-- Question for John --
I have been with my boyfriend for almost two years. Within two months he said he wanted to say he loved me but wasn’t sure if he really knew that early in. He said he had told previous girlfriends that he loved them and ended up regretting it. We had a conversation about how neither of us truly knew what love meant at the time and agreed that it was best for us not to say it yet.
Well, about one year into our relationship, I started having feelings for him that I have never felt before and I just knew it had to be love. I waited a few more months and finally told him that I loved him. He couldn’t return the words and he said that you don’t have to say I love you to feel that way. He said he thinks he shows me he loves me by the way he acts. He said that he cared for me so much and that this was the best relationship that he has ever been in. At first I was okay with this explanation but its really starting to bother me that he can’t say that he loves me. Another thing is that we never talk about marriage or a possible future together. I’m too scared to bring it up because I don’t want to seem pushy or scare him off but it has been two years. What should I do?
-- Answer from John --
Fear may be holding him back.
But fear is also holding you back — from communicating.
As long as you hold in your feelings, you will be communicating that everything is just fine. That will short-change him the opportunity to look at the situation with all the information. And it will also tend to keep negative feelings building up in you — and then at some point things will get really bad, because at some point you will reach your threshold.
So why not deal with the challenge of being real about this now, before emotions and misunderstandings continue to build up.
Of course, I do recommend you use this challenge as an opportunity for growth — for each of you — and to communicate in a healthy and constructive way. You may need to learn some new tools to face what you fear and communicate in a positive way.
Rather than making the topic marriage, per se, at this time I would put the focus on the two of you going to the next level of authentic communication, inner clarity about feelings, and the ability to bust through internal fears that block love from flowing. That can be a mutual goal in itself — as long as the emphasis is put on the personal growth and inner healing, and not on some other ultimate goal like marriage.
Certainly, if the two of you can commit to growing in the personal areas of communication, healing, and getting beyond self-limiting patterns — then chances are, you will move the relationship to a much more committed place and be on track for building lifetime partnership. But first things first. You need to overcome the self-limits each of you have in communicating and dealing with inner fears.