The Text... What Does He Mean?

QUESTION:    Okay, so Me and this guy we were great friends and then we crossed that line. Well we saw each other for about 10 months but we had an understanding and kept things quiet. I guess we were in a relationship with no defined title. After about 11 months he tells me he can't do this anymore...he doesn't want to hurt me  but he doesn't think he could ever feel the way I feel about him and blah blah I was heartbroken. It's been a month...and he sends me this text " I hope you've been well.." . I didn't know how to respond or if I should what does this mean? I told him we couldn't be friends Bc I likes him too much and I needed time and space. Is he trying to be friends with me or is this just a bs way of making himself feel better a month later?

GARLAND: Just from what you've given me I think it could easily be either one.  They are both reasonable - I'm sure he had a certain degree of feelings for you when you were friends and then friends with bennies. So, he could be trying to see if there is still a chance for friendship.  On the flip side, he could be dealing with some guilt.  Looking yourself in the mirror is very hard to do when you know the person staring back at you is not an honorable guy. he could be trying to make himself feel better.

There is still a third option though.  He may not want to be friends again, and he may not feel guilty at all.  In his mind, breaking things off and being honest about his feelings could have been very honorable and not worth any shame.  He very well could have just wanted to say "Hello. I hope you've been well." That could be the long and short of it. It could be just what it is.

My advice though is this.  You control your destiny at this point.  You can determine how you respond or even if you respond.  But, whatever you do, don't make yourself vulnerable if you know you might catch feelings again, and certainly don't try to force him to talk about his feelings.

Let me repeat that...

DON'T TRY TO FORCE [OR GET] HIM TO TALK ABOUT HIS FEELINGS. He's a Guy and there is a low probability of success if you try to go down that road.

Just keep in mind that you are in charge of how much you give in the way of response to him, and I hope this sheds a tiny bit of light when you wonder - What Are Men Thinking.


See you for next week's delivery!

QUESTION: Ok here goes: So I met this guy through work, almost a year and a half ago, he isn’t an employee of the company but he does stop in a few times a week to do business. We would casually have small talk in the beginning, nothing major. But over time, I started to like him and I could tell he started to like me. Several months after meeting, we tried getting together to go out for drinks and things but there was always an issue with one of us so we never really went out. A couple months after that, I don’t even know how it happened, but we started texting each other more and it turned sexual and it came out that we were both were attracted to each other but that if anything would happen, it would just be like a friends with benefits type of thing. After awhile we finally did hook up. Well we only got together that one time since, but we still try to see each other to get together but he’s always so busy with this job and he never has time for anything, even time for himself and his own life.

But since we hooked up that one time, we seem to be getting closer even though we’re haven’t slept each other since. Its still there though, the desire, I know he wants me and he knows I want him. There have been times where I would sneak into the restroom with him and he’d kiss me, make out for a couple minutes. It became a thing we did. But now we go outside to the parking lot where I walk him to his company vehicle and we kiss goodbye there. But he always initiates the kiss. And every time it’s so passionate, he moans every time I kiss him. It’s something in the way he kisses me, I can feel something more behind it. I feel like he has feelings for me but he’s kind of hard to read. I mean, we talk every time he comes in, we’ve messaged each other over other things besides sex. When he comes into my job and sees me, he automatically walks straight to me, we both do and people have noticed it, there’s even a been rumor about us for awhile now.

He’s recently started opening up more to me about himself and his life, he’s asked me my opinion on his appearance, things like that. I’ve been opening up to him too about myself, more so to show him that I want him to feel comfortable opening up to me. I went out of town for a week and he texted me a lot, just to say to be careful and find out about my trip. We’re texting a lot more now, I’m still always trying to give him his space, and sometimes when I do and I don’t text him, he’ll text me out of nowhere to just ask me what I’m doing. I don’t know. I don’t know what he’s thinking. I’m almost sure he’s starting to feel something, I can feel it, or something when we’re together, but I don’t want mess things up between us either and tell him that I have feelings for him. It’s like right now, we’re technically not sleeping with each other, but the times that we do see each other at work, after we do our little flirting/talking and everything else, he always wants to kiss me and hold me. That’s why I don’t understand. Most fwb’s just want the sex and would never, ever want to just kiss and make out. So I don’t understand him. I don’t know what to do. My question is what is he really feeling? What does he really want? Is he scared? Taking it slow or maybe trying to figure out how I feel about him?? HELP! Thanks!

GARLAND: You say that "most FWB's just want the sex and would never, ever want to just kiss and make out." I'll be real here, that sounds like a very bold statement, very bold and very confident.  Are you certain that MOST FWB's don't want to kiss? Really, so is that a Gallup poll or a CBS poll that found that?

The reason that comment raises my eyebrow is because of the certainty in your claim.  It sounds like someone who has convinced themselves of something and is making broad general statements to make everything nice and neat.

I think this guy wants just what he has, someone to get a little kissing and some heavy petting from.

I certainly don't know how old you are or where you work, but sneaking off to the bathroom for some kissing and snuggling sounds like something teenagers would do or a married man would try to pull off with someone he likes to flirt with.

The fact that you use the word text a lot sends up a bright red flag with me.  Maybe you've never read this blog before, but I hate texters! I hate guys that aren't man enough or don't care enough about a woman to stop his day and CALL HER ON THE PHONE! He lets her hear his voice and he hears her voice.  Phone calls are easy, they take just a few minutes and a modicum of privacy.  A man needs to show a woman that she is worth him stopping his day to see how she is doing.  Texting on the other hand is the lowest of the low when it comes to communications.  A man can be sitting right next to his wife or girlfriend and popping out dozens of texts to any number of women - texting is the best way for a cheater to keep his happy main lady clueless and his clueless lady mainly happy.  Demand More!

Finally, I just going to say it... I haven't blogged in a while and maybe I feel like I need to make up for lost time... You talk about how almost all of your interactions revolve around work and you mention that your co-workers are passing rumors about you - well, I'm sorry but that is not cute.  Your co-workers aren't saying that you two look like peas in a pod or you should be standing on top of a wedding cake together, they are probably saying unflattering things about you and they are wondering why you - probably a nice, reasonable and likeable woman are sneaking into dirty bathrooms and wandering lovingly out into a parking lot to hold hands with a guy that spoon feeds his time and affection to you.

If you don't demand more - you'll get what you ask for. 

You seem to acknowledge that you are fine with being Friends With Benefits, and you are fine with being at arms length with this guy's TRUE affections and you are fine with being someone that he has to take into a bathroom to be close to. You seem to be fine with the fact that that is what he wants from you. You asked if he is scared and I assume he's not scared of anything, aside from his wife, girlfriend or boyfriend finding out about you.

What is he feeling?  He's feeling pretty happy that you aren't asking for anything from him. 


So what's new, Mama?

QUESTION: Okay, so Me and this guy we were great friends and then we crossed that line. Well we saw each other for about 10 months but we had an understanding and kept things quiet. I guess we were in a relationship with no defined title. After about 11 months he tells me he can't do this anymore...he doesn't want to hurt me  but he doesn't think he could ever feel the way I feel about him and blah blah I was heartbroken. It's been a month...and he sends me this text " I hope you've been well.." . I didn't know how to respond or if I should what does this mean? I told him we couldn't be friends Bc I likes him too much and I needed time and space. Is he trying to be friends with me or is this just a bs way of making himself feel better a month later?

GARLAND: It could actually mean either one. My eyebrow is raised though because he's the one that broke things off.

While the intent of this blog has never been for us, well now - me, to speak for all men or to pretend to be a mind reader, I do want to share what I think is a fairly typically perspective from myself and my fellow Men.

As I said, he broke things off and this was after almost a of year being Friends with Bennies.  Now, if he had caught feelings for you, I think he would have wanted to step things up and make your relationship more open and public.  But, saying he'll never feel the same about you, sounds like a safe way to leave you and move on to something or someone new.  I will give him a few points for not continuing to be intimate with you while moving on possibly to a new partner as well.  So at least he ended what you all were doing when he felt the time had come, a lot of guys may not have done that.

So what does the quaint text mean? Probably one of three things: (1) He's thinking about you and genuinely wants to say hello and just see how you are. (2) He's feeling guilty and wants a subtle chance to clean up his goodbye so he doesn't seem like such a dirtbag. (3) He could be missing the intimacy and wants to try and re-light the flame.  Keep in mind that there are exactly 3.278 other reasons why he could have sent the text, I just went with what I think are the top three.

I can't get any closer to an idea because I was only given a fixed amount of information, but I'd recommend that if.. IF... you decide to reply.  Less is More!  Be brief with your answer.  Don't go into a lot of detail about missing him, or being angry, or being lonely, or being happy, or anything like that.  Tell him something positive and short... "Hey, I'm good. Nice to hear from you." or "I'm doing well. I hope you are too. Take care."

I like the latter one the best.  Polite with some closure.  Make him decide if he wants to talk more, or if he wants to let things stay closed.  Regardless of what you want or what he wants, I recommend very slow and very measured communications.  Maybe you want him back, maybe you don't, maybe you want to be Friends with Bennies again, or maybe you want more, whatever you want - HE is reaching out to you, YOU have the upper hand, just like in poker - hold your cards close to the vest and don't tip your hand until all of the chips are on the table. Understand what, if anything, you want from this new interaction with him, understand what he may or may not be willing to give, and move very slowly, don't rush anything.  Good luck!   


Fill in the Blan_s....

QUESTION: I think I may be in love with a guy that has every girl after him. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't go after a "pretty boy" but somehow I have damaged to develop feelings for the most wanted guy at my school. And what's difficult is that no one knows him like I know him but we aren't that close. So I'm not in the friend zone but I'm not in total oblivion. I don't know whether to confront him about my feelings or try to get over him? Which I don't know how to do (I've tried..... I made a cons list, I tried to find other guys I need ways to get over him if I'm not going to confront him about my feelings.


GARLAND: Thanks for your question.

I hate to be picky about words, but lets not use the phrase "confront him" - that has an oddly hostile tone to it and kinda' scares me - I'll tell you why in a minute.

I think you should try to spend some time with him and hang out a little bit before you bare your feelings to him. The reason I say this is based on your statement, "no one knows him like I know him but we aren't that close..." I'm just going to say it - THAT SOUNDS LIKE A VERY DANGEROUS ASSUMPTION ON YOUR PART. No one "really knows someone" without truly being close to them. That is simply a fact.

The thing is, ALMOST ALL PEOPLE... when they are attracted to someone, and they don't have all of the answers on this person, they fill in all of the blanks with positive and desirable traits. It's human nature and nothing to be ashamed of. Nobody looks at an attractive person they are drawn to and say to themselves, "This guy hates his mother; This guy is a drunk; This guy is a thief; This guy can't dance; This guy is bad in bed; This guy is dumb..." Nobody says that. Instead, people will assume the positive, "This guy is a great son to his mother; Ths guy loves animals; This guy wants to have kids; This guy is awesome in bed; This guy will never cheat on me." From what you've given me, this guy is probably very popular and desirable because he's good looking and that's reasonable I think. But what I want you to understand is that you are probably thinking the exact same thing that other young ladies are thinking about him... "I know him better than anybody else. While he and I aren't friends, I still know him better than these other girls." So try to keep your perspective and don't set yourself up.

I could wrap this comment up in a bow at this point, but I want to leave you with your eyes wide open. If you ignore what I say, and you go pour your heart out to him without trying to truly learn more about him - you might find yourself played and left empty handed. If this guy is a "Pretty Boy" as you say, then he knows the women like him and guys that know women like them, tend to use it to their advantage and their advantage alone. Yes, I'm talking about sex mostly... sex and money. If these highly desireable guys want to have sex or have women buying them things, then a lot of times they'll make it happen and they'll try to mask their goals as if they have mutual feelings for their marks [targets]. Please don't think I'm saying all "Pretty Boys" are dogs and underhanded in their dealings - but you need to see the potential downside to these strong and somewhat presumptive feelings that you're having toward this guy.

Now, back to "confronting him." Just briefly I want to take you back to when I was in high school. In my Senior year I had a young lady basically "confront" me with her feelings. I didn't really know her that well and we only had one class together, but she pushed up on me very aggressively and was basically saying, "So why don't you like me?" This was only 60 seconds after she told me that she had a major crush on me. I was speechless. It was very awkward and uncomfortable and I was basically creeped out by her for the rest of the school year. I never went out with her and never had the desire to. In her mind she had filled in all of the blanks about me and painted this picture that simply wasn't me, including the idea of me being her boyfriend. She wasn't a bad person, but she came across so wrong that I had no interest in her. DON'T DO THIS TO YOURSELF!
Take your time and slowly try to get to know him and spend casual, friendly time around him, even if this means hanging out with other people. Really get to know him by his own actions and the things he says and then, down the road, gently let him know that you like him. But do not push up on him and creep him out - you WILL regret it.

Best of luck to you!!!


Setting Sail on the S.S. Dreamboat...

QUESTION: Dear Chuck and Garland,

I stumbled onto your website and after what I thought would be a quick glimpse, I found myself reading around for an hour! I love how real you both are and saw a lot of clarity in your answers. After looking for an entry similar to my situation and failing to find one, I decided to get brave and write in for advice.

I am a 29 yr old female who is 2 months into a relationship with a 33 year old man. We met through a friend and the story is sorta funny- I went on a blind date that turned out to be a dud and a girlfriend met me at after the date ended at a bar to debrief and laugh a bit. The guy I'm currently dating (lets call him Dreamboat) happened to be there too, works in the military with my friends husband, walked over to say hello and I caught his eye. He was on his way to a Bachelor party and our meeting was brief but the chemistry was like a punch in the face. He later got my number from his friend and asked me out 2 days later and we've been dating ever since.
Before I get to my question let me say this - I have the tendency to be a bit assertive. I know what I want and am not afraid to say it. I ended my last relationship because the guy I was dating didn't know what he future held. So I cut my losses and moved on. However with Dreamboat, I realized with his high profile military job that he is used to being in control, so I gave him the reigns form the get go. He plans the dates, picks me up and has southern hospitality (which I love!)
About me- I have never been married, have no kids, no baggage and am ready to settle down. These past 2 months I have let him be the "man". We share a ton of the same interests and just click. I am falling in love and think he could easily be a forever thing.

We see each other at least twice a week and I stay the night at his place(I always wait for him to invite me to stay). Our first date was hands off, however the second date I slept with him. It was the best sex I have ever had. Period. Fireworks every single time.

BUT, here's my issue. He is divorced and has 2 sons under the age of 8. I have never dated a man with children OR one who has an ex wife. He told me that he only married this woman because she "got pregnant" and because of how he was raised, it was the right thing to do. After a hellish first year of marriage he planned on divorcing her but, BAM, pregnant again. So he stayed as to not leave her with a 2 year old and newborn. Then, after coming home from his 3rd deployment he divorced her.

Now, he sees his kids every weekend. That's his time slot. I have met the boys and we have done a number of fun things together. They are great kids and coming from a large family myself, I am a natural nurturer and adore them. They are not my worry.

He deploys in 4 weeks and I don't know how to have the "us" conversation or if I should even be the one to bring it up. I am a smart, ambitious good looking girl and I feel like he should be the one to make sure to secure things - like it's his duty if he cares. We have never discussed the "what are we" sort of thing either. I have met his brother, his friends and he takes me to all sorts of functions but we have never had the exclusivity talk. At one of the events he introduced me as his "girlfriend" and my jaw almost dropped. But since then, the subject has not come up. I assume he is not seeing anyone else (between the kids on the weekend and his demanding job I don't know when he would have the time). But I am curious about how he feels about me. What he wants at this point in his life... more children (because I want some of my own) or to be married again (because that is what I want. I am worried that because he is newly divorced (2 years) he may not want to marry for a while. I am assuming all of this, really want to know but am afraid to bring it up and ruin things. Even though I am ready to have that.

It would make me so happy to start a family and I see that all with him.

Lastly, he deploys in 6 weeks. For 8 months. I want to know where we stand before he goes. Sort of like, now, so I can cut my losses if he thinks this is just a casual thing before he does. I wonder if I should be the one to bring this up - the whole what are we, I will wait for you, I care about you... or if that's "his" job to ask. I don't want to look desperate or scare him away. I don't know which direction to take. I am totally analytical and like most women,I want to have the security of knowing the person I am investing time with feels the same.

I would love your insight. I don't want to say something too soon, out of impatience and mess this whole thing up. I also understand that men like "the chase" and need to do things on their own terms. Thanks, hope to hear from you soon!
GARLAND: Great question! And thanks for stopping at our blog, enjoying it and asking for our humble advice. I hope we can shed some positive light on things!
I like the way you present the facts and I really feel like your take on things.
Two months of dating is a pretty short period of time for a lot of people and I'd typically lay a bunch of short-time related 'cautions' around my reply, but I get a feeling that that's probably not needed for you. So, I'll cut to the chase  - Ask him what he's feeling for the long term expectations in your relationship.  You've given him a lot of say in your relationship, a lot of control in the direction things are going - the planning, the movement and the flow, but that sounds like it would get old very fast for a woman like you. It's probably easy for you to give a decent guy the rope and let him swing from it or hang from it based on his own decesions - but only for a while. I think you should take some of the control and flow from him and sit down and feel him out, this is your life after all, but you don't need me to tell you that.
I think it would be fine and reasonable to ask him what he expects while he's gone and when he returns.  Honestly, I think the time apart would give you both a good chance to catch your breath and see how things work when you are forced to be out of each others presence. I encourage you to be optimistic in his absence and not feel like you have to force an answer out of him BEFORE he leaves. By the way, don't toss marriage and kids up on the table right now and make him feel like his feet are to the fire - with him going to what could be a dangerous spot somewhere in the world, you need him relaxed and focused on his job and staying alive.  However, let him know how much he means to you and let him know that you want him in your future, and be comfortable in giving him some time to put his feelings together, even if it means answering you in the first few weeks of his deployment. You won't look desperate and you won't scare him off - at least not by asking!  Sometimes a long flight and some nights with free time will make a man understand where his priorities are. 
Best of luck in a positive outcome!
CHUCK's answer may follow in a few days. 


In Vino Veritas... or something close to it.

QUESTION: Dear Guys,
Hello awesome peoples who help unravel puzzles of the female mind. Would love to get your suggestions on this one.
So boy meets girl, (girl knows boy through her brother for a while actually) OK so boy and girl who are accustomed to casual hello's and greetings only, get into a conversation one night at a party and somehow end up screwing in a parking lot. Still to this day we cannot pinpoint the turning point of that conversation. (alcohol most likely) This leads to months of sexual tension and fooling around, and talking and talking and talking. (Seriously the conversation just flows! I am talking daily, 3am phone calls and all. Either way, anytime is okay for both!)
Six months in and I start to hear the "just friends" talk..... eerp? Boy starts pulling back, sex stops, asking out stops, stops visiting girl. The conversation does not stop. There are no booty calls...get that idea out of your head. Boy explains to girl that he just wants to take it slow, get to know someone really well. In slips of conversation I get called the girlfriend, part of the family. There is no problem with me visiting him, BUT...there is no sex, no kissing. And no there are no other women. His daughter (20 yrs) refers to me as Daddy's girlfriend. Met his mom, his brother, his closest friends. (he is an introvert by the way).
There were two moments when boy gets drunk and confesses his love, begs to come over or begs girl to stay the night and there is wild passionate love. (Girl knows this cannot be taken seriously) That would be now two over a four month period.
Why am I in a quandary? Because I really like this guy. In our serious talk about it, he says he is not ready for a relationship having just come out of a devastating one about six months before we hooked up, which left him in a serious depression. He still have moments where he just wants to be alone. (and yes, I did show up to check if it was another woman once. I was told it was creepy, which I know, but I was not chased away.) He says, I am too nice, too attractive, and yes he would LOVE to be having sex regularly, but sex complicates things and he thinks there are several things we both need to get the handle of before getting into a serious relationship. I attempted to distance myself...I did. But that pained ME a lot. He is the person I would call on for assistance, and advice. I am the person he calls for advice, and assistance. Yes there are kids in the picture. I get the feeling that ultimatums backfire with this guy....he would say "What ever makes you happiest, you have to seek your happiness."
Its been a year, I want a real relationship. I am very much in love with this guy. And yes....he knows it. Do I distance myself, cut it off completely to get over him (because that is what it will take) or do I "have patience" like he asks me to?
GARLAND: Hey Sam, Thanks for the question! I must admit that I believe that this is the first BOY and GIRL worded question that I've seen in the years we've been doing this.  So that's kinda' interesting.  And...well.. if "BOY" has a 20 year old daughter, then maybe he should be called... "DUDE" - okay I'm just kidding, I couldn't resist.
Sounds interesting. I like the fact that you've met the family and he talks to you on the phone - Chuck and I are big on guys making phone calls because it shows more of a connection and time invesment to a relationship, this is clearly the sign of someone that could have a 20 year old child. So many people, in the convenient time of texting, like to show their affection with a 45 second text message and not much else.  Phone conversations require a guy to actually care and put forth some effort. Another good sign is that he's showing you off - he's sharing his friends with you and vice versa.  Guys that hide their ladies or the ladies NEVER meet the friends and family, well they tend to stay a secret and usually for a bad reason.  Since I'm building up a bit of momentum, I also like the fact that he hasn't pushed you away and he still seems to enjoy you being with him and him being with you.  I think that a lot of questions we get tend to show how the guy is pulling away and distancing himself, but your Boy doesn't seem to be doing this. 
One more thing... you said, "There were two moments when boy gets drunk and confesses his love..." I don't know if Chuck is going to chime in on this answer, but I am going to steal his thunder. Chuck loves to talk about "In Vino Veritas" which translates from Latin into "In wine [there is the] truth."  When someone is drunk, their guard is down and they tend to speak pretty close to the truth.  On a personal note, years ago, a guy that I thought was my good friend - got drunk out of his mind and his wife called me to help drag him home from the bar. On the way home, in my car, he was as drunk as I have ever seen anyone and he flat out accused me of having an affair with his wife, but he claimed he didn't care. That cut me to the bone because it was no where near the truth, and I liked this guy a lot, I looked at him and his wife almost like family, yet he's holding these feelings in his heart. I wish I was big enough to say I got over it, but I didn't and I let our friendship fade away and never looked back. Oddly, I think your Boy professing his love while drunk is sort of a good thing for you.
Forgive me... I digress.   
Now, scaling back the sex may be a way for him to keep his perspective - I don't know for sure obviously, but you've said that he was in a bad break-up before you. I'm speculating here - but when he became depressed after the break-up, he may have gone to a very dark place and  deep down, he's terrified to go back there.  Depression, as I'm sure you know, isn't always about simple sadness; it sometimes gives you life changing thoughts - for the worse. 
I strongly encourage you to talk to him about the intimacy if you want and need more - which sounds normal to me.  With talking about sensitive subjects, especially with us guys - make sure you don't push too hard.  He may have to share his mindset - a little here and a little there over a few days or weeks.  All I say is don't PUSH. Try to ease him into sharing and see how it goes.
Best of luck to you!!!


So, What's Up Doc?

Dear Chuck and Garland.

While I was browsing through the internet, I came across your website and thus decides to drop you guys an email to seek your advices.

I am a 22 year old undergrad, I have been dating a dentist who is 12 years my senior for about 2 months already.

I know it's not right, but we kinda break the rule of having sex on the first date. At first I thought it was a one night stand, but the we went out a few times after that day and my feelings for him grew stronger..

Here's the thing, when I asked him what is our status now, he replied, "not yet dear, let's take it slowly..." On one occasion, he even said, "don't love him too much, save some for the future..."

But when we were out dating, he would gladly introduce me as his girlfriend. He is totally different when we were out dating..

A few days ago, he had high fever, so I called him several times in the day to ask about his status, but most of the time he did not answer the call. Once he even canceled the call and claimed that he was with his family so he could not picked up the call.

I'm seriously confused. What is he thinking? Sometimes he is hot and sometimes he is cold. I'm not sure if he is serious, and that what should I do now? Sometimes he makes me feel that he is only with me for sex, and nothing else...

Please advise, what should I do now? And what is he thinking?

GARLAND: Thanks for your question!

I don't think he's hot and cold per se, I just think that you are looking for and expecting him to be in love with you. Sex on the first date is what it is - SEX ON THE FIRST DATE. It's not a commitment and neither is his sticking around for a few more dates.

He's 34 and you're 22, so hopefully he's a bit wiser at this point in life when it comes to relationships and how he acts in them; I think that's why his answers are somewhat vague yet encouraging you to stay patient, enjoy the ride and see where you end up.  Calling you 'his girlfriend' when he's out, is just that - you probably ARE his girlfriend. To many guys, having a girlfriend is not the same as being IN LOVE with a particular woman. Sure, some of us love our girlfriends, but many of us 'care a lot' about our girlfriends, we 'like them a lot' we are monogamous with them, but they are NOT our wives yet... and hopefully we all LOVE our wives. But, don't despair if he doesn't say he loves you and he doesn't 'define' your relationship beyond "We're in a good place," or "You're my special lady."

If he shows you respect when you are out and when you are together, and you don't get any major red flags, then your relationship is probably okay.  A 34 year old guy, regardless of his profession, who dates a woman 12 years younger than him is probably very cautious and may worry a little bit about what his friends may think, so keep that in mind as you move forward.  Don't put a gun to his head to make him use "The L Word", be a little patient but don't stay so long that you feel slighted or stagnant.  Good luck, and I hope things move in positive direction for you - where ever that may be.