GF said "I love you" and we've only been dating for about a month
June 24, 2013 8:29 AM   Subscribe

Girlfriend said "I love you" after only 1 month. I didn't respond with anything and now she's mad.

So I've been with my girlfriend for about a month and yesterday when I was dropping her home, she said "I love you" while she was leaving. I knew this was coming. I didn't respond with anything because I wasn't ready to say it back.

The next day when we met, we talked about it and she got mad because I didn't say anything back. Now she thinks she likes me more then I do. When we first started going out, I said "I love you" to her which slipped out of my mouth. I tried explaining that it slipped out of my mouth and I shouldn't have said it that early in the relationship. I think she knew that I was by a mistake. But when she said that to me, I knew she REALLY meant it. Anyways, she's mad now and regrets says that to me. She wants me to forget that she said it. I told her that I really like her a lot and would like to get to know you because I actually use the L world. She says that now since she loves me more then I do, she eventually loses interest or falls back in the relationship because we're not at the same level.

I really like this girl but I just don't want to tell her "I love you" this early in the relationship. We're really happy when we're together and I just want things to happen naturally. We're both 23 and she says she's mature for her age and not like other girls. We've not had sex yet because she gets too attached when she does. So she's holding off until she's ready and I told her I'm completely fine with that and will not force her to do anything. I see her everyday and stay over at her place couple of times a week. I just want things to go the way they are going right now and let things happen own its on pace.

What can I do to make things better? Should I leave her alone until she's ready to talk to me?
posted by Parh6512 to Human Relations (30 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Response by poster: Also, this is the first time she said " I love you" FIRST in a relationship.
posted by Parh6512 at 8:32 AM on June 24, 2013


Definitely leave her be. It might be that this imbalance doesn't work for her, which would be sad, but it's better to know early on. Definitely don't feel pressured to respond in kind, because that would be dishonest and unfair to her.
posted by xingcat at 8:35 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


So much drama and immaturity so early isn't a good sign.

Definitely don't say it back if you're not ready. Telling someone that you love them should never come with expectations or strings attached.
posted by sarahnicolesays at 8:38 AM on June 24, 2013 [16 favorites]


We're both 23 and she says she's mature for her age

Well, doesn't sound like it.

Either this continues on like it has been (maybe let her be for a day or two to sort of recalibrate) and both of you pick back up, waiting to say I love you when you're ready to...

or

She decides she wants to end the relationship because of whatever power or feelings imbalance she perceives, and you both go your separate ways.


When this happens (and it happens), it sucks and it stings, but there's not really a whole lot to be done about it. It seems like you've done just fine on your part, and good for you for not saying anything before you're ready to say it.

Ball is in her court now.
posted by phunniemee at 8:38 AM on June 24, 2013 [9 favorites]


she says she's mature for her age and not like other girls

Um, the way she is behaving isn't what I would call "mature". Quite the opposite. And the thing I have learned over the years that most people who make a point of telling you they are mature, aren't.

She is mad at you for not lying. If you had lied and said "I love you" back even though you didn't mean it, she would be happy, right? So does she want you to lie? I think your only course of action is to let her be. She needs to decide what she wants to do - live with the 'imbalance' or bail. I think you have handled this as well as you can, but I would take a second to think about this. This is very early in to your relationship and this is a big pile of drama... If I were you I'd be seeing this as a warning signal.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:39 AM on June 24, 2013 [18 favorites]


Seconding let her be. As someone who was 23 and in love not so long ago, it's likely that she's still trying to figure out what she wants her relationships to look like. She's trying to fit her life into a mold that won't contain it. She'll figure it out soon enough.

In the meantime, be the same person you are for her that you've always been. Live your own life while you do that. Take care of yourself first and trust her to put on her own oxygen mask.
posted by fight or flight at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [6 favorites]


Just say, "Look, I like you an awful lot, but I'm not ready to say I love you. If you can't handle that, then perhaps we should break up. Sure I have feelings of love for you, and I respect that you may feelings of love for me, but after only a month, we can't really know the nature of that love beyond that wonderful feeling we get when we're together."

If that doesn't deal with it organically and honestly, there's no hope in the universe.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:42 AM on June 24, 2013 [19 favorites]


Here's something to ponder.

You just don't want to tell her "I love you" or you don't love her?

Those would be very different things.

If you love her, you love her. There doesn't have to be some predetermined amount of time in which to fall in love and tell someone. So if you just think it's too early in the relationship to say such things, that could be a little silly.

But if you don't love her (yet, possibly) that's a different matter, in which case, leave her be for a time. This has all happened in 48 hours or less.

And you both sound so very young. You're figuring this all out together --- do it separately for a few days, then do it together --- whether that means staying together or not.
posted by zizzle at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


One way you could explain the situation to her is this: some people are comfortable saying 'I love you' when their feelings reach a 7 on some imaginary scale of emotion. Some people would rather wait until their feelings reach an 8 or a 9. It doesn't mean that one of you has stronger feelings than the other. There's just a natural point for you where you choose to call it 'love'.

Having said that, this is the kind of disagreement I'd expect from 16-year-olds, not adults. You both just need to relax, enjoy each other's company, and see where this leads. What you're experiencing right now is what people these days call 'drama', and that's no good for anyone.
posted by pipeski at 8:47 AM on June 24, 2013 [3 favorites]


Sure I have feelings of love for you

I think Ruthless Bunny offered a fairly good script if you decide to talk to her about it, but this line I think is dangerous. I don't think your girlfriend is mature enough to hear "I have feelings of love for you" and understand that is different from loving her. I could see her (or any relationship inexperienced person) get upset because it would sound pretty confusing, as though they are saying that they do and don't love them at the same time.
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 8:47 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


We're both 23 and she says she's mature for her age and not like other girls. We've not had sex yet because she gets too attached when she does. So she's holding off until she's ready and I told her I'm completely fine with that and will not force her to do anything. I see her everyday and stay over at her place couple of times a week. I just want things to go the way they are going right now and let things happen own its on pace.

You two barely know each other at this point and a so-called "mature" person would realize this. But it sounds to me like she wants this relationship to be built on HER expectations and HER timeline, without any consideration given about your comfort level or feelings. This seems like an uneven footing on which to build a relationship.

Also, I have known my share of women who proclaimed that they "weren't like other girls." Total special snowflake head cases, every single freakin' one of them.
posted by futureisunwritten at 8:48 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


So, she said "I love you" and you didn't respond at all? You said nothing? And, you have already said "I love you" to her, apologized for it, without explaining that you don't actually love her?

You say you think she knew that you told you that you loved her by mistake, but why do you think that? It sounds to me like you have handled the situation pretty badly as well. Whether or not she is immature, you are both immature, or not, I think you need to work on communicating how to you feel without making assumptions like "she knew I didn't really mean it when I told her I loved her!"
posted by inertia at 8:54 AM on June 24, 2013 [13 favorites]


I wonder if she's more embarrassed than mad and isn't handling it well, so I like what my soul-sister/mentor-in-life Ruthless Bunny advises.

I'd just say something like, "I really do appreciate that you love me, and that means a lot to me. Please don't regret that you said it; it was wonderful to hear. How could it not? You're the best girlfriend and you mean a lot to me and I want to stay with you (mention a few specific things abut her that you enjoy). It would be a sad thing if we stopped being together because of a word, and I promise that I love being with you and I hope we continue being together. I'd hate for us to stop seeing each other because of a word. Please know how much I care for you and want to stay together."

If this becomes an endless drama, then as wonderful as she is, then you two may not be a great fit, sorry.
posted by kinetic at 9:00 AM on June 24, 2013 [4 favorites]


Seconding what inertia says. When you say "I love you" and then say, "Actually, I don't really love you. That was a mistake," that hurts like all get out for the person on the receiving end. You're operating with a double standard. You're allowed to throw around empty "I love you"s willy nilly but if she does she's a stage 4 clinger? You probably confused the heck out of her the first time you said it, and taking it back likely made her feel insecure.

Time to act like a grownup, take responsibility, and say what you mean. Maybe you can start doing that in this relationship and maybe in a future one. If the phrase "I love you" carries as much weight as you're saying it does, it shouldn't just "slip out."
posted by Miss T.Horn at 9:04 AM on June 24, 2013 [7 favorites]


It sounds like things are moving very fast with the two of you, if you're seeing each other *every day* only a month in. That kind of intensity can kind of mess with someone's head, even if you're not sleeping together yet. Maybe it'd be good to slow down and date at a normal pace?
posted by Asparagus at 9:23 AM on June 24, 2013


People did not read your question carefully, clearly.

- You said "I love you" FIRST, then you took it back.

Your relationship is happening naturally! You've both said "I love you," just at different times!

GF is not being immature, it sounds more like you are jerking her around. Going silent on her will be even MORE jerky.

Have another talk. Acknowledge you have strong feelings for each other and try to make it work. Or, break up if you are too scared or whatever.

Going silent is a dick move. Acknowledge you also have strong feelings or break up.

PS. It's pretty shitty you buried that you said "I love you" first deep inside your question. Take responsibility for that. It sounds like you are playing with this person. You know she's an independent living breathing human being with feelings, right?? Because it sounds like you think she should conform only to what you want, and at your pace, EVEN IF WHAT YOU WANT CHANGES EVERY DAY.

That's not cool. Not at all.
posted by jbenben at 9:27 AM on June 24, 2013 [21 favorites]


If it's true: GF, I really, really like you because you are really terrific. You are someone I could have a serious, loving relationship with. I'm wary of telling you I love you again, because I want it to be a big deal. I want us to stick together because I can see us having a future together. Can we let things develop?
posted by theora55 at 9:32 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


We've not had sex yet because she gets too attached when she does.

I really don't want to be harsh here, but she is this -"I Love You"- attached after a month, without sex? And she says she gets TOO attached after sex?

Are you comfortable with this level of attachment? It's okay if you're not. Great for your relationship if you are.

Basically, you don't feel "lovey" yet or don't feel comfortable saying it. That's perfectly fine. It's also perfectly fine for her to feel okay saying it. What's not okay is that you guys don't seem to be on the same level.

This may mean that you see "I Love You" as different things. You may see it as more of a commitment statement, whereas she sees it as "I really like this guy and want to tell him and be romantic."

Also, if you were my friend or I knew you guys, from what you told me it seems that the "I Love You" may be a step to "Let's have sex now because we are so connected." If you don't love her/feel the same way and you do have sex, you already said she gets "too attached" after that. Therefore you definitely need to be on the same page before at least moving forward.

Whatever you end up doing, the first step is having a conversation. Give her a day or so, talk in person about this and get to the bottom of it. Write down what you need in order to say "I Love You" and what you think that statement implies, and compare it to her thoughts.
posted by Crystalinne at 10:05 AM on June 24, 2013


This is an excellent opportunity to set a positive precedent. You can show empathy for her feelings, and also ask her not to blame you for something you didn't cause.

She did something and then was embarrassed and disappointed by the outcome. She then blamed you for her discomfort. You will probably handle a premature "I love you" more tactfully in the future -- still, in this case you did nothing wrong. Your reaction did hurt her feelings, though, and it's a good idea to say you're sorry that she felt bad when you didn't know what to say. Your not accepting blame, but just saying that if the roles were reversed, you'd feel bad, too.

I suggest you talk with her and tell her how you do feel about her. Tell her you really regret hurting her feelings -- the truth is that you were surprised and didn't know what to say. Tell her you hope she'll be willing to continue the relationship because of all the positive things about it. Also say you're optimistic that getting to know one another gradually. The worry about "I like you more than you like me" is understandable, but if she knows you care about her, she'll probably get over it.

I wouldn't say right now, "You're blaming me, and that's not right." You're basically expressing the same thing by explaining how things were from your point of view, and by inviting her to try to see it your way. Your kind statements about understanding how bad she felt should let her know that you're trying to see it her way.

If the blaming thing turns out to be a pattern, then you'll need to address it directly and firmly. One time is unfortunate; twice is a red flag. My husband and I have had to deal with the blaming problem in our marriage because it went on all the time between his parents. A person doesn't break that habit easily, and after 25 years I still have to remind him about it (rarely). The important thing is to recognize it, acknowledge it, and (for the blamee) not to engage with it.
posted by wryly at 10:14 AM on June 24, 2013


First of all, "then" is a sequence and "than" is a comparison.

I think she will get over it. If she really does love you, she's going to stop dating you because you like her too but didn't use the word "love" yet? I'd just say that I really like her a lot, and I want to make sure that when I say it, I'm 100% sure because sometimes people say it too early. I'd say I like to wait a long time and it's not in my character to say it so early or something. Honestly, if you've already talked about it, I don't see the need to keep talking about it. Either keep being in your relationship, or don't.
posted by AppleTurnover at 10:18 AM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


When we first started going out, I said "I love you" to her which slipped out of my mouth. I tried explaining that it slipped out of my mouth and I shouldn't have said it that early in the relationship. I think she knew that I was by a mistake. But when she said that to me, I knew she REALLY meant it.

Are you sure that she knew that it was by mistake? Did you actually say to her that it was a mistake?

Here's the thing, "I love you" is the Pandora's Box of relationship statements. Once you open that box, whether it be for real or by accident, it's amazingly hard to close. Those words indicate a higher level of attachment, so if you haven't indicated very clearly to her that it was a slip of the tongue, I can definitely see why she would be so upset that her decelerations of love weren’t reciprocated.

From her perspective, I can see how this would look like a power play on your part, or at the very least that you're just using her for companionship. I'm not saying that's the case, you seem to have very genuine feelings for her, but if I were her that's what I would conclude from the whole "I love you"/"nope not really" exchange.

Really though, the ball is in her court.
posted by Shouraku at 10:19 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


Saying "I love you" can mean different things to different people. Maybe you guys need to clarify what it means to each of you.

And different people develop/express feelings at different paces in a relationship, and this should be ok. She sounds a bit immature for expecting the two of you to always be on the same page. On the other hand, saying "I love you" and then taking it back isn't particularly mature either.

Like most people above suggested, wait a day or two and have a good, calm, non-blaming conversation about each other's feelings, and what it means to "love" someone.
posted by phoenix_rising at 10:49 AM on June 24, 2013


This is a test... Even if she's not intending it to be, it will wind up being one because how you respond will show her a lot about how she can treat you.

I think she may be someone with an anxious attachment style, and that the two of you are spending a lot of time together this early on. That much time together will mess with you.

I believe you that your slip up "I love you" was understood for what it was by your girlfriend, because she wouldn't tell you that this was the first time she'd said it first if she took that seriously.

If this is the first time she's been the one in a relationship to say it first, then she's in uncharted territory, because she's never had to deal with the uncertainty of what happens/what it means to say it and not have it reciprocated.

But by making this into A Thing, she's attaching strings to something that strings shouldn't be attached to. It sounds like you've responded with a decent effort to give her security.

I see this as being a red flag unless she owns that this is on her side of the line. She may be framing it as though her emotional needs aren't being met, but you have emotional needs, too, like not having to have feelings on someone else's timetable with no margin of error and no advance notice that that timetable will be really different from what's socially normal.

Maybe you can work with her and give her some time to sort it out, but the people I've dated who've acted like this have turned out to be bad news.
posted by alphanerd at 10:51 AM on June 24, 2013


"I love you" is so fraught, in part because there are two utterly different meanings to it, and we often don't sit down and parse them, but just go on gut instinct (esp. in our early decades).

"I love you" can mean: In this moment, I have strong warm regard for you and can't imagine being happier.

It can also mean: I know you pretty well by now, and am willing and prepared to promise you that I will work to maintain our mutual positive regard, to let you lean on me, to not betray your trust, and to consider your well-being when I make decisions.

The first meaning is perfectly valid 20 minutes after meeting someone, even though I think that it is ill advised to use those particular words quite so quickly. But transitory though they may be, the emotions are real. And, also, real as they may be, they're incredibly transitory.

Your girlfriend is in a funny place. She probably thinks a month is long enough to make a reasoned decision that your relationship is permanent. I'm at the other end of the spectrum -- I think "I love you" is worth waiting 9 to 12 months for. You're probably somewhere in between and you may even have some of those first-meaning feelings for her (witness your own 'slip') already.

But I think you can have a calm and positive conversation with her in which you both acknowledge the first meaning, yet conclude that it's a little too soon for the second meaning.
posted by janey47 at 11:10 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


I do not know if it will help in this relationship, but it does not have to be this big a deal. I have been on both sides of that fence without it being a big freaking deal.

I had a relationship where he never once said "I love you." He never made me feel bad about me saying it to him. I would say "I love you." and he would say "That's sweet." or "You make me feel good." or something like that. He did not make me feel rejected or like it was some kind of big baggage that I was a lot gushier than him, a lot more willing to commit, etc.

More recently, it seems to be working for me to say things like "Thank you for loving me." even though I have baggage, am not as free with the L Word as he is, etc.

You should try to let her know that you really, really like her, you are flattered she feels that way, you didn't mean to hurt her but you want a relationship with real intimacy and that cannot happen if you are not honest and it doesn't feel honest yet to you to say "I love you" but you hope love will blossom with her because you think she's a neat lady.

FWIW: I am 48 and this stuff can still be a pain to deal with. I am not sure anyone is really more emotionally "mature" than a thumb-sucking 3 year old when they are falling in love and hoping to be loved back and not rejected and not hurt and not taken advantage of. I have had relationships with men in their fifties and sixties. You are never too old to fall on your face and feel like an idiot and make an ass of yourself because you feel all squishy about someone in a way you normally don't feel.
posted by Michele in California at 11:26 AM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


We're really happy when we're together and I just want things to happen naturally.

Well, come on then - you've both said 'I love you' to one another - maybe go with it instead of fighting it?
posted by heyjude at 1:11 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


She says that now since she loves me more then I do, she eventually loses interest or falls back in the relationship because we're not at the same level.

She's being pretty ridiculous here. At least three kinds of ridiculous.

First in assuming that whether you say a particular word or not is an indicator of the depths of your feelings. Second in doing this score keeping in the first place. Third in saying that having a a higher score means she will therefore lose interest...? For some reason?

What can I do to make things better? Should I leave her alone until she's ready to talk to me?

You can either say the word she's looking for, or you can tell her that you want things to progress at their own pace and that the word is just a word.

If she's giving you the silent treatment over this, then yes, you leave her alone until she's ready to talk to you -- and maybe consider it no great loss if she never is, because:

She says she's mature for her age

People who make a point of telling people this are invariably wrong.
posted by ook at 1:48 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


>>We've not had sex yet because she gets too attached when she does.<>
GOOD on ya... and don't. Poor thing really is immature. If you like her, let things ride if it's no inconvenience. If not... you may have some problems here.
posted by brownrd at 3:57 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't respond with anything because I wasn't ready to say it back.

Ouch. This was your cue to say something like "I really like you and want to get to know you better/am not ready to say that yet." Silence is pretty rude in that situation.

I tried explaining that it slipped out of my mouth and I shouldn't have said it that early in the relationship.
So, did you actually say that you didn't feel that way yet? Because if you didn't actually say that, then no, ya'll probably weren't on the same page.

She says that now since she loves me more then I do, she eventually loses interest or falls back in the relationship because we're not at the same level.
Most worrisome of all, to me, is that this sounds like a pattern with this girl -- attaching too quickly and being invested in someone who doesn't reciprocate for whatever reason or on whatever level she needs at that time.

I dunno. This doesn't really have to be a big deal but it sounds like you've both mis-stepped. On the other hand, it sounds like you failed a "test." Who wants to jump through these kind of hoops a month in (if ever)?
posted by sm1tten at 5:52 PM on June 24, 2013 [2 favorites]


She's attempting to control your behavior with anger.

That's wrong.

Dead wrong.

Let her know that. Let her know that how you feel about her is NOT the point. Whether or not you love her, are 99% of the way to saying it, or just aren't sure... is not the point.

She is using emotional drama to punish you for "misbehaving", where "misbehaving" is defined as "not saying the words she expects you to say." That's wrong.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:21 PM on June 24, 2013 [1 favorite]


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