How you respond to his uncertainty about saying “I love you” can be the difference between a long relationship with Mr. Right and a quick end to a good thing. Although you may place a premium on the verbal expression of love, your boyfriend may find it difficult. Figuring out how to respond to his uncertainty will entail a bit of introspection along with observations.
Decode the Signs
Okay, so you’ve asked if he loves you and he says he isn’t sure. That doesn’t mean you should grab the nearest ice-cream tub and tissues because your relationship is over. Love comes in all forms and just because he hasn’t said those three words doesn’t necessarily mean he doesn’t feel or show his love. If he’s introduced you to his friends and family, is committed to developing and maintaining a healthy relationship with you, displays affection and supports you during tough times, then he probably loves you even though he is unsure. Sometimes it’s about more than words.
Turn Down the Drama
Relationships that involve unequal love between partners tend to have high turmoil, says Robert Bringle et al. in a 2013 study entitled, "The Prevalence and Nature of Unrequited Love." If your relationship involves a lot of chaos -- perhaps hot and cold behavior by one or both of you, this may be getting in the way of him developing deeper feelings for you. Work on toning down your reactions to him if you tend to overreact. Focus instead on having calm and relaxing moments with him. These adjustments may bring him closer to you or provide a space for him to share his hesitations.
Ease the Pressure
He said he isn’t sure; he didn’t say he doesn’t love you. Uncertainty may mean it is still too early for him to say it. Relax a little. Take this as an opportunity to grow as a couple and enjoy being in each other’s company. He has already proven his commitment by being your boyfriend. With a little more time he may be comfortable enough to say he loves you and fully accept the responsibility that comes with those three important words.
Accept the truth
If you give him the time he requires to feel safe enough to tell you he loves you and he still doesn’t, then perhaps he doesn’t feel it. A boyfriend might care about you deeply but not love you. His feelings for you might morph into love over a long period of time, though he may never come to feel this way about you. If this is the case you then have to decide if this is something with which you can live.
Nina Edwards holds a doctorate in clinical psychology and has been writing about families and relationships since 2000. She has numerous publications in scholarly journals and often writes for relationship websites as well. Edwards is a university lecturer and practicing psychologist in New York City.
George Doyle/Stockbyte/Getty Images