. That when, if they get killed, they think it won’t hurt as badly.

    I’m not a psychologist. It could also mean that they are extremely worried about getting killed or seriously wounded and leaving their family with a burden.

    Or a mixture. Despite the machismo, many soldiers are not the cold blooded machines that tv likes to make them out to be.

    Like I said it could be a lot of things. If you have seen the number of guys whose wives have run off and took everything while on deployment, you might be antsy too. Being a military wife is hard with all the moves and deployments and many can’t do it. That’s why some wait until he deploys because she loves him so much but can’t deal with the military life.

    I look at this from this point of view because it seems that this behaviour is recent.

    It doesn’t take a lot of body bags to make you nervous.

    Or he could just be an asshole.

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    • carolann March 13, 2018, 5:34 pm

      I think it’s a little of both! I think he is young and has taken on WAY more than he is ready for in many aspects of his life.

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    • anonymousse March 13, 2018, 6:29 pm

      I think we can all agree he’s a giant asshole, whether he’s deploying or not, it doesn’t matter. This is not new behavior for him, he heated on her when she was pregnant, then had the gall to ask for a paternity test FFS.

      They aren’t married. He has a baby. And he’d rather be on his phone and complain about the baby than spend this time with the family he made. He’s a jerk. We don’t have to understand why he’s always been a jerk. She shouldn’t waste her time trying to understand why he’d be this way. She already chocked his cheating up to “insecurities.” It doesn’t matter, he’s bad news and will continue to be. She should not raise a child in an environment with a total asswipe or a father. This is how the cycle continues.

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  • carolann March 13, 2018, 5:28 pm

    You nailed it!
    He is probably full of resentment because he feels he got “trapped” (of course, he trapped himself cause no one forced him into sleeping with her) and now the dynamic is way off. She is desperate to keep her “family” together and is putting up with crap no one should accept.
    Sometimes it is best that let go…just because he is the father doesn’t make him the Daddy. She needs to MOA, in the end she will be glad she did.

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  • TheGirlinME March 14, 2018, 10:32 pm

    One of the best comments as far as love/trust I ever heard came from my grandmom. “Love is something you choose to do, everyday. Some days it’s harder than others. If you are with someone you can trust to have your best interests at heart, then the choice is easy to make.

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  • dmarie March 16, 2018, 2:42 pm

    Let me add my PSA:
    If someone treats your kids (theirs as well or otherwise) crappy MOA. Like yesterday.

    LW2: Move on and take his butt to court to help pay child expenses. It doesn’t sound like he will want any time with the baby so you’ll be paying everything.

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    Dear Wendy March 22, 2018, 8:10 am

    From LW1:

    “We have decided to see how things go and everything has been better than ever for the past week it feels like. I even met his parents this weekend (they are visiting the state) and they liked me a lot. In fact they invited me to every outing the entire weekend. I have picked up a second job and a hobby to spend less time with the bf and start feeling better/taking care of myself. Its hard for me to think about spending all my energy on someone who clearly doesn’t feel the same about me. I know that this independence is making it better between us. I did read the comments below and I am confused a bit now on whether I should take that advice now since everything seems to be going well? Or do you think its because he has been reassured that the relationship can go back to the “no expectations” level? I don’t mind waiting and seeing where this goes, but I won’t stop loving him anytime soon and I just wonder if its true that he will never come around to loving me.

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    • ktfran March 22, 2018, 8:19 am

      I guess that really depends on what you want. Do you see marriage in your future? Kids? Are you willing to wait as long as it takes for him to get on board? Will he ever get on board? Is that even something he wants? Have you two talked about the future and life goals?

      I can’t tell you if he’ll eventually love you. Maybe? But I’d want to know we were at least on the same path for me to continue a relationship.

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    • anonymousse March 22, 2018, 9:07 am

      I think it’s startling how much you’ve become attached and dependent on him so quickly. Five months, and you spend nearly every day together? I’m encouraged that you have found more work to spend less time with him, but I think it’s too much, too soon.

      Why did you tell “everyone around you” what he said? Does that mean friends? If yes, spend more time with friends.

      I think this is doomed. It’s always a risk to tell someone you love them, but from your post, it seems clear he isn’t even going down that path. He didn’t say one of the soul soothing lines like, “I love what I know about you so far,” or “I’m not there yet, but I feel a deep connection to you…” He said it’s different now that you’ve said that.

      How did he introduce you to his parents? I think it’s a hopeful that he did that, but I’d still be wary and I’d advise you to spend more time in your own thinking about what you want.

      Have you ever googled “the power of Fuck, Yes!”??

      Think about what you want. I know I’d ask for more clarity, but you do you.

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      • anonymousse March 22, 2018, 9:10 am

        Bringing up the LOVE word puts a lot of pressure on a young relationship. I know people have different opinions on the subject, but I think you brought this up too soon. Even if you felt love for him, I really question if you Love him, or love what you know this far. There is a difference in my mind. He’s probably wondering the same thing, I mean five months is still the honeymoon/getting to know you period.

      • anonymousse March 22, 2018, 9:17 am

        I agree with ktfran. You should really consider what you want and have a calm conversation about that. That will either make or break it, most likely, at this point. But I think it’s worth it.


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