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-   -   those three little words (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=2116)

booklady78 02-07-2010 05:53 AM

those three little words
I think this is more of a general relationship question, but it has been weighing heavily on my mind with no real solution in sight.
My husband of nearly 14 years loves me, he says and shows it all the time. My bf of 6 months is a bit of a trickier issue. For many reasons that I do accept and understand, he has not been able to verbalize the words 'I love you'. That being said, I feel so loved by him. He is thoughtful and romantic and tender, he has given me such confidence and enriched my life so much.
A recent example, we were on the bus yesterday, holding hands, talking and stealing kisses from each other. An older woman tapped me on the shoulder, she said "I hope you are always so gentle with each other". If total strangers can see how much we mean to each other, then why isn't that enough?
I love him, very much. Part of me wouldn't change how he expresses his feelings for me, as the rational part of my brain reasons that it's just as wonderful to 'feel' loved vs. to hear the words.
There's just this stubborn, insecure part of me that longs so much for him to verbalize his feelings. Like I can't really know his feelings until he can 'admit' to them.
I find this so difficult to bring up with him, I don't want to pressure him. I want him to express himself however he is comfortable, when he is ready.
How do I quiet that little voice of doubt? How can I accept how he expresses love? Because he is wonderful and I want to understand where my insecurities are coming from.
My husband has recently entered into his own poly relationship with a woman and we're both anxiously waiting to see where it will go. He believes he is falling in love with her, which triggers jealousy only in the fact that she will know his feelings, with words and actions. It feels so strange to be happy for him with this stuck in my head.
I've tried to focus on how he shows his affection in other ways, the list is endless and I know he cares about me a great deal. I believe he does love me, he just can't say it right now.
I have had very limited relationship exprerience, (my husband and my bf, thats it) has anyone else had to deal with this from a partner?
Any insights, thoughts, stories to share, would be appreciated.

booklady78 02-07-2010 09:22 AM

As often is the case, expressing my thoughts here has spurred me into opening up a converstation in person.
After talking to my bf, the situation is much different than I expected. He has a very different view on the words 'I love you' based on his own experience with them. They mean little to him and are associated with the pain of previous relationships that went badly. I may never hear him say those words to me.
He says I'm 'the person he cares about most in the world' and so many other wonderful affirmations of his feelings, he just can't use those particular words.
I find myself very upset by this realization, having to let go of the desire to hear them is a bit like grieving.
I don't understand why I need to hear him tell me he loves me, can't let go of the notion just yet. Why are those words seemingly so much more powerful than anything else he says? He can express his feelings so eloquently, make me feel so loved. Am I just being stupidly stubborn to want to hear him say those words specifically?

GroundedSpirit 02-07-2010 04:48 PM


Originally Posted by booklady78 (Post 21858)
He has a very different view on the words 'I love you' based on his own experience with them. They mean little to him and are associated with the pain of previous relationships that went badly.

Hi Booklady,

If I can help from a guys perspective I'll try. Not so much from my own but just from living in the 'mans' world.

It was interesting you hung the second post out because that was ONE of the possibilities I would have brought up. I'm sorry that's been his experience of 'love' - but it's 3 words in a longer sentence......

One other possibility is this......
Those 3 little words are often understood differently by men because they have a history of having a lot of conditions potentially attached. The words have been abused by so many over the years. Such as....

I love you BUT.........
If you really loved me you would............ etc

So some might relate it to that often discussed fear of commitment !
Your BF has obviously been trapped in that situation in the past as he explained to you. He's wary of what that term might get him in to !
You have to respect that. And like you said (wisely) pressing for it may make it seem just that much more of a trap.
You're right, love isn't about words - it's about actions. It's just as common to hear people throw around all the "love yous" and then act entirely differently. So be grateful :)

And rest in the assurance that if you ever DO hear it - it will come from a new & different understanding of the words. And that will be a cause for celebration.


redsirenn 02-07-2010 08:31 PM

I agree - what really matters is how he behaves with you. The words have little meaning in and of themselves.

I am a woman, and I feel that I need to be ready to accept the responsibility associated with the words "I love you". I do feel the emotion towards my bf, and I want to be sure that I can uphold what I think comes with "admitting" that. - It seems like it is a guy thing, but not so.

Ilove2men 02-08-2010 03:32 PM

GS, It right on point. Be grateful... Please be grateful for the love you have. Unfortunately at the moment my Fiance and I are on very shakey ground. There are massive holes in our relationship and he is using those 3 little words to make patches... but theres still a hole underneath each one. There has been absolutely no action behind those words for healing our relationship or my heart. And quiet frankly... each time he says those words it feels like another little piece of my heart dies... Words that were once so beautiful are daggers from his mouth.

And worse of all, its like chewing glass to say them back and not put a BUT at the end of it. I love you, but the things you do are killing my spirit.... : ( I do have hope for us I just have to add. Sorry to rant about this, but I understand how one can have a painful reaction to simple words, words that give you the opposite reaction.

Might I suggest asking him the thoughts and feelings that those words trigger in him vs the thoughts and feelings that are triggered by how he expresses his love for you in a way that is healthy for him and express yours as well. I think it would make for a loving convo that would leave the both of you at peace and with a stronger bond.

Lemondrop 02-09-2010 01:09 AM

I'm afraid I have to agree, the words are nowhere near as nice as the actions. My husband has a long history of saying the words but acting in a completely opposite fashion, and I have to say that now that he's actually behaving in a loving manner I feel so much better!

Perhaps there could be a compromise for the two of you, which you would have to find through communication of course. It never hurts to talk about it in a loving, non-judgemental way. Then, at least, you feel heard and he has a better understanding of how you feel.

Possibly there are other words he could say that would mean "I love you" to you. I love how, in the movie "The Princess Bride", he says, "As you wish" when he means "I love you". I've said "Drive safe" to my husband for years, and of course it means "I love you". There have been days when he refused to leave the house until I said "Drive safe". Maybe if the two of you could have a phrase like that, it could satisfy both of you.

Another possibility that occurs to me is if he didn't mind if you asked when you need to hear it. I ask my husband if he loves me, and all he has to say is yes, though I enjoy the "of course!" as well. :) Then I hear "I love you" even if he doesn't say the exact words.

If it really does come down to you having to learn to live with it, then know that *feeling* loved is much better than hearing words that have no feeling behind them.

Ilove2men 02-09-2010 01:55 AM

Sigh. Lemondrop, I hope we can achieve what you and your husband have.

GroundedSpirit 02-09-2010 05:16 PM

Very good !
Just to share - my mate (wife) and I are enjoying this topic and it's opened up some interesting discussion.
She's just a 'love bug' - just a generally loving person and loves to share it. A firm believer that spreading love in the world changes everything ! Along with that belief is the natural desire to express it - verbally.
Around the house here we must hear "I love you" 100 times a day ! Between myself, our son at home, the cats, it's almost an endless stream !
Almost to the point of ad naseum and and meaninglessness !
So this sparked some thought. When is enough 'enough', so that it DOESN"T lose it's meaning & value.
So thanks to the OP !


PS: So Booklady - if you need to score some "I love you's - c'mon over :) Plenty to spare here. I'll throw in a couple too.

Lemondrop 02-09-2010 07:03 PM


Originally Posted by Ilove2men (Post 21951)
Sigh. Lemondrop, I hope we can achieve what you and your husband have.

Ilove2men, I honestly wish that for you too. It took and still takes a lot of work, self-knowledge, some counselling, a bunch of reading, honesty, and a ton of communication.

SourGirl 02-09-2010 09:45 PM

Don`t get to hung up on the words,...while you may want to obsess over it,..replace the obsession over 'why not', with the obsession for some excitement over the idea that one day, when said,...it will be a very special moment for you.

For me, I don`t love easy, but express it easily once I do. "love" to me can come in stages, and different levels and types. Once I say it here and there, I don`t feel a need to say it often.

While my husband, says 'I love you' many times a day to me. His tone changes, his voice alters, between the different ways he says it. Sometimes it is a way of connection. Sometimes he says it as he feels a surge of love, and sometimes he says it for reassurance. I cherish it all.

I guess, what my babbling is letting you know,..is that the words of love may come in different forms. If you FEEL loved, and well treated, and the relationship is solid, hearing the words should not matter as much.

We condition ourselves to look for those 3 words, just as we are conditioned to look for the ring,..the commitment,......etc, etc.

..but our heart knows. Regardless of what our ears get to hear, the heart already knows if love is there or not. That is why it is special,..a love connection needs no words.

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