Dear Wendy: “I’m Not Sure If My Boyfriend Really Loves Me”

Four months ago I moved from Europe to NYC to be with my long distance boyfriend. Before then, we had been going out for about six months, sending lovey emails and Skype-ing for hours every day. About five months into the relationship I told him I loved him and he went all silent and weird and only told me that he loved me back three weeks later when I said I needed to know. Well, a few weeks after I moved he told me he “had to be honest” with me and said he didn’t think he was in love with me after all. He said he was still hurt by his ex — they were together for five years and engaged, but they broke up two years ago! So we split up for two weeks but got back together when he told me he DID love me, and that things had just been moving so fast etc. I still wasn’t sure he was in love with me and I constantly nagged him to tell me he was. He withdrew emotionally and I pulled away, which made him become very sweet and attentive again and for the past month or so has been the perfect boyfriend. My problem is: he never tells me I am the one; he rarely tells me he loves me or compliments me (outside the bedroom); and I don’t feel like he is really in love with me. I am just so incredibly worried that he’s only with me because I’m really good on paper. By now I am not even sure now if I love him. I feel amazing when I’m with him, but when I’m alone I’m just obsessed about this in-love business and I don’t trust my instincts or feelings about anything anymore. I am in a really horrible downward spiral, in a brand new city with a job I love, but very few friends and no family. I feel very lonely and like I’ve totally lost my grip on the situation. I no longer feel like the strong, independent, beautiful woman I know I once was and I am not sure if it’s something in me or something in my relationship. — Losing It

There have been so many missteps in this relationship, I’m not quite sure where to begin. Whether you agree with me or not that women are better off letting men say the L-word first, surely you must agree that it’s never a good thing to force/guilt/nag someone into saying it back. Second, I’m assuming you never actually met your boyfriend in person before moving to New York or else you would have mentioned a visit along with the “lovely emails” you sent and the hours of Skype-ing you did. That was mistake #2. You say you moved from Europe and maybe you felt like there were better opportunities for you in the States, which is fine and understandable, but moving for “love” when you’ve never met the person face-to-face is a recipe for disaster.

Now that you’re in New York, which can be a big, bad, scary place even for the already established, you’re feeling completely out of control and are searching for anything outside yourself to be your anchor. You have to be your own anchor. If you feel like you want to make a go of it here — and since you made the move and have a job you love, you might as well — you need to focus on yourself before you can be a good match for someone else. Get your life in order. Make some new friends, join some clubs, maybe find a group of ex-pats from your home country to connect with. Re-establish the person you once were — that “strong, independent, beautiful woman” and then worry about being in a relationship.

Right now you’re investing all your energy in this guy you really don’t even know that well because you’re desperate for something real — something tangible — to hang onto in this “downward spiral” you feel like you’re in. But the thing is, love isn’t tangible. It’s not something you can touch and feel. And that’s scary. If you aren’t in a place emotionally to deal with the uncertainty of love — and frankly, if you need constant reassurance of its existence, you aren’t there yet — you need to work on finding some balance and security in your life first. Love can’t save you from the scariness of change and transition. The only way through the confusion it is to feel it. So let go of your relationship and locate the anchor within yourself. It’s the only way you’ll truly feel stable. And as cliché as it sounds, if you’re meant to be with this guy, he’ll still be there once you get your head — and heart — sorted out. And your chances for a successful relationship will be much better because of it.

I’m a college student at a fantastic coed university, but I went to an all-girls high school and absolutely adored it. I have amazing best friends, hobbies that I love, a good relationship with my family, etc. My only issue is that I’m so obsessed with guys. I feel pathetic because I spend so much of my time thinking about my hookups or fantasizing about what my next boyfriend will be like. I realize this is a huge problem, especially since if something goes badly with a guy it ruins my mood, but if something goes right it heightens my mood. That can’t be healthy! Usually people give advice like “oh, find a good hobby!” or something, but I’m already busy with lots of things that I’m passionate about. — Boy crazy

You don’t need a new hobby, you just need to quit beating yourself up so much. You’re in college! You’re young! It’s totally normal to be boy-crazy! As long as you aren’t letting your obsession take over your entire life — and it sounds like you aren’t — have fun with it and don’t worry so much. There are far unhealthier things you could consume yourself with than thoughts of your last hookups or fantasies of your next boyfriend. One day, years from now, you’ll have a full-time job and your friends will be spread out all over the place and you might be married and have kids and life will feel like it’s moving oh-so-fast. I’m sure you’ll be happy — fulfilled and content, even — but there will be moments you’ll think back to your days at college when your whole life was still ahead of you and your friends were practically an arm’s length away and you had hours to obsess over some cute boy or other and you’ll wish you could close your eyes and be right back there for just a minute. Enjoy this time, BC. Enjoy the hell out of it. You only get to live it once.

*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at {encode=”[email protected]” title=”[email protected]”}.