Ask Dr. Tony vol. 44

The Doctor is in. I just put on my lab coat and adjusted my stethoscope.
This is “Ask Dr. Tony”. I’m Tony. I’m not a doctor. In fact, I’m a college drop out with not medical training whatsoever. However, I am honest and will shoot straight with you about your problems. If you need some guidance from an impartial stranger, I’m your guy. Send me questions to or leave them in the comments below. The questions are always anonymous so this is a safe place.
This week, we got back to back questions that feel like they were sent down from heaven.

Yo Dr. Tony,

My girl and I have been together for a while. I love her to death there’s no question there. But she does this thing where she says, ‘I love you” every fucking five minutes. I’d feel like a shit if I didn’t say it back but I get tired of saying it over and over. It starts to just be a call and response how often it happens. It’s not that the feeling is not there, just the words have no meaning anymore. Also it’s just annoying. How should I deal with this?

This kinda thing drives me crazy. I usually lend it to one of two things: She’s insecure about your relationship and she constantly needs you to reinforce how you feel about her or she is just seriously , head over heels in love with you and can’t contain the feeling or a little of both. Either way, it can be pretty annoying and , you’re right, the words lose meaning when being repeated over and over again.
Sadly, there really is no way to deal with this that won’t start a bigger and more annoying conversation. if that annoying conversation doesn’t frighten you then, by all means, have it. It may be for the better. Tell her what you wrote me. That the repetitiveness of the statement makes it feel meaningless and perhaps even ask her why she feels the need to say it over and over again. You know, honesty. This could easily backfire and you will probably be dealing with tears by the end of it so I wouldn’t blame you for taking the cowards route.

I’ve said ‘i love you’ but my bf has not. We talked about it and the words mean a different thing to him than to me. To me, they’re about how I feel. To him, they’re about stating a commitment. I think we both understand this. He said he was glad I told him how I feel, and things are good between us.
So everything’s good, right? Pretty much. But it still makes me feel a little vulnerable to have that hanging out there. What are your thoughts on those words and our situation? A little context: we have not been dating that long, so I may have been jumping the gun a bit with the feelings. But things are definitely moving fast and we are both exhibiting enthusiasm towards the relationship.

I’ve got a follow-up to this question. Given that we are at this place where I’ve said it and he hasn’t, can I say it when I want to without being pushy. Not at the end of every text but saying goodbye before a weekend apart or just when I want to. I don’t want to give the impression in any way that I’m waiting for him to tell me he loves me, and I can’t tell if saying it myself would be putting pressure on him. On the flipside, is it weird never to say it again after I said it once? Does it seem like maybe I didn’t mean it?

This is amazing. What are the chances of getting these two questions back to back. Wow.
So, this is the female perspective on this very same question from above.
As a guy, i can only tell you that hearing “i love you” fairly early into a relationship is a little much. Unless you’re one of those “all in from the jump” type dudes, then it’s like the sound of sweet music to his needy ears.
To answer your question, I think things are fine. He’s going at a normal speed. If you guys are getting along well outside of the “I love you” not being returned, it’s seemingly okay. That said, i don’t doubt for a second that he’s feeling a little overwhelmed. It would be one thing if you were together a long time but , for many guys, hearing that phrase early is , quite honestly, terrifying.
Patrice O’neal had a whole bit about this comparing women who said “I love you” to rapists. Clearly, it’s just a joke with a lot of hyperbole and O’neal was nothing if not a misogynist but it’s also not 100% wrong either. I wish I could find a clip but a youtube search is coming up with nothing. This one is relevant though. When you tell a guy “i love you” over and over , you’re forcing his hand, regardless of how he really feels. It’s pressure. If he’s unsure of how he feels and not a liar, how can he respond to that? That’s the funny part of this. You want a man to be genuine in his feelings but throwing unrequited “I love you” at him is basically asking him to lie (assuming this is early in the relationship). Or , maybe he DOES love you but he’s not comfortable saying it. Certainly wouldn’t be the first guy to ever feel that way (I’m guilty of this for sure). But to continually say it to him over and over with no response isn’t good for either of you.
So, yeah, it’s weird to say it over and over again, ESPECIALLY if he’s not returning the sentiment. It just comes off as very insecure and needy. The problem is that him not responding to your declaration only makes it worse and then results in your saying it more. So, it’s a whole downward spiral of mixed up emotions and feelings being thrown around.
All this said, you have free will to say whatever you want to him. if you’re overwhelmed with love towards him and want to let him know, let it fly. If he doesn’t like it, he can address it or move on. just be warned, he might not like it. But if you’r using those words as a litmus test for his feelings, stop it. It’s not fair to either of you.

Here’s my problem: I’ve had a wonderful 2 year relationship with an awesome guy. Except he’s deeply bipolar and had a year and a half episode of depression. (Yup. That’s a long time in a 2 year relationship)
I have taken a lot of crap, forgiven so many things because he sometimes loses his shit and can’t even control or remember what he’s doing, but we ended up breaking up.
He actually broke up with me through Facebook while I was abroad (classy classy) It’s been 4 months now, and he’s getting so much better, he really got his shit together, started working again, getting out, seing friends, eating, sleeping, simple stuff that he didn’t do while we were together. I still love him. He wants me back. There’s no “cure” for bipolarity, the treatment doesn’t control half of the problem. I’m so desperate that I’ve listened to “Too Lost In You” from the Sugababes. Which is an insult to my self-respect, to my ears, to humanity. HELP !

This is tough. I know there is part of you that wants to take care of him and even fix what is unfixable but, it’s not gonna happen. He may one day get his shit together on some level but, like you said, there is no “cure”. It’s fucked up to say cause I know some Bi-polar people who I care deeply about but, in terms of dating? Just cut your loses and go. I realize that , when he’s good, he probably awesome, but that down swing is always around the corner. You might get back with him have a few good months but you and I both know that , within the year, he’ll be back to treating you like shit and hating himself. i say, let him be someone else’s problem. But , if you can, remain friends with him. It’s the dating aspect of this that’s impossible. Once you’re not his sole shoulder to lean on, you guys might actually get along better than ever.

Help me Dr. Tony!

I just got out of a 3 year relationship, and I don’t know how to handle this breakup.

As far as the relationship went, this was my first ever girlfriend which is probably significant. By the end of it, it was pretty bad. I’m not going to demonize her as I know I wasn’t the perfect guy either, we both made a lot of mistakes and did many stupid things. On a positive note, I’d say we both learned a lot and are better people now. On the other hand, I think our biggest mistake was dragging out the relationship when we both knew it wasn’t going to work. The last 6 months we never even had sex, on our anniversary she spent the whole day hanging out with her friends. I stopped caring about doing the little things that made her happy. Anyways…

She broke it off, and even though I KNOW it’s for the better and even though I’ve secretly wish I had the balls to have pulled the trigger sooner, I’m super depressed now, I miss her and I don’t know what to do. She wants to stay friends, and I want to as well because at this point 90% of my social circle is her original friends and I think I’d be even more depressed if I had to give that up as well. What fucks me up the most is that now I see posts on facebook/instagram of her out having fun and it makes me jealous that I’m not invited. Or else when we do hang out she’s got a new guy hanging off her, or else she talks about all the guys that are messaging her and wanting to date her, when I’ve got shit-all for women since we broke up.

At first I was drinking my sorrows away like every night but I realized that was pretty unhealthy and not helping so I stopped that. But at this point I’m still so depressed and I don’t know what to do. I feel really isolated because I’m so used to being out doing things with her but now I’m at home my myself almost all the time. I try to at least go and work out but even then I’m by myself at the gym and it’s lonely. When I was in the relationship I craved having time to just chill out and play video games or listen to music by myself. But now it’s swung so far the other way that I sometimes text her just fishing for an invitation to whatever thing she’s up to.

Why am I so unhappy so much now when I should be ecstatic that I’m out of a relationship that wasn’t healthy? How can I still be friends with her without the insane jealousy? How can I keep myself in my social circle with minimal awkwardness? Am I just blowing this all out of proportion?

Any advice is really appreciated!

This is your first real relationship. That alone is part of the reason. You know damn well it was a shit relationship but I think you’re in love the with the idea of being with someone. She’s obviously checked out and it’s bugging you how easily she did it. I don’t know if you’re jealous of the other guys she’s with as much as you’re jealous of her re-assimilation into her social life. From the sound of it, you may have been a loner prior to dating her (Just a guess, as you said all your friends were from her side of things). It’s real easy for me to tell you “Fuck it! go out and make friends!” but that’s obviously not something normal people just get up and do.
My advice is to do the following: Avoid her social networks. If that means unfollowing her, so be it. You can’t be friends right now. Maybe sometime down the line but you’re far too obsessed with what she’s doing and not thinking about what you should be doing. People work at different speeds. She was probably aching to jump ship for a while and already had the social circle to jump right in. Unfortunately , you do not. But the worst thing you can do is hang around her and text her all the time when she’s clearly checked out. Leave her be. This will all get better. This is your first relationship. They always end hard. You definitely need something to take your mind of it but i dunno what that is. A new girl. a hobby. Work.

Honestly, you sound like a lonely guy. you’re probably somewhat shy and not exactly socially dynamic. So, this process is going to take longer for you. But, it will pass. there will be a time when you look back on this girl and that relationship and laugh to yourself about it.
I’d also like to add that her bringing other dudes around you is pretty shitty but, at the same time, she’s making a clear statement: move on. It’s all you can really do.

15 thoughts on “Ask Dr. Tony vol. 44

  1. Wow! I was the asker for the 2nd one and have also recently have discovered that I’m bipolar. This is a bit much of a coincidence–but I feel like those have been happening to me more and more. Thanks for your thoughtful response. To give you an update. I eventually did tell him that I didn’t use those words when I really wanted to out of respect for his emotions and his license to not feel all the emotions. He said he did appreciate it though he wouldn’t be upset if I say it rarely. I think we’re in a great place.

    On a separate note, I feel you on the bipolar thing. That used to be my attitude which is why I had a period of panic thinking that no sane and secure person would ever want to be with me in the long run. But every bipolar is a snowflake. And I’m pretty accustomed to using reasoning techniques and other measures when I get the feeling that my emotions betray me (not saying that other bipolar people have no reasoning abilities, perhaps mine is just mild enough). Anyway, I have hope that I will be able to sustain relationships, romantic and friendly.

  2. Why do you think Patrice was so misogynistic? If he were around today, would you guess that he’d have changed for the better or for worse (in this regard)?

    • I mean, I think he he had some pretty out there ideas on women in general. yet, they all had some truth to them. I’m not offended by his positions at all but I could see why others would be.
      I think, if he were still around, he would have softened on all that stuff in general but, I’d guess, most people do as they get older.

  3. I feel like this was such an anomaly of an Ask Dr. Tony in that the questions all seemed to come from very relatable people. There’s usually at least one per volume that comes across as from an oddball. Remember “my way or the highway” novel dude from last time?!

    • Wow what a comforting comment! Idk if you saw my comment up there ^^ but I’m petitioner #2 going through some sort of bipolar discovery and I rejoice when someone says I’m reasonable because usually in that case I am thinking that and feeling like no one else does. Thanks!

      • I did read your comment and for what it’s worth, from one anonymous woman to another, big virtual hugs to you!!

  4. Okay, so here my question dr Tony.
    I’m in relationship for almost 2 years now, we live together for almost the same time.
    We’re not havinfgsex for few months. Before that we did maybe 1-2 times in month. It all started after 6-8 months of us being together.
    He told me he love me back after 6 months. He has drinking problem, but he doesnt seem to notice that. I hoped that he would see it for now. He has a daughter from last relationship. Im 24 years old and I guess I just can’t take all this anymore. He makes me sad most of the time.
    Obviously we like each other, we know each other wer well, but its just not there anymore. Im walking around the house topless or even naked and it doesnt seem to make any difference.
    Why? What is going on with him? What happened, how can I change that? Im out of ideas and hope or what so ever.

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