Should I Say “I Love You” asks:
I’m an American woman dating a Chinese American man in the US, and need your help.
After just a few months [with him] I find myself thinking of him constantly! We talk all day long, via text, and spend at least an hour a day on the phone. We live about 50 miles apart, so sometimes I drive through hours of traffic just to see him; and he has to walk to a bus, take a train & then I pick him up & we drive some more to come to my house. We do our best to get together every weekend, but have gone 2 weekends without seeing one another and it was BRUTAL! The closeness of our connection and the quickness of it scares us both.
We talked about it a few weeks ago; I am just coming out of a HUGE relationship that I thought was going to last forever and I am now in a big ugly financial mess as a result–3 years ago he was ready to propose to someone who broke his heart, and now he is working full time while going to school full time and his priorities are finishing school [With an A average and no less, of course ;-)] and hopefully landing a job in his dream career. We talk about societal pressures to “settle down”, have kids, “grow up” and neither of us are really willing to conform to those norms. We discussed how it is good that we kind of live far apart, it allows us to take care of our responsibilities etc. during the week, and then really enjoy each other’s company on the weekends. But even with that distance, we are extremely close and I think both frightened by it.
A few weeks ago, we had spent the weekend together and it was beautiful. The next day we talked on the phone, and he shared with me that he is nervous that his feelings for me are much more than he expected, and he is afraid if our relationship moves too fast he will not accomplish his goals. I appreciated his honesty, he told me once that expressing himself openly is often very hard for him, so I knew it was important if he told me about it. Frankly, I think our relationship right now is PERFECT! We connect intellectually, emotionally, and most DEFINITELY PHYSICALLY (Yes!). The distance and other circumstances does prevent us from moving way ahead of ourselves and it’s a little safety net.
So here it is……………I am in love with him. No matter how I try to rationalize myself out of it, or think of reasons this could just be a “fling” or a “rebound” I have just connected so deeply with this man on so many levels it can be nothing but love. Certainly not at all what I had expected, but I guess it’s better when things happen that way, isn’t it? I am not ready to tell him this, because I feel it is too soon, and I don’t want to put any unnecessary pressure there at all. But sometimes the way he looks at me, right into my eyes, he seems that he wants to say the same thing too. It was after the first time he looked at me this way that we had our “I’m scared” conversation. It’s like every time I look into his eyes I want to scream “I LOVE YOU”, but I just can’t bring myself to do it. Am I wrong for holding that in?
No, you’re not wrong at all.
He’s said he’s a little scared, and you feel scared too. Sometime inside both of you is saying “take it slow.” And if you feel that way, you should — including waiting until the right time to say “I love you.”
That can be tough to reconcile when you grow up in the US. We don’t like to wait for anything, including love and intimacy. In my naive adolescence, I cringe to think about how many times I declared “I love you,” when it was only a young infatuation. The more we do this, the more we cheapen the phrase in our minds (kind of like the word “maverick” in the 2008 US presidential election). So, when you choose to wait, you’re doing something courageous — by making sure it really is love before you announce it.
Your Chinese boyfriend clearly needs to slow down because of his situation. It’s not uncommon for Chinese men to devote themselves entirely to study and work — sometimes at the exclusion of romance. This may be his first time balancing love, learning and a livelihood at the same time — a uncomfortable proposition when he is so smitten with you, the woman who seems to rock the whole balance in his mind and heart.
And there’s another matter weighing on his mind and heart — the past girlfriend he nearly proposed to. He thought that was love, but he was wrong. Such an emotional slap must make him hesitant to call your relationship love, even as all of the signs are there.
So, give him time. Take things at his pace. Let him be the one to say “I love you.” It’s clear he does love you, and he’ll love you even more because you really understand.
Do you have a question about life, dating, marriage and family in China (or in Chinese culture)? Every Friday, I answer questions on my blog. Send me your question today.