Should I commit to a man who can’t say ‘I love you’?


“I have been divorced for five years and the year before last, I started seeing people again. I met a lovely widower and we got on like a house on fire – in fact, I fell deeply in love with him. We spent a lot of time together and, as I was between houses, I moved in with him for a while. I felt I needed to get my own place, though – being with him was convenient but I felt as if I’d foisted myself on him and, if we were going to live together long term, I wanted him to ask me properly. So, I moved out into a place of my own and I loved having my own space again.

“He kept saying he didn’t see why I’d bothered to move out – but I never had my own furniture in his place and it never felt like my home. On top of that, he could never bring himself to say he loved me, and he wouldn’t talk about his feelings. He said he cared for me but that was it.

“I get on so well with his family – both his boys accepted me right away and are warm and friendly. Then came the pandemic and we bubbled together, but I needed more in the way of commitment from him so, in the end we separated. I was heartbroken and I think he was hurting too – we drifted back together for a while, but he still couldn’t bring himself to commit and we split up again. Yet again, we drifted back together but now we’ve split for the third time and I really think that’s it.

“I will miss him, but I suppose I must try and get on with my life but we’re both in our sixties and it feels such a waste! Do you think there is any hope for us to ever be together?”

Over the years I have known a few people (usually men) who are incapable of saying the word “love”.I’m not sure why but, for some, it’s something they don’t seem to feel, or else are never confident enough of their feelings to say. You don’t say how long he has been a widower but it’s possible he is still grieving and unsure about forming a deep relationship again. He may have felt rejected by you when you moved out of his home, even though you didn’t feel as if he had fully embraced the idea of you living there.

What is so sad about this is that the two of you clearly enjoy being together but neither of you really seem to be able to talk properly. You say he wouldn’t talk about his feelings and that’s a shame. It is something a counsellor could probably help with – but would he agree to seeing one?

You also say you get on well and miss each other’s company when you’re apart, so would you be prepared to try and settle for this at present and wait to see if anything deeper develops? In time he might come around – but it is a risk, especially if you pressure him for more, which could drive him further away. You have separated for a third time so one of you will have to try and make a conciliatory move if you are to get together again.

If you’re not prepared to wait and want a commitment now, I think it would be kinder to you both if you looked elsewhere. He has said he cares for you and this may not be as far as you would like him to go, but it’s seems to be the limit of his commitment. If that’s not enough for you then I don’t think you’ll ever be happy with him, because he may not ever be capable of giving more. It would seem, unfortunately, that you don’t really understand him, and he doesn’t really understand you! Unless you can make that happen, I don’t really think being together will be possible.

If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to [email protected] for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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