Dear Wendy: “How Long Does It Take The Average Person To Say ‘I Love You’?”

I’ve been with my boyfriend for about seven months, and things are going amazingly. For the first time in my life, I feel emotionally healthy and secure with myself. I spent a year being single, working on loving myself and I’m no longer battling the constant fear that the man I’m with will abandon me and nobody will love me. I’m feeling so good about things with this man, and I’m dying to tell him that I love him, but something is holding me back. I’ve read your piece about why women shouldn’t say “I Love You” first, and I have to say I have zero fears that it would freak him out or send him running for the hills. I’m not afraid that he doesn’t love me, and even if he doesn’t yet, I know things are heading in that direction. My fear is this: if he doesn’t say it back, I might revert to the insecure, unstable girl that I was. I don’t want the constant anxiety and tears, always thinking that I’m not good enough to be loved. What should I do? Should I face my fears and tell him how I feel? Or should I be patient, and wait until he’s ready to say the words first? And how long do you think it takes the average man to say “I love you”? — Waiting To Hear The Words

There’s no timetable for saying “I love you.” It varies from couple to couple and person to person. You need to decide for yourself how long you’re willing to wait to hear (and say) those words. If there’s a chance your self-esteem would be shot and your relationship adversely affected if you said the “L” word and your boyfriend didn’t reciprocate, you need to consider if it’s worth the risk. Likewise, you have to think about how long you’re willing to let your proclamation go unreturned. If you think you could only handle the “silence” for a couple weeks, it might behoove you to wait a little longer before saying it. If you think you could handle waiting months or perhaps even indefinitely, then go for it if you really want to. I still say it’s best for a woman to wait for a man to say it first, but I realize there are exceptions and would expect that after seven months, any negative reaction to the “L-bomb” is one that probably would come up eventually anyway.

I broke up with the guy I’d been seeing for six months yesterday. Really, I started the break-up process several weeks ago, but he strangely refused to be broken up with. I’d tell him I didn’t want to see him anymore, he’d get upset, but say that he understood, and then a day or two later he’d start messaging me about getting together as if nothing had happened. After three times of breaking up in person, and two times in writing, he’s finally agreed that we’re not together anymore (I think this is because in the last written message I told him that he was scaring me and he needed to stop).

Having finally gotten him to understand that we would not be dating anymore, I had the thought to check his blog and see if he’d posted anything weird about me/the breakup (we’ve known each other for 20 years and have a large number of mutual friends). Well, he did post something weird, but it was in November. I just hadn’t noticed it. If I had, I would have broken up immediately. In November, he helped me and one of my girlfriends by being our designated driver at a get together after our HS reunion. He drove us back to the hotel we were staying at and made sure everything was OK. We thanked him and everything, and thought all was well. What I didn’t know until yesterday was that he had taken a photo (at least one) of me changing without my knowledge, and posted it. I am clothed in the photo, it looks like I’m halfway into my PJs, still getting out of my jeans maybe? It’s definitely obviously me (to anyone who knows me pretty well). The blog is the third link that comes up when googling his name, and is 100 percent public. The photo file name includes my (first) name.

I am infuriated. I know I can’t get him to delete whatever other photos he may have taken without my knowledge. And I know the posted photo isn’t a nude or anything (but chances are good that he has some of those, if he’d been taking pictures in secret). But I want him to take it down. I don’t like the idea of my kids seeing that if they search his name, nor the rest of my family. It’s reasonable for me to ask him to take it down when he eventually calls and asks for his things back (DVDs he’s left here, a couple of other random things), right? What about insisting? I’m 99% sure the girlfriend I was sharing the room with did her changing in the bathroom, which was smart; I feel incredibly dumb, but I also feel this is outside the bounds of what is predictable. Maybe? (I am attaching the photo that I copied off the blog.) — Camera Shy

I saw the photo and I have to say there’s absolutely nothing unsavory about it (except that it was taken and posted without your knowledge). If you are indeed changing clothes, it’s impossible to tell. The photo is taken from behind and you look 100 percent fully clothed. Yes, you’re sitting on the edge of a bed, but it’s a G-rated photo and not something to really get worked up about. Honestly, if this is someone you had such a hard time ending things with, why would you think this is even worth re-opening the lines of communication? Why give him any power by telling him he has the ability to rattle you like this? If there’s a chance he has other photos of you and he knows that this little innocent one bothers you so much, why give him the idea to post more? Really, I just wouldn’t go there. Let it lie. There’s nothing at all incriminating or all that embarrassing about the photo and someone would have to actually know it exists, know it’s you, and know it’s posted on this guy’s blog to find it. And then what? It’s a dark, fuzzy picture of your back taken while you’re sitting, fully clothed, on the edge of a made bed. So freakin’ what? MOA. This is not worth your time or energy and the last thing you want is to get sucked back into any drama with this guy. Not over something so innocuous.

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