So, you’ve been going out for awhile, he’s kind and considerate and appears to always have his eyes on you, constantly seeking to make you more comfortable. He cares about your well-being, he’s an awesome kisser and things in bed tend to get beyond amazing. You appreciate him cause he’s smart and affectionate, has a great sense of humor, your friends like him, he likes your friends and as the days go by you feel this growing sensation, the tension becomes stronger until, either in a romantic setting, or in a loud pub, after having your self control raped by the last five glasses of wine and two beers, you blurt it out in an extravagant, lame or unfittingly surprising “I love you.”
Turning point! What now? Best case scenario, he gives you “the look” (the good kind), smiles brightly as if he had just struck gold, tightly wraps his arms around your body and, overwhelmed by the awesomeness of the moment, says “I love you too!”. Movie cliché, I know… but let’s admit that at some point we all dream of those clichés as if our lives depended on it and then act disappointed when something else happens. Worse (not worst, cause no matter how hard we try to imagine that, there will always be a worse possibility out there) case scenario, he throws you a confused look, with a matching smile and says “Oh.”, with an awkward moment of silence next in line. You see, the specific “Oh.” sound is the warning sign that a retarded moment is soon to follow. It also usually couples up really well with expressions such as “That’s a nice thing to say”, "Thanks!" or “Good for you”. What happens after this monument of humiliation is as limitless as imagination, from a slap to a kick in the balls, to a cold “F*ck you” or a polite “Well, I was honest”, then resuming the evening as if nothing had ever happened. It all depends on the way you say the initial turning point line and why you do it.
Is there a right way and wrong way to say “I love you”? I think there is. The right way should be foolproof and no matter what you get as an answer, you’re shielded against pain. The wrong way can start guilt trips or fits of rage if not met with the same enthusiasm. I’ll start with the less fortunate of possibilities, the root of which finds itself in the reason of saying those three words people love to misunderstand so much. The vast majority says “I love you” because they want to hear an “I love you” in return. Not anything else, not a dumb, drooling, prolonged “Awwww”, not an elusive “I also care” and certainly not “Well there’s a fine thing to say!”. “I love you” has become a request for similar feedback rather than the expression of a real feeling. You see this, especially in couples who say it a hundred times per day and somehow never seem tired of doing so. Those three words have turned into a need for validation. Insecure relationship partners use it as a ‘problem-solving’ solution for gaining short-lived moments of security in which they bask for awhile until their uncertainties kick in again, at which point they resume asking for the same validation as before, without realizing that this doesn’t solve anything, but rather strips those three words of the real meaning they should be having.
The right way of doing it, in my opinion, is for the sheer and obvious reason of expressing a sincere feeling, without expecting anything in return, because the whole purpose resumes itself to informing the other person of the way you perceive him or her. The moment you see “I love you” as an honest affirmation rather than an inquiry upon the other person’s feelings, nothing that will be said to you will be harmful because whatever the response is, you know that your goal has been achieved: the other person has been informed. From that point on, it’s their choice what to do with what they have heard. If they have a positive response, you take it from there to whatever level feels right. If not, you might have to reconsider them being “right” for you and simply move on, knowing that you didn’t lie about it, knowing that you didn’t put on hundreds of masks or played stupid high-school mind games. You’ll find yourself at peace, because we are always at peace once we do the right thing.
Another issue I have noticed is that in a relationship there’s some type of a dysfunctional race: who says “I love you” first? The tension just keeps building up and partners renounce great opportunities to speak up just because they don’t want to be the first to say it. It’s like whoever says it first looses the game. I really don’t get that. Is it the fear of scaring the other away? Is it the fear of not receiving the answer they had expected? Why is fear such a present entity in the love equation since fear, in itself is the silent nemesis of love? It doesn’t matter who says “I love you” first as long as it’s done for the right reason and it comes from a sincere impulse. Honesty is not a game, it’s something you either do or you don’t. Some men won’t take this first step cause they think it’s “gay”, some women won’t do it because they think it might render them completely vulnerable in the other’s view, some don’t do it because they think it’s a gateway to being taken advantage of. I have this great male best friend whom I can talk to about absolutely everything and at some point I told him that I loved the partner I had then. My friend raised an eyebrow, looked at me and said a short and accentuated “Fag”. Where have these misconceptions begun and why are they still there? Do people enjoy creating artificial mind-sets that end up hurting themselves and others? Wouldn’t it be easier to just take things as they are without creating entire universes out of off-the-hook interpretations?
The very last being I said “I love you” to, before posting this, was my dog, a short while ago today. I didn’t get frustrated because she didn’t answer a perfectly articulate “I love you too”, it didn’t piss me off that after she licked my nose she moved away and gave all of her attention to a yellow ball, and most certainly, I don’t get jealous when she goes around playing with other dogs. Love comes in all shapes and sizes, but it’s only when it’s honest and from the heart that it can truly move mountains.