I Need Help, the Mental Kind

Okay, this is going to be one of the most personal situations I’ve ever shared on my blog. But I’m seriously unable to come to my own conclusion and I need feedback from both men and women. I’ve been reading articles and forums and blogs on the subject in an effort to find something close to personal truth. Alas, here I am, hoping someone out there will be able to explain things in a way I can accept and apply to my life so I can move past this issue.

First, a little background. Dimples (the nickname I gave my boyfriend for blogging purposes) hasn’t had too many serious relationships. Ours is only his second. He’s 34 years old, never married, no children. He told me on our third date he’s never been in love, and he’s never told a woman he loves her, other than his mum and dog. So in his defense, I knew from the beginning he had some sort of issue with relationships and love. But who doesn’t, right? He once told me he didn’t think love was necessary for a successful marriage. He said respect was more important.

We’ve dated for a year. We did have a three week “break” in there when we agreed to split because things felt off between us. I initiated the break up. It was mainly because…well, that’s not really relevant right now. After three weeks, we talked and we decided to give it another try. My point is, we’ve been dating for nearly a year. His actions, for the most part, probably about 75% of the time, show me he cares a lot about me.

For instance, my daughter and I stay over at his house a few nights a week and he stays with us once a week. I’ve met his family and he’s met mine (a little more than just met them, eh, Dimples? *winks*). He’s dropped “when we live together…” during our conversations. He’s also told me before that he sees no reason why we’d break up. He left work to take me to the hospital when I was sick in March (Who knew? Vertigo isn’t just a movie.) and he stayed with me 90% of the time I was in there. When we’re laying on the couch watching a movie, he’ll notice my bare feet and cover them up with his blanket. He offers to help me with everything, even to the point of driving me crazy, but I love that about him, and I appreciate it every time he helps me with something despite my protests not to.

Neither of us is really romantic or anything. I appreciate romance but I don’t require it in a relationship. I think romance is just an easy way to show someone how much they mean to you. When you’re the recipient of romantic gestures, it feels fabulous! But we’ve never been like that with each other. Unless you count the numerous times he’s surprised me with Susie Qs? Simple pleasures 🙂 I know I restrain my romantic side with him simply because I know he’s not a romantic person. I’m stalling. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I see signs that he does in fact care about me and my daughter. They’re not usually huge, flashing signs, but they are there. Or am I assigning meaning where there isn’t any?

Right. Moving along then to the reason I’m writing today–I told Dimples I loved him on Saturday for the first time. Should I include the date? Or would that girlify me too much? HA!

We’d had a fabulous weekend together. Lots of fun activities, lots of laughter, and lots of mind-blowing . . . conversation. Double HA! It was about 3:00 AM, he gave me a good night kiss, and I perpetuated a private joke we had going that night. He laughed. I felt very content and in the moment so I went with my heart and said, “Hey, just for the record, I love you.” Where the eff my head was at, I have no idea, but it’s lucky I can’t fire its ass for letting my heart fly solo at that particular moment. I thought I’d vomit as soon as the last word was out of my mouth, but luckily, I didn’t.

He responded with “Awww!” and kissed me. We snuggled together.

Everything was cool for about 90 seconds then, breaking the heaviest silence I’d ever felt,  he dropped a bomb. “I feel like such an ass.”

“Why?” I asked even though I knew exactly where he was going.

“Because I can’t say it back.”

Ouch! Yep, my worst fear realized. We talked a little more. He tried to explain his position, “It’s not that I don’t love you…I just want to be really sure before I say it…I care a lot about you,” and so on. Then he fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep. [CORRECTION on 9/17/09 at 12:57 AM: Dimples informed me that he was, in fact, not asleep, but awake and unable to sleep just like me. In my loyalty to accuracy, I felt compelled to add this tidbit of information.]

When he woke up the next day, there was something different between us. We both sensed it. I felt so . . . alone and very stupid. I tend to over-think things and all I kept asking myself was, “How can he not know if he loves me or not? If he’s unsure how he feels about me, then there’s really no stability in our relationship, right?” He had plans to go to a soccer game that day, which he kept. I was a wreck all day long. I cried for the majority of it, wondering if I’d wasted my time (and heart) on someone who didn’t love me. By the end of Sunday night, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to have some answers. I called him and I requested he come over so we could talk.

The talk went well. I was able to hold back most of my tears. I don’t know if our talk was productive but I felt like we were both hearing the other person’s position and caring what the other person had to say. I love that he’s a calm listener. I asked him direct questions to which he responded with direct answers. I asked him:

  • If he was serious about me
  • If he wanted to live together someday in the near future
  • If he had strong feelings for me

All of which he answered “yes” and his face looked so genuine and sincere. His body language told me he wasn’t lying. He apologized over and over for hurting me. He said he wished he could say it back. I believed him and I told him so. There was one thing he said though that is still confusing me. When I asked him if he wants to be with me or break up, he replied, “I don’t want to hurt you. I want to be with you but I don’t want you to be hurting all the time.” Does that mean he never expects to be able to tell me he loves me?

I told him I forgave him for the hurt. I told him I would do my best to look forward and not concentrate on the fact that he can’t tell me he loves me. Gawd, writing that feels like someone’s pinching my heart and at the same time covering my mouth so I can’t breathe. He agreed to give me the reassurance I need in other ways since the whole “I love you” thing is off the table. But I haven’t seen him since Monday morning. I haven’t talked to him since then either. We’ve only texted and nothing from him that gives me the impression he misses me or wants to see me. I had to ask him yesterday if he wanted to get together before Friday. He said he was thinking Thursday but he didn’t give me anything concrete.

It feels like I’m getting the cold shoulder and I don’t know if he’s distancing himself or what. Yep, I might drown in all this reassurance. Sorry. I get sarcastic when I’m hurt. It’s a flaw, one of many. Perhaps I’m just over-thinking again since the pain is so near the surface. *sighs*

How do I get past this?

Is it okay that he cannot tell me he loves me?

Do I have to hear the words “I love you” to know someone loves me? Or do I only have to pay attention to their actions in order to determine their true feelings and intentions?

Which of the following is true?

If a guy is doing one thing and saying another, always believe what he’s doing.


If a guy says he can’t tell you he loves you, it’s because he doesn’t love you.

I guess if I knew he loved me, and he just couldn’t vocalize it, then I would feel pretty damn secure in our relationship. But if he absolutely does not love me, I want to freakin’ know. I’m afraid he won’t tell me the truth about his feelings until he’s ready to break up with me. You know, have his cake and eat it too type of situation.

Welp, I did it. I wrote it all out for the world (and Dimples) to read. Thank you to anyone who actually read my entire post. And an extra special “thank you” to anyone who not only read it but didn’t point and laugh. I hope I didn’t sound irrational or unreasonable. I just needed to vent. I have no idea what to do.

The fact is I do love him.

So what would you do?

26 Replies to “I Need Help, the Mental Kind

  1. Guys are usually pretty…direct. My intuition says leave him and find someone willing to give back equally and not require you to play by his rules. Just sayin…

  2. Hello Leah,

    First I’d like say that it’s going to be ok, no matter what. Now I’ll cut to the chase and give you my thoughts. Dimples sounds quite a bit like my husband, so I feel I can relate.

    We’d been dating for 2 or 3 years before he told me he loved me; I’m the type of person to say it all the time, and mean it all the time. My anxiety was high, I can assure you. Lol Around Christmas of yr 6, he proposed. 2 yrs later we got married (this past May).

    Around yr 1 or 2 (could be 3??), Cougar (his nickname) told me the exact same reason as Dimples of why he can’t/won’t say the words. But his actions spoke volumns!!! He verbally reminded me of his actions and apologized, just like Dimples, and told me, ‘You’re my dove, I’m setting you free. If you return to me, you’re mine to keep.’ Well, what the hell does that mean??!! I asked him if he was dumping me and he said no. Still confused, hurt and livid, I closed my brain and opened my mouth, letting him have it. We didn’t talk much for the rest of the night and the days following were a bit of a strain, but we got through it. I asked him if he could remind me occasionally – verbally – that all the little things he does for me are evidence of his love. This helped reassure me and calmed my fears.

    Dimples LOVES you very much, and for whatever reason, he just isn’t able to say it. Yet. The day will come when he’ll say what you long to hear and you’ll realize that you really didn’t need to hear it. It’s strange and I don’t think I’m explaining this very well (very sorry!), but it’s what I went through. Hearing his words made me realize that he’d been proving it to me for years and suddenly, I didn’t need to hear him say it.

    As for him being a bit aloof lately, he may just be a bit nervous about how you feel, despite what you text. Maybe telling him, ‘hey, everything’s good between us. IF the time is ever right, you’ll tell me you love me. Until then, I’ll take you as you are.’ This sort of relieves the pressure off of him and helps him realize that you ARE a very cool chick and could inspire him to hurry up and say those three little words.

    And my answer to your question, ‘If a guy is doing one thing and saying another, always believe what they’re doing…’ YES. That is it! Actions speak louder than words!!!

    Ok, so my response is more like a book. Oops, sorry!! But I feel for you having been there myself. My heart goes out to you. Know that he does love you and that things will most likely work out. Hang in there and have faith.

    All my best to you,


    1. Tara,

      What a thoughtful and heartfelt response! I can’t thank you enough for giving me a real life case study 🙂 My sister just sent me something from one of Eckhart Tolle’s books:

      Words reduce reality to something the human mind can grasp, which isn’t very much. Language consists of five basic sounds produced by the vocal cords. They are the vowels a, e, i, o, u. The other sounds are consonants produced by air pressure: s, f, g, and so forth. Do you believe some combination of such basic sounds could ever explain who you are, or the ultimate purpose of the universe, or even what a tree or stone is in its depth?

      Pretty cool, huh?

      Warmest wishes,

      1. Leah,

        You’ve got a great sister and I’m glad I could help some. 🙂

        Think you two will be ok and very happy together; just remember he does love you, even though he can’t say it.

        All our best,

        Tara & Erik 🙂

  3. It’s me, the sister that you speak of. *grins*

    After reading the above entry I feel I have a bit more perspective on your situation. I’ll *try* to keep this short… 🙂

    I think you’re over-analyzing it (surprise, suprise LOL), and being too demanding of him. You are wanting to control the situation, and it’s driving you bonkers that it’s not going ‘according to plan’, especially at a time when other areas of your life are feeling chaotic, too. If he’s the man you want to be with, then this is a part of him you have to accept. If you can’t accept it, then you need to move on.

    Receive the love he is giving you, even if it’s not the kind of love you expect. Some people just aren’t the ‘I love you’ kind of people. I am one of those. My darling husband, on the other hand, says it every 52.5 seconds. I should also add that just because Dimples is not the ‘I love you’ kind of person, doesn’t mean it has to be attached to some ‘deep-seeded issues.’ This husband that I speak of (I don’t know how to cleverly not use real names) never heard ‘I love you’ when he was growing up, and the closest thing he ever got to a hug from his father was a pat on the shoulder when he was leaving for Desert Storm. Some would say the product of a home like his wouldn’t be as affectionate and loving as he is (most of his 8 brothers certainly aren’t). That’s where the over-analyzing comes in again. A lot of people let their pasts define them, but not everyone.

    I’ll admit that I wasn’t a fan of Dimples (it feels so wrong to call him that) when I first met him. I was afraid he was going to hurt you, and E, like some of the assholes in the past. He has surprised me, though. He seems to want to be a part of your happiness, but it’s like he can’t seem to do it ‘your way.’ I think that’s what he means by ‘I want to be with you, but I don’t want to keep hurting you.’ He wants to be with you, but he also doesn’t want to keep not living up to your expectations.

    I don’t think your uncertainty and confusion are coming from his actions, I think they’re coming from your fear. Fear of what? I don’t know. Only you know that. Fear of rejection? Of looking stupid? Of not being in control? All of the above, and then some?

    I commend him for being honest. I realize how hurt you must have felt in that moment, and as your sister, I don’t ever want you to feel that way, but also think about how he must have felt. That must have been a hard thing to say to someone he cares about – knowing it was going to hurt you, but having the balls to say it anyway.

    You ask for honesty above all things, and he is giving it to you. There are a lot of people out there who hear empty I love you’s every day. Eventually, they discover it meant nothing – only what THEY made it mean. It is, after all, just three words. Just 8 little letters put together to make sounds. WE give words their power. WE are the ones who put the meaning behind them. WE are the ones who let them define our relationships, and who we are. Don’t let 8 letters define your year with Dimples.

    I don’t want to demean what you’re going through. It is important to you, so it’s important to me. I already sent you an e-mail with my 10 cents, so I’d say you’re up to a good 40, 45 cents by now. I’m off to the Land of Oz (I’m still reading L. Frank Baum’s series). I hope you find some peace soon. That’s all I wish for you…peace.

    Remember what William Shakespeare said, ‘Nothing is either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.’

    Peace & Presence,
    The Sister

    P.S. There’s no spell check on this thing. Meh, fuck it. Makes me feel like I’m livin’ on the edge.

    P.P.S. I didn’t keep it short. *shrugs*

    1. My sister rocks! And, as usual, she gave me a way to see it all so clearly. Her advice combined with Tara’s has really given me a sense of clarity.

      I can see clearly now the rain is gone…It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright) sunshiny day.

      Walks up to the podium. Repositions the mic. Clears throat… “My name is Leah. And I am a dork.”

      Sweet dreams and thanks again!

  4. UPDATE: Dimples and I talked tonight and it was a good talk. He’s still feeling a little down about hurting me. He said it really hurt him that he hurt me. I told him we just need to move forward. I think we can make it through this awkward period and get things back to the happy place we were before Saturday night.

    Dimples accepts me for me, and because I care so much for him, I want to do the same.

    Don’t fix what ain’t broke, right?

    Okay really, I’m going to bed now. *yawns*

  5. Glad things worked out well. It really is true that men don’t think the same way women do and many of us (myself included) tend to over-think. We go over things so many times in our minds thinking the outcome will be different and of course it isn’t. I’m not sure if there is any right or wrong in relationships because each relationship is different. I wish you much happiness and all the best! Do what feels good and right in your heart.

  6. My husband is very much like yours. He never, ever said those three words when we first dated. Add to that that I was a teenager (barely 17) at that time with all the over-anxiety – it was a difficult time to say the least. Then, one night on a rowing trip, an elderly lady said the second most important words of my life and I’ll share them with you:

  7. Seems counterproductive, right? It isn’t. I followed her advice, stopped myself from trying to control our relationship. I relaxed more and I even learned not to be jealous (I always have been jealous of his sports never another woman). I am now married to him for 12 years and we have been together for 24.

    There are men who live love but are not able to say those three words. I guess it’s a very severe case of SAFE and PERFECT.
    Also, you say that your guy isn’t romantic (I thought that of my hubby, too, for many years) but caring for you, thinking just as much about your needs as about his own is far more romantic then buying a bunch of roses every other day.
    Your Dimples sounds like a lovely man, worth keeping. If you dare to trust your own feelings it might mean that you will have to deduct his love from his actions. It also might mean that you will end up with a husband that’s truly devoted to you and your daughter. I will definitely mean that you have to understand that for Dimples the words “I love you” are words with a value so high that he will not say them if he still feels insecure – and ask yourself: when can anyone ever be sure of his/her feelings when it comes to love?

    I’m not trying to tell you what to do but I encourage you not to listen for words (humans lie easily) but to look at his actions.

    It’s also very wonderful that he realized how much he had hurt you. I think the problem there is that you didn’t understand his intent. He didn’t mean to imply that your relationship wasn’t what he was looking for. He just couldn’t say those words (remember the song: Words don’t come easy to me). Its like those teachers who wouldn’t give an A no matter how good you were.

    Women (well, most of us anyway) like to interpret words, see a hidden meaning in them. Men (usually) are more straightforward. If he says that he cant say those words, I would assume a brain-mouth malfunction and accept his love and care nonetheless. You don’t get guaranties in love and since you gave him your heart already you might follow it up with your trust.

    Hope this helps,

  8. Hey Leah,

    I only know you from twitter, but your heartfelt blog entry pulled me in and I felt I wanted to chime in and hopefully help you. I’m a 39 year old guy, married and father of 2. I know how important it is for you to love someone and to have them LOVE you back. Love is not an optional component to a successful marriage (at least the way I see it). You’re clearly a wonderful, open warm woman who IS a romantic. Susie Q’s, and the fact that they mean something to you qualifies as romance. True Romance IS the little things. 🙂 The backrubs, the unexpected candy bars, a card, a random french kiss, a hug. Being a guy, I can safely say we usually say what we mean. We’re surprisingly simple creatures. When we’re hungry, we say we’re hungry. When we’re pissed, we tell you or storm off. If we love you, we tell you…

    Sadly I think Dimples is not going to change. The women I know who have gone into relationships hoping their man would change later are all divorced now. Not only will he not change for the better, he’ll change for the worse. He’ll be more distant, more removed, more cold. And worse yet, your daughter will grow up with him as her rolemodel for her own future relationships.

    Don’t settle. I know that sounds hard, but I’m a stranger with no stake in this so I’m giving it to you totally honestly.

    Move on. Find the guy, who, when you tell him you love him in the middle of the night, turns, looks you in the eye and tells you the same thing, then holds you so tightly you think you can’t breathe. He’s out there, and he’s lonely and he’s wishing to God he could find you right now.

    I hope this helps and I’m sorry if it hurts. Truly.


    1. One thing I never grow tired of is honesty, especially brutal honesty. So thank you for that. I really appreciate it. Your advice, like Jessica’s, is definitely the other side of the coin I’ve been tossing around for about five days now.

      A funny thing, I was going through one of my writing journals last night and came across an entry I’d made after I broke up with a boyfriend a few years ago. All it said, in letters so big they took up the entire page, was “DON’T SETTLE.” Hmm…decisions, decisions. You gots to love ’em 🙂

      Thanks for stopping by and adding your two cents,

  9. UPDATE: On 9/18/09 Dimples revealed he has in fact told someone he loved her before. It was 14 years ago! However, now he says, looking back, it was probably lust.

  10. LMAO!!!!! YOu have to be the Drama Queen of this website……..It sounds like your a screwed up control freak. You should wait, and stay single until one day you may be aloud to marry a robot. You are the type of bitch who is ok with honestl, as long as YOU don’t get hurt from it. Good Luck

    1. Someone needs their diaper changed., eh Jon. You hate what you can’t have. Namely women. Good luck to you. You’ll REALLY need it.

    2. Jon,

      This is meant as helpful, not mean. You need to seek anger management, or at the very least, counseling. Someone obviously hurt you rather deeply and it’s all right to hurt, but it’s not all right to take it out on others.

      I hope you find true happiness soon.

    3. Well, Jon, since I am the owner of “this website,” if there was gonna be a “Drama Queen,” then I guess I would be it, at least by default. And it’s funny you should mention it, but ever since 1999, I’ve secretly been holding out for the Bicentennial Man. Good thing I’m not holdin’ my breath, eh? Seein’ how I may never be “aloud” to marry.

      And thanks for your well wishes, but I don’t believe in luck. I make my own path through life–my own happiness, my own successes, and yes, my own failures.

      So, in closing, I’ll say this to you, Jon: I hope your life is long and full and everything you make it. Oh yeah, and I hope you find a “type of bitch” with whom you can live happily ever after.

      *snickers to self*

      P.S. Do I know you, Jon? Your IP address puts you rather close to me, which is both amusing and frightening when I think about. If you are someone I know, why not be honest about it? LMAO!

    4. Bwahahaha! Jon? That’s hysterical! Dude, are you serious? Were you home sick the day they taught contractions in the first grade, Johnny boy? It’s YOU’RE, not *your*, shitbag. YOU’RE obviously the ‘type of bitch’ who doesn’t have anything better to do than lurk around the internet and harass people. However, I don’t find that surprising considering, more than likely, you’re also the type of bitch who doesn’t have a lot of real human interaction considering you’re such a douche bag. That, undoubtedly, leaves you with loads of time on your hands. So why not make everyone else as miserable as you are, right? I, unlike the others, will not wish you well or hope you find true happiness. I’m in short supply of tolerance today. I won’t even waste a ‘get a life’ on you. Instead, I would like you to go rid us all of your toxic existence because we really don’t need anymore douche bags in the world than there already are. And you know what the great thing about this is, Jon? I will be able to submit this comment, walk away from this computer, and be done with you. You, on the other hand, will still be sitting there in your lonely worthlessness, wandering the internet, looking for more people to poison with your pessimism – and it will NOT be us.

  11. Jon, Jon, Jon. Go brush up on your 3rd grade grammar and then, if you haven’t caught on already, realize this: ‘thou shalt not mess with sisters’. As Tara’s sis, I promise you that’s an important near-commandment.

    Leah, my sis always gives good feedback and she’s smarter than I am in relationships, but I personally sort of agree with Drew. I fear that this would not be any issue at all IF you really felt good about your relationship. I wonder (and I reserve the right to be utterly wrong) if you’re upset because you already fear that he’s Mr. Almost Right? Do you know in your heart, without any hesitation or reservation, that you are truly the most important thing to him? Do you catch yourself thinking “this would be perfect, only if…” I worry that you feel you need the words because you’re not really getting the sense he loves you completely otherwise. Tara could wait so long, I think, because she felt entirely loved without the words; she didn’t need the words to fill in any gaps, maybe.

    I’m most worried that your daughter is so involved; Drew is right that you are showing her how to be in a relationship. Maybe this is the healthiest/happiest relationship; maybe not. If you do happen to decide to end it, please please do not EVER go back. Make the decision and stick to it. Trust that your decision is sound. Breaking up should be like a marriage: it should last forever.

    IF you do decide to part ways, now or later, also remind yourself that you’re not throwing him away. It doesn’t mean he’s a bad guy or that it wasn’t worth it. You’re not ‘wasting’ anything (time or effort) by being with him. It just means it wasn’t meant to be permanent, and that’s ok. Give yourself permission to just live and if that means spending a year in a great relationship, that’s fantastic. But having to say later “it was great the first year, but the next 5 sucked…” is not so fantastic.

    Like Tara, I wish the very best for you and if Dimples is really a hesitant Prince Charming, I hope you have a wonderful ‘ever after’.


    1. Thank you, Tracy. Your response makes a lot of sense and it definitely gives me some more to think about. I appreciate your taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts.

      Best wishes,

    1. Hey Leah,

      Holy crap, what a dick!! We’re really sorry to hear about it, but think this was for the best, really. Clearly, I was wrong and I think my sis, Tracy, was right. He was Mr. Almost Right But With LOADS of Issues. Think of all the headache you’re saved; you’ll no longer need therapy from dating him or worse yet, being married to the loser. Instead of mourning your loss, celebrate your new found freedom and have your sis buy ya a round.



Leave a Reply