How Long is Too Long to Wait for “I Love You”?

38 comments
June 22, 2011 ‐ By

How soon into a relationship should you and your man be throwing around the words, “I love you?”

During college, I was in a relationship with a guy for over a year and a half. We had been through hell and high water together–a vindictive ex of mine on campus, his constant acquisitions of female friends that unintentionally started drama–and like most men do in the beginning, he pursued me to no end to be his girlfriend. But once the relationship got going fast, things seemed to be moving a little too slow. Well, maybe just for me. That vindictive ex? He said “I love you” faster than those talking dolls from back in the day, and when he said it, we were just talking again after a break up, and had been doing so for maybe a month? It came out so fast that I didn’t feel it in return and wound up lying and saying it back, only to retract it like a jerk. With that experience in the bag, I think I just assumed as a young woman still learning about love, that it wouldn’t take too long or too much the next time around. Call me spoiled.

In my next relationship, after the emotionally pressed ex, I said “I love you” first, and it was probably the worst idea ever. I say that because once the words are said, the pressure is on. And not only on your man to say it back (and not that you’re literally pressuring him, he could just be feeling backed into a corner), but also on you to figure out which direction your relationship is going. But it’s hard to measure whether your relationship is going the success or failure route based on three words. When I told some of my female counterparts I hadn’t heard “I love you” once the relationship had been going past eight months, I felt like I was getting the pathetic face in return. But I’ve also heard several men say that while they may not say “I love you” as quickly as their women want, they believe they do things to show them that they do.

The Frisky did a piece on men’s outwards displays of “in love-ness,” and the list ranged from everything from sitting and waiting in store after store with you while you shop, to running late errands to retrieve the things you like and need. While that sounds all nice and dandy, a man that says “I love you” and shows he does is better than a man who doesn’t say it, and only claims he does through sitting in Aldo watching you shop or by simply picking up some late night Kotex. Wooow. Want a cookie?

In most cases, you should probably be straightforward with your feelings. Some might think you’re playing games if you find yourself in love, but wait on your mate to say it first. Saying “I love you” can be a nerve-wracking thing if you find yourself waiting an indefinite amount of time for a response other than, “thanks.” Womp. If you say it and months and months go by with no response, it can be a dig at your emotions. But hey, some women are strong and understanding enough to wait a while. Myself, I said it about six months or so into my relationship, and still not receiving the response I was looking for after the year mark (our one year anniversary was a mess), our relationship hit a steep decline from there. I saw and heard less from him. We argued more often. I became the parent trying to track down my child ripping and running the streets who preferred texting and Facebook chat to calling all of a sudden. Are you kidding? It became clear we had hit a wall–so I ended it halfway into the second year.

You shouldn’t have to set months or time limits on getting an “I love you” back, let it flow naturally, right? Especially since many men handle their feelings and emotions in a different, more hesitant manner. But would you really feel comfortable hitting, say, the eight or nine month mark, or even the year mark, with no declarations made? No sign of the kind with the “in love” attached instead of an “I love you” that feels like a friendly stance?  A man may think that means you’re looking to settle down too soon, but in many ways, it’s just a reassurance that you’re moving in the right direction. But like I always say, maybe it’s just me. So what do you think ladies?

How long is too long to wait for “I love you?”

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  • Brooke94

    Every one is different and every one has baggage. Some people may take longer to say it. I’ve had my share of relationships and in my experience I’d say it takes a guy an average of 6 months or less to say it.
    I think it also depends on if you knew the person before you started dating. I usually don’t, I’ve met most of my boyfriends online or through friends and we started dating right away. So 6 months seems a reasonable amount to get to know each other.

    I had a boyfriend tell me he loved me after 2 months, which on the other hand made me skeptical. It is possible of course, but how well do you know someone after 2 months? He also worked a lot so it’s not like we spent all of our time together. In the end, when we broke up 6 months in, he said he probably never really loved me.

    I worry when it’s too soon but when it’s past the 6 months, I start to worry too!

    My last relationship lasted over 8 months. He wasn’t ready to say it so I walked. I think it’s important to listen to what they have to say and be understanding but at some point, you have to respect yourself and do what’s right for you. How long are you willing to wait? If he hasn’t said it after a year, I would think it was never coming. In my case, I thought 8 months was a good cut off. He rushed into his last relationship, so wanted to take this one slower to get to know each other better, which I understood. I’d think after 8 months, you would know each other pretty well. Maybe not enough for moving in together, marriage etc. but definitely should know if you have feelings for that person.

    He said “I love you” while drunk on the 8 month mark, which is so not romantic but made me hopeful he was just scared to say it sober and it was finally coming. So I gave him extra time. After a few weeks, I couldn’t wait anymore, and it came up in conversation. He told me to not pay attention to what he says when he’s drunk, and that no he is not ready to say it yet. I think that’s called leading someone on. You either love someone or you don’t, there is no “yet”. We’re 30, we know how it feels by now. It’s one thing to not say it because you are scared the other person might not say it back, but once it’s all out in the open, and he still isn’t sure, then it’s probably not meant to be. Especially after you communicate to them how important it is to you and that it doesn’t mean let’s get married, because I know some guys think like that.
    It’s just a feeling, it’s there or not.

    My brother dated a girl for 5 years, really cared about her, treated her well, but never said I love you in 5 years! He ended the relationship and is now with someone new and it took him 6 months to say it to her. And it’s not because he matured or whatever, he met her a couple of months after his break up.

    I know it hurts and it’s very hard to walk away sometimes, but I believe we all deserve love, not someone who “cares” about us. Don’t settle.
    <3

  • Courtney

    My boyfriend and I have been together for almost 4 and a half years, and he has never said it once to this day. It used to really bother me at first, but then I realized that even though he hasn’t said it directly, it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t love me. We’re very much in love with each other, but I’m the first girl he’s ever been emotionally attached to, so it’s taken awhile for him to express verbally. I think it honestly depends on the person. There’s so many guys out there that say it to their girlfriends and treat them like complete dirt and walk all over them, but we have an amazing relationship together. When we have our “state of the union” address to reevaluate our relationship once in awhile, we discuss our good points and things we can improve on and it greatly improves the satisfaction of our relationship. He’s getting there slowly in terms of using the word “love” but I know that regardless of using those three words, he’s definitely worth being with no matter how long it takes. I know that I will never find someone for me who’s as good as him. I’ve been extremely fortunate to find someone like him, so I’m ok with waiting. Now, thats not to say i don’t expect it anymore, because I still definitely do expect it, haha, but i know that once he says it, it will have been worth the wait.

  • Maria

    It’s been 5 years and I’m still waiting…

  • Matt

    I have been with a girl for four years who has never said she loves me.

    • weeza

      I have been with a guy for 4 years we have a new baby together and he has never said he loved me. I used to think he did and that he just doesn’t want to say it due to jinxing it but lately I’m less sure. We have opposite schedules he works nights and I work days we never spend any time together any more because he is asleep when I’m home.

      • thisdudetrippin

        I’m with a man for a year. He shows he loves me and he tells me he WOULD never leave me no matter what…even if I were to lose my legs lol he said he would still be with me. I think there is no other way to describe it other than love. He knows all of my flaws, im crazy, bipolar, I curse him out from time to time, I am the BEST and WORST girlfriend combined into one. I asked this muthafucka if he loved me about a month ago after a year of being in a relationship and this hoe told me he didn’t love me. Ya’ll I started balling crying because I couldn’t help how I felt. That was the first time I ever cried over a guy and it was because I was madly in love with him. I still haven’t told him about my love for him. I asked him what his feelings were and just like everybody else on this post he said that he cared for me deeply and has strong feelings for me but isn’t quite in love. I asked him why that was and he told me he almost loved me but his fear of us not working out or me hurting him was stopping him from falling all the way in love. I told him we were done and over with but of course he kept begging and running back telling me that it takes time to fall in love and that he knows he will he just needs time. But I don’t have time, I will only be devastated if I waited for this muthafucka and another year passes and he says he doesn’t love me. I might set all his clothes ablaze. It will be ugly and I promise you if that happened I wouldn’t speak to him ever again! I took my baby back and he’s showing me more love than ever…even my friends say that he’s confused. HE ASKED ME TO GET MATCHING TATTOOS…I met his family, his friends..he told me I was all he has…that I was his “match”. Then why can’t that little muthafucka tell me he loves me? Ya’ll im pretty pissed about this we haven’t had sex in two weeks and yesterday he raped me. I told him no sex since he said that but now at night while I’m sleeping he will take it from me and I will say no but he will continue to rape me. You guys I don’t know what to do, no man has shown me this much love in my life so how could he not know he loves me if it feels like it?

  • nawtij

    Waw I’m so happy to find something specifically on this. I’ve been dating my bf for just above 6 months…I knew him for 2 years prior, but only by sight as he worked for my friend’s man… Anyway, when I first met him he told me he could see himself falling in love with me – he told me this right up front, like 2 weeks into it. I actually claimed I loved him first, and he responded the same (maybe 3 months into the relationship). He would also tell me on his own he loved me, and I would reply the same…so it seemed mutual. Anyway, as time passed I started to notice and become more bothered by his lack of openness. He apparently had a gf (the only woman he loved before) break his heart very badly…he told me about that girl in the beginning when we first started talking stating that, “It’s hard for me to love again”. Anyway, when I addressed his perceived closed-ness, I also (maybe foolishly) decided to tell him that I also want a future and a family one day… He replied, to my shock and horror, that he was indeed not in love with me, and is still getting to know me….he said he was “trying” to love me, and referenced this x again (who btw he said in the beginning and again that he is in fact NOT in love with still). He did start to go into a lot of questions about why I think he cannot love anyone or has such a hard time w/it? What’s wrong with him etc.? I walked but changed my mind as I thought it was a mistake to bring-up this future convo, when IN FACT I am still getting to know him too! I told him that it takes maybe a year minimum to get to know someone…he agreed. We both agree we want families one day, but don’t know what the future holds and are both getting to know each other still, enjoy each other’s company etc. (We are exclusive and have been.) My question though is, how can I have sex with him again or anymore if he is not in love with me? Would that be disrespecting myself? Also, should I consider it lying that he would initiate and reply that he loves me? Should I continue to tell him I love him? Am I a fool!? AAAH!!

  • Danica

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for 2 years. He fell in love with the woman before me within two months…and thought he was going to marry her.
    In the beginning of our relationship, he told me how magical his relationship had been with her, and how ours wasn’t- how no other relationship he’s ever had was like that, and expected me to listen because he was trying to “share something personal about himself, and that’s how you get close to people”.
    I ended up having to spend a couple months in Japan after being with him for about 4 months, and the entire time, he kept telling me how the relationship wouldn’t start or be real until I came back and proved I wouldn’t leave him. He once said that he was afraid that he’d fall in love with me when I came back, (which of course, got my hopes up) because I did everything I could while there to make sure he knew that he was not alone, and I listened to everything he said, even though a lot of it really scarred me.
    Needless to say, I came back.
    He’s now over her, which I know for certain, and…he is still not in love with me.
    In fact, he’s told me many times throughout the relationship, especially when he’s angry, that he can’t love me, because I ruin things and I do this and that and make it impossible for him to. I know that I end up getting angry easily when he says something or does something that hurts me, because of how much emotional torture I went through in the first several months of the relationship…but I think I have a right to be upset when someone says something insensitive and hurtful, especially if they know I’m sensitive to it.
    I’ve said I love you, several times. I’ve written him love letters, I’ve sent texts, I’ve made presents from scratch (I’m a craftsman) personalized just for him that tell him all of the reasons I love him….and the MOST I’ve ever gotten was his brushing everything off with a “Aw, that’s cute”, and a head pat. Most of the time…I don’t even get a response.
    He tells me he feels like I don’t appreciate all of the “sacrifices he makes”, like driving me places, paying for things, and running errands…and tells me that what I want is a fantasy.
    That no one goes running slow-motion into another’s arms on a sunset beach.
    Yet…I see all of these couples around me, who have exactly what I’ve always wished to have with him. Mutual love. Understanding. Affection. No need for an emotional wall, or distance. Or neglect.
    He tells me that of COURSE he cares deeply about me….but I don’t even know what that means. After two years of trying and trying to do everything I can to make this work, as we have so much in common….I’m losing all hope.
    A single, truthful “I love you” would be everything to me. Without my having to prod and ask and dig for it. Without my saying it first. I just don’t think he’ll ever say it- and not because he doesn’t want to. Because he can’t.

  • Detronyx

    I’ve been with my boyfriend for just over 3 months now, and I really want to tell him that I love him, but I’m scared to say it first. I want him to say it first so I know he doesn’t feel obligated to say it back. I’m just really scared of saying it and not hearing it back. Part of me wants to take the plunge and risk it, but at the same time, I think I may be better off waiting for him…but what if he’s doing the same; waiting for ME to say it first?

  • Whitley

    I feel your struggle. I personally have gone through the same situation. In the past I have told two guys that I loved them (at different times) and I didn’t get a response back. It really took a toll on me because in my early childhood I was abused so I didn’t feel loved. I thought my last hope of love was a guy falling in love with me. However this has not been the case. I told the guys I loved them so that they would feel loved. I was currently with another one hasn’t said I love yet either so I don’t know what to do myself.

  • Jamoranah

    I’ve been with my bf for a year now but have dated him before, and we’ve been friends for for going on 5 years. He has not told me he loved me yet, and I told him early on. I’m starting to really feel hurt by it, i’m not sure what to do, we are young but if he don’t love me by now will he ever? I afraid to wait around for him to say it and 5 more years pass and he still didn’t “feel” it or say it I would be devastated… I don’t know what to do.

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  • 0a0d6e3

    Wow….we are both 28. I am divorced and he has had a few serious relationships. We have been together for 1yr and 10months. He still has not said “I Love You!” I feel like if he doesn’t know by now, he never will! I’m almost to the point of throwing my hands up and being done! Any advice?

    • http://www.facebook.com/LindsayTackett Lindsay Brooke Tackett

      I’m feeling this way too! My boyfriend and I have dated for a year and a half now and I’ve brought up this issue about three times now. (Each have been months apart from the other) The first time he said he’s been hurt a lot, he doesn’t want to be that vulnerable, and he knows the day will come, it’s just going to take time. The second time he told me that he cares about me a lot, I’m amazing, etc. The third time was just a few days ago, and I told him that if he doesn’t love me by now then to just figure out why and let me go if he needs to, and he got really hurt by that. He started crying. I think he does love me, he is just afraid to say it, because of what “love” might entail. He is uncertain about his future and I feel he might not know if I’m in his future (because of me, or himself) I’m just taking things day by day. Try talking to your man about it, let him know that you don’t want to lose him, but if he has no intent on loving you or being with you in the long run then he has to let you go, even if it’s hard.

  • BOFFONNC

    I dated a man for a year and a half. This issue ALONE destroyed us. He would not say he loved me, said he didn’t know if he believed in love, and couldnt let me even love him. We are wonderful together–great chemistry, passion, laughter, morals/values allign, etc but if he can’t love me–why would I stay? We went from happy to a complete break down with the push -pull. I won’t and don’t have to chase a man to adore, love and want me. I walked…several times and came back because I truly love him and think we could have a wonderful love story…eventually we ended it but it was probably the most painful feeling I have ever had. I spent over 500 days on a relationship that had no future, hoping he would “see” it and wondering, “How could he not love me?” I went from upset to down right bitter. I expect and deserve more and if he doesnt value me, then I’d rather be alone. It is very painful to love and not be loved back. Another love lesson learned in my life…I hope the next one I get is a happy ending.

  • Annon

    Wen you are first dating, it is reassurance you are going in the right direction. Saying i love u does not mean i want to settle down and get married this instant. It means for a woman i need to hear that you feel the same heart strings pulling as i do and it is a comfort to hear. We all need that feeling of being loved and wen a woman hears it, for her it mesns the guy is not going to be out there playing her

  • mel

    I am 29 and he is 33. I have had a couple long term relationships go bad and he was married once. We are currently pursuing a long distance relationship and spend about 10 days a month together and we have been dating for 10 months.  When we first started dating it seemed too good to be true, he said the sweetest things and couldn’t get enough of me and said it would never change. After the first couple of months he than said he wasn’t ready and backed off on his actions, however he still spends the time with me. There is just non of the lovey dovey stuff that made me instantly fall head over heels for him. I tell him I miss the compliments and text messages that use to give me a silly smile all day and the kisses and the desire. It just doesn’t seem to matter. All I get in response is the assurance that I am really important to him, he cares alot about me and he wouldn’t be with me if he didn’t think we could have a future. I told him that he is making me bitter because I know how great he can be, he just won’t and everywhere I go I see couples with the love I want us to have. I love and adore this man whole heartily and think he is the best thing to happen to me but I feel my resentment growing and I am afraid I will fall out of love with him before he decides that he loves me. I am not sure that my story will have a happy ending anymore.

  • Jibbly

    Hey every one,
    I am glad to have come across this post. I am in the same boat. I am 24 and he is 28.  We are still trying to get settled with new jobs and such. He’s renting a room and I am sadly live with my parents until I save up enough.  Both of us went to college and are very career driven.  I have been with my boyfriend 10 months now.  I felt something so strong for him.  I told him I loved him on the 6 month mark.  He said he deeply cared about me.  To be honest thats not good enough.  Valentines day rolled around I was sure he would say it by then it would then be 7 months.But he didn’t. I told him I loved him and if he didn’t then he needs to let me go. He said he takes his time, he doesn’t understand the rush. He said he shows he cares through actions. I am not in a rush, but I can not help how I feel. I can’t wait around forever… it’s not fair to me. As much as I love him, I am so scared that when we reach the 1 year mark he still won’t. And what hurts the most is I have done so much, I’ve moved to another state for him. I have given my time, my love, my words. everything.  It’s like he’s afraid if he says it then we would move in together and then get married right away and he goes on this rant about how he doesn’t understand why people get married in their 20’s. It makes me sad. Though he is very thoughtful it’s like he’s not willing to take that wall down… another thing is he doesn’t believe in any kind of god or divine and I believe there is something.  I feel that my faith in that causes a disconnect because my faith has taught me to love fully with an open heart.  I don’t understand. I respect his view but I feel that if someone doesn’t believe in anything. how can they understand love? His parents are closed off too, his dad doesn’t believe in anything either. He has had very few relationships so maybe this is why. But my heart hurts all the time, wanting to tell him how I feel but I can’t, and at the end of the day to be honest. I feel alone.  Ironic though- I don’t any one else, I don’t want to get married just to be married. Nor have I ever brought up marrying him or even moving in with him. So that is a fear of his is projecting- though I don’t know his reason.

    Anyway. I think that in order to love and be loved…. you have to have the ability to be loved and love otherwise everyone around you will suffer. 

    At this point I really don’t know what to do.  Do I let him go because my family is getting attached too, or do I stay and wait and see for a bit longer…

    I wish I could say yes if he followed certain signs and time restraints then he does love you.  But everyone is different, I don’t think people can just fit into a cookie cutter mold.  If he does xyz congrats he loves or or he doesn’t. 

    • Jen

      Did your parents move with you to this “other state”? Seems a bit odd them moving too for your boyfriend

  • Ruready168

    I am at a loss myself. I have been dating this guy for 6 months now. I have said “I love you” twice in the past 3 months, and I haven’t gotten anything in return. There have been multiple times that I have wanted to tell him “I love you”, but my mind tells me not to. This is beginning to make me really sad and question our relationship. I know he cares for me and we spend a lot of time together, but is that enough?

  • Nithyanair123

    i’ll be dating my man for almost 3 years…and he still hasn’t said it. It bothers me very much, but everything he does shows me he loves me…so idk what to do. also we are about to go on a long distance relationship and he wants to do it…..idk if i want to 

    • Tesha Wylie

      Ive been dating my guy going on 2 years now. He has never once said I love you. I have said it many of times. I know he cares but hes 29 and Im 28. I just dont understand. Kind of ready to move on to someone that will love me.

      • Lsdflkjlkj

        I have the same problem!  Almost two years, and we are both divorced (36 and 41).  I just said it for the first time, and he said that he wasn’t ready to say it and that he wasn’t an “I love you guy”.  While our relationship has gradually become more intense, I am not sure he will ever get there.  He said that he’s “slow”.  Well, I might have to trade this Slow Hand Luke in for a Fast Hand Sam…

    • blue daisy

      I have also been dating my boyfriend for almost 3 years and he also refuses to say “I love you.” He also refuses to live with me and says I have to meet all of these ridiculous conditions, and the conditions are constantly changing. I feel like I can never win. Oh and the best part was last winter when I discovered that he still had an entire drawer filled with his ex-wife’s used, stained, dirty lingerie and underwear. It took me over 6 months to get him to clean it out and there was still one pair left in there that I had to get rid of…..Oh, he claims that he “cares about me.” Whatever.

  • Engk_pen

    I’ve been with boyfriend for a year and a half and he hasn’t said it yet. But he’s twenty and his lOngest relationship before me was four months. He’s gotten continuously more affectionate and caring as time goes on though, so while I don’t think he’s emotionally ready to love me, I know that we’re good enough together for me to help him grow as a person, and all of his old friends tell me he’s never been this relaxed and happy in a relationship. I’m only nineteen, so this is enough for now.

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  • darling niki

    Swaggered that is very true experienced all sides of that. U r side note cracked me up. Hey Its ur opinion a lot of ppl think a lot things others don’t consider politically correct but u just had the balls to say it.

  • Chocolate Amyre

    Well I’ve been wit my boo for a year and a half and he told me he loved me first. I think we were dating for bout 3 months when he just came out the blue and started to tell me how he felt bout me. At that time i felt the same way so it was beautiful. I think it shouldnt matter who or when to say it first as long as its sincer.

  • ncognito25

    My dude is 31 and im 29. We have been together since 8/05 and august 23rd marks 6 years and not once has he said i love you, and he's never said it to any girlfriend. I say it all the time and his response is i deeply care about you too, but being the rare type of dude he is he says he has never experienced love from mother, father or a girlfriend and im the 2nd longest relationship he's been in so he dont know exactly what loving someone is supposed to feel like. There is no doubt in my mind that he's not in love with because his actions and support speaks volumes for me. ____

    • 0a0d6e3

      How do you handle this?

  • julie

    you know what,,i was married for 35 great years,,now hes gone,,but i miss hearing it. so when my boyfriend of only 3 months forgets to say it,,i remind him,,its just so nice to hear.

  • http://madamenoire.com adina

    LOL @ Aggie bred to funny

  • aggie bred

    I have been in 3 serious relationships and in all of them the guy has said I love you first. the times ranged from 2 days to 6 months. at the time I didn’t didn’t feel the same so i just had conversations with them about it. the guy that said it in 2 days was crazy and I ended up getting a restraining order against him.
    this article should not be directed toward just women. there are plenty of men who share this crazy obsession with I love you.

  • seek2027

    That a good question i think if the love is already there then it would comeout on its own. I know this one couple who has been married for 40 years and dude told me that him and his wife was in love after two months

  • Dragonlady73

    Well, I have known my boyfriend for almost three years and we have dated off and on for just over a year. I said it first a couple of months ago. He hasn't said it yet, but I don't expect for people's emotions and feelings to make it to the same place at the same time. I know he does and he shows it, but I guess he is making sure that I really do love him. LMAO. I don't know, but that is how I feel about him so, that is good for me.

  • msezoneyes

    Well I think for the most part I love you isnt necessary the first year. I hate to put a expiration date on it. But if were not moving forward then we need to cut it off. If he shows love thats fine but it need to be said also.
    If he says it and dont show it it need to be addressed also, Or let someone else appreciate and Love you the right way.

  • http://www.mbrsociety.org Michele

    My honey and I have been dating since Sept 2010, and I said it earlier this year and first. He ended up saying it later, but he shows me his love in so many different ways. At first I didn’t want to say it first for fear of breaking “the female code,” but then I was like you know what this is how I feel, he is unlike any man I have ever dated, so why not? I looked at it this way, I used to have this brick wall up that he helped me tear down, he has shown me love and support that I never got from my ex of 5.5 yrs, so telling him I loved him first wasn’t an issue.

  • http://www.brittneyj-shewrites.blogspot.com Brittney J

    I don't like to put a time limit on things, but if you and your mate have been together for a year (a whole 12 months!) and he has not said "I love you", I would let him go. I believe that the older people get, the more they realize what works and does not work in a relationship. I would feel as if I'm wasting my time if my man never told me he loved me and we were together for a year. After a certain amount of time, you would know if you want to be with someone long term or just for a short amount of time. A year long relationship seems like a definite commitment to me, it seems like enough of a time frame to get to know someone. If after a year, there is no growth or progress in the relationship (no I love you's), then let it go. Thats my opinion.

No thanks