How to communicate about our feelings?
December 12, 2012 6:08 PM   Subscribe

How much should we be talking about our feelings for each other? I love him, and I think he loves me...

My boyfriend and I are both in our early 30s and have been dating for five months. This is the best relationship I've ever been in and the first time I can really imagine a future (marriage, kids, etc.) with someone. I think he feels the same, but I'm not sure. We get along really well, have similar values, and talk about all kinds of things, just not how we feel about each other. We never even discussed our status, he just started calling me his girlfriend at some point. I can tell that he's serious about me and is also interested in a long-term relationship. We've sort of hypothetically discussed children and marriage. After dating for a couple months, I blurted out "I love you" and he sort of mumbled "I love you too", but neither of us have said it since. He acts like he loves me, and he's the kind of person who "shows" more than "tells" in that he doesn't communicate verbally about feelings, and he also tends to be a very private person. I'm wondering whether I should ask him how he feels about me, or just let things come out as they will? I don't know what's "normal" in this kind of situation. It's starting to feel like we're avoiding talking about how we feel about each other, and it feels kind of weird and is making me feel a little insecure. I would like him to be more verbally expressive with his feelings for me, even if he's not ready to say "I love you", but I don't know how to bring this up. (I'm not very verbally expressive of my feelings, either.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (9 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Aww. It sounds like a sweet relationship. I think some people, often men people especially, tend toward showing their love more than telling. If he's talking about hypothetical futures and children with you it sounds like all systems go. Also a good sign that he randomly started calling you his girlfriend. It sounds like things are progressing naturally, which is really the best way.

But if you'd like to be more expressive or find out where exactly he stands maybe you should talk to him about it, for your own peace of mind.
posted by mermily at 6:17 PM on December 12, 2012 [4 favorites]

My current partner and I are very verbal people, we say 'I love you' all the time and other equally sweet things. We also said the big L to each other after only a few weeks together and that works for us.

I agree with Mermily, it sounds lovely and I think you should bring it up. It's totally normal to want to hear that validation and you might find he wants it too but is unsure how to proceed.

Someone I know just asked her man 'how do you feel about me?' and he did not respond favourably. She packed up and left, he saw the light and now they are working towards a future together. She asked because she needed those words in her relationship.

If you love him, then tell him. When the moment is right you could just say, 'I'm really happy you know, I feel a lot of love in our relationship', or something that is not those 3 particular words. 'I've fallen in love with you', could work too.

My philosophy is that love is awesome, embrace it!
posted by Youremyworld at 6:28 PM on December 12, 2012

Congrats, that sounds awesome!

I would say at 5 months, it's reasonable to at least want to know more about your partner. Has he been in other relationships before? Does he have cancer? Is his career stable? Does he want kids? A lot of times even good relationships aren't forever, and these can be reasons they end. You deserve not to be surprised by them.

A little more seriously, you can tell him you appreciate that he's there for you, that you look forward to traveling with him, or decorating a Christmas tree or an apartment together...

I was very immature in my first relationship, with a great gal back in the day. It was a blast, we had a ton in common, and I was dating her with marriage (eventually) on my mind. But. I had a high stress career that I wasn't sure would be family friendly, I had health issues that I wasn't sure I wanted to make her problem, and I never told her she was my first until the day we broke up. It was not cool, and the worst part was that although I never lied, I let her do plenty of assuming.

It can genuinely take a while before you know you want to move in with someone, or take it to the next level; and I would not have used "I love you" at 3 months (what does that even mean??) . But you deserve to know their current "state", and what they want the future to be. Tell him what you want! Or ask him how he feels.
posted by gensubuser at 6:32 PM on December 12, 2012

I don't know what normal is, but my relationship started out like yours basically (I didn't say "I love you" first though). He was a "shower" and not a teller, so I waited for a year and a half until he said, "You know I love you, right?"...I got a little mad at the turn of phrase and the fact that he said it casually while we were getting up from a bench, but now we're married and he says "I love you" in statement form every day.

My point is that I don't think you need to be insecure as long as he keeps "showing" you his affection. Also, it's possible that your feeling that you are both avoiding talking about your feelings is one-sided. But if you, understandably, would appreciate more verbal affection, I would start out the conversation by listing and acknowledging some of the things he does that show you his affection, but politely point out that it would make you happy to hear a verbal affirmation every once in a while. If he is a private person, it may take him a while to get up the gumption to say anything mushy at all, no matter how much he feels it.
posted by hellogoodbye at 6:47 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

I think different relationships place differing levels of importance on that kind of relationship communication. For me; it's hugely important. I don't think I could be in a relationship where we didn't talk pretty extensively about how we were feeling and why. But I know other relationships that don't seem to ever have those talks. And I wouldn't call one group necessarily better than the other. It's just a personal preference, like how tidy you want to keep the house. :-)
posted by browse at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

Reading your question made me smile. That's really great, and sweet, how your relationship is developing.

At five months in, you're just getting started. If for no other reason, a little bit of holding back on gushing expressions of love is good, because you are going to learn possibly surprising things about each other for years to come. Communication is less about declarations of love than it is about being honest, supportive and even, sometimes, forgiving.

My partner of 4 years is less verbal than I am, but he daily demonstrates his love by the many things he does for me, or with me in mind. So I don't push the love word, even though that's my default. And, seriously, when he sometimes murmurs in half-sleep, "I love you," it rocks my world to the foundations.

Be who you are, but let him be who he is, too.
posted by Short Attention Sp at 7:07 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Read the Five Love Languages. It'll help you figure out and explain to him how you receive love and vice versa. I think its a fascinating and wonderfully helpful concept that can be applied ton all relationships in your life. Highly highly recommend. It might change your life.
posted by Georgia Is All Out Of Smokes at 8:27 PM on December 12, 2012 [2 favorites]

The answer to "I think he feels the same, but I'm not sure" is always "why don't you ask him outright?" If it is as good a relationship as it seems to be, he'll either say he does, or he doesn't, or that he's not sure yet, and then you can stop wondering how he feels and get back to your relationship.
posted by davejay at 9:07 PM on December 12, 2012 [3 favorites]

Wait until he says he loves you before jumping the gun.
posted by lotusmish at 11:04 PM on December 14, 2012

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