What To Do When You Say I Love You And He Doesn’t Say It Back

December 20, 2013  |  
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If you’re in this situation, you’re probably feeling a little panicked right now. Okay—you’re feeling downright heartbroken. But, keep in mind, you and your partner are two totally different people, with different backgrounds, experiences and levels of emotional development—the chances you’re ready to exchange “I love you” at the exact same moment are slim! If he doesn’t say it back just yet, it doesn’t have to be the end. You just have to know what to do next.

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Don’t freak out

Your impulse will be to run out the door, get in your car and drive until you get to the border. Don’t do that because when you realize you actually have to go home and face your guy, it’s awkward. Trust me. And, it makes you look like a drama queen. Stay put.

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Say, “It’s okay if you’re not there yet.”

Your guy might freeze up and be silent and that doesn’t make him a coward: it just makes him a smart man who knows that right now, he’s at risk of sending you in your car driving to the border. Help him out and say, “It’s okay if you’re not there yet.” That’ll get him talking and know it’s a safe zone.

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Look for some variation of these words

Now, here’s where you need to get real: how long have you two been dating? If it’s been two months, well, he has a good half-year grace period to still not say it. But if it’s been two years…it’s time to ask yourself (and him!) if love is something he’ll ever feel for you. If it is, most guys say something like, “I wouldn’t be with you if I didn’t think I could love you.” If he says that, you can relax.

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Don’t dwell on that conversation

It’s a little hard to go back to talking about last night’s episode of “The Walking Dead” after an un-returned, “I love you,” but you just have to push through it. You’ll be temped to dwell on the subject of love all night, but that only makes your partner feel pressured to say it soon, and feel that he’s really upset you. So move on from the topic, even if it feels unnatural to.

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Still have sex that night

Your body will not be in the mood for it, and you might need help from a little lubricant, because when a woman feels emotionally distant from her partner, her vagina locks up. However, if you’re a couple who has sex each night and you turn him down tonight, he’ll think you’re angry, and even punishing him. The idea is to get things back to normal.

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Don’t set a timeline

Do not tell your guy that if he doesn’t say it by date X that you’ll end it. That might make him decide on the spot that he will never love you! And it will certainly make him resent the words, “I love you” when he says them, since they’re coming from a place of fear rather than love. You won’t even enjoy hearing the words, because you can never know for certain that they’re genuine, if you set a time line.

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Continue to be affectionate

You might feel insecure about touching him, cuddling him, kissing him and being generally affectionate like you were before the L-bomb was dropped, but again, you need to return to normalcy. If you stop being affectionate, your guy will feel like every day he has to go out of his way to show you he still likes you a lot, even though he didn’t say, “I love you.” And this will exhaust him.

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Forget you said it

The best thing for everyone is if you just forget you said it. This will help you follow through with everything else on this list.

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Keep friends around

For the next few times you two spend long nights together, have some friends join you. Unfortunately, for a little while, he’s going to feel like everything you do is to elicit the, “I love you from him” and show him just how great you are, and you will know that he is looking at you that way, and everyone will feel a little uncomfortable. Keep other humans around as a buffer—just for the next couple of hangouts—so all of his attention isn’t on you.

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Hold off on saying it again, for now

You might tell yourself, “Well, I’ve said it now, it’s how I feel, so I’m free to say it whenever I want.” Nuh-uh. It will hurt just as bad the second, third and 100th time you say it without hearing it back, as it did the first time. And it makes him feel bad each time he doesn’t say it back.

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Let him call next

You can indulge that instinct to run and hide a little bit—let him be the one to call you the next few times. If you call him, you’ll feel he’s only answering because he feels bad about the “I love you,” and he’ll know you think that and once again, everyone’s uncomfortable. Let him reach out.

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Let him make plans next

He needs to see that your “I love you” didn’t come from a needy place. You don’t need him—you just love him! Those words were for him to enjoy and not for you to be rewarded. Letting him come to you will ensure him that you’re not devastated. You’re happily going on about your life and don’t need his company to feel secure.

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Don’t suggest any more big plans for now

Like visiting your parents or going on a big trip together. Doing anything like this will only make your partner feel, “Well now I definitely need to tell her I love her within a certain time frame—we just spent a week with her parents!” Take your foot off the pressure pedal.

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Ask yourself if you feel loved

In most instances when a woman tells a man she loves him it’s because she felt pretty certain he loved her back, or was very close to it. And there are plenty of guys who do feel they love their partner, but are just extra cautious about throwing “I love you” out there. Just ask yourself if you feel loved by your partner. All you need is good old-fashioned instinct for that one. If you feel that, then you have nothing to worry about. The words will follow.

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