Q: Hi there,
I am a lurker and occasional commenter, but now I find myself needing your (and your LL crew's) advice before I possibly screw up the most wonderful, fulfilling relationship I've ever been in. We have the best time together and I feel so safe when he's around.
I'm a 30-something single mom who's been divorced for almost a decade and there's no drama in that department -- except that I haven't been able to tell any man I've dated that I love him. I've been in a relationship with a genuinely sweet guy named "Ted" for the past year. For the first time in years I'm dying to tell Ted I'm madly in love with him. Here's the catch. He's freshly divorced single dad coming out of a horrible marriage. He's in the same mental place I was in so long ago. At the very beginning he said he didn't want to be alone, but didn't know if he could be in another serious relationship. Well, we've been in this fabulous relationship for the past year. I need to tell him I love him, but am so afraid he'll bolt because he'll realize he's been a serious relationship and suddenly feel boxed in. I NEVER want him to feel pressured to say he loves me too if he's not ready. I just need to tell him how I feel.
Please, what do I do? Do I tell him how I feel and hope for the best? Should I keep my mouth shut and hope eventually he'll tell me how he feels? It's been a year. Should I feel this anxious about saying "I love you" in the first place?
– Lovesick in Boston
A: LIB, just say it. But don't make a big deal about it. Don't sit him down and say, "There's something I have to tell you." Just say it when it feels right and let it be a nice thing.
Those three words mean different things to everyone. They don't have to mean that you want to marry him and that you expect to be with him forever. In your case they mean that you're having an awesome time and that you feel safe knowing that he's in your life.
My guess is that he'll be as anxious about the statement as you are. Humans smell fear, so don't freak out. Just say it. And if he seems confused or concerned, just tell him to relax and then explain what those words represent.
You've been together for a year. I don't think that he's going to be shocked to hear that you love him. I'd be a little worried if you didn't. Don't make the words larger than life and he won't either.
Readers? Should she wait until he says it first? After a year, should this be an issue? Is his life too turbulent for "love" to be introduced? Discuss.
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a new novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith here and on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.