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What do the words "I love you" mean to you now?

Striver posted 5/12/2019 23:26 PM

Post divorce and in a new relationship, what do the words "I love you" mean to you?

I have never told my girlfriend that I love for her. I tell her I love certain things, I appreciate her, etc.

I think it is because I was married, got betrayed. I know what those words mean to me. I am not ready to trust in that way. I may never be ready to trust in that way. I say I love you to my kids all of the time. Not ready to say them to a romantic partner.

I'm a few years from my divorce, I certainly have LTR needs. That is not going to change. I am not going to be a playa or go back to my single ways if I can help it. So here I am.

I could date someone else and would if we don't work out. But all of my options are going to be real life women, not some magical transformative woman that takes all my fears away. That will never happen.

So for me it comes down to fear of going back to that marriage spot of trust that proved to be mistaken. Plus the fact that I know I was committed in my marriage, and offering up I Love Yous risks being in another unrequited situation where I am taken advantage of. I suppose that's a derivation of the first fear.

How do others feel about this?

hadji posted 5/12/2019 23:50 PM

I started thinking about love objectively right after I was cheated on. My wife (not my X-F from whom I separated a decade ago), is a wonderful woman who I absolutely adore and respect. I have feelings of love for her but they are not always constant given that we are not in the honeymoon period. But even when I entered into my current relationship, I told her that of every woman I've been with, she was the one who I've had the most respect for. So to this day, I don't often tell her "I love you" and mostly I tell her that as a response to her ILYs.

I tell her every time she does something good, how much I respect and value her. Sometimes I tell her even when we are having our personal moments or when she is under difficult circumstances. She is someone I will always cherish because she is precious. I fall in and fall out of feelings for her. But my respect is constant. I know that she isn't all too happy with that. But she thinks that is better than always being "in love" and lacking respect.

Phoenix1 posted 5/13/2019 00:30 AM

The words mean the same to me now as they always did. When I said them to Xhole over the years, I meant them. He may have been living a lie, but I wasn't. I was committed to him and our marriage, until the truth yanked the rug out from under me. I never spoke them to him again after Dday 1 (though he did, regularly ).

Fast forward to after D and my current SO. The words still mean the same, but they also equate to vulnerability. I had to come to terms with opening myself up like that. I did not say them to SO until 2-3 years into the relationship (we're at 5.5 years now). That's when I realized he had never given me a reason not to trust him, so I opened myself up to that vulnerability. I still do not say them lightly. No, there are no guarantees that he won't ever betray me, and I accept that risk. However, I do know that if he ever does, I will survive that too. 😊

babypuke posted 5/13/2019 01:57 AM

In parallel to Darth Vader in Star Wars ROTJ, when said to me, I think "Those words no longer have any meaning to me".

In parallel to Madonna in her song 'Sorry', when said to me I think "I've heard it all before".


Rustylife posted 5/13/2019 10:17 AM

I get what you mean. This experience takes a lot out of us in terms of being trusting and blindly in love.

I'm pretty sure I'll marry again. I still haven't given up on the dream of a family with a loved one. It's what I grew up with and what I want. Plus my experience wasn't as brutal as some others and my xWW left me pretty intact financially. One thing I've given up on is the idea of counting on future reciprocity. I'll look after my emotional and financial health at all costs. No compromises on this. That being said, when I marry I'll be all in. I'll trust her as much as I trusted my xWW. To make a meaningful connection, you have to be honest and that means being vulnerable as well.

There is no way to make your relationship cheating proof. You cannot control the actions of another. Once I realized this, it ultimately became a very freeing thought. I'll give my best as a husband and if it doesn't work out, I'll move on knowing I did all I could.

MamaDragon posted 5/13/2019 10:33 AM

after 12 years, they mean that I care deeply for you and want to be with you. I say it often now - right after his affair - I'd say Uh huh, sure. It was probably about a year before I responded with an I love you too - and then it was infrequent.

LOL and actually, while we were reconciling I actually gave him the I love you but I'm not in love with you speech. Mainly to hurt him. (it worked)

Now, we both say it spontaneously - him more than me and I reply Ditto when he says it first.

99lawdog99 posted 5/13/2019 10:50 AM

To me they mean nothing. I heard them while she was with him and I know she said it to him , so to me, they are meaningless words.

WhoTheBleep posted 5/13/2019 11:29 AM

My WH rarely said those words. And when he did, it was only because I said them first.

I'm nowhere near having to deal with this in my dating life, but I predict it will be refreshing and nice to hear it, unsolicited, from a man. I will, however, be more concerned with his actions.

As far as me saying them? I said them all the time to my WH, and he shit all over me. I don't know that I'll ever be able to say them to another man. Huge trigger. I do know that I will be able to SHOW my love, without reservation. Hopefully my actions are enough.

LilBlackCat posted 5/13/2019 11:46 AM

To me, it's cause you feel a connection with a person that is beyond the basic emotional level.

Someone whom you can be intimate and open with but with at the most comfortable level.

ChoosingHope posted 5/13/2019 23:22 PM

My ex was a crazy monster who used these words all the time even though he's probably a sociopath (according to child custody evaluator) and has no empathy or love for anyone. He also said these words while he led a double life, cheated with hundreds of women and men, stole money from me and my family, and threw me across a room when I got close to the truth.

But the good news is that I've had two relationships with wonderful men since then. The first one wasn't quite right for me (age, politics) but he loved me and I loved him. It meant that we cared deeply about each other, trusted each other, were honest to each other, and confided in each other without fear or self-editing. It was respect, it was kind. It was HEALING.

I got really lucky when a friend introduced me to the man I'm dating now. Now love is all the things it was above, but it's also exciting and invigorating, even after nearly two years. I do believe in love. I just read the best book - "Maybe You Should Talk to Someone" - it's so good for anyone who has struggled- and the lesson of the book is "Love Wins."

So I guess, despite everything ex did to me, I still believe in love. Maybe I'm crazy.

AbandonedGuy posted 5/14/2019 00:53 AM

They mean the same but now it feels weird because I haven't said them in a romantic capacity for 8 months. All love expressed is familial, whereas before only 5% of me saying it was nonromantic. Plus I'm still very cognizant of not mistakenly saying "love you" at the end of inappropriate phone conversations. I used to say it so much that I'm worried one day it's going to slip out. I'm sure my boss would love that.

StupidJulie posted 5/14/2019 02:07 AM

Striver, the words mean more now than when they were cloaked in emotion and drama and all that goes with the initial "limerence" that passes for love. have to wait until you have been through car repairs and vacations and College graduations and all kind of things WITHOUT that all important piece of paper. We didn't get married for years because we were both BS. It tool a long, long time to be trusting. But by then, "I love you" really meant "I love you"...

Catwoman posted 5/14/2019 05:31 AM

I'm with Phoenix--the words still have the same meaning. I did love my ex and was committed to our marriage and to him. Just because he wasn't doesn't mean that those words are or were meaningless.

I know I'm capable of being a loving and committed partner. I've learned a lot about myself and relationships. I do love my current SO--he is as steady and honest as they come.

My ex may have stolen a lot from me, but I'm not going to let him steal my joy.

And if that joy means loving again, then so be it.


ErinHa posted 5/14/2019 15:12 PM

I think the innocence of our marriages being destroyed will always make love feel different going forward. But maybe better in some ways.

The words may mean the same but the meaning is new and I think you might be struggling with that. When I say the meaning is new what I'm referring to is the feeling we all had when we told our WS's that we love them we didn't realize the hurt and devastation they were going to cause us down the road. We said it somewhat blindly because we never had our asses handed to us the way our wayward spouses did. Now we sadly know better.

Now when I tell my boyfriend I love him I mean it very differently. I know love isn't perfect and I know now that it doesn't always last. But I'm willing to put it out there because it's faith I have in him. Even if he betrays me eventually (and I'm almost sure he won't) what difference does it make? I can make myself vulnerable by saying those words and he can choose to honor or betray me. It says more about me that I can tell him I love him then it does about him. I'll never believe that I can control another person's behavior, I'm always willing to admit that things can go south. That is the innocence lost that I'm speaking of. It's not bitterness, it's a greater understanding about humanity that I've come to know after dealing with the shit show ramifications of being cheated on and left for dead with 3 little kids.

The only thing we can know and control is our own feelings. Real love is worth the risk, and as we all know it is a risk.

Don't give up, and keep going until it feels right. You'll be able to say it and mean it someday. It does take time and healing though.

Shehawk posted 5/15/2019 08:55 AM


You give us hope there is a future beyond infidelity!

Thank you!

Shehawk posted 5/15/2019 09:11 AM


I would "love" to weigh in.

"I love you means I will be a woman of integrity and I will be your partner in sickness and in health, for better or worse". It is how I will treat my spouse Whether I feel like it or not.

"I Love You" means the same to me now as it did when I said it to my spouse 3 decades ago when I was 21. It meant that I would be 100 percent faithful to him even when he was on manuvers in the military. Even when I was lonely. Even when he did things that I did not like or when I was angry.

It meant that when he was in a car accident (not his fault) when I was pregnant with our son that I went to work and did what was necessary for the next two decades to take care of us whether I felt like it or not. It meant I pulled him out of the bathroom and did CPR on him when his heart stopped even though there were multiple life insurance policies and he was really and truly gone. He lived.

It meant I stupidly gave our marriage a second chance when he brutally betrayed me. It meant that I respected him as the father of my child and did not legally attack him, but offered compromise and healing even when he chose his internet second life over his marriage. It meant I prayed for our marriage for a long time until I quit doing that. But I still pray for him.

It means I pay bills and answer questions civily even when he lashes out at me and abandoned me when I am really seriously sick with lyme rather than see his credit ruined.

At some point love refused to accept the sham of a marriage he was offering.

At some point love will file for divorce at the end of our state's stupid waiting period.

"I love you" does not mean I am perfect or I expect my spouse to be perfect. But it is definitely a verb.

I am not yet divorced only because my missing WH refused to honor his commitment to not hold the fact that I offered reconcilliation that ended up being a false situation where he absolutely spit on our marriage to put it mildly.

CatsEye posted 5/18/2019 13:37 PM

My cheating spouse said those words every day for most of our thirty years of marriage. Including years in which I am virtually certain he was cheating and probably with more than one woman.

What do those words mean to me now? Not much.

Show her you care. Don't worry so much about the words.

Best of luck.

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