Ask Sahaj: We’ve been dating for over a year but haven’t said, ‘I love you’

Sahaj Kaur Kohli. Photo Twitter @SahajKohli

Dear Sahaj: I am in a year-plus relationship with my boyfriend. We are both 46, previously divorced and have two children each. He tends to be more reserved with his emotions while I tend to be more expressive. It has been a slow moving relationship from the start, but we have grown closer and closer as time passes.

We have yet to tell each other that we love each other. I am very much in love with him, but the fact that he is so reserved with his feelings keeps me from expressing mine. I don’t think I can put myself out there and possibly face rejection. He is wonderful, and I can see a future with him, but the lack of hearing those three words at this point makes me wonder if I am wasting my time. On the other hand, I don’t feel like I should beg for love. Is there something that I’m missing or am I being unreasonable?

– To Say Or Not To Say

To Say Or Not To Say: Begging for love and asking for love the way you want it are two different things. Being vulnerable is scary, and rejection never feels good. Right now, you’re telling yourself that if you express yourself, you will be rejected. However, being over a year into a relationship indicates a level of commitment from the both of you that doesn’t fit that story. You mention that the relationship has been “slow moving” despite feeling “closer and closer,” which tells me that things are progressing – just not as fast as you’d like. The fact that there are kids involved may be causing your boyfriend to be even more cautious.

Your boyfriend may have his own fears of moving too fast or getting hurt based on his past. Previous relationships and the ways we were taught about love inform how we view love, vulnerability, partnership and even ourselves. This applies to you, too. You want to be mindful of what you may be bringing into this relationship. This may shed light on why you feel like you are “wasting” your time and where your fear of rejection is coming from.

You are feeling insecure, and this is causing you to assume that your boyfriend isn’t on the same page as you. Consider if there are other ways he does – or doesn’t – demonstrate his love for you. Does he show his affection for you through action, or quality time, or gifts? Is he expressive in other relationships and not with you? Is his inability to verbally express his feelings one of many instances in which you feel insecure in the relationship? Reflecting on this will help you differentiate between what are hurtful patterns and larger issues in your relationship versus what can probably be resolved by simply asking for what you need.

It would be one thing if you have been expressive and he has not reciprocated in any capacity, but your boyfriend may have no idea you feel this way. Based on your question, you seem to also be holding back and haven’t expressed your feelings fully. You are both feeding off each other’s reservations.

The only way to the other side of your uncertainty is to name it with your boyfriend. This may sound like, “I feel nervous to bring this up because I really care about you. However, I have found myself wondering if we are on the same page about our relationship and I wanted to check in about how you are feeling about us.” By starting a general conversation about your relationship, you can inch into vulnerability while also asking your boyfriend to meet you there. This will also help you gain insight on whether you want to continue forward with him. Who knows, this could even be the conversation where you explicitly share how deeply you feel for him. After all, someone has to say it first. If you want to hear those three words, you also have to be comfortable saying them.

Despite what many people think, having to ask for what you want in a relationship does not mean your partner isn’t a good match. And just because “I love you” hasn’t been said doesn’t mean the feelings aren’t there or developing. Try not to jump to conclusions without having a direct conversation with your boyfriend.



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