"I love you" and secondaries

WhatHappened

Active member
Just curious about the spectrum of thoughts on this among members here. I see some people talk about exchanging I Love Yous with secondaries. Do some people avoid that L word or avoid feeling it?

I'm curious because my (married) boyfriend's actions speak very loudy of genuine, even self-sacrificial love. But he never alludes to the word at all. The most he'll ever say is, "You know how I feel about you, right?"

I tell myself actions speak louder than words, and I know it's very easy to talk about love without meaning a word of it, so saying it, in a way, is meaningless; yet it does leave me wondering what really goes on in his mind and heart and what this really means to him.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
Some people don't use the L word much for whatever reason(s). It has very little to do with being "secondary" or non-monogamous. I know plenty of monogamous people who don't say "i love you" very often. And yes actions do speak louder. If someone said it all the time but didn't show it, would you prefer that over what you are getting now instead?


Having said that, i can't tell you what is going on inside your boyfriend's mind and heart or what it really means to him.
 
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JaneQSmythe

Well-known member
I wrote about the first time I told Dude that I loved him in this thread: OMG! I just said the "L" word.. I talk some about why I am so hesitant to use that phrase casually and other people chimed in with their experiences as well.

...
I tell myself actions speak louder than words, and I know it's very easy to talk about love without meaning a word of it, so saying it, in a way, is meaningless; yet it does leave me wondering what really goes on in his mind and heart and what this really means to him.

This reminds me of a conversation I had with Dude early in our relationship (before the "L" word). We were in Home Depot shopping for something for a project on the house and chatting randomly and he comes out with something along the lines of "You really do WANT me here, don't you?"...I stopped dead in my tracks..."Really? I rarely let people into my home to even visit and you have been LIVING WITH US for 6 months and you doubt that I WANT you here?!" He said that, sure, our ACTIONS said that we wanted him here, but that sometimes words are louder because you say them "out loud."

Now we allude to this conversation whenever he is in need of some "verbal reassurance" (since apparently this is something that I don't supply routinely). He'll sidle up to me and say "You know, words are louder...":D

JaneQ
 

BoringGuy

Banned
I forgot to add:

When he says "you know how i feel about you, etc." you can answer with, "actually no i don't know. I am not a mind reader. Why don't you TELL me how you feel instead of making me guess?"
 

NovemberRain

New member
I forgot to add:

When he says "you know how i feel about you, etc." you can answer with, "actually no i don't know. I am not a mind reader. Why don't you TELL me how you feel instead of making me guess?"

I might phrase it with a snuggle and differently-ish:
Sweetie, I know how i feel when you do such loving actions; and sometimes, I'd really love to hear the words from you. Would you be open to telling me in words?
 

WhatHappened

Active member
I forgot to add:

When he says "you know how i feel about you, etc." you can answer with, "actually no i don't know. I am not a mind reader. Why don't you TELL me how you feel instead of making me guess?"

I did say something remotely like this once...possibly twice. I don't remember his answer. Something to the effect of, "You know I want this to go on forever."

I appreciate the input. I find it interesting why people do or do not use the word love. I think I'm afraid to ask him directly because I suspect right now it might open a can of worms he's not entirely prepared to deal with.
 

WhatHappened

Active member
Adding: I guess I find it interesting to note my own need to hear clear words, even when I KNOW that words don't necessarily mean anything.
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
I think it's easiest to sum up as: I like to hear it, but only if it's authentic. I would prefer authentic actions to inauthentic words; however authentic words combined with authentic actions is best.

It's not terribly difficult to tell when someone is saying it and not meaning it. And there's nothing wrong, IMO, with saying it obligatorily at times.

We always say "I love you" when we say good-bye. If anything were to happen to us, I want those to be the last words we say to each other. Even though we do it out of habit, we still mean it. We wouldn't say it if we didn't.
 

BoringGuy

Banned
We always say "I love you" when we say good-bye. If anything were to happen to us, I want those to be the last words we say to each other. Even though we do it out of habit, we still mean it. We wouldn't say it if we didn't.

That's why i say it to my partners all the time. Spouse says it back and usually says it first, and Other never says it casually, but i still say it to Other and they don't seem to mind.
 

GalaGirl

Well-known member
Do some people avoid that L word or avoid feeling it?

I can't avoid how I feel. I can choose whether or not I express it though (the WHEN.) As well as the rest of it -- where I express, how I express, why I express, what I express, and matters of degree.

When we were dating? DH told me he loved me first. (So did BF2 in that rship now that I think about it.) I like a slow unfold, and I like to get there at my own pace.

For example -- I told DH I was glad, happy to hear that he loved me, and I was in the process too... falling in love. But just not ready to go verbal. I found body language easier -- kisses/hugs, etc to convey my affection/love for him.

So if it was ok with him, I'd just say something like "I know" and update him when I was in another place on the verbal front. Or use whatever other phrase he wanted to hear better til I was ready to go with "I love you." He said he was fine with that. "I know" was good.

So when he expressed his love for me through words again at other times, I would smile and say "I know. Thanks!" and squeeze his hand or hug or something. He was free to express himself, I was free to receive it in the way I wanted to receive.

I demonstrated all kinds of loving behavior toward him in the other love languages. But I wasn't ready for words of affirmation til I was ready. Then I WAS ready to go verbal, and it was received by him just fine.

Relationships are a dance. ;)
I guess I find it interesting to note my own need to hear clear words

If you have a need, you could ask if he's willing to meet the need at this time or not. It doesn't get any simpler. He cannot mind reader.

If you enjoy hearing words as a love share method, tell him you'd like him to express it via words when he's ready to go there. You appreciate his actions, but the words too would mean something to you when he's ready to go there. Letting him know your preferences isn't a bad thing in relationship.

I think I'm afraid to ask him directly because I suspect right now it might open a can of worms he's not entirely prepared to deal with.

Let him own his own baggage. You hold and own yours.

If he is like me, and you let him know your preference he will say "Thanks for the heads up. I'll let you know when I'm ready."

No can of worms in sight. Just plain communication to get to that handy old fashioned phrase place... "we have an understanding."

HTH!
Galagirl
 
My boyfriend, Fly, hardly ever tells me he loves me. It took maybe 3 years into our relationship for him to say it, and he almost never says it first, unless he's a little tipsy. :rolleyes: Every couple months I'll ask, "Hey, you love me?" and he'll say "Yes, I love you." Usually, if I tell him I love him, he says "Thanks." It used to bother me, now it makes me laugh.

He feels that the word and sentiment are overused, and have lost their power for a lot of people. He also comes from a non-demonstrative, cold (in my opinion) family, so he doesn't have a lot of practice. He also used to believe that the L-word had connotations of monogamy and exclusiveness, and he had to learn to trust my ability to be non-monogamous and allow him that freedom before he could feel comfortable saying it to me. The only person he can unreservedly say it to is his son. :)

Moonlight told me she loved me about 2-3 months in. I would reply with "I adore you" or "You're so special to me!" I really wasn't ready to make the sort of unspoken commitment implied by telling someone you love them, and it took me a while before I finally busted out with it. Now she and I are a regular goofest! :)

For me, I'm an I-Love-You sayer. It's really important to me that people I care about know it, and in my opinion, you can't trust that your actions will convey that message. So I ILY all over the place, to my family and friends and lovers, but only when it's true. It just happens that I find it easy to love!

I think it depends on so many things - personality, background (I have a very gooey family, we always say ILY on the phone or when we say goodbye), culture, associations with the word, experiences...

If it really bothers you, I think you should say something, as others have suggested. Worms or no worms, if you need the words it's going to be difficult to sustain the relationship without getting what you need from it.
 

Niteowl01

New member
What's love got to do with it? ;>)

Hi,
My first day on the site and what a wonderful question to find. Like most, I've learned more from my failed relationships than anything. One thing that seems to have sunk in is that love, true love, the kind we seek - apart from all the other things we use the one word for - has little to do with feelings at all. Feelings fly across the surface of our beings, ever changing.

Infatuation is a feeling. Affection, lust, these are feelings. Love. Well, that is a behavior that provokes feelings.

I'm really mystified by folks whose behavior demonstrates love but who are reluctant to put it into words. Since when are words more powerful than behavior?

Do it, say it, feel it.

;>)

p.s. I don't know all the lingo yet so call me a guy with an abundance of affection that perhaps needs a poly environment to thrive.
 

Natja

New member
Actions speak louder than words in my mind. I have an ex who told me he loved me, he admitted later he only said that because he felt pressured to because I said it first.

I hated him for that dishonesty, I wasn't expecting him to say it, I did not prompt him or wait looking at him to say it, I just wanted to share my feelings. I was naive I suppose, because I did not realise that a declaration like that, in itself was a pressure.
 

AggieSez

New member
You might ask why they avoid the L word

Some people (even poly people) really don't like explicit declarations of love, for a variety of reasons. Admittedly it's a word that come with a lot of social baggage and expectations -- because declaring love is a typical major benchmark of progress along society's standard relationship escalator.

But if you're not hear the L word and that bothers you (or if you're just wondering why), it's probably a good idea to talk to your partner (and metamours, if any) about it.

Sometimes existing primary-style relationships have an agreement (or tacit understanding) that you "can't fall in love" with a non-primary partner. This is usually a way of establishing hierarchy, and an attempt to try to prevent jealousy or to keep a non-primary relationship from becoming "too important." Whether or not this is a good idea or if it works, it happens.

Trouble is, often existing primary partners do not clearly articulate this boundary or rule up front to non-primary partners. Perhaps they haven't even discussed it clearly between themselves, or perhaps they're just embarrassed to admit it -- especially after a non-primary relationship has gone on for awhile and the people involved are obviously pretty invested in it. A lot of drama can ensue in such situations -- which a clear, direct conversation could often prevent.
 

Sereia

New member
First post here ever :) so sorry if I don't know all the ins and outs!
I say I
'I love you' *a lot*. I say it to my daughter probably 50 times a day. My husband a few and my lover usually when I see him. With my lover we first exchanged 'I love you' after a difficult but invigorating online chat - where we basically decided to stop the physical side of our relationship - and then ended up at 'I love you'. . . So we said it once and a while - while 'just friends' and we say it quite a bit now that we are lovers again. Life is interesting hey?
 

BreatheDeeply

New member
I'm not a big proponent of the verbal I-Love-you. Would rather show it in a thousand different ways (my motto: actions speak louder then words!). BUT, have kids, wife and dogs who want me to say it, and say it often. So I do. It's just that, as mentioned earlier in this thread, I think it's overused, and I think that the word itself pales in comparison to most love-actions (like making a great home-made meal for them, playing baseball with them, unexpectedly bringing them flowers, a nice bone for the dogs, or caressing the side of their face (wife, not dogs!). But, as I am in love with these people+animals, I have no problem saying it and saying it often.

I just don't tell my male friends that I say those things.
 

Aquarius

New member
Feel it? Then say it.

Wow not sure how I love you can be over used.

I know that it def can be 'under' used.

I say love you to my boys, my hubby my friends often. If I feel it I'll say it. I agree actions are important too. Without the actions the words are pointless. But without the words..... Would be a sad place.

I think people get scared with the phrase and what responsibilities ( read baggage) comes with it. Then don't say it. Love and all it's stuff can be heady,sweaty hot, cold,painful and ecstatic ! And sometimes at the same time. I love saying I love you to the ones I love. But please don't feel you have to say it back. Tell me when you want to, spontaneously when you feel it. Or don't . Your choice.
 

Magdlyn

Moderator
Staff member
My bf doesnt say it often. My gf says it a couple dozen times a day. Both also show it in many ways. I say it to gf, she says it back. I say it to bf, he says, mmmmm and hugs me.

Last year I dated a guy who was 62 and had never said it to anyone, he told me, including his parents, who never said it to him. So sad. After we were together a while he admitted to me that in private, he said it to his dog regularly.

Eventually he started saying it to me and I think it did him a world of good. I felt fondness for him, so sometimes said it back, even though I was not head over heels in love with him. Sadly he wasn't right for me and we broke up. I wonder if he will ever allow himself to love another?
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
Actions speak louder than words in my mind. I have an ex who told me he loved me, he admitted later he only said that because he felt pressured to because I said it first.

I hated him for that dishonesty, I wasn't expecting him to say it, I did not prompt him or wait looking at him to say it, I just wanted to share my feelings. I was naive I suppose, because I did not realise that a declaration like that, in itself was a pressure.

I can see where he was coming from, though. When many (most, even) people say it, they do expect it to be returned.

If I ever told someone I loved them and I didn't expect it back, I would explicitly say that in my delivery. "I don't expect you to return this unless you really really mean it, and I won't be hurt or offended if you don't. But I just want you to know, I love you."
 

SchrodingersCat

Active member
'I love you' *a lot*. I say it to my daughter probably 50 times a day. My husband a few and my lover usually when I see him.

I think it's different in the parent-child relationship. With the obvious exceptions, you're pretty much born loving your mom, and she loves you as soon as she finds out about you. So there's never this "is it too soon? Will she say it back?" pressure. Moms don't even expect you to say it back every time... you're a kid. Kids are too busy being interested in toys and games and friends to think about things like love. Saying it back, with kids, is usually more from training than sincere, original intention.

My mom always opens her e-mails with "Hi Daughter! I love you so much!" I didn't used to bother returning it, and then I figured "well, I DO love my mom, it's not like it costs me anything to tell her so." So I started opening mine "Hi Mom! I love you!" and the first time I did it, she was over the moon. "It makes me so happy when you 'say' you love me in your e-mails! Thank you so much! You're the best daughter in the world!" And right away I was like "wow, that was so easy, and made her so happy and cost me nothing but 11 keystrokes. Considering how many thousands I spend here, hardly something to complain about."

Similarly, it takes like 1.6 seconds to say. Maybe you think it's overused, maybe you don't want to say it just to say it... but if there's someone in your life who will appreciate it, why make a big stink about it? It costs you virtually nothing and can bring a smile to someone's face. So if you think showing it is enough, and someone who matters says it isn't, then just say it and shut up about it. I think it's dumb to go so far as refusing to say it because of some social analysis, to the point where you're hurting your loved ones with your obstinance. :)
 
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