Why It's So Hard For Men To Say "I Love You"

How can three words be so difficult to say?

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My boyfriend, Rob, told me on our second date that he was falling in love with me. 

Did he utter those three little words exactly? No, he found a loophole, but his intentions were clear. 

He might have said "I'm falling in love with you," but he was really saying "I love you," as evidenced by the fact that he told as much on our third date.

Before I met Rob I was a cliché. I dated men who weren't ever quite as into me as I was into them. I'd fall hard for them and wait in quiet terror for them to love me back.


RELATED: 21 Signs He Has Strong Feelings For You

It never happened. Not once. The closest I got was a man saying "I like you so much". 

The funny part is that yes, while I have dated a long string of vacant, worthless, jerks, I have also dated some very good men who I do believe actually DID love me.


They just couldn't say it.

To me, the idea that men (or anyone, really) can have a hard time saying I love you is kind of ridiculous. People say words all of the time, why get precious about those three little words?

In part, I think it's because they aren't just three little words to most people. Most of us understand that saying I love you is scary. It's like lifting up your shirt and showing someone your belly. Telling someone you love them for the first time is as terrifying and as vulnerable a feeling as farting on someone mid-coitus. 

But the risk is always worth it. At least, that's how I feel. Whether they love you back or if they pass on the raw offering of your heart, at least you were honest, not just with them but with yourself. With your own heart. You were honest with your love. 


I've always wondered what's going on inside a man's head when he holds back from saying he loves someone. So I asked a group of anonymous men to share their feelings on the subject. 

RELATED: How To Know If What You're Feeling Is Real, True Love

Men reveal why it's so hard for them to say "I love you"

1. I've never said it before

“I’ve never said "I love you" to a girl in that context in my life yet. I always feel like I'm not ready yet and my longest relationship lasted 8 months.”

2. I have nothing to compare it too

“I've only told one girl I love her in my life. And that was the only girl I ever really loved. I had a hard time telling her because I had nothing to really compare it to. My relationships before that were really short-lived and not all too serious on either part. I didn't know what love was, what it felt like, or anything.”


3. I'm scared to

“I remember being scared because of every fling that I had before then when the girl said she loved me, and I said it back we pretty much broke up a few weeks later (fun, school-type relationships). So finally when I was dating a girl who I completely fell for said it to me, I was petrified. It took me some time to say it, and thankfully she understood. I basically just felt out for a few weeks about how the relationship was going and got to a point where I really thought she was 'the one' kinda thing. Unfortunately, we broke up a couple of years later.”

4. I'm nervous

“The one time I've been in a relationship long enough where we really loved each other I was nervous about saying it, but there eventually was a point where she meant so much to me that it was more ridiculous to not say it and to keep it bubbled.”

5. If you know, you know

“If there's anything I've learned, it's that when you know, you know. Whether that's love, your career, other relationships, etc. If you're already trying to hold back on saying it, ignore the part of you saying it's too soon and just go for it. I'm sure she feels exactly the same!”

6. Modern women aren't into it

“I don't like saying I love you because modern-day girls aren't into those kinds of commitments. Everyone just wants one-night stands. No relationships anymore.”


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7. I'll say it

“I’ve never understood this. When I know I love a woman, I tell her I love her.”

“"I love you." What kind of insecure coward is afraid of that kind of stuff? It's always the most "alpha" and "macho" guys who are most afraid of harnessing emotional intelligence and power.”

8. Don't want her to know I'm whipped

“I don’t want her to think she has me whipped.”

9. It could be lust

“Because I don’t want to confuse the lust I feel early on in a relationship with something like a real and lasting love.”

10. I don't feel strongly enough

“As someone who has dated A LOT and always struggled with the word, If you don't feel strongly enough to say it, you might never actually feel that strongly about said person. When I finally felt it there was no denying it, I even let it slip accidentally before I'd planned to actually say something.”


11. I'm not a wuss

“I'm not a [wuss]. I say "I love you.”

12. I don't actually love her

“If he's not saying that he loves you then he doesn't really love you yet. He might be incredibly fond of you, but that's not really the same thing.”

How do you know if you're ready to say "I love you"? 

RELATED: 11 Little Things Men Secretly Adore About The Woman They Love

Rebecca Jane Stokes is an editor, freelance writer, former Senior Staff Writer for YourTango, and the former Senior Editor of Pop Culture at Newsweek. Her bylines have appeared in Fatherly, Gizmodo, Yahoo Life, Jezebel, Apartment Therapy, Bustle, Cosmopolitan, SheKnows, and many others.