Q. I met a wonderful, hard-working, smart, great man about three months ago. Things are going well, and we have said those three words to each other and see each other as often as possible. He works very long hours and has children who are in college out of town. I have teens who still live with me.
Here is my issue: He says he loves me, but 90 percent of everything we do I initiate, plan, and pay for. Sometimes he offers to help, but I am very independent and always say no. I am hoping he will stop offering and just actually initiate something on his own. He makes significantly more money than I do, and I struggle, working full time and raising two kids with an angry ex. However, I am happy where I am and I am not looking for anybody to rescue me. I take pride in rescuing myself.
Spending time with him is easy, fun, and exactly how I want it to be. We both talk about this being it and spending many, many years together. That is what I want, but I think I need to pull back a little and see if he is willing to actually make an effort. But I worry he will think I am playing a game.
Also, when we did actually say the three words to each other, he would not say them until I said them first. He made me say them and then he said he felt that way. He’s not really putting anything out there or on the line for me.
What is your advice? — Effort
A. “Sometimes he offers to help, but I am very independent and I always say no.”
Well, this isn’t making things any better. If you go out of your way to tell this man you don’t want his assistance, you can’t expect him to assume the opposite.
The best way to avoid games is to stop yourself from playing them. That means not pulling back just to see how he’ll respond. That idea will only lead to more resentment and confusion. Instead of asking him to read your mind, tell him exactly how you feel and how he can contribute. Let him know that you struggle with asking for help because you’re proud of your independence. Explain that you’d like to be more equal in the relationship and to feel as though you’re working as a team. Please be as specific as possible about what you’d like him to do. No one should leave the conversation guessing.
As for the stuff about the three words and how they were said, all I can tell you is that declarations of love mean something different at three months than they do at six or nine. Pay attention to the feelings behind the words and whether there are other ways he tells and shows you that he cares. — Meredith
Some people are not planners. Accept him for who he is or let him go. It sounds like you jumped in too quickly, before you knew enough about each other. PRCNWBRO
Stop hoping that he will guess what you want and actually tell him. If he offers and you say no, how is he supposed to know? WIZEN
He’s supposed to read her mind, duh. My advice is to stop keeping score. ROADRUNNER
Bingo. I wish I learned this 25 years ago: Expectations are premeditated resentments. BABYINTHECORNER
Meredith Goldstein is in her ninth year of writing Love Letters for The Boston Globe. Column and comments are edited and reprinted from boston.com/loveletters. Send letters to firstname.lastname@example.org.