Let me start this off by saying I’ve never been in a relationship. So everything I know about them is based on movies/shows that I’ve seen or second-hand accounts from family/friends of mine. One of the things that are generally agreed upon and portrayed is that saying “I love you” is a really big deal in a relationship. Whether it’s the way it’s said, or who says it first, or how long into a relationship you should wait to say it, they all contribute to this idea that there’s anxiety or nervousness attached to saying it.
Again, I’ve never personally experienced any of that having never been presented with the chance to say it to someone (or someone saying it to me) but I still have an opinion on the matter. The way I see it is that we’ve been conditioned to believe that by saying these words, it makes us weak, or vulnerable. Don’t get me wrong, saying it to someone with the uncertainty of whether they feel the same way or not can be daunting, and we as humans have a primordial craving for reciprocated affection, but at what point down the line in history did someone suddenly decide that saying what we truly feel is a bad thing?
The word “love” has become such a null word in our vocabulary. How often, in your everyday conversation, do you find yourself saying “I love this song” or “I love the sound of rain” or “I love that actor”? We hear it all the time, and we’re perfectly fine saying it in this context since it’s used to over-exaggerate our likeness towards an object or stranger. However, attaching the words “I” and “you” and saying it directly towards another human with whom we’ve made a connection with, suddenly gives the saying a much heavier weight than before. Those combined words, along with an emotional attachment, create a higher significance in saying it compared to the other scenarios. That significance makes us stop and assess the root of the word more closely in order to decide if that’s what we truly want to portray to said person.
It seems as if we’ve lost touch with our own emotions through the modern age because rather than trusting our own feelings, we’ve been conditioned to act the way we should feel as depicted in movies or other forms of social media. Back to saying the phrase “I love you,” we’re so concerned with our insecurities of what the other person feels*, that we conceal or suppress what we’re feeling in order to compensate for the other person. So, we wait a certain amount of time—even if it’s long after we’ve known how we truly feel—or we wait until the guy says it first** (because society has molded this mindset that men should take the lead and only until we know how they feel can we tell them), etc.
Life is so short. How many older individuals have you heard say things like how they wished they had said how they felt when they had the chance or wished they did things differently when they were younger? It’s because at the moment, we’re so concerned with saying or doing the wrong thing, that we focus more on what will happen in the future instead of being in the present. It’s not until we’re older, when time is something we start to run short of, that we reflect on these things and suddenly become aware of just how small of a window we have to live life to the fullest.
So, it’s true when they say that it’s easy to speak of something that you’ve never experienced first hand. I agree with that. But, I will say what it is that I hope to do when I do come to this situation someday. I hope that I have the wisdom to look past the preconditioned “societal rules” of how things are supposed to be when in a relationship, the courage to say how I feel in my heart, when I feel it, without worrying about it immediately being reciprocated, and, if the other person doesn’t feel the same as I do, have the confidence to not let that invalidate my own feelings.
“I love you” shouldn’t be an intimidating thing to tell someone, rather it should be a powerful thing to have the capability to feel such a strong emotion and be sure enough in yourself to be able to share it with someone. How about we start normalizing sharing our thoughts and emotions instead of tiptoeing around them. We’re only given this one life, after all. x
*when telling someone you love them, there shouldn’t be expectations of them saying “I love you too” because it’s not fair to expect someone to be going the same pace as you or to be able to tap into their feelings as easily. I have an extreme dislike for the word “too” being tacked onto the end because it’s the more-often-than-not transformation of “I love you” from a meaningful saying to that of a simple unconsciously thoughtless response.
**in terms of heteronormative relationships.
If you like this article, check out: https://www.harnessmagazine.com/i-told-all-my-tinder-matches-that-im-not-looking-for-a-boyfriend/