Do some people avoid that L word or avoid feeling it?
I can't avoid how I feel. I can choose whether or not I express it though (the WHEN.) As well as the rest of it -- where
I express, how
I express, why
I express, what
I express, and matters of degree.
When we were dating? DH told me he loved me first. (So did BF2 in that rship now that I think about it.) I like a slow unfold, and I like to get there at my own pace.
For example -- I told DH I was glad, happy to hear that he loved me, and I was in the process too... falling in love. But just not ready to go verbal. I found body language easier -- kisses/hugs, etc to convey my affection/love for him.
So if it was ok with him, I'd just say something like "I know" and update him when I was in another place on the verbal front. Or use whatever other phrase he wanted to hear better til I was ready to go with "I love you." He said he was fine with that. "I know" was good.
So when he expressed his love for me through words again at other times, I would smile and say "I know. Thanks!" and squeeze his hand or hug or something. He was free to express himself, I was free to receive it in the way I wanted to receive.
I demonstrated all kinds of loving behavior toward him in the other love languages. But I wasn't ready for words of affirmation til I was ready. Then I WAS ready to go verbal, and it was received by him just fine.
Relationships are a dance.
I guess I find it interesting to note my own need to hear clear words
If you have a need, you could ask if he's willing to meet the need at this time or not. It doesn't get any simpler. He cannot mind reader.
If you enjoy hearing words as a love share method, tell
him you'd like him to express it via words when he's ready to go there. You appreciate his actions, but the words too would mean something to you when he's ready to go there. Letting him know your preferences isn't a bad thing in relationship.
I think I'm afraid to ask him directly because I suspect right now it might open a can of worms he's not entirely prepared to deal with.
Let him own his own baggage. You hold and own yours.
If he is like me, and you let him know your preference he will say "Thanks for the heads up. I'll let you know when I'm ready."
No can of worms in sight. Just plain communication to get to that handy old fashioned phrase place... "we have an understanding."