He Was Sure, Then Not

Q: I have known a wonderful man for 8 months. We started as friends with common interests and then it grew to a committed relationship a couple of months ago. We had so much fun, calling, meeting each other's family, etc., that he told me he loved me out of the blue in a store. I was shocked because it seemed to come out of nowhere. We both started to share those words easily.

Then all of a sudden a minor disagreement had him questioning our relationship. We discussed it and came to an understanding that some past hurts on his part had returned. Since then, we are still in a committed relationship, and though he said he's not sure if he loves me, everything else is the same. His saying he is not sure he loves me is obviously very hurtful to me. I feel like I am being tested and I want it to be the way it was before. What to do? -- Sarah, 50

Dr. Susan: We're always being tested in relationships, aren't we? Those who stop living up to their partner's expectations run the risk of losing the security they thought they had. I understand your being hurt by his pulling back and saying he's no longer sure. Your best option is to hang in there and try not to pressure him. If one minor disagreement threw him so out of balance, he is probably terrified of making a mistake. Keep discussing things openly. It's only been a couple of months that you've been this serious about one another. His initial "I love you" must have been spoken in a heartfelt rush of emotion that he has now seen is not going to be the way he feels every minute of every day. If he can learn to handle the ebb and flow of a real relationship, I think the two of you will make it. You want it to be the way it was before? You can rarely turn back the clock on emotions. You build anew each day and look forward.

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