Ask A Dude: Why Won’t He Say The “L” Word?

Dear Dude,

My boyfriend and I have been together for a little over a year now. We are long distance (he’s about an hour away) and we have ridiculous amounts of fun when we are together and he means the world to me. The problem is this: the feared and revered “L” word (love) has yet to enter the mix. He’s said “I like you more than you know.” He’s said “You really don’t know how much I like you.” He’s even gone as far as to ask “What would you do if I told you that I loved you?” But there’s been no real declaration of love after 13+ months. What’s a girl to do?

Itching for Action

Dear Itching for Action,
Does “LOVE” mean more than “LIKE”? Oh, Hell yeah! Does it matter if you say it? Oh, Hell yeah! Does it matter who says it first? Oh, Hell…This is where the excrement collides with the wind machine.

Saying the big L first is like throwing yourself off of the Empire State Building with a parachute operated by string cheese into a fireball storm. (My brain is like ball of yarn being battered about by a cat.) You don’t want to go splat and you feel like it’s a very probable possibility. However, that’s the panic talking. Well, more likely screaming through a blow horn into both of your ears.  But if you’ve got the guts to go for the glory then the end result can be magical.

Bottom line: if you love him and you know he’s afraid to say it then there’s a very simple solution: you say it first.

Why is there still an expectation for men to say “I love you” first? I asked this in my article “What Man Does Too Woo The Woman” and I’ve yet to get a comment that spells it out for me.

Expectations can kill relationships. This one especially. Saying “I love you” shouldn’t be an obligation. You shouldn’t feel like it’s your duty to express your love. But “should” refers to something that isn’t. Ain’t that the…euphemism?

It sounds like you love him. My question to you: What’s stopping you from saying it? Then consider that the fears holding you back might be very similar to the ones holding him back. Nobody wants to get hurt. Letting yourself be vulnerable can feel like an invitation to heartbreak. It doesn’t have to.

Showing someone you care means that you have faith in your relationship. It’s a sign that you believe in love. You’re letting the other person know that you’ll be there to support them even when they don’t think they deserve it. Saying “I love you” isn’t dropping a bomb. Saying “I love you” is the giving of trust, commitment, devotion, and emotional availability. It shouldn’t be scary. It is.

When you admit love, you admit you have something that you can’t control, that can be lost or taken away from you. But you saying “I love you” means you know the risk is well worth the rewards.

For some people, giving that gift is harder than others. You shouldn’t be penalized for it. You shouldn’t penalize someone else. Don’t assume he doesn’t because he can’t, yet. Sometimes people need encouragement to leap. Give him your hand to hold onto.

You think this is hard? Try waterboarding. That’s hard!
Coach Dude Sylvester

[Isn’t he wise? Don’t you wish you could get more? You can! Check out The Dude’s other insights into the male mind right here.]



  1. cocktailsattiffanys says:

    Asking why people have expectations in a relationship is just a simple excuse to not live up to anything. And what's the point in that?

    I say be a man, have expectations, and say I love you, first.


  2. criolle johnny says:

    Say "I love you", when you do. Never say or do anything because someone wants you to do so.
    I've heard silly-ass arguments that one means this or that to one or the other. "I love you" for a man means, "I surrender". That's why women want to hear it so badly. "I love you" for a woman, means "I own you". That's why women say it first. … got a million of 'em.
    If you both have to dance around it, you're not there.

    I've been making "Garnet, Black & White candles with a Peach fragrance. Hadda mention it!
    Happy Holidays.

  3. KPN says:

    Dear Dude,
    I love you.

    haha this article is gold..and SO IS YOUR ADVICE! can't believe it's coming from a guy haha sorry

  4. Kaylah says:

    How about when he asks you "what would you do if I said I love you?" say "I'd say I love you too." Maybe that's his way of trying to feel out your answer cause he's scared too. When my boyfriend asked if I loved him I said I don't know because at that moment, I didnt. When I was ready, I said it. He appreciated that I wouldn't just say it just because he asked and that I said it when I meant it. That way he knew it was real. It's scary and hard but go for it.

  5. just me says:

    what does it mean when you say it, and he doesn't say it back?? and yet he shows he does in everything he does. How do you deal with that, and what's up with that anyway?

  6. crissie says:

    I said I love you first. He said after like an year and half. I asked him before , do you love me? cause i was smitten and unsure of me, and he had the moral spine of not saying it until he felt it. I was New Year at Midnight. I'll never forget it. And yes, i cried and was silly about all that, because even now (2 yrs and 1/2) he's not saying it often, but i come to realize once it's about what he does and how he acts . He built be a custom earring support (his own initiative, while i was away to see my parents) . He stayed up all night with me for a difficult exam helping me organize my study notes. He bought and made coffe when i needed it most. He's there for me when times are good (sunny beach holiday) and times are rough ( final tomorrow and 150 more pages to read ). Don't look at declarations (like i did and still do), but look how he acts around. Does his actions spell love and tenderness?

  7. […] 1 of 3 plots) at times wishes one of us would just find the courage to come out and say it already. I mean, it’s been long enough! And the pressure from friends and family who act like this is the biggest thing in the world to be […]

  8. […] 1 of 3 plots) at times wishes one of us would just find the courage to come out and say it already. I mean, it’s been long enough! And the pressure from friends and family who act like this is the biggest thing in the world to be […]

  9. Jnurse says:

    I've been dating my guy for 10 months. He isn't very experienced with women or relationships but he treats me better than any man ever has. Very thoughtful but a little emotionally unavailable possibly due to lack of intimacy in his life thus far. I haven't said I Love You first because I have the opposite problem. I have been divorced and have had my heart demolished several times. Ah, I survived to still be a hopeless romantic though. I am terrified of rejection….AGAIN. So me saying it first just isn't an option. I think he is awesome and spoil him verbally with adoration all the time. He doesn't exactly reciprocate verbally. But he is a man of action. He shows me in small ways and sometimes larger gestures too. I feel he does loves me but I do wish he would tell me how he feels. Sometimes we women are more afraid to say it first and for good reasons. By nature women are generally more nurturing and happy to be so, but we need it back verbally sometimes too.

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