She says "I love you"...Help!

I’m counting on my fellow dopers here for some advice. So I’m a 23 year old guy and I’ve been dating this girl for about 5 months now. She “officially” became my girlfriend about a month ago but that was a change in title only. We always have a great when we’re together. In fact, compared to some past relationships, this is the “easiest” one so far. Things just work together pretty well. I like her a lot.

Where I need help is that she just dropped the “L-bomb” and while she says that there is no pressure to respond, there is. I do like her a bunch but I don’t love her. There, I’ve said it. Now, I told her that I do like her but I’m not ready for the Big L. I’ve never been in this type of situation. I’m wondering if the different “interest” levels will cause conflict. My current plan is to go about business as usuall and still have a great time. However, I still feel like there is some kind of pressure to respond in kind but I’m not going to lie to her. I’ve always been honest with her and I’m not going to stop now.

Any other dopers been in a similar situation? What did you do? Any advice you can give me is much appreciated. And any questions that you have are fair game. I’m a pretty honest guy if you just ask the right questions.

P.S. In the altered words of Forrest Gump : I’m a young man, but I do know what love is.

You pussy, If she is the “ONE” don’t let her get away. If she is
the one you just want to “pump a lump” into then, drag her on.
However put some thought into it,the one you truly love can
screw your life over more than you care to know, and the good
one that you realize you truly loved/love years down the road
can cause personal havoc. Either way think it over really
well. Good luck and I hope to god she is not one of my


You dont love her, you said it yourself. Now she loves you, and yes she admits there is no pressure to say it back, but you two are a couple and if you dont think your ever going to love her, I think your wasting her time. and possibly your own.

By the way this isnt advice, this is just how im seeing things, Im not going to give you advice incase its the wrong type [ie I dont want to be to blame if it goes wrong].

If it were me in your situation, I would want to explain how I feel etc etc and so maybe talking to her and seeing how she reacts will be your best bet, but if you dont love her I dont think you should go about business as usual, because if you do in the long run your going to hurt her more then you know, and if you like her as much as you say you do, thats the last thing youll want… I assume.

Yes, conflicting interest levels will cause problems.

Conflict does that. How you and her deal with that is a pretty good measure of the relationship. Don’t lie to her.

Ask yourself if you think you are ever going to love her. Moving toward love, but not at that level yet is an entirely different ballgame than just having a good time and never expecting the relationship to mean any more. If its the former, tell her that you just need more time to get to that level of intimacy, and she’ll probably be happy to wait. People fall in love at different rates, different relationships form at different rates. If its the latter, tell her that you are happy with how things are. Then, don’t be too surprised if she decides she needs to find a new, deeper relationship with someone else.

Don’t lie to her. No good relationship is formed on deceit. Not friendship, laid back romance, or full blown love.

I can’t imagine being with someone exclusively for 5 months and not loving them. Seems like plenty of time to know the person well and all that.

Is it just that the dropping of the dreaded L freaks you out completely, or did it spark a deep introspective find out how you really feel moment, and you came up with “yeah, not so much” as an answer? Personally, I like falling in love, it’s fun. I probably do it far more often than you, so I can’t really offer any advice.

Regarding the non-pressure thing, believe her. It’s perfectly okay to respond to an ‘ILY’ with leaning in for a kiss, for instance, rather than getting the deer-in-the-headlights look and having an Awkward Moment. As long as you’re both honest about where you see the relationship going, have similar goals, no reason why it can’t be business as usual.

Good luck.

Well, at least you didn’t say “I love cake.” … or did you?

I’d say that it’s no big deal if you don’t say it NOW. After all, it’s only been five months. If I were in your girlfriend’s position, I’d give you three months (maybe four, depending on how hard I’ve fallen) for you to respond. After eight months and you know you don’t love her, the relationship isn’t much to pursue anyway.

She’s done killed this relationship anyway by saying “I love you” first, IMHO.

There’s a rule that says only the guy can say “I love you” first???

If you really DO think this relationship has potential, then stay in it. But tell her why you’re not responding. Something like, “Saying ‘I love you’ is a very meaningful thing for me, and I don’t know if I can make that step quite yet. I don’t want to tell you things I don’t yet mean with all of my heart, but I don’t want you to think I don’t care very much about you, either, because I do. (More stuff goes here)” Also, tell her that it’s ok to say she loves you, but not to feel bad when you don’t respond in kind yet.

And a good response to an “I love you” is an “Aww!”, a smile, and a kiss.

Then, when you actually do love her and tell her so, she’ll be insanely happy for days. It is not unethical to take advantage of that.

Thanks guys. I knew I could count on you. She’s definitely not a girl that I just want to “pump a lump” with, to use bubba jr.'s oh so eloquent phrasing. I don’t work that way. I like the possibility of falling in love at different rates. The thing that’s been baffling me is why I don’t love her. I can’t pin it down. We get along so damn well, we have such similar outlooks and opinions, hell we’re already finishing each others sentences from time to time. I “should” love her but for some reason I just haven’t reached that point, that little spark that lets me know. Stupid emotions. :slight_smile: I really do care about her and I second the idea that I should talk to her more and let her know exactly how I’m feeling. I really don’t want to string her along and the last thing I want to do is hurt her. She should know so she can decide whether I can give her what she needs or whether she should move on. Only time will tell I guess.

But if anyone has anymore advice, feel free. And no one will get blamed for any advice given. I take responsibility for my own actions and decisions. That means I take all the blame. But it means I get all the credit for the good ideas too. :smiley:

I got the big “no return” on the ILY. It sucked. But we continued to date for years. I still got a lot out of the relationship, but never the “L” word.

You see this is why I never say the “L” word first. And come on, 5 months and you don’t love her? I was unofficial with my boyfriend was 4 months, and we were only official a few weeks before he said he loves me!

I thought you were the guy I’m seeing for a second, until I saw you were only 23 and live in MA. I’m currently kinda-sorta in your girlfriend’s position, and it sucks, especially because I love to spoil my bf’s rotten, but it kind of ruins it when I still feel like more of a maybe than a real girlfriend. Good luck; if she’s anything like me, she’s probably laying in bed at night, awake, trying to decide if she wants to attempt continuing things with you or not. YMMV.

What elfbabe said. If you aren’t there yet, then you aren’t. You might also tell her as diplomatically as possible that while you know she loves you, if she says it too often, it feels as though she is pressuring you to respond in kind, even though she doesn’t intend it to come out that way.

If she does love you, I’m sure she’ll know that you’re worth waiting for. Figure out your feelings; sometimes love builds slowly. But she probably won’t wait forever, so don’t over analyze this to death.

Good rule of thumb: love=you care more about that person’s happiness than your own. But you must be honest when you work out this equation, or it doesn’t work.

Sometimes, “that feeling” of love isn’t a spark per se. It can be more of a warm glow. Like if you’re sick and she makes you some homemade chicken soup, and maybe she put the wrong herbs in or something but you still look at her and really just feel all warm because she tried hard to do something that you think was pretty special, even if she messed up and it doesn’t taste that great.

Breakup Girl talks about the “porch test” sometimes. Do you think you could see the two of you years or decades down the line, sitting on a front porch together, content after years of a life spent as a couple? If yes, then I think you’re seeing her as someone you could love.

I think elfbabe’s advice is spot on.

Tyler Do’Urden, my experience was almost the exact reverse of yours.

I had been dating my boyfriend for about 5 months (though I was titled his “girlfriend” about 1 month into the relationship) when I told him I loved him. The last 2 months we had been having a long-distance relationship. I had told myself that I would wait for him to say “I love you” first, because I felt as though I had been in the habit of taking the lead on our relationship’s progression. But I caved in and said it first.

He was a bit startled by this. He told me that he felt like an ass because he couldn’t say it back. We had a long talk about it. His point of view was that he didn’t think he could love someone until he knew all about them (though my view was you could never know all about someone). My view was that there are as many kinds of love as there are of friendship. Maybe even more. When I told him I loved him, it didn’t mean that I wanted to live with him for ever-n-ever and have a million of his babies. It was because I didn’t think “like” adequately covered my feelings any more.

He drove back to his city, and I spent a nervous week wondering if I had totally messed up our relationship.

A week after that, I was visiting him, and he told me that he loved me. I won’t repeat the conversation, as it’s likely to be boring for everyone else. It meant a lot to me, mostly because I knew that he meant it. He obviously had to do quite a bit of thinking, so it wasn’t a throwaway line. It was probably more meaningful than if he had thrown off a quick “I love you, too” just to keep me from wondering why he didn’t respond in kind.

We’re still together (over a year now) and still long distance (though hopefully that will end soon). I think if you’ve made it a policy to be honest with your girlfriend, you shouldn’t stop know. But of course, YMMV.

This is exactly why I have my policy. I heartily recommend it. Early in every realtionship, when neither person has considered the love question and you are talking about previous relationships or something, I tell them about how an ex once said ILY when I wasn’t ready for it and everything was terribly awkward. I then remark on how much easier it is for me to say it first as I would have an easier time not hearing it back than hearing it when I could not reciprocate.

Though you still might end up in this pinch, I imagine it buys you maybe another month before she breaks down and says it anyway. If things work out well, you will be able to say ILY and be reasonably certain to hear it back.

I’m another female who was in your girlfriend’s situation, Tyler Do’Urden. I told my boyfriend I loved him after we’d been dating about 6 months. He didn’t reply in kind and had the differing rates of intimacy reasoning. We continued dating, moved in together and were together for another six months before he told me he loved me. Then he took it back! Another six months went by and he finally said it and meant it.

This was a significant issue between us, believe me, but we got through it. We’ve now been married for four years and he tells me he loves me every day. I think there were times when he felt like he loved me and times when he felt like he was stringing me along. Part of this was him not really knowing where his own life was going. We kept talking and enjoying our time together and he eventually got to the point that he knew this was it. Looking back, I appreciate that he obviously thought long and hard about what those words meant. At the time, though, I spent a lot of nights crying and not understanding what the hell his problem was.

I think if you explain yourself, your girlfriend’s very patient, and you’re very patient and understanding of her, you all will work this out. If you decide to end the relationship at some point, she’ll at least know that you were always honest with her. It may not seem like much at the time, but she’ll eventually look back on you with respect.