I’ve never been one to follow many relationship rules.
I’m in a place now where I just want to be happy. I want a companion, exclusivity and affection. I want the basics—I don’t need to have all the fringes, such as a title or marriage or an official Facebook status. I don’t care what other people think anymore and it’s a damn good feeling to have.
There is one rule I’m following though, and I’m not wavering.
I will not say the “L” word first, ever again.
I am in love. My man makes me feel warm and fuzzy and happy. This relationship is comprised of two people though, not one and I don’t know how the other half feels.
I don’t think there’s another word as powerful as “love.” Love means many things, it’s more than just a romantic expression. Love means acceptance, validation, trust, comfort, affection and attraction.
I’ve uttered that word before, and I’ve heard it back, but I don’t think it was legitimate.
Most of my relationships have failed. Crashed and burned. My track record sucks—I chose emotionally unavailable people who wouldn’t know love it if bit them. They said they loved me, but they also loved pizza and board games. It didn’t seem like there was much of a differentiator.
So why won’t I say I love the man I’m with now, even though I’m 100% sure I love him?
It’s too risky. I know, no risk no reward, but this risk is too great.
For me, there’s nothing more devastating than telling someone I love them with no response back. Or worse, responses like “Thanks” or “That’s nice.” Or the standby non-verbal responses of nodding or smiling. It’s like taking all your clothes off in front of your person, while they remain fully dressed in a suit and tie and briefcase. It’s a vulnerable feeling like no other.
I simply don’t want to expose myself to rejection and hurt, that’s why I won’t say it first. I will bide my time and hope he says it first, because if he does, I will know it is not forced, that it is genuine and heartfelt. That it’s real.
What if he never says it? I’m not sure how long I’m willing to wait, because I know I want to hear those words. I don’t need candy or hearts or flowers. I don’t need to be serenaded with a boom box or showered with expensive gifts. What I want has no price tag—to me, it’s a word more coveted than the Hope diamond.
I think people say “I love you” too fast these days, that’s why it’s lost its meaning. People get engaged and married without knowing each other. They say they love each other before finding out each other’s likes and dislikes, quirks, bad habits, flaws and secrets. They say, “I love you” first, then get to know the other person later. That seems screwed up to me.
When you get down to it, “I love you” isn’t just a statement, it’s also an implied question.
It’s one of those boomerang expressions that comes with an expectation. So when we say, “I love you,” we’re also asking, “Do you love me too?” To say “I love you” is to put ourselves out there. I mean really put ourselves out there. If the other person has kept their emotions close to the vest, we may have no idea if they’ll say it back and that’s a scary proposition.
Why is it so easy to love a cat or dog, or baby that’s “ours,” but harder to love another?
We know how to love them unconditionally, because they come with a sort of built-in love that’s understood. With a significant other, it totally has to be their choice. They aren’t required or bound to love us, and because of that it’s a much more coveted love. Out of the billions of other possibilities out there, we want them to choose us and they can make that choice by saying, “I love you.”
“I love you” is on the tip of my tongue now, like a turkey that’s been in the oven, ready to eat, but not being served yet. Right now I’m holding it in reserve, keeping it on “warm” until I know it’s ready to be received. I so want to hear those words, and I’m willing to say them. I just won’t be the first.
Author: Laura Hipshire
Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock