10 Reasons Why Your Partner Hasn’t Said “I Love You” Yet

We're breaking down the most common causes of the delay.

Boyfriend and girlfriend holding hands and looking at each other while walking on a path toward the water

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There’s no better feeling than hearing your partner say “I love you.” Expressing these three magic words means that your significant other deeply cares about you, feels a strong connection to you, and wants to be with you for the long haul. “True love is something that comes only with a beautiful mix of chemistry and closeness and intimacy,” relationship expert Heather Mayone says. “Once a person falls in love, they don’t fall so easily out of love. Saying ‘I love you’ means, ‘I’m not going anywhere’ (at least, not any time soon).” 

That said, if you’ve been dating your partner for a while and they haven’t said “I love you," feelings of doubt, frustration, and worry can plague your mind. Even if you're deeply in love with your significant other, if they have yet to articulate their loving feelings for you, the void can begin to weigh on you and your well-being. It can also cause you to question the future state of your relationship or yourself.  

Meet the Expert

Heather Mayone is the director of Tribeca Therapy in New York City, and she has 17 years of experience in the counseling field.

Before you jump to conclusions and convince yourself of the worst-case scenario, it’s important to remember that uttering this phrase doesn’t come easily to everyone. Verbalizing your love for someone is a vulnerable act that involves taking a risk, which can be scary for those who fear rejection or challenging for others who have trouble communicating how they feel. In other cases, you might be expecting too much too soon: If your relationship is still in the early stages, saying “I love you” might be premature.

Still wondering why your partner hasn’t said “I love you” yet? We asked a relationship expert to break down the main causes of this delay. Read on for more.

They've Been Hurt in the Past

If you’re waiting for your partner to say “I love you," it’s wise to take a closer look at their relationship history. Many people are hesitant and cautious to make this kind of major proclamation because they’ve been hurt or heartbroken in the past. For example, if your boyfriend was blindsided by a previous breakup or was betrayed by a former partner, it may be difficult for him to say “I love you” because of lingering past pain. Putting off this major relationship milestone is a way for him to protect himself from the pain of a broken heart in the future and avoid the risk of getting hurt yet again.

They're Not Sure How You Feel About Them

Another key reason why your partner might not have said "I love you" is because they aren't sure how you’d respond. It can be a frightening prospect to make this kind of bold and powerful declaration of love without knowing how the other person is going to react. Your partner may be hesitant to come on too strong, and the fear of not having these loving feelings reciprocated can be enough to deter them from saying those three words.

Showing your partner gratitude and letting them know how much you appreciate them can give them a clue and help them realize that you would reciprocate their love.

They're Afraid

Even if your partner has never experienced a messy breakup and even if they know exactly how you feel about them, saying "I love you" can still be nerve-racking. Uttering those three words means that your significant other has to be vulnerable, which requires trust. "Allowing yourself to open your heart and feel love for someone where there is risk involved can be scary," Mayone explains.

Maybe your loved one isn't fully in touch with their emotions or maybe they're afraid of rejection and abandonment—even if you're clear on where you stand. Another explanation could be that they're inexperienced with love or their feelings for you are so consuming that they aren't sure how to process them. If everything seems to be going well in your relationship, your partner might just need time to build up the nerve to say it, according to Mayone.

They're Dealing With Personal Issues

Perhaps your significant other has pressing and pertinent matters on their mind. For example, if they're dealing with a family problem, are overwhelmed by a project at work, or are worried about the health of a friend, they may be too emotionally taxed and drained at that moment to articulate feelings of love for you. When your partner is working through other issues and trying to manage everything that’s on their plate, you may not get to hear how much they care about you—even when they really do. 

It's Too Early in the Relationship

In some cases, your partner hasn't said "I love you" because it's too early in the relationship. If you've only been dating your partner for a short amount of time (before two months, according to Mayone), they probably won't be proclaiming their love for you any time soon, so it's important to adjust your expectations. "Focusing on mile markers in a relationship (such as saying 'I love you') can bring unnecessary stress and pressure to something that ideally is unfolding naturally and organically," Mayone points out. Even if your significant other knows they're in love with you, Mayone notes that they may shy away from grand declarations out of fear of scaring you off or making a premature commitment. As your union continues to grow and take shape, trust that expressions of love will come.

Their Feelings Are Still Developing

It’s also crucial to consider the fact that your partner may simply not be ready to tell you they love you because they aren't there yet. Your significant other may care deeply about you, but feelings of love might not be fully formed. This doesn't mean that your loved one won't ever get to the point of being in love with you. Some people take longer than others to develop and identify their feelings, and there’s no one-size-fits-all timetable that a person needs to follow when it comes to professing loving feelings for a partner. For instance, your boyfriend might say “I love you" after three months of being with you, or he might feel ready to state those three important words after a year.

They're Emotionally Unavailable

Is your partner distant or hard to read? If they haven't told you that they love you, this may be a sign that they're emotionally unavailable or detached from their feelings. Your significant other might be unable to open up and share their true feelings because they don’t want to appear weak or vulnerable. In other circumstances, they could have trouble expressing their emotions in a productive manner because they aren't equipped with the tools to openly discuss what they're feeling. Then, they could choose to keep everything bottled up inside because that's what they've always done since they were young.

They're Shy

If your significant other tends to be a bit quieter and closed-off, they may have a harder time articulating their loving feelings for you because they aren't the type of person who expresses emotion with ease. Shy people often find it difficult to communicate, especially when the conversation requires them to be vulnerable, meaning that they might hold off on saying "I love you." As your partnership develops, practice patience and try your best to make your significant other feel as comfortable as possible. They'll eventually let their guard down and tell you how they really feel.

They Feel They've Already Told You in Their Own Way

While hearing your partner say “I love you” might mean the world to you, some people don't say these magic words because they believe their feelings of love and devotion are already apparent to their partner. For example, in your boyfriend's mind, he may show you that he loves you by sending you text messages each morning, surprising you with gifts, and spending as much time as he can with you. For him, these actions are just as powerful as saying “I love you,” because that's how he expresses his feelings for you.

They Aren't in Love With You

Of course, there's always the possibility that your partner doesn't feel the same way about you, but make sure that you consider every possible reason before assuming the worst. If none of the other explanations are applicable and if they aren't showing any signs of investment in the relationship, maybe the feelings aren’t there and aren't likely to develop. To be completely sure, Mayone suggests having a direct and open conversation with your significant other. "You can give the obvious reminder of, 'Hey, if you are not as into this as I am, that would be devastating, but I want to know,'" she recommends. "Being strung along hurts more."

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