Help! I said the L word too soon

Dear Sherry:

I have been seeing Michael for almost four months now. It seemed that fate brought us together, and we felt instant attraction from the day we met. I have strong feelings for him; in fact, I told him that I loved him on Valentine's Day, expecting him to say the same in return. He said he didn't at this point but to be patient. Now two weeks after this initial conversation, he is visibly confused. He says that he is physically and mentally attracted to me, but he doesn't feel it in his heart. But I see the way he looks at me, and how he cares for me, like no other man I've ever been with. He says now that he's not sure if he loves me or not but doesn't want to be without me. Now it seems as though this huge weight has been placed on the relationship, and he is feeling pressure to love me. I think that he does, and he just doesn't realize the depth of his feelings for me. I truly love him and cannot see myself without him. He says he doesn't want to be without me either. He thinks he will love me someday, but I don't know. Please help.

melsmith20

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ABOUT THE EXPERT

Sherry Amatenstein

Sherry is the author of The Q&A Dating Book and Love Lessons from Bad Breakups. She has taught dating seminars, appeared as an expert... Read more

Dear melsmith20:

Once the "L" word has been uttered by one party in the relationship and not immediately volleyed back by the other, it's like there's a huge, smelly elephant in the room -- no one wants to discuss the creature, yet no one can do anything but stare at it. And stare and stare and stare.

Hopefully you've learned your lesson: Never, ever be the first to say "I love you" unless you're absolutely convinced the other person truly can't live without you. Okay, now that you know what you shouldn't have done, what can you do now, short of putting your guy in a time machine set for the moment before made your fated pronouncement?

Try this. Say: "I've been thinking, honey. Love is a pretty big word, and I'm not even sure what it means. I probably said it 'cause Valentine's Day was here and it brought up a lot of gooey Hallmark stuff in me. But the holiday's over now, and I've recovered my senses. I enjoy being with you, and I know you enjoy being with me, so let's just lighten things up and take it one day at a time. Maybe one day we'll feel like we love each other, or maybe that day will never come. So I take it back: I un-love you. And I'd love to go back to un-loving each other and just enjoy the relationship."

My prediction: In time, now that the pressure's off, he'll stop un-loving you and say those magic words. (After all, now he'll be wondering what's wrong with him that you don't love him after all. And that self-doubt will make you more lovable in his eyes. Ain't human nature grand?) But wait for him to say it. And in a few months if he still doesn't say it, then you might reconsider whether you want to be in a relationship with someone who can't return your feelings. But for now be patient and be mum.

Good luck, and for whatever it's worth, your iVillage sisters love you.

Sherry

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