Hi Evan. I love, love, love your blog! You have some really saucy, right-to-the-point advice. I’ve combed through many a blog post. Now, here’s a question for you: I find the topic of expressing “I love you” on my mind a lot, lately. I’m dating a wonderful man of 4.5 months, who’s exhibited superb “boyfriend behavior.” We see each other 3 times a week. I’ve met his family and he’s met mine. He brings me flowers when I’ve had an awful day, and shows me support when it counts. But… he has yet to say “I love you.” I know it’s a bit soon to say the words, but it got me thinking: do men need to hear I love you from the ladies they’re with? Do they even care? I have a feeling that men aren’t sitting around chatting with their buddies about the topic: “Bob, it’s been 4 months and no I love you’s yet! What gives?! Does she love me or is she scared of commitment?” What I’d like to know is this: do men say “I love you” to us because they know we like to hear it (and of course, they should mean it), or do they place any importance on those 3 words? Do men sit in angst, wondering when the “I love you’s” will come, or do they just get around to saying it because they know it’s a requirement for us. Thoughts? -Tanya

Dear Tanya,

As much as advice columnists need to rely on generalizations and stereotypes in order to make our case, it would be dangerous to consider men as if they were some sort of monolithic unified entity.

And while I’d agree with you that there aren’t many angst-y male conversations about the words “I love you”, I think there are many reasons that men say it.

Just because a man says “I love you” doesn’t mean that he’s a perfect boyfriend, doesn’t mean he wants to marry you, and doesn’t mean he’s going to still love you in a month.

The #1 reason that men say “I love you”?

Because they mean it.

It’s not something that’s calculated. It’s not something he’s doing to send a message or affect a change. It’s not just to be nice to you (unless you said it first to us, then it might be).

A man says “I love you” because he loves you and those are the best words to express what he’s feeling at that time.

BUT – and this is a tangent – just because a man says “I love you” doesn’t mean that he’s a perfect boyfriend, doesn’t mean he wants to marry you, and doesn’t mean he’s going to still love you in a month.

This is VERY important to understand. I can’t tell you how many women have clung to “I love you” as some sort of talisman. “He said that he loved me during our one month anniversary in Cabo and he’s never said it in four months since…and now I think he’s pulling away from me. How is that possible?”

It’s possible because he said “I love you” spontaneously – because he meant it – and then, upon further reflection, didn’t want to reinforce the message, because he wasn’t sure he was going to stick around.

The fact is: different people weight those words differently – and it would be impossible for me to say what YOUR boyfriend is thinking.

When I was younger, I said it a lot more often.

In my mid-30s, I had one girlfriend and I didn’t say it for 8 months, because I wasn’t sure I meant it.

And even with my wife, I waited six months, until I could say it without reservations. For me, it was my way of letting her know that I was seriously considering a long-term relationship.

For others, they may not have come from families where men emoted like that. Once again, it’s hard to say.

I do think that your belief that men say it to you first just to get you off their back or because you want to hear it is unlikely. Most men would rather say nothing than to say something that they don’t mean and may come to regret later.

All I’d tell you is to pay attention to how he TREATS you. If he treats you like he loves you, then I am quite confident that his feelings and words aren’t all that far behind. Patience, grasshopper. Patience.