If you’ve been dating awhile, but the passion and commitment seem a bit one-sided, you may be asking yourself, “Does he really love me?” Sometimes it can be hard to tell. Men aren’t exactly forthcoming with their emotions.
And, even if he has dropped the L-word, how do you know he means it? It’s important to find out because if he isn’t head over heels for you now, he might never be. Rather than wasting time in a relationship that is headed for a dead end, it’s usually best to accept the truth and move on to focus on new relationships and men that truly appreciate how awesome you are.
But, to find out if he really loves you, you are going to need to understand signs that are more accurate than pulling petals off a flower while singing, “he loves me, he loves me not.”
DOES HE LOVE YOU? HERE ARE THE QUESTIONS YOU NEED TO ASK
1. Is he there when you need him most? – Even in the deepest of relationships, it’s important to be self-reliant and to maintain some independence. But, we all need a shoulder to cry on and a helping hand once in awhile. If he really loves you, he’ll want to come to your rescue when you are feeling low or are in a bind.
That support makes you feel reassured, and it could be a sign of unconditional love. More on that here.
If in your time of trouble, he is working late at the office or out having a guy’s night with his buddies, he might not care as much as you would like. But, while he should share in both your good times and your bad ones, spending time apart is part of a healthy relationship . He needs his weekly basketball game/time with his buddies just as much as you need happy hour with your girlfriends. Plus, your friends and family members will naturally fill some needs because your romantic relationship cannot fulfill every need .
2. Does he help you grow as a person? – Everyone grows and changes over time so if your relationship is going to last and be healthy he needs to love who you are right now and also who you are going to be, which mean he encourages you in your goals and dreams . Take a hard look at whether he supports and helps you grow personally and professionally.
Psst, want to know if it’s meant to last? Read the article on true love.
How does he react when you get a raise or promotion at work? He should be proud and celebrate with you, rather than being jealous. What does he do when you talk about taking a new class, making a new friend or trying a new hobby?
Hopefully, he asks enthusiastic questions, helps you find room in the budget and helps you along the way rather than being critical. If you find that he holds you back or is resentful as you grow, it could definitely be a sign that he doesn’t exactly love you…but that he potentially does want to control you…
3. Does he do his share of chores? – Traditional male and female roles are changing and evolving. Gone are the days when women tended the home while men earned a paycheck.
Today, relationships are partnerships. When asking yourself, “Does he love me,” consider if the two of you split the workload equally or if you carry most of the weight yourself. If your relationship is strong and both of you are committed to making it work long term, you will be able to talk honestly about how to divide up household duties and errands.
However, if he lets you tackle things on your own and doesn’t do his fair share, he might enjoy having someone to take care of him more rather than actually loving you. Just remember that this isn’t a definite sign that he doesn’t love you as often there is some imbalance in relationships.
Extend this to sharing other responsibilities such as paying for dates or bills to achieve relationship equality .
4. Is he honest with you? – The best relationships are built on honest and open communication [5, 6]. If he has a history of lying to you, you probably don’t even need to ask, if he loves you. While tiny, white lies might seem mostly harmless, if he is comfortable lying about little things he may also be ok with hiding the truth on bigger issues.
Remember, omitting details and not telling you things you should know is the same as saying things that aren’t true. It’s even called ‘lying by omission.’
Furthermore, he might avoid telling the truth if he doesn’t want to hurt you. However, this isn’t healthy, either. If he truly loves you, he should be honest with you — and you should want him to be too! Some people avoid tough topics because they’re worried a fight will ensue, but honesty can make your relationship stronger .
You can have difficult conversations by setting boundaries (Read: Boundaries Are The Key to a Perfect Relationship) and using rules. Two popular guidelines are discussing how you feel by using “I statements” rather than saying something such as ‘You always do __”. This helps to alleviate blame . Another rule is to use the speaker-listener technique, which ensures that everyone has a chance to say their piece and while staying on topic.
Lastly, choose the right time for difficult discussions. You should have enough time to have that conversation .
Communicating respectfully and honestly, with the goal of reaching real resolutions can improve your relationship , and don’t forget, this kind of open and honest communication is one of the most important aspects of a relationship .
5. Does he want you to be happy? – One of the biggest signs of love is thinking of someone else’s happiness above your own. If the answer to “Does he love me” is “yes” you’ll find that he will go out of his way to make you smile.
From big things like compromising during disagreements to little things like picking up your favorite ice cream on the way home from work, someone who loves you will find a way to show you. Remember, everyone displays affection in their own way, so the gestures he uses might not be the same ones you choose, but they are still very real. The different types of showing and receiving love are sometimes called the “Love Languages” .
When looking at the signs and asking yourself, if he really does love you, don’t worry if he doesn’t get them all right all the time. You aren’t looking for someone who is perfect in every possible way, just someone who values you and cares for you. What’s really important is that he is putting effort into the relationship. If he consistently makes you a priority and tries to show you he cares for you, chances are he really does.
If these sorts of things sound familiar, it’s because they create the foundation of a healthy relationship.
Here are 9 signs of a healthy relationship.
LOVE IS AN ACTION
The question above should help you decide if he loves you by looking at his actions. Words are great, but they’re not enough if they’re not backed up by actions.
Furthermore, love isn’t just a feeling, it’s an action. It’s a choice to be with someone during good times and bad, to support them, to help them grow, and to be able to expect the same from them. There will be bad days, but love is choosing to get through them – together.
If you really want someone to be in love with you, you might convince yourself that he is. You’ll look for any sign that he has feelings for you and believe him, even if he doesn’t back those feelings up with actions. But if you’re clinging to hope, looking for that next drop of love that will sustain you in your relationship rather than feeling secure, he probably doesn’t love you.
WHEN LOVE ISN’T ALL YOU NEED
Could The Beatles actually have been wrong? Sometimes you can be in love, but it’s not enough. Perhaps it’s timing. Or the two of you might be in love but otherwise incompatible. You might have competing longterm goals, or one of you might want to have children in the future while the other doesn’t. Sometimes you can love someone but your relationship issues have become so large that they cannot overcome them.
You can find yourself in a relationship with someone who says he loves you but doesn’t seem to respect you. It might be little slights or insults or it may turn into a toxic relationship, perhaps fraught with emotional abuse! But love without respect isn’t something you should settle for. Respect is part of a healthy relationship [13, 14, 15].
Many people have found themselves in these situations in the past. There’s no lack of love, but they realize that they need more. It’s a hard realization to have, but sometimes it’s better to recognize your needs and move on from a relationship that isn’t serving you.
I DON’T THINK HE LOVES ME. WHAT NOW?
After taking a hard, honest look at the relationship if the answer to the question “Does he love me” seems to be no, it’s time to make a decision. The worst thing you can do is to take a wait-and-see approach. Though it takes time for feelings to develop, if you have been together for a while and he is not as invested in you as you are in him, it’s time to face the issue head-on. Once you know the truth you have two options.
Talk about it – In an open and honest relationship, you should be able to discuss anything, even this. Be sure you enter the conversation ready to hear and accept the truth, no matter what it might be.
This isn’t a conversation to be rushed, so set aside time when it’s just the two of you and delve into it. Start out by telling him how you feel about him. If he knows where you stand he will feel less vulnerable about opening up. Then, let him know that you aren’t pressuring him or looking to make a lifelong commitment right now.
Should you tell him that you love him? Read this first.
Rather, you are just looking to understand how he feels about you and whether he wants the relationship to move forward when it’s time. A conversation about where your relationship is and where it might go will help you better understand whether or not he loves you.
Remember that people can be in love but not realize it. Sometimes it takes people by surprise and requires time for that realization to happen. Furthermore, people can truly believe that they are in love when the facts show otherwise.
Break up – If your conversation didn’t lead to a happy ending, or if the answer to your “Does he really love me” questions is such an obvious “no” that you didn’t need to talk about it, calling it quits may be the ultimate resolution. Discover if it’s time to break up.
Side note: Think your husband doesn’t love you anymore? Read this!
Breaking up is never easy, but if you have deeper feelings for him than he does for you, then staying together can lead to much more pain later on. Though it will be difficult now, moving on opens you up to start a new relationship with someone who is potentially a better partner.
Don’t worry, we have advice to make breaking up easier.
If you aren’t sure if he really loves you, you owe it to yourself to take a close look at your relationship. Everyone deserves to love and be loved in return. If your current boyfriend doesn’t have strong enough feelings for you, you need to find out now before you invest too much time in someone who isn’t the one.
WHAT THE SCIENCE SAYS
Scientists and researchers have taken the time to survey people about being in love in addition to performing scans of in-love brains to look for the changes that happen when you fall in love and how those changes affect you. So what happens when you fall in love?
The attraction stage occurs before you’re actually in love, but you’re on your way. During the attraction stage, dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine (adrenaline) all play a part . The effects of falling and being in love share some similarities with drug use because of how they both affect the brain . No wonder love can feel like a rollercoaster when you’re falling and like a sickness or injury when you are broken-hearted. Losing love can feel like withdrawal.
Dopamine increases in multiple parts of the brain: the medial orbitofrontal cortex (mOFC) and medial prefrontal cortex . The medial prefrontal cortex deals with decision making, contains the anterior cingulate cortex, and is associated with the reward system [19, 20, 21]. fMRI scans show that the reward system lights up when brains are in love . If your brain experiences love as a reward, you may find that your ability to make decisions becomes impaired. Your dopaminergic pathways also appear to increase the release of testosterone and estrogen. Elevated activity of dopaminergic pathways appears to increase the release of testosterone and estrogen .
Psst, do you know what love feels like?
Next comes adrenaline, which increases in times of stress and high energy. Adrenaline causes your heart to race, but it can also make you feel more anxious .
While adrenaline and dopamine increase with attraction, serotonin actually decreases due to cortisol rising . Cortisol is usually known as the stress hormone, and it’s responding to your excited situation.
Another condition is characterized by low levels of serotonin: obsessive-compulsive disorder . Could this be why you feel obsessive when you’re infatuated?
As you progress, the chemical changes have more to do with intimacy and bonding.
Oxytocin is crucial to pair-bonding [26, 27, 28], which is why your body releases it during activities such as sex and breastfeeding. Oxytocin increases at the beginning of relationships, and couples who stay together have higher levels of oxytocin in their blood than those who break up. The anterior cingulate gyrus, part of the medial prefrontal cortex, shows increased activity when scanned for changes due to love. This area is heavy with oxytocin receptors .
Oxytocin works closely with a peptide known as vasopressin . While oxytocin can reduce stress levels, vasopressin is better known for its involvement in partner guarding.
There are numerous chemical changes in the body when you fall in love. For example, men who fall in love actually see a decrease in testosterone when they’re newly in love. Levels of follicle-stimulating hormone also drop in men who have recently fallen in love. On the other hand, testosterone in women actually increases . But these hormone differences may not be noticeable after a year.
As we mentioned, the effects of love on your brain can be similar to those of using drugs. So can you become addicted to love? There are many similarities between drug addiction and love addiction. Furthermore, abnormal brain processes could potentially contribute to an addiction to love . Some people have drawn parallels between drugs and love [32, 33, 34] but love addiction is not readily accepted as real.
Couples who continue to fall in love are able to continue to view their partners as ideal for them. Furthermore, facial expressions, hand gestures, and even heart rhythms can synchronize !
The passionate in-love phase, which can last up to 18 months, passes . Feelings of intimacy may replace passion. In the triangular theory of love, the ultimate form of love if consummate love. If you’ve achieved this, you’ll share intimacy, passion, and commitment . But if you don’t feel any passion in your love, you may be experiencing companionate love, which can be summed up as feeling love but not being in love.