I tell my girlfriend I love her a lot and am constantly trying to show my affection, but I generally get nothing in response, but a smile or she tells me to shut up? Should I stop? -Affectionate
You seem to have found yourself a wise girl. Congrats! From what I can gather from the sparse details that you’ve provided here, your girlfriend either does not love you or is not willing to dive off the deep end with the love that she has for you. This is the most level-headed way to view affection since opening yourself up to love is the first step of a startlingly quick trip to emotional ruin and the annihilation of your self-worth. Considering that she’s likely fairly young (this is a college column after all), that’s a pretty insightful worldview.
While it may feel right now that you’re too unlikeable to be loved back, which may well be the case, at least know that this mindset will prolong the inevitable web of feelings and regretting of those feelings that marks the post-honeymoon phase of the relationship. This is a win for both you and for your friends, who will surely be tired of hearing about love after the first 3 and a half minutes. So keep in mind that (assuming she isn’t just hinting that she’s planning to dump you in the not-too-distant future) you’re potentially avoiding a world of guilt-fueled emotional chaos through her ambivalence.
As for actionable advice, it would probably be wise to lay off at least a little bit. If she doesn’t love you, you aren’t making it any easier for either of you by continuing to bring that up. If she does love you, then you really have nothing to worry about at all here. Either way, you should trust her memory a little more than you probably doing right now. We’re all being slow-cooked right now by our own societal idiocy, so why not do the things that are pleasurable in the immediacy?