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Parallax - Advice            July 24, 2000



   He doesn't say he loves me!

Dear Conversely, Ask us a Question!

My boyfriend has trouble expressing his feelings for me. I think he has them and they're good, but sensitive things are very difficult for him to say for some reason. I find this really hard to deal with because it makes me feel badly even though I know he has trouble with that kind of thing. I'm beginning to think he's just one of those types who doesn't express feelings openly. I'm not sure I'm secure enough to live with that. What can I do to change the way I feel, or the way he communicates? Any thoughts?

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Her view:

Dear Insecure,

Yes, a couple spring to mind. First, tell him. Tell him this is hard for you and that it makes you sad. See if he can figure out a way to express himself. I have a feeling that once he gets over the hurdle of getting started he might have an easier time making feelings a regular part of his communication program. Perhaps he can start on the little things and move up from there.

Second, try to lead by example. Maybe if you start expressing yourself more he'll open up to you. Try throwing in an 'I love you' here and there. I know that's not so fun if you fear you won't get one back - but give it a few tries. Maybe it will make that kind of language easier for him to express.

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His view:

Dear Insecure,

Assuming you're right and this man just can't call to say 'I love you,' even though he does, my sense is you need to readjust your expectations - at least somewhat.

Of course, my colleague will recommend you have a little talk with him and implore him to pour his heart out. I think that would be counterproductive. Yes, you might get him to say a few things, but he'll be uncomfortable, and if he says them again you'll never know if he's just trying to please you, or expressing his real feelings.

Instead, try to find other ways of getting reassurance from him. If his behavior remains constant, if he continues the same patterns of calling you, taking you out, and visiting you or sleeping over, then he most probably still feels the same way about you. Acts are often more valuable gauges of a relationship than words. If he did suddenly decide he didn't love you anymore, you'd probably notice it from his actions long before he'd say anything anyway.

Ultimately, if you are the kind that needs constant reassurance, this guy may be a bit inadequate to provide the high level of maintenance you require. But I'd wait a while before reaching that conclusion. Who knows, he may just come around and whisper those three words in your ear - when you least expect it.

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