“I really like you.”
“Ich liebe dich.”
“Te amo.”
“Jag älskar dig.”

Regardless of which language you say it in, “I really like you” stays a fairly large deal in modern-day romantic relationships.

However what do you do when your associate doesn’t say it? Or by no means says it?

This was the case for me and my ex-boyfriend of three years, who by no means mentioned these phrases throughout all the time we have been collectively.

I’d prefer to preface this text by saying that too many people throw across the phrase “love.” We’d say we love a band, we love a sweater from J.Crew, and even we love somebody we solely met two occasions. From my perspective, the phrase itself loses that means when it’s mentioned too usually, and never within the context by which it’s usually initially meant (i.e. to a romantic associate whom you’ve grown to belief and respect).

And to be truthful to my ex, he’s a beautiful man. He simply wasn’t, properly, my individual. (I discovered my individual two years after my ex and I broke up and he’s now my husband of 1 12 months.)

However on the time, residing with my associate who, for all intents and functions, was dedicated to me, cared for me, and shared his life with me, I couldn’t comprehend why it was so tough for him to utter again these three little phrases, “I really like you.”

I’ll always remember the day I informed him I cherished him. We’d been collectively for a bit of over seven months and had been residing collectively for one. It was a dreary November day in Stockholm (the place we lived) and I used to be starting to develop involved that we hadn’t but exchanged I really like yous. The whole lot else was going easily, I believed, so maybe he was reluctant to say it first as a result of he didn’t know the way I felt.

He got here dwelling that afternoon to seek out me sitting on the sting of our mattress, with tears in my eyes. I keep in mind him speeding over and kneeling on the ground subsequent to me, trying imploringly for affirmation that one thing horrible hadn’t occurred.

With out lacking a beat, I merely mentioned, “I really like you.”

After which there was silence. It might have solely lasted thirty seconds nevertheless it felt like an eternity, ready for him to verify the very feeling I had been feeling for months.

As a substitute, he wrapped his arms round me and mentioned, “I like you, that.”

Whereas the phrase “I like you” is actually a gorgeous sentiment, it wasn’t precisely what I wished to listen to at that second. And though I gained’t reveal every thing that was mentioned between us that afternoon, what grew to become very clear to me was simply how a lot these phrases mattered. (If it’s any indication, my love languages are bodily contact and phrases of affirmation.)

At first, I used to be positive that he’d finally say it—his actions didn’t recommend something in any other case, so I figured it’d solely be a matter of time earlier than he’d say it again, on his personal phrases, and our lives might proceed on as regular.

Months glided by, after which years, and nonetheless no “I really like you.” Though playing cards for our anniversary or my birthday started to incorporate the phrase “love” on the finish, it was a brief comfort for one thing I so desperately wished to listen to. I even keep in mind frantically Googling at one level, “Why doesn’t my boyfriend say he loves me?” As if Google might in some way clarify the inside workings of my associate’s head.

Solely shut family and friends knew that he hadn’t mentioned “I really like you” again and whereas some have been shocked, given how severe our relationship appeared to be from the outset, others would attempt to guarantee me that saying “I really like you” is a much bigger deal in numerous cultures and doesn’t essentially imply something. In my coronary heart of hearts, I knew higher. I knew that the best individual for me would have zero qualms about professing his love and would inherently perceive that this was one thing I wanted to listen to as a way to really feel safe.

I feel I started to really feel like an impostor in my very own relationship, enjoying the position of somebody who satisfied herself that it was OK to be with somebody who couldn’t say “I really like you.”

Looking back, I feel I started to really feel like an impostor in my very own relationship, enjoying the position of somebody who satisfied herself that it was OK to be with somebody who couldn’t say “I really like you.” However after some time, this didn’t sit properly. I discovered myself changing into increasingly delicate to these three little phrases and out of the blue each movie I noticed, T.V. present I binged, or dialog I overheard in some way jogged my memory of the truth that I used to be in a relationship with somebody who couldn’t, for no matter motive, echo that very same sentiment again.

In the end, we ended our relationship for different causes however I can’t assist however suppose that this factored into it in some way. How are you going to construct a life with somebody if they will’t even inform you they love you? Though it was a mutual choice ultimately—and a tough breakup given our lives have been intertwined—it made me much more decided to not accept something lower than what I knew I deserved. And for me, this meant somebody who might say “I really like you,” with out reservations, with out coercion, and with out guilt.

The opposite day I used to be scrolling by means of Instagram and noticed a post from US Weekly that reported on a pair from the truth T.V. present, Bachelor in Paradise (sure, a responsible pleasure of mine), about how the man doesn’t say “I really like you” to his girlfriend of two years.

In line with him, he mentioned, “I simply hate saying the L-word phrase, so I used to be like, ‘Let’s make up a unique phrase, so we don’t need to say that to one another on a regular basis.’” I learn this and couldn’t assist however really feel for the woman. How might she not really feel slighted by this? It doesn’t matter what she says, or how “cool” with it she claims to be, I firmly imagine that exchanging “I really like yous” together with your associate is a pure factor and will occur in some unspecified time in the future.

In the identical vein, I additionally imagine that love shouldn’t be compelled and when you don’t suppose you’ll ever really feel that method for somebody, you shouldn’t say it. Simply as not saying “I really like you” might be devastating, so can saying “I really like you” when actions don’t line up with phrases.

I got here throughout an article from Time that talked about this very matter, explaining how our modern-day relationships simply don’t observe the identical guidelines that these in our dad and mom’ technology did. In line with this text, relationships then have been “kind of linear” and adhered to a typical sample—relationship, completely relationship, falling in love, saying “I really like you,” partnering up, getting married and/or breaking apart and beginning the entire course of over once more.

Now, it’s all in regards to the grey space, or the anomaly. In line with Scott Stanley, a analysis professor in Psychology on the College of Denver, the rise in cohabiting {couples} is what he calls the bottom zero for ambiguous relationships. In different phrases, you is perhaps planning a future with somebody, however that future may also be momentary. So, maybe not saying “I really like you” is only one method to defend your self from potential harm.

No matter my ex’s causes have been for not saying it through the course of our relationship, the actual fact of the matter is that he didn’t say it, not even when he knew how a lot it meant for me to listen to it from him. Love takes time, and folks transfer at totally different paces, however from my perspective, there’s a time restrict on when you must lower your losses and transfer on. I discovered this the exhausting method however I’m grateful for it, provided that it led me to my husband, who I’m completely happy to report overtly verbalizes his love for me, every day.