Dear Miss A,
My boyfriend rarely uses the words, “I love you.” I’m not one to throw those words around myself, so I can understand not wanting to wear them out with over-use, but it’s almost to the point where it’s a hang-up. I think part of it is his stoic upbringing, as well as the fact that his feelings waned for his two exes who he thought he loved (which he thinks shows that it wasn’t “real love”), and he doesn’t want the same thing to happen with us. We have been together for a while, and he shows his love with many sweet, wonderful actions, just rarely with those words. I don’t need to say that automatically every time we hang up the phone or part ways, but I’d like to hear it more often and not feel it’s taboo to say it myself. How important do you think those three words are when other evidence of love is prevalent in our daily lives?
~Silently in love
Dear Silently in love,
Ah, if you could only see my vast collection of books on relationships, dating, love, marriage and the like! Next time I get married, I plan to ceremoniously bestow my collection on to a special bachelorette friend of mine! Anyhow, once I read your question, one of my favorite books came to mind. It’s called The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate by Gary Chapman. This book was recommended to me over a decade ago, and although I am currently single, I learned a great deal from this book.
To summarize, each individual has a primary way of showing their love, or “Love Language”. Interestingly, the way an individual shows his love is often the way he wants to be loved. The five Love Languages are Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch. Most men assume that since they love sex that their primary Love Language is Physical Touch, but often that is not really the case. The book also points out that if we express our love through a language other than our mate’s primary love language, our mate won’t feel love even though we think we are expressing our love. There is a disconnect. The couple isn’t communicating because they aren’t “speaking” the same “language”. Think Borat and the trouble he got into while traveling around the United States!
In your situation, you have a need to hear your boyfriend express verbally that he loves you. Even though he shows his love in all of the other Love Languages, you still aren’t feeling fully loved. I would bet your Love Language is Words of Affirmation. I’m guessing your boyfriend’s primary Love Language is Acts of Service, since he is doing things for you to show his love.
You made a good point about his upbringing. A cold stoic upbringing might not have given him the tools to know how to express his love verbally. The way in which we were shown love as a child is often how we learn to express love. For instance, busy parents who spend little time with their kids but buy them lots of material things often create adults whose primary Love Language is Receiving Gifts. This is unfortunate.
I would suggest that you buy this book and read through it together, or at least bring up the main ideas in the book. Hopefully, this will lead to an opportunity for you to communicate your needs, and to find out what he needs from you. Hope this helps!
– Miss A