Relationship Advice Q&A: No One’s Ever Said “I Love You” to Me
Question: Dear Alison: New Year New You? Ha, Ha! I am about to stop dating and get a dog! It’s not like I don’t have plenty of friends and I can get plenty of people to hang with me or even go out on more formal dates, but in my entire life not one person has ever said “I Love You” to me. Most of my friends have already paired off, and without a real love of my own I am beginning to feel like a loser, like there’s just no hope. I’m getting to the point where I am actually jealous of my friends who got engaged over the holidays, and who at least have someone to share Valentines Day with. As I see it, I’m not bad looking, I have a job, and I have my own apartment, so what’s my problem? I’m in my late 20’s so why can’t I move a relationship forward to the point where it turns into love. Should I just give up and accept the fact that no one will ever love me? Am I that much of a loser?
Alison’s Answer: You don’t need a dog (or you would have gone to the ASCPA instead of taking the time to write to me). Words are very powerful things. If you call yourself a loser you will believe it and if you believe it, everyone else will too –it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. As the fabulous drag queen Ru Paul often says: ” “If you don’t love yourself, how in the hell you gonna love somebody else?”
I edited your letter for privacy, but it’s obvious that you are discouraged and depressed, and it shows in your writing, so I’m taking a guess that you show it in person, as well. People naturally gravitate to upbeat, positive others who make them feel good. If you’re not excited about who you are, about life, about love, how can you expect to attract it? When you’re already sad, and you feel so down and rejected, it’s hard to be upbeat. I know that. But I hope you will take some of my advice to start moving forward again, even even if some of what i’m suggesting feels uncomfortable,
Some people find connecting easy. For most of us meeting new people can be awkward, and some people are late bloomers who don’t find real love until much later in life. Even if that turns out to be you, that doesn’t mean you have to be alone, or lonely. So my first suggestion is not really about finding love at at all, but to stop focusing so much on your perceived failures and your inward self, and do something that makes you feel better and is also social. I think volunteering as a great way to meet like-minded others. If you don’t meet someone special, at least you’re doing something good for others that will make you feel better as well. The focus is on what you’re doing instead of stilted small talk or trying to impress someone. You’ll relax, and the people volunteering with you might think you’re great, and want to hook you up with someone they know. You can’t find out, until you try.
As I am very fond of saying, meeting someone is a process of elimination, not of selection. Dating really isn’t fun (for most people, anyway). It’s only really fun after you’ve met the right person and you’re holding hands, sharing picnics in the park, etc.. There is a lot of rejection involved, to be sure. There is always someone sizing you up and judging you, telling you what you’re not or what you should be, or what they want that you don’t have, or what you have that they don’t want (and vice-versa for you). You meet people who aren’t right for you (or you’re not right for them) . This dance back and forth causes expectation and disappointment, and you have to do it over and over again until you finally find the one person who has what you want and wants what you have just as much. But for every rejection, or everyone who just can’t say: “I love you” there is someone who can and will….you just can’t take the rejections to heart. You have to know that you are not a loser, that they may have had lots of good qualities but they weren’t the right one for you…and you just haven’t found the right one…yet.
With a goal like finding love,you can’t completely control the outcome, but you can lessen the frustration and optimize the results. If you’re not getting what you want, the first thing to do is re-assess your approach. Perhaps you’re not getting the result you want because you really don’t know what you want, or you can’t recognize it when you see it, or when you do see it, you are the one finding fault. I would guess at this point you also radiate negativity, and no one wants to be around that. Maybe your image needs an update. The point is, there are many reasons why you’re not out of the friend zone to something more intimate. The obvious thing to do is find out what you’re doing that isn’t working, and change it.
Before you mentally start objecting to what I’m writing, consider that something isn’t working — you already know something has to change. We rarely see ourselves objectively. Maybe ask some of your friends what they think about how you could improve your approach? Maybe hire a dating coach? Maybe join a dating success team? Maybe (especially if you are truly depressed) go to a mental health professional, or at least try some online counseling?
Keep in mind that no matter what, just because someone hasn’t said “I love you” to you yet doesn’t mean you’re not worthy of love or that your life is over! Consider the story of a man I know who only dated a couple of times until he was well into his 30’s, because he was shy and didn’t connect well, but at age 35 he met a woman and married her within just a few months. They’ve been blissfully happy for decades. Like you, this man had to stand on the sidelines and watch his friends pair off, attend their weddings, and the birth of their children, but he didn’t despair. He knew he was a good person and worthy of love. He knew that eventually he’d fine the right one. He didn’t date a lot but he did know what he wanted. It took a while, but he found the right one. He did, and you can, too. If you spend less time and brain power on feeling hopeless and sorry for yourself and more about how to make the rest of today…and all the rest of the days of your life…count…you will end up a “winner” and find the happiness and love you seek!