It’s time for the annual “How long is too long to wait for ‘I love you’?” question. Here is this year’s:
However, there’s one problem. After a year and a half of dating, my boyfriend still does not love me. After ten to eleven months of dating, I expressed to him that I love him, so he is aware that I feel that way. We have spoken about it on multiple occasions and he has stated that he really cares about me, loves being with me, and has strong feelings for me. He does not love me yet but thinks that it’ll happen soon. He says he is slow when it comes to feeling love and thinks it hasn’t happened because we don’t see each other often. (We both live in NYC, but a one-hour subway ride apart. We’ll see each other on the weekends and sometimes after work — if he gets off work early — because I also work in Manhattan. We usually see each other one-two times a week, but we would like to see each other more often. He has a very demanding job and works long hours, and he’s also always on call.).
I know without a doubt that he cares about me and enjoys being with me because I see it in his actions, but I am worry that, if it hasn’t happened by now, it never will happen. I am tired of waiting, but I’m not sure if I’m just making it a bigger deal than it is. Other than that one aspect our relationship is great. And even though we don’t get to see each other a lot, we do talk every day by text, or sometimes we’ll talk on the phone or FaceTime before bed.
We are planning a vacation together in May, and we are planning to buy our tickets within the next week. I feel like his wanting to plan this vacation with me is a good sign that he sees us being together at least in the near future, but I’m just worried that he will never love me.
I know every relationship is different, but I don’t know whether I should keep waiting or call it quits. How long is too long to wait for “I love you”? — Still Waiting
As I mentioned, I address some version of this question about once a year. See:
I bet you’ve already seen at least one of these letters. It’s probably what turned up in a Google search and how you found DW in the first place. But you want to know if your case is different, if it’s special, if there’s a magic formula for truly and definitively calculating how long is too long to wait for an “I love you,” and there’s not. But I would say that generally after seeing each other once or twice a week and talking to each other nearly every day for a year and a half, if the feelings of love aren’t there yet, it’s likely they won’t ever be. That’s not to say that your boyfriend doesn’t care for you and enjoy spending time with you. I wouldn’t say he wants to break up with you any time soon. You’re probably a pretty convenient girlfriend for a guy who’s 32 and at the beginning of a demanding career that requires long hours and being on call a lot. A 22-year-old woman generally puts far less pressure on a partner than someone who’s a decade older and ready for marriage and starting a family soon. You aren’t even putting pressure on him to say the “L” word after a year and a half of dating. The biggest drama he has to deal with is jealousy and insecurity typical of a college-aged girl, and you say you’re outgrowing that even.
But, yeah, he probably doesn’t see this relationship as a forever thing. Through May? Sure. Maybe even for the next year or so. But two things are likely to break you up soon after that: 1) You’re eventually going to want more than he’s willing to give (like a genuine “I love you”); 2) He’s going to want more in a relationship than he feels he can have with you. Dating someone who’s 22 when you’re 32 is a pretty easy way to put off getting more serious than you’re ready to get (especially when you’re super busy building a career). I’d bet dollars to donuts that when you start putting some pressure on him to make this relationship more serious than it is (like pushing for verbal expressions of love), he’s going to hightail it outta there. The appeal of your relationship is likely how easy you’ve made it for him to not have to be super engaged. A few texts and calls and a weekend hangout — maybe an after work meetup if he’s out of work early — is pretty low commitment, especially for a year and a half. He’s throwing you a little bone with the May vacation, but I wouldn’t read too much into that or expect too much out of it. It confirms what you suspect: he enjoys your company and cares about you; it does not mean he loves you. I think you would know by now if he does or if “it will happen soon,” as he says. He’s stalling you, and I think you probably know that, don’t you?
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy(AT)dearwendy.com.