Should I wait for her?
April 5, 2010 6:47 PM   Subscribe

How long should I wait for her..?

I told my girlfriend I loved her today. We've been dating for eight months, and well, saw each other for about two before it was official.

She told me she wasn't quite "there yet" but was smiling and happy. She also got all teary eyed and was very emotional, and said no ones ever told her that before and was very cuddly and quiet after.

How long should I wait for her..?

(I'm 22, she is 21)
posted by Atlantic to Human Relations (35 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Love without expectation, or do not love.
posted by carsonb at 6:50 PM on April 5, 2010 [98 favorites]

As long as you are happy.
posted by procrastination at 6:50 PM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

The poet in me thinks if you love her as long as it takes. The practical individual says do not let this become any kind of a thing. You told her you love her no matter what any Rom Com tells it does not require reciprocation. Do not become a young Alex Hitchens.
posted by Rubbstone at 6:52 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

everyone moves at a different pace, so don't worry about it. she'll say it when she's ready, so don't think of it as "waiting", just think of it as the normal pacing of a relationship- and a good one in this case. when i was about your age i choked and sputtered "thanks?" when a boyfriend at the time told me he loved me. rest assured that's when i realized i didn't return the emotion. your girlfriend's happy reaction seems to be pretty positive. congrats, sounds like things are going well!
posted by raw sugar at 6:55 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

She told me she wasn't quite "there yet" but was smiling and happy. She also got all teary eyed and was very emotional, and said no ones ever told her that before and was very cuddly and quiet after.

Dude. Don't get hung up on three words. Why the hell would this prompt you to think about "waiting" for her? In context, what she clearly meant was that she wasn't ready to say the overly symbolic phrase, not that she doesn't care about you. Stop thinking about this and focus on doing fun stuff with her.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:57 PM on April 5, 2010 [6 favorites]

She's fucking happy. Don't worry about the word.
posted by Loto at 6:58 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

What do you mean "wait for her"? You mean you're considering breaking up with someone you love because she isn't ready say those words back to you? That's a terrible idea. If you're happy together, what's the problem?
posted by something something at 6:59 PM on April 5, 2010 [4 favorites]

How long should I wait for her..?

How long should you wait before what?
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:01 PM on April 5, 2010 [12 favorites]

I'd say you should definitely wait for her. If nobody's ever told her "I love you" before, she may simply be slightly stunned. It took a while for me to recover after Future Hubby said the same to me, not because I didn't like him but because I was just gobsmacked and unsure how to process this new information. It sounds like she's happy but trying to get her head around this new development, which is on the whole a good sign.

Just keep on like normal for a few weeks, then gently feel her out. That should be enough time for her to decide how she feels about this. Right now I'd say the omens are good. Best of luck!
posted by Quietgal at 7:06 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

I really wish I could stop telling y'all how old I am... like it makes a difference... but, I've lived three of your lifetimes....

your relationship is what it is... it is based on the time you spend together, the communication you have, the kindness you share, the smiles, the laughs...

the concept of "love" can scare the crap out of people at your age....

just be with her, nurture the connection.... the proclamation of love will come when the trust, peace, and insight brings it forth...
posted by HuronBob at 7:06 PM on April 5, 2010 [7 favorites]

Good lord, your girlfriend says she happy, she was deeply moved that you love her, that you're her FIRST LOVE, and you're thinking about breaking up with her because she wasn't at exactly the same place at exactly the same time? Not to be rude, but what the hell is wrong with you?
posted by Dasein at 7:09 PM on April 5, 2010 [15 favorites]

Have no fear. She'll say it back soon enough. Two weeks, tops.
posted by gabrielsamoza at 7:09 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: My last boyfriend told me he loved me before I knew whether I loved him. I reacted exactly the same way your girlfriend did. So here's a perspective on why at least one person said that (I'm not your girlfriend, but I submit myself as an anecdote).

I just didn' t know yet whether I loved him or not. Plain and simple. I was crazy about him, and really wanted to stick around and find out whether it turned INTO that, but I also had been burned by other guys, and by a long string of desperation making me see things that weren't there, and this guy was so special I really wanted to be certain rather than tell him I loved him before I knew whether I did. I really firmly believed that a) I shouldn't say "I love you" if I didn't, and b) I shouldn't NOT say "I love you" if I DID. So because I wasn't sure yet, I wasn't gonna say it back, and I told him that's honestly what was going on. He was cool with that.

And that's probably part of the reason why he only had to wait a grand and glorious total of three days before I realized that oh, yeah, I did love him.

She respects you enough to be honest with you. That is a VERY, VERY GOOD THING. That means that she thinks you deserve GENUINE love, and she's not thinking "Oooh, let me just lie and say 'I love you' back even though I'm not sure." She wants to give you THE REAL THING, and she believes so surely that you DESERVE the real thing that she is being honest with you about it.


If she got emotional when you said you loved her, INSTEAD of getting uneasy or scared, then that is a very good sign that she's waiting until she can genuinely tell you she loves you rather than just playing along, and that she's not secretly entertaining doubts about you or anything.

I suspect you will not have to wait long. But, I can also say that letting her take the time to figure that out on her own will help tremendously.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:12 PM on April 5, 2010 [17 favorites]

Before she says it back. Is what he wants and it's not unreasonable. She probably has never been in love though, at her age, so go back to having fun and try not to worry about it.

6 months from now, if she hasn't said it, and you still want to hear it, bring it up again, calmly asking her what her feelings are about the word.

Some people need to hear it a lot, some don't know what it is and hesitate to lie. Some people are just reticent to rush into things. Give her time, but keep in mind that y'all may be incompatible in your affection-sharing goals, especially given your (from my perpspective) extreme youth.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:13 PM on April 5, 2010

Just another voice saying: if you love her, what the fuck does it matter?
posted by Netzapper at 7:15 PM on April 5, 2010

i have never told a girl "i love you" the first time without her telling me back right after (or vice versa). the fact that she didn't is actually pretty impressive. it means she's giving the words the weight they deserve.

it'll feel more satisfying when she does than if she'd said it right after you took the leap.

even in a 10 year old relationship it feels better to hear "i love you" than "i love you too". whenever someone says it to me i wish i'd said it first.
posted by nathancaswell at 7:17 PM on April 5, 2010 [9 favorites]

I've been in the same situation before. Some people take the word seriously; others don't. (I don't, which is why I find I bring the word up early and often.) My question would be whether you take the idea of love seriously or not.

When you said you loved her, were you placing a part of yourself into the declaration? Do you feel it is a risk or a sacrifice? Because if so then remember that love's not a guarantee, and so a part of the pain of loving is loving without being loved back. But she's not outright rejecting you, so it's not like there's a loss.

If you don't care about the word, of course, then you lose nothing to love and not be loved back. Love on a whim! But don't get irritated if somebody else treats it like a heavy subject. We all have our beliefs. Generally we abide by them.
posted by Rory Marinich at 7:20 PM on April 5, 2010

I told my girlfriend I loved her TODAY.

Emphasis mine. Get the point?
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 7:28 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

especially given your (from my perpspective) extreme youth

+1 to that, and the rest of your comment.
posted by wkearney99 at 7:28 PM on April 5, 2010

Ya, wait for her for what exactly? Sex? Marriage? Secret family sweet potato pie recipe?
posted by chairface at 7:43 PM on April 5, 2010

No, you should pretty much dump her right now because you said you loved her and she didn't say it right back.

You see how dumb that sounds?
posted by klangklangston at 7:46 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

what the hell is wrong with you? ... what the fuck does it matter? ... You see how dumb that sounds?

No need to be harsh. If you grow up watching movies and TV you get taught that life is like movie-life, and you have to unlearn a lot when you become an adult. It's nice that it was obvious for you but this shit was/is confusing for a lot of us.
posted by PercussivePaul at 7:56 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Take a lesson from my recent breakup: it is a hell of a lot better to know what somebody actually feels than have them lie to you and find out later. Cherish the fact that you made her all fluttery, look forward to how amazing and cool it will sound when she says it back and, most of all, thank your chosen deity that she didn't just say it without meaning it.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:59 PM on April 5, 2010

and, know that, if nothing else, you've prodded me to spend the last hour listening to music from the 70's just to be able to reconstruct those feelings.... take a deep breath and relish the feelings you have....
posted by HuronBob at 8:11 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

If she's happy you love her, then there's no reason to wait. You have everything you need.
posted by Ironmouth at 9:02 PM on April 5, 2010

I can see why you're wondering about the question, but what you really should be concerned with is her non-verbal response. She was cuddly and affectionate afterward. She didn't freak out. She didn't leave. She didn't try to break up with you. (All of those things happened to me when I had less relationship XP.)

Eventually, if the two of you continue to grow closer, she'll say it back to you. It might be a day, or a week, or a year. But you should be immensely grateful that she didn't say "me too", or "I love you too" right away. It shows that she actually has independent thoughts and isn't going to say something just because she's feeling the moment. She'll wait until she's thought about it, and decides that she means it too.
posted by Happydaz at 9:40 PM on April 5, 2010 [1 favorite]

Here's the warning sign: you say "I love you" for the first time, and they respond in some way other than the way your girlfriend did.

The way your girlfriend did? You lucky boy. The first comment in this thread is the best one.
posted by davejay at 10:00 PM on April 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

There's no right or wrong here. As you can see there are lots of different possibilities to your question (although most mefites are of the same or similar mindset).

What matters most is what you feel you need. Do you feel that what she did goes against your moral fiber? Do you feel that you should put a deadline on her to admit her love for you/fall in love with you?

Decide how you roll...YOU...and then decide if this relationship fits in that scenario.

If it doesn't...its best to let her go rather than drag her down with you.

And remember...its YOU...not her.
posted by hal_c_on at 12:17 AM on April 6, 2010

Hang in there.
posted by xammerboy at 5:25 AM on April 6, 2010

Do you feel that what she did goes against your moral fiber?

Good lord, what on earth? Dude said "I love you" TODAY (well, I guess yesterday now) and his girlfriend's not quite ready to say it back yet. That's not a moral failing, for the love of Pete.

Many years ago, I said "I love you" to a boyfriend who parroted it right back to me. Not even ten minutes later, when I was still basking in the warm glow of shared affections, he was like, "Uh... I don't think I should have said that." (He did eventually say it on his own a month or so later, and we dated for a couple of years, but still. Having the "I love you" said and then immediately taken back really did suck.)

OP, benefit from the wisdom of my experience. You DO NOT want someone to say they love you just because you said it first. What your girlfriend did was not a slight directed at you. Quite the opposite, in fact. She has enough respect for your feelings and for her own to not just blurt out what you want to hear despite the fact that she's clearly not ready to say it yet. Saying "I love you" might be a bigger deal to her than it is to you, and not something she says at the drop of a hat. That's a wonderful thing.

Something I learned as I aged (I'm about a decade older than you, for reference) is that hearing someone say "I love you" doesn't mean as much if they don't also SHOW me they love me by the way they treat me. The words alone are basically meaningless. Your girlfriend is showing you that she loves you. Accept her love the way it comes. She will say the words when she's ready.
posted by palomar at 8:43 AM on April 6, 2010

hal_c_on's advice is bizarre. "its YOU...not her"? Um, no. Relationships are about compromise -- you don't get to decide exactly how things are going to go.

I can't imagine a better response to your statement than the one you describe your girlfriend having.
posted by Jaltcoh at 8:53 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Getting all teary eyed and cuddly sounds like the gold standard of responses to "I love you." I'd be touched by it.

I wouldn't worry too much.
posted by askmeacct at 9:19 AM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I dunno man... if after 8 months *plus two years before it was official* she doesn't love you yet... I'm not sure she's going to.

Give her some time.

By 21 I'm sure she's told someone else she loved them.
posted by mittenbex at 10:39 AM on April 6, 2010

If I may pile on more anecdotal evidence: in my current relationship, my boyfriend was the first to say "I love you," and I took it much more awkwardly than your girlfriend did. Instead of addressing what had happened, I evaded it, which in retrospect was really crappy of me, but I was 17 and this was my first real relationship. I had been in one of those "we're boyfriend and girlfriend but we're 13 and have never even held hands" couples briefly several years prior, and had said "I love you" without meaning it at all because at the time it was more about trying to emulate a real relationship than actually being in one. And I was really determined not to let that happen with this one, because we were good friends beforehand and I really did care about him even then.

I can't remember how long it took me to say it back, but I totally meant it when I did, and that was an amazing feeling. And even now, I make sure it still has meaning; I only say it when feeling it at that moment and never use it as the standard out for phone conversations because the idea of saying the phrase robotically or out of obligation seems incredibly depressing.

So, it's really good that she's giving weight to the statement. It does seem a little silly sometimes to think about how much importance is placed on this one phrase in our culture, but it's something that's really fulfilling to both hear and say when you know it's genuine.
posted by DeusExMegana at 7:33 PM on April 6, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'd only be worried if she'd reacted in a put-off way. Be happy.
posted by Nattie at 12:22 AM on April 7, 2010

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