"I love you." "Thank you". D'oh!
February 22, 2011 10:37 AM   Subscribe

Told the boyfriend that I loved him and he said "Thank you". Now what?

I've been dating my current boyfriend for almost 7 months and told him that I love him for the first time. Because I do. He did not say it back and said "Thank you". Afterwards we spent the rest of the day together and nothing weird happened to make me feel like he was scared off or anything. Lots of hugs and kisses and such. However, a day later I now feel like shit. What do I do? Do I patiently wait around for him to say something? If so, how long do I wait for him to realize if he's in the same place? Do I shut my yap and not say it again now, even though it's how I feel? Help me sort this out. What the heck do I do now and where do I go from here? :(
posted by floweredfish to Human Relations (40 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
Same guy as this thread?

For some people, 7 months to "I love you" is definitely NOT taking it slow.
posted by Grither at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2011

Talk to him about your feelings and confusion. Communication is the key here.

He may not realize that you're being affected by his not-the-expected response.
posted by royalsong at 10:42 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Grither: Different guy.
posted by floweredfish at 10:43 AM on February 22, 2011

I don't think there is a certain right thing to do after this sort of situation. You can wait, talk to him, not wait, etc, but I'd keep in mind that nothing has really changed other than you saying those 3 words before he was ready to say them. So if you still like the relationship stay in it as long as you still like it. If it's really important to you that he love you RIGHT NOW maybe talk with him and get an idea of how his feelings for your are progressing and how seriously he is taking the relationship.

Also, I'd rather have someone wait to say "love you" than to say it and not mean it.
posted by zephyr_words at 10:48 AM on February 22, 2011 [12 favorites]

The basic rule of thumb when something's bothering you in a relationship is to talk to the other person.

Don't see why that doesn't apply here.
posted by valkyryn at 10:51 AM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

The first time my now-husband said "I love you" I said "Thank you." I just needed longer to get there. And I wasn't really sure how to respond? Other than politely thanking him?

It was delightful to hear it and I was happy to know he loved me. I just had never said it before (I don't think he had either) and, as I've mentioned several times on ask, he was always ready to move a little faster than I was. I always needed a little more time. (So I always just told him I needed more time and that was always fine.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 10:53 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Two things:

1) Only HE can tell you what he's feeling. We cannot.

2) Ask yourself what you want. Do you just want him to say I Love You cuz you said it? Or do you want him to fall in love with you?
posted by spicynuts at 10:56 AM on February 22, 2011

My now-husband told me that he loved me immediately after we started dating. I'm talking like a few days. It freaked me out and I didn't like it at all and I told him so. He understood and said he'd lay off the "I love you"s for a while, which he did. I guess it turned out well in the end because I am married to him now, 7 years later.

The key is communication. I wasn't afraid to tell him I was uncomfortable with how quickly he was moving, and he wasn't afraid to hear that. You have to be open with each other.
posted by Lobster Garden at 11:00 AM on February 22, 2011

Some dudes don't like to say it, even if they feel it very much. Difficult. Talk.
posted by Namlit at 11:02 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

None of us know what he's feeling. He does, or at least he might. He's the one you should be talking to about this. But don't try to force him to say it ASAP; this would be likely to backfire.
posted by John Cohen at 11:05 AM on February 22, 2011

As others have said before me and I'm sure more will say after, communication is key. Talk to him about how you feel.

But more than that, do not pressure. Just talk. Don't say "I love you" because you want someone to say "I love you" in return. Say "I love you" because you want to say it.
posted by cardioid at 11:26 AM on February 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

As others have noted, you need to discuss this with him, rather than keeping quiet.

I dated a guy a number of years ago who told me the ILU words, and was offended because I hesitated before responding. Rather than talk it out, he stewed over it, and it grew bigger and worse in his mind every time he thought about it. What was, in retrospect, a relatively small thing in the grand scheme of things, became a crime of biblical proportions to him because he didn't address it right away.

Talk to your dude.
posted by LN at 11:32 AM on February 22, 2011

Some things to think about to get you to feel less like shit:

1) Better "thank you" than freaking out, right?
2) Better "thank you" than a returned "I love you" that seems insincere, right?

In the great loves of my life when I've said those words, they have been said pretty much simultaneously. So I don't know what you're feeling. But I also know that the fact that we said them at the same time means absolutely zero in terms of whether or not the relationship has long term potential.

If it continues to bother you, you should definitely talk to him about it. But if he doesn't treat you differently or things don't seem to be going in any other direction but good, then you may want to focus on the actions rather than words.
posted by MCMikeNamara at 11:33 AM on February 22, 2011 [3 favorites]

The "thank you" without any kind of freak out or distance probably just means he's happy with it, but isn't there yet himself. If that's the case, be glad for the honesty.
posted by Hylas at 11:39 AM on February 22, 2011

I've been dating my current boyfriend for almost 7 months and told him that I love him for the first time. Because I do. He did not say it back and said "Thank you". Afterwards we spent the rest of the day together and nothing weird happened to make me feel like he was scared off or anything. Lots of hugs and kisses and such. However, a day later I now feel like shit. What do I do?

Here's your plan. You need to be bold.

"Hey, boyfriend. We've been dating for almost 7 months and I told you that I love you for the first time. Because I do. You did not say it back and said "Thank you". Afterwards we spent the rest of the day together and nothing weird happened to make me feel like you were scared off or anything. Lots of hugs and kisses and such. However, a day later I now feel like shit. Tell me what, if anything, you think about this."

His answers may vary. But your question was "what do I do?"

This is what you do. You ask questions in plain language.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 11:43 AM on February 22, 2011 [6 favorites]

James Joyce's wife Nora noted that she "had the devil's own job to get it out of him" - a declaration of love, that is.

They were together for 37 years, until his death.
posted by Joe Beese at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

This happened to me with my current boyfriend. A day or so after I said it, I felt like I needed to address the situation to know what to do next. I asked him, "So, remember what I said to you yesterday? Did that make you uncomfortable? Do you want me to stop saying it?" He knew what I was talking about, and said that I was welcome to say it when I felt it. So I did. And even though it took him a year after that to return the sentiment, I think that being able to express how I felt to him was well worth a little awkwardness.
posted by Night_owl at 11:44 AM on February 22, 2011

[thread will go better if we don't start the "you people" talk. Please reconsider that your jokes may not be so helpful.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2011

I understand what you are saying. The thing about love is that you have to put a lot of trust in the person you love. That also means admitting you are vulnerable, and there is no better way of doing this than being the first to say "I love you."

Similar to others in the thread, I said "I love you" to my (now) husband when we were dating, and was returned with a "thank you." Then, and now, it didn't bother me, because he said he wasn't sure yet though he knew he cared quite a lot. It certainly didn't scare him away, and a month or two later, he did tell me he loved me.

You know what? It was an awesome feeling because I was sure he meant it.

Trust me, if it is real, and if your boyfriend is worth it, a little time won't hurt you, him, or the relationship. Just be honest with each other and keep the lines of communication way open.

Plus, you never know, you saying "I love you" first is sort of like walking through an unplowed path of snow. You make it easier for the person following you in the path.
posted by nasayre at 11:46 AM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I agree with everyone who says you should talk with him about this. His answer is not what you expected, but it also wasn't "I don't love you back." The only person who can explain what "Thank you" means in more nuanced terms is your boyfriend.
posted by me3dia at 11:47 AM on February 22, 2011

Yep, like an interaction as simple as finding out from a stranger on the street where you are, you aren't going to get an answer unless you ask a question. In your position I would ask him what "thank you" means in response to "I love you." His response isn't self explanatory.
posted by JJ86 at 11:56 AM on February 22, 2011

echoing what other folks said, communication is always important in a relationship.

sharing how you felt when he did not "reciprocate" may be healing to you, but perhaps you can share those feelings with friends/other loved ones, to let them out, too.

i think another important question, that gets to what you are asking us, is this:

"boyfriend, how did it make you feel when i said that?"

that way, he can open up about his response to your words first, he can be open about where he is in the process of building this relationship with you. and then you can share how you felt, in the context of understanding him better.

he did not do anything wrong by not saying "i love you back." he was, it seems, sharing a boundary and being honest, i would hope. and setting honest, healthy boundaries is really important in relationships. understanding each other's boundaries/expectations is also invaluable. love comes to us in different ways, and on our own timetables. if you love him, and he cares for you, supports you and excites you with kindness, respect, etc., then that seems to carry much more weight than the use of words that are incredibly loaded.

i'm not saying that it didn't or shouldn't hurt that he did not say "i love you" back. but perhaps his honesty and care can be viewed as markers of love towards you, even if he doesn't use those words himself.
posted by anya32 at 11:59 AM on February 22, 2011

I am going to say just chill for awhile. Say it if you feel like saying it again. Don't worry about his reaction to the words - saying I love you means very different things to people, so maybe he's not ready to say it because for whatever reason he just isn't there, and that could have very little to do with you or your relationship.

I've been there - you feel maybe stupid and awkward and like you fucked it all up by saying it, and how could he say thank you aaggghhh. You just have to dial that down (easier said than done, yes) and not make this a thing - if you guys are otherwise doing well and happy, then just see where it goes.

If he told you he loved you all the time but treated you like shit, that would kind of suck. If he treats you well and your relationship is good, then I think keep this in perspective.
posted by mrs. taters at 12:05 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

There's basically no way to know from your account of the conversation what's going on for him. He might be might be crazy in love and for some reason find it impossible to say. He might be unsure of the extent of his feelings or what to label them. He might be leaning towards feeling that he likes you a lot but you're not "the one", and not sure what to say now. He might not believe you really meant it. He could be in some other place than any of those.

As people have said if it bugs you that much, the person to talk to about this is him.

FWIW, the fact that someone says "I love you", and completely means it at the time, does not guarantee anything about the future of a relationship anyway.
posted by philipy at 12:13 PM on February 22, 2011

Ask yourself why you told him. Was it so that he would say it back, or to let him know how you felt? If the latter, there's no problem. If the former, the problem is with you.

Talk to him.
posted by coolguymichael at 12:31 PM on February 22, 2011

Echoing what others said about talking to him about it, but I want to add that if it's a difficult conversation for you to initiate, you could try emailing. Sometimes it's easier to discuss things that way.
posted by MexicanYenta at 12:37 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

Kurt Vonnegut said it best: "Saying 'I love you' is like holding a gun to someone's head'

And that isn't a nice thing to do.

So, never say "I love you" if you can only do it expecting reciprocation. That isn't a good reason to say it. Say it only if you mean it and don't care whether or not it's reciprocated. If you can't do that, stay quiet.
posted by Decani at 12:39 PM on February 22, 2011 [5 favorites]

I think sometimes you catch someone off guard with things like this and they don't know what to say. Either just through not being prepared or through just not thinking of it before.

Having an honest conversation is great, but if it were me I would probably give it a few days for him to think it over. He's probably thinking about it and trying to decide what to say, too. Or he's oblivious and doesn't see it as a big deal, in which case, you're going to have to bring it up eventually.
posted by threeturtles at 12:42 PM on February 22, 2011

Oh, and there's definitely a worse situation. One of my exes said he loved me on our second date. I was young and thought it was romantic, but it turned out to be symptomatic of his MAJOR ISSUES with intimacy.

(Similarly, my now husband started talking about marriage after we'd lived together for a month, and I was like WOAH THERE BUDDY. I told him I needed a couple of years and he took me at my word and proposed two years later.)
posted by threeturtles at 12:45 PM on February 22, 2011 [1 favorite]

oh! this happened to me. but he didn't say anything.
i didn't feel any anger or frustration because i was so happy I had said it and told him how I feel. Call me an idiot romantic, but that's how i felt.
a week later to celebrate the anniversary he said- he was waiting for the perfect moment.... whatever really! it was great to know even if it was a week later that he felt the same way.
maybe just wait!
posted by octomato at 1:53 PM on February 22, 2011

I had two men tell me "I love you" and both times I just kissed them on the forehead and didn't say anything.
Part of me probably did this because I felt like I shouldn't say it right back "just because." I figured I needed my own moment to say it. The first time was the next day, the second time was within a week.
The other part of me was in a bit of a shock each time. I kind of clammed up... hence just the kisses on the forehead.

But, could be one of those stereotypical "guy is afraid commitment/getting closer things.

I'd let it ride a week or two and if it still bothers you, bring up the status of your relationship.
posted by KogeLiz at 2:24 PM on February 22, 2011

I've had a similar thing happen. She paused and said, "You do?! Wait, I need a moment." Pause. "You do?!" Pause. I'm falling in love with you – does that count?" And it did, because she was honest and open and charming. It took her another month or two to get there, and I mostly refrained from saying it in the meantime, because it seemed to place too many expectations on the situation.

It's scary to say it and not get it back, but as other people has said, people have their own timelines, and honesty is so much better than insincerity.
posted by bassjump at 2:51 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

I told my boyfriend at the time that I loved him... geeze, months before he told me. I didn't treat it like it was a big deal because it isn't. Like simultaneous orgasm, it's nice when it happens together but in the real world it usually doesn't. It got to the point where I finally told him over breakfast one day "Look, you know I love you. I don't mind waiting for you to catch up, but if you get to the point where you know it isn't going to happen for you, please tell me so I can break up with your ass and move on." He agreed and we went back to reading our papers.

He finally caught up and we've been married six and a half years. We're annoyingly happy and since the day he finally told me, I have never ever doubted that he does indeed love me. Enormously.
posted by DarlingBri at 3:37 PM on February 22, 2011 [8 favorites]

Similar to what DarlingBri said, you might want to see how long you're willing to ride the wave of not hearing it back. I'm not sure if it's tacky to refer to one's own previous answers, but I stand by my previous answer to a similar question here
posted by mostly vowels at 4:06 PM on February 22, 2011

Why did you tell him "I love you" in the first place?

Answer that question, and you'll know what to do next.
posted by fantasticninety at 4:19 PM on February 22, 2011

OOPS . . . accidentally posted my answer in your other thread which someone linked to and i was reading.

your talk about how amazing the sex is worries me. do not confuse sex with love. i did, and it ended horribly. (of course, my sister predicted it but i didn't take her advice. her exact words when i told her i was going to marry him were "just don't get fucked into a black hole." i had no idea what that meant at the time but it makes sense now.) and now, in the wake of finally breaking up with him, i'm still trying to sort it out and figure what exactly went wrong. in retrospect, it seemed as though the only time he let his guard down emotionally and acted sweet and nice and loving was when we were having naked time. and it was amazing. but it did not translate well into life outside the bedroom. I also said "i love you" first, and more frequently than him. he said it but only sporadically during the 3 years we were together. it turned into this really messed up dynamic where i was practically addicted to sex because i was emotionally needy! he wasn't meeting my emotional needs outside the bedroom so i turned into a basket case if we hadn't done it for more than two or three days. yikes. it was a mess. good thing i broke out of that trance. (yeah, after i broke up with him i felt like my brain was finally returning to reality.)

anyway, i'm not saying that is going to happen to you necessarily. i'm just saying, pay attention to your instincts and feelings- don't let amazing sex cloud your judgment. if you need him to say i love you within a certain time period (for me, i'd say six months is reasonable) then stick to it. if you're still having amazing sex and yet he isn't saying he loves you, i think there's a good chance you will develop a complex and think he's just with you for sex. that's what happened to me after a while. when we were breaking up i never asked because i honestly didn't want to know. but overall the whole thing was really bad. and now i am terrified of getting back into dating because my whole perception of sex and relationships has become kinda messed up. just be careful.
posted by GastrocNemesis at 5:21 PM on February 22, 2011

GastrocNemesis: The OP's previous thread was in June and is about a different boyfriend. She clarified that in her answer in this thread. She does not mention the sex in this question, so I'm not sure how that is relevant here. Having said that, after nearly seven months I personally a) would be confident this is a true declaration of love; b) sincerely hope the sex actually is amazing - it is supposed to be, after all.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:49 PM on February 22, 2011

I'm having a much different reaction than most people about this. I don't at all think that everyone has to feel/be able to say "I love you" on the same schedule, but I DO feel like I'd want the person I'm with to be emotionally smart enough and communicative enough to have more to say than "thank you" when I first said it. I'd want the person to be capable of giving the info people are saying to ask him for, right then, or to at least be able to acknowledge that it's big and promise a response with info on how the relationship is for them, within a couple of days or a week or something like that.

I'd never say "thank you" back to someone who told me that they loved me, and leave it at that. I'd feel like I owed them more info, especially after 7 months.
posted by warsawjude at 6:42 PM on February 22, 2011 [2 favorites]

WarsawJude has given an excellent answer. Really hit the nail on the head.
posted by fantasticninety at 10:54 PM on February 22, 2011

This actually happened to me with my current boyfriend. It had been about the same amount of time, even! I said "I love you" and he said he was happy to hear it but not sure if he felt the same way yet. I felt a little horrified by the whole thing and decided not to say it again until he said it because it seemed like saying it too much might have felt like I was pressuring for a "favorable" response. It was a few months before he said it, but he eventually did say it and things are going well now. So basically I just wanted to assure you that saying I love you and not getting one in response is not the death sentence for a relationship that a lot of media portray it as.

However, if after the initial embarrassment/horror/whatever you're feeling now has subsided you still feel concerned or unsure about his feelings, I think it's a good idea to bring it up.
posted by you zombitch at 8:50 PM on February 23, 2011

« Older Foreskin cleaning? (possibly NSFW)   |   I need to find a transcription service that can... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.