Saying 'I Love You' Shouldn't Be This Complicated

Woman biting lipAfter five months of being more than happy in a caring, comfortable relationship, I've come to a major conclusion: I'm seemingly incapable of saying "I love you." Now, before you tell me I'm a heartless bitch, I'll confess that it's not that I don't want to. It's not that I've never said it before. I'm just frightened of what happens when I do. I'm frightened of the after.

I feel it. I feel it when I look into his eyes and I see his attentive, gentle gaze back. I feel it the way his hand grazes mine when we sit side by side on the bus uptown, and in the way that he senses my anxiety when it's late at night and we're walking on a dimly lit street. I knew it when we went out to dinner a few weeks back and we sat on the same side of the booth as one another. I've always hated those couples with a burning passion. And then, well, I was part of one. Ugh. Gag

But still ... I just can't effin' say it. And I know, it shouldn't be this complicated.

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I guess on a good note I have no problem telling him how happy he makes me. I have no problem divulging what's happened in my past, especially when it comes to my loves gone wrong. I feel bad, because I realize that this time around, despite what feels like a permanent smile on my face, I'm so much more guarded because of those missteps. I'm so much more guarded because every other time I've ever said it, it was at the wrong time. It was because they said it first. It was because it felt like I was supposed to.

I know one too many women who have been in that limbo period where your man tells you "I appreciate you" and "I really like you." Over oysters the other night in a dimly lit restaurant, my girlfriends and I debated if a woman saying "I love you" first seems desperate. I don't want him to think I'm desperate. And as much as I believe he'll say it back, that he's been wanting to say it to me, too, I've also had friends who said it and then waited eight months to hear it in return. I don't think my heart could handle eight months.

But rejection isn't really why I'm afraid. What I'm afraid of, really, is if he does say it back. If you and your partner exchange "I love you"s, does that mean there's a pass to stop showing it? Once I say it, will those small gestures that have made me want to say those three words in the first place go away? Instead of showing up at my door with sunflowers even though they're out of season, will he show up, say "love you" quicker than he chugs a beer watching Sunday football, and walk by me to drop his Nike gym bag by the door in the bedroom that I should have tidied up three days ago?

I guess I won't know until I say it. I love you. I'm also clearly a pansy. Now let's see how long it takes him to find this post.

Do you think there's a wrong and a right time to say "I love you" for the first time? Do you have any of your own stories about confessing your love?


Image via Ocean/Corbis

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