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I Want My Boyfriend to Say, 'I Love You' 

Dear Athena,

My boyfriend and I have been together for more than two years, and he has yet to say "I love you." He is sweet and caring and he does a lot of nice things for me. He buys me gifts; we have vacationed together. He is supportive and I feel like I can count on him for anything. But he has never declared his love, and I feel like he needs to say it for this relationship to move forward. I haven't used the L word, either, but I am afraid if I say it, he won't say it back. We're not kids. We are both 62 and retired. I'm divorced, and he is a widower. I don't think this relationship can continue to grow unless he says it and I say it, too. What advice can you offer me?

Signed,

Lost Without a Declaration of Love

Dear Lost,

If you love him, tell him. The worst that can happen is you tell him and he replies that he doesn't feel the same. It would be awful and hurtful. But you'd get through it, one day at a time. You might be sad, disappointed and heartbroken, but it's better to know. And you should prepare yourself for the possibility of this scenario.

On the other hand, if you tell him and he replies with a resounding "ditto," great! You can ride off into the sunset relieved and blissful.

But you won't know unless you tell him. He won't know, either. And maybe he's waiting for you to say it. Maybe he's not big on words. He might find it easier to give gifts. Ask yourself: If you could be convinced that he loves you without saying so, would you be satisfied? How much do the words themselves matter? If hearing "I love you" is the only thing standing in the way of your continued relationship, then by all means bring it up.

Call him up and ask him over — tonight! At a propitious moment, hug his shoulders, make eye contact and plant a big ol' "I love you" on him. Don't bother dimming the lights or lighting scented candles; just say it with sincerity and confidence and a smile. And if you're left with silence, don't leave it at that, or this issue will keep haunting you. Tell him it's important to you to know how he feels. The moment is now. Go for it.

Yours,

Athena

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