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Relationship Health Message Board

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My boyfriend and I have been together for 7 months. We're both 26. Ever since November, I've been hearing from his friends that he's told them he loves me, I've heard it from his 8 year old daughter, I've heard it from his mother. Yet he never told ME! I've been so frustrated. In my Christmas card to him I told him I loved him. He read it and had a big grin on his face but he never said it. I thought maybe that would initiate the discussion, we'd have a big romantic moment and tada... NOTHING! RGHHH!!
He told me when we first started dating that he's never been in love. He's had some relationships that were shorter term but he's never found anyone that he wanted to spend his life with. We've talked about marriage down the road, buying a house in the next year or two, having a child, etc. He told me I'm the first person he's ever felt this way about. And STILL no I love you. I know he's scared of opening himself up to me because he's afraid I might give up on him and move on with my life (We're having some problems with his ex, mother of his child. He also had a very busy time recently with work where for 2 months we hardly saw each other. There's a lot of drama in his life but I have been supportive.)
Yesterday we somehow got into the subject over email.. he expressed his insecurity about how I deserve so much better and why would I ever want to put myself through all this drama. I told him it's because I love him even though he doesn't want to hear that. So we got into a discussion, he told me he's scared of opening himself up to that kind of hurt and he told me he's almost putting up a wall around his heart in case I decide to leave him. Well, I told him I have no intention of leaving him, that I see my future with him, etc. etc. Finally he told me he does love me.
It sucks because I feel like I had to wring it out of him and all the romance that should go along with it was thrown out the window. I feel cheated and I also feel like the words don't mean as much because of what it took to get them. Am I wrong?

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