Ask Amy: Woman Awaits an "I Love You"
The perfect man just needs to get a little bit more perfect
Dear Amy: My 28-year-old daughter has been in a relationship for over a year with a lovely single father, “Randall.”
Randall is everything I ever wanted for my kind, intelligent, beautiful daughter. He is thoughtful, polite, intelligent, has a good job, and — most importantly — is a patient and remarkable parent.
I am 59 and have rarely seen a father display such common sense and loving, patient parenting skills toward his young, kindergarten-aged child. I’ve never seen my daughter so happy or so well-matched with a partner.
One concern surfaces: My daughter confided to me that Randall has never said, “I love you.” She says it to him and his son (who tells her, “I love you, too”) but Randall doesn’t say it back. He has told her that he would rather show her how he feels, than say words with no meaning.
She said he frequently tells his son he loves him, so it’s not that he’s adverse to the phrase. His relationship with his past partner ended very badly, (hence his sole custody of their child), and I don’t believe he is close to either of his parents, who also divorced when he was young.
Randall treats our daughter beautifully and is extremely kind to us.
My advice to her has been to be patient and not push him, but as the days and weeks roll by, I worry that I’ve advised her poorly. What do you think?
— Hoping for Happily Ever After
Dear Hoping: My instincts and advice are around the same as yours, but I differ in that I don’t see a couple exploring this “I love you” issue as a confrontation (or “pushing”), but a conversation. She should not demand that he say, “I love you,” but ask why he believes those words have no meaning. And she should ask herself: “If he never verbally tells me he loves me, would I want to stay in this relationship? Am I so focused on this that I’m missing other nonverbal “I love you” statements he is making?”
“Randall” sounds like a really nice guy who has been through a lot. A counselor could help these two to talk about this specific topic, and in doing so, they could each learn new ways to communicate and to read each other’s cues, both verbal and nonverbal.
You are a concerned and involved mother. But it’s OK to say, “I don’t know what you should do; I only know what I would do. And I would try to be very patient.”
In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068
© 2020 by Amy Dickinson