Dear Amy: I have been dating a man for two years. We are both in our early 40s, and between us we have four kids. His are teens, mine are younger.
Our kids have met and like each other, and we've been included in each other's extended family events. We want a future together. He is an amazing partner. He is funny, attentive, loving and mature. He is everything I hoped for when I decided I was ready to start dating after my marriage fell apart.
A year into our relationship, I told him I loved him. For me this felt like a conservative amount of time. I wanted to be sure how I felt.
He apologized and said he couldn't reciprocate the feeling yet, but he felt that maybe that was just because of his own issues and the turmoil from when his marriage ended. I said I understood (which I do). I told him I could wait, and that I would rather hear the words later, as long as they were sincere.
It is now a year later, and he still isn't able to say he loves me. I've stopped saying it to him because it hurts not to have it reciprocated.
I feel sometimes like he is with me because I'm a good "option," and I am beginning to wonder if he will ever love me.
I know people through history have married for less and have grown to love their partners, but is it wrong for me to want a true love story?
Amy says: Being in a committed relationship with a man who doesn't love you is not "good enough" for you. I know this because you are feeling not-quite-loved, and you are holding back your own honest emotions because they don't match his.
Yes, people have married for reasons other than love. And yes, these marriages might actually succeed at roughly the same rate as love-based marriages do.
You need to ask yourself if you want your young children to be in a family with a man who almost loves their mother. You should also ask yourself how you would react if one of your children reported that they were making a similar emotional compromise.
Two years is a long time. If he doesn't love you by now, it's hard to imagine what circumstances might arise for him to love you later.
A family of bullies
Dear Amy: I come from a loud, large family of seven — mostly boys. I am the youngest, and growing up I was the easiest target for their teasing and roughhousing.
As I've grown older, I've realized that being ridiculed so much that I cry is not a normal thing that should happen.
I've tried to talk to my parents about it, but they say it's all in good fun. My siblings don't respect it when I ask them to take it easy on me, either.
I feel like I can't talk to any of them about these issues, including the fact that I was hospitalized for mental instability brought on by their teasing.
How do I politely tell my family that they are causing problems, and therefore I do not want to come to family events? Or do I shut my mouth and go, letting them treat me so poorly?
Amy says: You should not shut your mouth and let your family members bully you. You should not willingly place yourself in any environment where you are going to be belittled and abused. And you should not worry about being polite.
I hope you are currently seeing a therapist. Severe bullying in families has a direct impact on mental health. It might be best for you to stay away from the household entirely while you work through the issues brought on by this unhealthy dynamic.