Q. My partner and I have been together for five years. We are both 40, we own a home together, and have no children. Our life is pretty great — we have demanding jobs, but still take time for regular date nights and we have a lot of fun together. But one thing has been nagging me for years now. He can’t tell me why he loves me when I ask. He replies with, “I don’t know, I just do” or the even worse, “Because you take such good care of me!”
I tell him all the reasons I think he’s wonderful — he’s insanely talented in his profession, and he’s smart, funny, loyal, and kind. But I get no defining adjectives back from him. How do I get over the nagging sense that he isn’t really in love with me for the person I am, but rather what I provide and do for him? It’s gotten to the point where he’s angry that I ask him to explain, and he just shuts down. He thinks it’s not something that needs to be discussed. Am I overthinking this?
– I Just Do
A. One of my first friends to get married was someone I met in middle school — one of my closest companions. She got engaged in her 20s, and the man she married was a bit older. He had been single for forever, happily dating around for decades.
At the time, I wondered why he decided to change his life for her, and how she could be sure of his feelings. She explained that he “felt about her the way he felt about his house and his dog.” That’s what he’d told her.
His point was that there was some indescribable feeling of connection with the house and the dog, and that after dating my friend for a bit, he realized she fit into the same category. She was home.
The “you’re like my pet and real estate” description of love might turn other people off, but my friend understood. Putting words to feelings isn’t easy sometimes. I’m also thinking of a song I love by Hayley Williams, where she sings, “It’s no use, I just love you. It’s no use, I just do.”
To me, “I just do” is an acceptable answer to a question about love, especially when the delivery is great.
I have to wonder, based on your letter, if you’re seeking more gratitude and validation, in general. Does your partner thank you for your care? Does he tell you you’re great at your job and life? If you want to hear “words of affirmation,” as they say in the world of love languages, let him know you’d like more moments of verbal appreciation. That’s different than asking him why he loves you.
For the record, I don’t think he’s with you for the care — because you said you have “a lot of fun together.” Your life with him doesn’t sound transactional. Really, it sounds like love.
Don’t ask me to explain why. It just does.
I can only think of two reasons why you would need validation: 1) you’re actually not satisfied with your relationship, and are feeling taken for granted or 2) you have low self-esteem and are looking for validation. BONECOLD
Love can be expressed in deeds, as well as words. There might be signs of his love all over the place. Take another look. BELMONT404