Dear Harlan: I told my boyfriend I love him, but he responded by telling me that he is not comfortable using the word “love.” He has had some bad relationships in the past. His last serious girlfriend cheated on him. We’ve been together for three months, and I would never do that to him. We are both 25 and ready for something more serious. I can see myself marrying him in the future. I’m worried that I shared my feelings too soon. I don’t want to scare him away. He told me that he does have strong feelings for me, but he just doesn’t feel comfortable using the word “love.” Have you heard of this happening before? I’m looking for reassurance. — Reluctantly in Love
Dear Reluctant: When you say “I love you,” the only words you want to hear from the other person is “I love you, too.” That’s it. That’s all. Period. When you bare your soul, you want to see the other person bare his or her soul as well. Anything less is devastating … at first. Let’s reflect: There’s a lot of good that happened here. I’m not just saying this to make you feel better; I believe it. You told him the truth. You made it safe for him to love you. And he needs to feel safe – especially given how hurt he’s been in the past. He told you the truth about his feelings. The truth is, he has very strong feelings for you. He explained why saying the word “love” is hard for him. The more you trust him and where he is, the more comfortable he will be getting closer. Yes, I’ve heard of this happening. It’s not a bad thing if it helps you communicate. When he finally says “I love you,” you’ll know just how much it means.