He Never Had a Conversation About Our Relationship. Did He Love Me?

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Written by: Dr. Wendy Walsh

Dr. Wendy Walsh

Known as America's Relationship Expert, Dr. Wendy Walsh is an award-winning television journalist, radio host & podcaster, and the author of three books on relationships and thousands of print and digital articles. More than 1.5 million people follow her sage advice on social media. She holds a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and teaches in the Psychology Department at California State University Channel Islands and has been the host of "The Dr. Wendy Walsh Show" on iHeart Radio's KFI AM 640 since 2015. Walsh is also a former Emmy-nominated co-host of "The Doctors," as well as former host of the nationally syndicated show "EXTRA." She was named a Time Magazine Person of the Year in 2017 after speaking out about harassment at a major news network.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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Reader Question:

I was with a man five years on and off. We lived together at one point. He lies to everyone about a drinking problem, which he’s in AA for. At the end, he spent less time with me. He could never have a conversation about our relationship.

I’m wondering if he did love me?

-Theresa (New York)

Dr. Wendy Walsh’s Answer:

Oh, Theresa, my stomach fell when I read your raw and honest question. “Did he love me?” This simple question begs a complicated answer. And before I can give my complicated answer, I must bring to light all the other questions that your first question holds inside.

They include (in no particular order of importance): Was I a fool to love him? Did this drunken liar even have the capacity to love? What is love anyway? Do men without words of love still feel love? Did my daddy love me? Will anyone love me again? Will that love feel this awful?

You can exhale. Yes, he loved you, but in the only way a drug-addicted, messed up brain can love: with inconsistent affection and frequent withdrawal. And I’ll bet rages were saved only for those he loved. And you stood by, taking it. Because you loved him.

Were you a fool? Exhale again. No. You were pure and innocent and attached and, most of all, hopeful. Now take a long slow inhale before I answer the next question.

Did my daddy love me? This is the tender question you’ve got to answer before you can move on to a love that feels safe instead of fragile and confusing. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t. Maybe he had his own demons to wrestle while you stood by bearing childhood witness to his horrors. Maybe he just wasn’t there, so you can’t know for sure.

But the thing is this, your question is not really about your boyfriend, or your father, or even your mother, who may have a horse in this race, too. Your question is about you. Can you love yourself enough? Are you lovable even after men have told you otherwise?

Exhale now, and believe this: You are loveable. You are a steamboat stocked with enough love to hold a man, a family and a world. But you just need to navigate a bit better. Don’t let your ship run aground again.

Five years is too much time to waste on a fool, sweet darling. When a man hurts you, you must talk it out. Of course, the talking should happen during a calm or tender moment, not in the heat of the moment. If he can’t negotiate and you feel worse afterward, then take your love elsewhere.

And always repeat the mantra, “I am loveable. I am loveable. I am loveable.” Because you are.

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