It’s valentine week, and you are uncertain about where your relationship stands with this dude? Do you feel unsure of what will happen if you open to him about how you feel? You’ve been together a while, you know you both like each other and you’re both seemingly happy this is getting more serious. All of these suggest now’s a good time to speak up. Even as a lady, you can be the first to say ‘I Love You’
Forget the general rule (if that’s what you also call it) It’s fine if you decide to go for it, tell him you love him – and wait no further. It does not matter if he is not saying it, you can be the first.
This may be particularly useful if you’re shy, struggle to communicate your feelings, are not neurotypical, not romantic or have been hurt or rejected in past relationships.
As you’re thinking about what to say – and whether to say it – you may want to note how your ideas about love have been formed. What benefits will speaking up bring, and what may happen if you decide to say nothing for the next few days, weeks or months?
Who goes first?
There’s no right or wrong about who is the first to say ‘I love you’. Frequently this is presented in popular culture as a game of chicken, where nobody wants to be the first one to reveal their feelings.
If you love him and he loves you, the sooner you say so; the sooner both of you know where you stand.
You say ‘what if I’m wrong’. I’m assuming you mean here that he may not love you too. You aren’t wrong for loving him, even if he doesn’t feel the same. But as telling someone you love them requires making yourself vulnerable, you might decide not to say anything yet.
He may be pleased to hear you love him but isn’t at a place to say the same right now. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t care, or won’t tell you the same in the future; just that this isn’t how he feels yet. Even so, this can make you feel anxious, uncertain or rejected – and it may be worth thinking what you might do if this situation arises.
There’s no guarantee telling someone you love them means they’ll feel the same, or that you’ll stay in love forever. Relationships can and do break down shortly after love is mentioned, or after years of being together and being ‘in love’.
Worst-case scenario? He doesn’t love you and isn’t going to change that view. Learning this would be understandably upsetting. Saying nothing but staying in the relationship won’t change this, however. So you may prefer to speak up now but consider what you will do if sharing how you feel means the end of the relationship. Or think about what would happen if you don’t share how you feel and stay in a relationship as it is – one that seems to be committed and happy but with no formal declarations of love.
How to say ‘I love you’
You know him, yourself and your relationship better than anyone else (including me, of course). You might want to make a big deal out of revealing your feelings or keep it very low key. Both of you will have preferred ways to show and receive affection and thinking about what ‘love’ means in that context can help you decide how you’d like to tell him.
You might want to say it in passing during a conversation, or plan a more formal announcement (maybe during a night out, a meal or on a walk – oh my gosh, this valentine is a perfect opportunity!). You could share it through something home made – a letter, card, photo, or drawing. You could tell him through the words of a poem, book, song or film. Just be creative and flexible with it.
What happens next?
Sometimes people are concerned about telling someone they love them for fear it will change the relationship dramatically. Or they believe declaring love will transform a relationship (and become disappointed if this does not happen).
It might be that after sharing how you feel, your relationship continues as it has been up to now. Or you may find you become more open about being in a serious relationship and do things together openly as a couple.
Some people move from declaring their feelings to think about moving in together, or engagement or marriage. It is worth noting that this doesn’t always follow and it’s possible to share that you love someone without moving the relationship any further unless both of you want it.
I’m hopeful he will feel as you do, and if that is the case then you may want to think how you continue to talk lovingly together and show each other how you care. Just remember to forget the general rule; you can be the first to say ‘I Love You’ and this Valentine season presents a perfect opportunity.