I'll never forget those months leading up to the day my now husband, Joe, said "I love you." I had known for months that he did, and I knew that I loved him, too. But the importance of those words kept us from actually saying it for almost a year of dating. Holding hands in the car or saying our goodbyes at the end of the night he would preemptively whisper, "I miss you" and I knew what he meant. Even though he was standing right in front of me, I missed him, too.
The truth is, even though I was anxious to hear him say the actual words, he was dropping enough hints to make me feel confident that our feeling were mutual.
01. He starts performing little acts of service.
In my experience, and from what I know about a lot of men, it's often easier for them to express their feelings through little gestures and acts of service. Even though "I love you" had yet to be spoken, the way Joe would happily wake up early to take me to the train station, make sure my car passed its inspection, and fussed over me when I was sick was a sign that his heart was true. If you are wondering what your man's true feelings are, look at the way he serves you. Service is always the fruit of authentic love.
02. He starts getting vulnerable.
Vulnerability can be difficult for anyone, but men often struggle with this aspect of romantic relationships especially. In the early stages of romance the focus is often put on looking good and impressing you. But when you love someone, you want to open your heart to them, even if that means exposing your weaknesses and your wounds. When Joe would tell me about his day (I mean really tell me about his day) and when he felt safe telling me about some of the things he was most insecure about, I knew he was telling me his heart was safe with me.
03. He starts making long-term plans.
When a guy starts talking about "next summer..." or "someday..." there is more to those longterm plans than meets the eye. Love is a rare thing, so when you find it you don't want to let it go. Often men pick up on this before they even internalize the fact that it's love. They feel like this could be "it," and they start making plans with you to make sure you don't go anywhere.
04. He would happily take you anywhere.
In the beginning, a lot of men make a big deal about boundaries. Things like guys' nights and alone time matter—and it's good for the relationship to respect those boundaries. When we were dating, before we actually said "I love you", Joe still really enjoyed nights with the boys and still needed some "laundry nights" (as he would call them), but I knew things were getting serious when those days apart became fewer and farther between. More often than not he would rather have me join him with friends, with his family, even hang out with him on nights he did laundry! The thing is, when it comes to love, typically, you just can't get enough and so that's how you know.
05. He is willing to correct you, Mr. Knightly Style (badly done, Emma, badly done!).
It may seem contrary to how you expect love to feel, but when your guy puts his desire to please you aside and makes the decision to correct you, that's when you know he is really in love. I'll never forget the time Joe first corrected me. I wasn't being kind toward someone; I knew it was wrong, but I never imagined that he would say something. He was embarrassed, and I was embarrassed. If Joe were the kind of guy who often corrected me, or did so in a mean or belittling way, this may have been a red flag. But he didn't relish the moment at all, and that's how I knew he must really love me. I mean, think about it: What could possibly be in it for him to tell me I had been unkind? I'm sure he knew I would respond defensively, and that's why it was super heroic. So sure, look for moments he sweeps you off your feet, but don't dismiss the times he lovingly calls you back to reality. Those uncomfortable moments are when he is showing you that he wants to grow with you, too.
Photo Credit: William Stitt