If you’ve ever been in a relationship that’s lasted more than a few months you’ve probably at some point contemplated how the “L” word is going to worm its way in. I hadn’t thought about it for a while but the other day my housemate and I were sat in the living room chatting and she brought up this very topic. She’s been seeing her other half for about 8 months now, they’re about to tackle the long distance thing and she’s wondering how they move beyond the comfort of the snuggles and general happiness to love.
In her case, she was friends with the guy before they were ever dating and they had a conversation in the friend zone in which they both made it clear that they’d each be far too scared to ever be the first person to say “I love you”. Now they’re at the point where she feels like someone should be saying it but this conversation is in the back of her mind. She’s wondering if he will man up and say it or if she’s going to have to jump in. It’s not so much that she’s scared of saying what she feels, it’s more that she’s worried he won’t say it back. That moment when it’s not said back has to be one of the most awkward moments there can be in any relationship. Neither of you knows what to do, the person who said it feels embarrassed, the person who didn’t feels pressured and you both wonder if you should just walk away from it and each other right there and then.
So how do you do it? Obviously there’s the widely acclaimed drunken “I love you” which you can later blame on the alcohol if it all goes disastrously wrong. Or there’s the subtle “I love…(huge pause)…that shirt on you”, whilst you gauge their reaction to the “L” word during the pause, you can decide what should come next. Or, I guess you just come right out and say it. If you’ve been together for a substantial enough period of time that you think it’s time to say the word but your other half doesn’t, perhaps it means that your views of the relationship are different and it’s time to re-evaluate anyway.
That said, what if it’s all about the delivery? Should it be spontaneous or planned? Can it be spontaneous? Does anyone really say it without having thought about saying it first? If you plan it, how far do you go with the planning and how do you ensure you don’t add so much pressure to the situation that they either run away or feel obliged to say it back without actually meaning it? It’s an absolute minefield!
Thinking back through my past relationships, I can tell you exactly how the “L” word has dropped into the fold. The guys have all said it. During sex. It was ok though because regardless of whether they meant it or not, I didn’t mean it when I said it back, I just thought I should feel that so I’d best say it so as not to offend. That’s not to say I never meant it, at some points I have but at the time of the initial “I love you”, no, not a jot of love, just a bit of lust mixed with guilt for not feeling it. That’s my way of confessing that I don’t have the answer. If any of you have any advice, please share it so I can tell my housemate and write it down for safekeeping so that it’s there the day I decide I want to say it myself.
Equally, if it’s ever gone disastrously wrong, let us know so we can all have a good giggle. It’ll make you feel much better about it if you can see the funny side! x