Wendy is off today. So in lieu of a brand-new Dear Wendy, we’re rerunning one of her early columns.
I’ve been dating a guy for 8 months and in April we decided not to see any other people. I should say that we’re in a long-distance relationship. We really care about each other, and have shown it in numerous ways: I send him cards and care packages frequently, we call each other numerous times a day, we email each other throughout the day, I’ve met his family (informally, though), we always tell each other how much we miss the other, etc. We always have so much fun with each other, and when we’re together, we’re sewn to the other one’s hip.
Even though things are going pretty well, in the back of my mind there’s a lot of hesitation. I have told him numerous times (although I was inebriated at those times) that I really like him and haven’t felt this way before. Up until a couple of weeks ago, I’d even say that I was head-over-heels-in-love with him. But, now I’m not sure. Every time he goes back home, I feel really sad and cry a bunch. But, the last time, I didn’t feel anything. I don’t know if it’s because I’ve been waiting for him to tell me how he really feels about me, because I’m unsure, or what. I don’t want to be pushy, manipulate the relationship, scare him off, or anything like that. I want to enjoy my time with him and for everything to be natural and easygoing.
I should say in April, when he asked me to officially be his girlfriend, he asked if I’ve ever been in love. Stunned by the question, I told him no, and left it at that. He then went on to say that he loves how easygoing I am, how I’m not like other girls he’s dated, and asked me to promise to always stay that way (i.e., easygoing, no drama). I didn’t ask him any questions, like if he’s been in love, or why he was asking. Since then, there’s been no talk of love. What’s going on? While I agree with you that a man should be the first one to say “I love you,” I’m tired of not knowing how he truly feels. What should I do? I still love him, but not the way I used to (i.e., head-over-heels-crazy-in-love). He’s my first serious relationship, and I really want things to work out between us. I should say that we’re not that young. We’re both in our mid to late 20s. Thanks for all your help! –Confused
Last night, I had dinner with a friend who’s in the beginning stages of a long-distance relationship, and she recalled something her college psych professor said about LDRs. He told the class there were two things that impact the success of a long-distance relationship: 1) resources (how often you can afford to see each other), and 2) an end date (at what point will one or both of you move to be with the other?). “Do you agree with those?” she asked, knowing my own long-distance relationship was so successful we ended up getting married a couple weeks ago. “Yes,” I replied, “but I also think communication is even more important in an LDR than it is in relationships where both people live in the same area.” It sounds to me, Confused, that you need help with at least two of those three points.
If you’re tired of not knowing how your boyfriend feels about you, tired of not knowing where things are headed and whether the two of you have a future, why don’t you ask him? Asking a question you genuinely want and deserve to know the answer to isn’t being “manipulative” — it’s being emotionally honest. Maybe he’s waiting for you to ask. Maybe when he asked if you’d ever been in love, he was hoping you’d engage him in a conversation about your feelings. He told you what he loves about you, but did you tell him what you love about him? You say you didn’t ask him any questions in response to his inquiry, so perhaps he took that as a sign you weren’t ready to discuss your feelings.
Eight months is a long time to go without some reassurance that your “head-over-heels-crazy-in-love” feelings are being shared, particularly when you’re in a long-distance relationship and can’t physically see the other person all the time, so it makes sense you’re feeling confused. That giddiness one feels at the beginning of a relationship when the love is new and fresh and exciting is intensified when it’s articulated and shared with the other person. When you know your partner is right there with you, that love magnifies, it envelops you, it kind of takes over your life for a little while. But when you aren’t sure if your partner is there with you, it makes you question whether your feelings are actually real. If you knew he was “crazy in love,” would it change anything for you?
The window of opportunity for this relationship is closing; you’re already starting to emotionally pull away. Without some honest discussion about how you feel about each other and where you envision things going, there’s not going to be much of a future. You need answers. So buck up and ask the questions, Confused. You may or may not get an “I love you” from him, but chances are you’ll be a lot clearer about his feelings as well as your own. Good luck!
*Do you have a relationship/dating question I can help with? Send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.