While I'm away, readers give the advice.
On people who say they have never been in love • My late wife and I had a somewhat stormy but wonderful marriage. She once told good friends who had known each other since second grade, were married, had never been "head over heels" and were experiencing midlife difficulties that it was unfortunate they had not had that early romance to rely on. That may be true, but I think she overstated the case. This couple are now in their mid-70s and their marriage is a success. Perhaps the never-in-love boyfriend is emotionally healthy and not subject to what I would call "the romantic psychosis" of our current cultural norm. Perhaps his girlfriend is a true friend of his. Perhaps he should marry her. Perhaps.
On people who say they have never been in love: take two • Some men don't have the vocabulary to describe emotions clearly. Here's an analogy. My wife can easily distinguish between sea mist, pea, and grass green paint. To me they are all just light green. I recognize the various shades but I don't have different names for them. So maybe the girlfriend is saying "sea mist" and the boyfriend is saying "light green." They both might mean the same thing or not, but the boyfriend can't explain it any better. He literally doesn't have the vocabulary to describe it any better.
Working On It
On people who say they have never been in love: take three • Never really been in love, not sure what it's supposed to feel like, never saying "I love you" I have been the same for most of my life. I was horribly abused emotionally and once sexually, according to a psychiatrist I required because of it. My wife and I have been married for 53 years now, and I have long recognized she is my best friend even though I have rarely mentioned it to her. I only started telling her I loved her in the last 10 years or so, and let the chips fall where they may. Can a boyfriend who says he has never been in love be induced to talk about his abuse, if it is there? With loving parents, he should know what love is.
Carolyn Hax's column runs Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.