Several months ago, a good friend of mine came to me and said, “Mulberry, I think I love her. But I’m not ready to tell her.” Then, last week, he looked at me and said, “Alright, Mulberry, I’m ready.” I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, and in full dude-fashion, punched him in the arm, and said, “It’s about dang time!”
Saying “I Love You” for the first time is really a big deal. There’s a reason that we are cautious of saying it for its time. You don’t want to say it too early, otherwise you could freak the other person out. On the TV Show “The Big Bang Theory,” Leonard and Penny wound up breaking up because one of them said it a bit too early for the other’s taste.
So for anyone out there who’s dating and is feeling like its getting close to time to saying those 3 magic words, I have some advice:
1) Don’t be afraid to risk your heart. This is true for both the man and the woman. It’s a risky thing to say those words. Lots of questions can run through your mind. What if the other person freaks out? What if they aren’t ready? What if I’m not really ready? All those are real questions. And those could be real responses. That’s what makes it a risk. But being in a relationship is about risking your heart. As the relationship progresses, you risk more and more of your heart. It seriously could blow up in your face. But the truth is you weren’t created to not-risk. This is one of those moments where you get to risk.
2) Men, you really can go first here. Hey men- let me call you up here. It’s your job to lead and go first, and that includes in risking your heart. You don’t have to wait for her to say it first. Its your job to set the pace of the relationship. Handle it with care.
3) If you’re really in love, the other person needs to know. You don’t do your relationship any favors by hiding your feelings. Dating is all about finding out more and more about the other person, but it has to go both ways. You’re dating partner will not really know you if you keep things hidden. That’s not to say you divulge everything right away. In fact, that’s a bad idea. But like Gandalf in the caves of Moriah, there are times when you risk a little more light. And if you’re in love with the other person, that’s a time to risk being known.
4) Make it really ok for the other person to not be there yet. What happened with Leonard and Penny on The Big Bang Theory was that Leonard expected for Penny to feel exactly the same way he did when he did. The truth is that you don’t want the other person saying they love you if they don’t. You don’t want to pressure them to be somewhere in their heart that they aren’t. You take all the pressure off the other person when you let them know that its ok if they aren’t there yet.
5) Once you’ve said it, don’t make it awkward. So here’s what happens- Dude says, “I love you, and its really ok if you aren’t there yet.” And girl isn’t there yet. She looks at him, gives him a hug, and the most she can muster is “ok, thanks for letting me know. And I’m not there yet.” The next day, when they’re getting off the phone, he says, ‘I love you,” and she has nothing to say. Then later, before you seperate for the night, he says again, “I love you,” and she has nothing to say. How long do you think that will work before she’s actually feeling pressured and it’s not really ok for her to NOT be there yet. Don’t make it awkward. You don’t have to keep saying it all the time.
Now, with all that said, let me give you some really practical words for this situation. Here’s what you say, “Hey, so I have something that I need to say to you. It’s something I’ve been feeling for a while and it’s time to let you know. And I want you know that its really ok if you aren’t there yet, but it wouldn’t be fair for me to hold this in. I love you.”
I remember when I got to say this to Penny. We had only been dating a few months, but I knew that I knew. I remember sitting in the garage with my mentor, Michael, having a similar conversation with him that my buddy had with me. “Michael, I think I love her.” “Oh yeah,” Michael said with a raised eyebrow, “When you gonna tell her? Cause you know you gotta tell her.” A couple days later, Penny and I were driving to a friend’s birthday party. I got to tell her in the car before we went in. She looked at me, batted her eyes, gave me a hug and said, “OK.” She wasn’t there yet. Two long months later, I was dropping her off from a date, she went to get out of the car, stopped herself, turned around, kissed me, and quickly whispered, “I love you, too.” Then quickly got of the car. (At least that’s the way I remember it.) Regardless, it was a special time and I never will forget it. She got to take her time getting there. But it was never a question of where I was in our relationship. And it couldn’t have gone any better.
Little did I know that many of these rules also applied to the conversation about whether or not we would be getting married. But that’s another post.
So tell us your story. When did you first say, “I love you?” Anybody have any horror stories about it? Leave a comment and let us know.