Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

Have You Said “I Love You” First?

I love you

The other day, a friend of mine texted me and asked if I was still awake. It was 9:45, a time I’m usually getting ready for bed, but that evening I was out having drinks with my friend, Mary. “That’s ok,” he texted back. “I just had a relationship question for you, but I can call you tomorrow.” The next day he called me and said that, when I wasn’t available to talk, he decided to Google his question: “Who should say ‘I love you’ first in a relationship?” and the first link that came up was an article I was quoted in. That’s because back in 2008 I wrote an essay that went viral about how, in straight relationships anyway, women should wait for men to say the “l” word first. I got lots of flack for that piece of advice, but you know what? I stand by it. Does that mean your relationship is doomed if you’re a woman and you tell your guy you love him first? Of course not. And it doesn’t mean you should hold in your expression of love until you explode, either. If you’re dying to say it, say it. But generally speaking, I think there are numerous benefits to waiting for the guy to say “I love you” first.

But what about if you’re in a same-sex relationship, like my friend who asked for advice? I told him what I’d tell someone in a straight relationship who’s afraid a declaration of love might backfire: if it’s what you’re truly feeling, there’s something really beautiful about having a verbal record of those feelings even (or especially) if it’s just between you and the person you love. You may get your heart broken. The feelings may not be returned — now or ever — but there’s something kind of powerful in pointing to a time in history that you shared with someone and being able to say, “I loved you then” and knowing it was out there, it was between you, and the words recorded it for posterity.

If my advice sounds kind of wishy-washy (“Don’t say it first!” “Sure, say it if you really feel it!”), I guess that’s because, unless you’re dropping the “l-word” super early, if it scares someone off, that person probably wasn’t going to be around forever anyway. For women in relationships with men, I do think there’s a bit of currency or power that is sacrificed when they say it first that may throw off the balance of the relationship a little more than if a guy says it first and sacrifices a little of his power. (That’s because, I think, a man’s power is more quickly returned by a woman because we tend to be a little more emotionally generous; big generalizations here, I realize, but these are just theories I have). The potential imbalance of power is not, like, disastrous or anything. I said “I love you” first in a relationship once because I was feeling it and that relationship actually lasted a lot longer than another one where the guy said it first. But my best and longest-lasting relationship of all is one where I waited (and waited!) for the guy (aka Drew) to say it. So, if anecdotal evidence counts for anything, there you go.

How about you? Have you said “I love you” first in a relationship? How did things work out? What do you think about “power balance” in a relationship (gay and/or straight ones)? And what does “power” in a relationship even me to you (if anything)?

78 comments… add one
  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2014, 1:06 pm

    I have never said I love you first. But I think that’s only because I’ve never felt it first. I’m sure if I felt it there’s no way I could hold it in just because the guy hadn’t said it first. Both of my longest relationships I love you was said by the guy, early on, and I didn’t say it back.

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  • iwannatalktosampson

    iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2014, 1:08 pm

    And what is with calling it the L word? Are people supersticious to the point they think that as soon as they say I love you – even when talking with friends about when a good time to say it is – they’ll jinx it? It’s called Love. And a penis is not a P word. A dick is not a D word. And there’s no such thing as pre-engaged.

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    • muchachaenlaventana

      muchachaenlaventana June 17, 2014, 1:10 pm

      excuse me, but me and my forever-train lover are pre-engaged and I l-word his d

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2014, 1:36 pm

        You win.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:40 pm

        You just gave mucha the power.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2014, 1:59 pm

        For some reason you saying that reminded me of the thing you say in catholic mass where it’s like “the power, and the glory, forever and ever, amen” or however it goes.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:16 pm

        Haha, Not surprised someone I said reminded you of God. Just sayin’

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:16 pm

        (something I said)

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  • avatar

    kerrycontrary June 17, 2014, 1:09 pm

    I said I love you first to my fiance, but it just popped right out of my mouth on NYE at a bar with just the two of us and he said it right back. So there was no thinking about it or planning it (though it was true). I think that fear of a power-balance in a relationship is a fear of being vulnerable. I don’t know, I really don’t think about a power-balance in our relationship. I’ve never thought about how has more “power” in a relationship. And yes…I think it’s sexist to say that a woman should wait for a man to say it (on par with don’t give up sex too easily or he might not stick around!).

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    • avatar

      No Pants June 17, 2014, 1:21 pm

      I totally agree. And I would be worried if I was caught up in a power balance with my long-term partner.

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    • avatar

      HmC June 17, 2014, 1:47 pm

      I think if you are fixated on the “power balance” in your relationship something is off.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:49 pm

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8g3tQaqizh0

        Its all about the hand, baby.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:57 pm

        I’m gonna change my name to WillQuoteSeinfeldConstantly

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      • Portia

        Portia June 19, 2014, 8:49 am

        Yesterday I said “naked, naked, naked” and Bassanio recalled the entire plot to that episode, even the random side plots. I think this is one of the reasons we have lasted so long…

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  • GatorGirl

    GatorGirl June 17, 2014, 1:13 pm

    I said I love you first to my high school boyfriend. And I cried like a baby. It was so emotional.

    GGuy said it first to me accidentally. We where saying bye and it just popped out- “I love you, bye!” haha. It was adorable. I don’t have any big thoughts on this subject though. Who ever feels it says it? But IDK, I’m not really an emotional person?

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl June 17, 2014, 2:01 pm

      I think what I mean, is that I don’t think there is a power dynamic about who says “I love you” first. Maybe for like 3 seconds before the other says it back, or if in general the other person doesn’t say it back. But once both people exchange it…I think it’s irrelevant who says it first.
      .
      And, other when I was 18 and crazy, I never really have romanticized the “I love you” exchange. Or anything? I’m just not very romantic.

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  • avatar

    No Pants June 17, 2014, 1:16 pm

    Eh, I don’t think there is one “right” answer to this question and I think saying that a woman should always wait for the man to say it is sexist. It totally depends on the couple and the two personalities invoved.

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  • Portia

    Portia June 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

    I think that the person for whom saying “I love you” means more (in general) should say it first. I was the first one to say it with Bassanio, but that was because I had said early on in our relationship that it means a lot to me and not something to be thrown around. So, he was waiting for me to say it first. Turned out he felt the same way, but I had felt it for months before I said it.
    .
    With my high school boyfriend, he said it first, then when I didn’t say it back because I didn’t quite feel the same way yet, he got all hurt and pissy and basically bullied me into saying it back. In retrospect, I probably should have known that was not the greatest relationship then… So, regardless of who says it first, I think that they should not expect the other person to share their exact feeling with them at that moment. Because that really sucks.

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    • othy

      othy June 17, 2014, 3:06 pm

      My high school boyfriend said it first. I didn’t say it back for a couple more months. Rather than acting all hurt and pissy, he was more like “you’ll say it when you’re ready.” I bet it sucked for him for a while, but he knew he couldn’t rush me (I was all of 16 at the time). But, it was worth the wait for him, since we’ve been happily married for 8 years now.

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      • Portia

        Portia June 18, 2014, 1:38 pm

        Yeah, that’s the right way to handle that situation. Ugh, it makes me mad now thinking about how he basically bullied me into saying it. I think the relationship lasted for 2 more years after that but most of it I was like, should I really be with this guy?

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  • gigi

    gigi June 17, 2014, 1:25 pm

    This is kind of an issue for me. Like I love my BF. I think he loves me. When he says “I miss you” I think he means I love you, he acts like he does too. But once when we were tipsy-drunk after a party & crashing in our motel room, he said to me ” Don’t say the L word”. I have always remembered that. That was over a year ago. And I haven’t said it. But I want to. I don’t want to wait longer & have it go unsaid. Things happen, people aren’t around forever…. I would regret it always if I left it hanging, & then it was too late. So, I think I might say it this weekend. If the context is right. We are going away for a little road trip which almost never happens (yay!), complete with hot sex, swingers, boating & partying & live music & a spa & a casino & a strip club. Somewhere in there…..I might find the moment is right for “I love you”. If he says it back I will be in heaven, if he doesn’t I will try not to be too disappointed, but I will also understand.

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  • avatar

    applescruffs June 17, 2014, 1:32 pm

    I was waiting to say it to my boyfriend because I got the sense it was a Big Deal to him (and it is to me too, but not in the same way I don’t think) and I just really wanted him to say it first! Then I got a little tipsy at my friend’s wedding that I was in, we went for a walk to the airstream trailer decorated in perfect pinterest fashion for the bride to get ready in, and I just said it. He said it back, and then said, those words scare me, you know. I did know. We ended up having a wonderful conversation about it. It’s still hard for him to say it, so I don’t do it that often. And I know he tries to show me he loves me as much as possible (cause he said that). Case in point, when my dog was in the hospital and I was borderline hysterical he had a bath waiting for me in his fancy spa bathtub, complete with tea and a candle. Such a good man.

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  • mylaray

    mylaray June 17, 2014, 1:33 pm

    I said it first to a boyfriend…and we basically broke up that night. I was kind of wary of saying it first, I hadn’t said it first before, and I knew he didn’t feel it quite yet, but I couldn’t hold it in. I don’t regret it, and long story short, he’s my husband now. Things would have been different if I had waited and never said anything, but I don’t think we would be where we are now if all of that hadn’t happened.

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  • avatar

    Tax Geek June 17, 2014, 1:37 pm

    I wonder if Wendy could explain more about woman (generally) being more emotionally generous than men. And I don’t think I even understand what it means to be emotionally generous in all honesty.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:51 pm

      More verbally sharing in emotions? Like always telling you what I think, how I feel about you, etc. (at least that’s what I think it means)

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    • BriarRose

      BriarRose June 17, 2014, 2:22 pm

      I took it to mean sharing your feelings with your partner, or perhaps expanding on general feelings of “I’m happy” or “I love you”. I think talking about feelings unprompted is another example

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  • avatar

    lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:43 pm

    I hold all the power, which is just the way I like it. 😉
    I said during sex, not meaning it and thinking he didn’t hear it, but apparently he did and told me that some time after. Aside from that, he said it first, but also felt it first. I’m pretty sure I’d just say it if I felt it first, but I also don’t think I’d say it after a week so…
    Worse case scenario isn’t so bad really.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 1:45 pm

      Wendy, it must be weird for your friends to not really have to ask you advice personally and just google your advice. That’s so funny your column was the first hit.

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  • avatar

    bethany June 17, 2014, 1:44 pm

    I’m pretty sure I said it to Dave first. I was drunk though, so who knows…?? Now that I’m thinking about it, I think I said: “I think I’m falling in love with you”, which is totally lame. It’s like the scardy cats way of saying I Love You. I have no idea if he said it back right away or not.

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl June 17, 2014, 1:51 pm

      We did that too! The stupid “you looooove me” teasing thing? Barf. We where so sappy back in the day.

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    • avatar

      rachel June 17, 2014, 2:21 pm

      Haha, that’s how Ross said it to me. I said “Good. Me too.” and then we actually said ” I love you”

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        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:24 pm

        Oh, Rachel, how did the engagement come about?

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      snoopy128 June 18, 2014, 2:21 pm

      Hahah. I was drunk, after sex, and immediately after saying it, I started blubbering saying “but I didn’t want to say it, not yet. I mean, I feel it, but I didn’t mean to say it. But I meant it”.
      Yup.
      My name is the first name that comes up when you google “class act” 😉

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  • avatar

    joanna June 17, 2014, 1:51 pm

    I say “I love you” to everybody when drunk. So when it popped out at 2 months into my current relationship, I thought nothing of it because I was drunk. Then I said it again sober my boyfriend is like, “I’m not gonna say it until I mean it.” So I never said it again until a few days before Christmas when I was tipsy and I was all, “I can’t hold it back no more. I love you I love you I love you!” And he said it back and then was like “Now I have to find a new Christmas present for you.” And his gift-giving habits are definitely not his strong point. But I was happy. I felt it was an equal partnership based on love and respect. And we’re still together about 4 years later.

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    • avatar

      joanna June 17, 2014, 1:53 pm

      I mean about 4 years since since we started dating. The “I love you” from him came a little past 1 year together.

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  • avatar

    Ms. Simba June 17, 2014, 1:51 pm

    I’ve said it first twice. In both cases they said it back and we were/are together for a decent length of time.

    I really wanted to wait for my current boyfriend to say it first, I just couldn’t hold it in any longer!

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  • avatar

    HmC June 17, 2014, 1:55 pm

    I don’t see how advice like “the man should always say I love you first” is any different than “the woman should wait X number of dates to have sex” or “the man should always propose”. They’re all based on gender generalizations that are sometimes true and sometimes not true. I think rather than focusing on one gender fits all advice that makes us appear confident, powerful etc., we would all be much better off to work on cultivating genuine confidence and power and allowing that to attract good partners naturally. Like the advice to not accept a weekend date invitation past Wednesday- maybe it kind of (?) works because it gives the impression that you have a lot going on, that you have a healthy social life. Wouldn’t it be more genuine and duh, more fulfilling, if you actually just worked on having a healthy social life so that when you turn down last minute weekend dates, you are being a genuine person instead of pantomiming a healthy person? If you are an emotionally healthy person of either sex who genuinely feels love and wants to say it, then you should be able to say it without calculating out your life like it’s a chess game. I feel like that is just missing the point of life.

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    • LlamaPajamas

      LlamaPajamas June 17, 2014, 2:03 pm

      Comment deleted by wendy.

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      • avatar

        lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:35 pm

        I’m just being nosy here, but do you mean Wendy’s tone or the general tone? I feel like I’m missing something because I don’t feel like its changed.

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    • avatar

      kerrycontrary June 17, 2014, 2:04 pm

      I agree…I think it’s really like keeping score or playing a relationship like a game.

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    • avatar

      No Pants June 17, 2014, 2:05 pm

      This is perfect.

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    • avatar

      MissDre June 17, 2014, 2:11 pm

      I think HmC is smartest of all.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:19 pm

      Ok, so I agree with this, but I also think Wendy’s advice is more for people who DO fall in love in 5 minutes and spend hours dissecting conversations and think about whether someone’s marriage material after a first date. Her advice is definitely solid for certain people.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 17, 2014, 2:24 pm

        Yeah I LOVED HMC’s comment, but I do think this advice is for people who cling to “I love you” as a relationship validater. Like if you’re desperate for a relationship and then desperate to hear I love you and then desperate to get engaged, you probably shouldn’t be the one pushing those milestones along, because you’re a mess.

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      • avatar

        HmC June 17, 2014, 2:40 pm

        In which case I think the better advice would be “you need to examine why you’re a mess” not “don’t say I love you first and you’re golden”. And I know the latter is not what Wendy is saying, but I feel like that is how the messes you’re referring to would want to read it anyway.

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      • avatar

        HmC June 17, 2014, 2:28 pm

        Just based on what she wrote above I don’t see this distinction. If that were the case, I would be more on board with advice about why *feeling* love too early may be a sign of some unhealthy inclinations. The only emphasis I see above is on saying it, which I think is a weird thing for an emotionally healthy adult of either sex to fixate on.

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    • rainbow

      rainbow June 17, 2014, 3:13 pm

      I agree. This sounds pretty manipulative to me.

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  • avatar

    rachel June 17, 2014, 2:10 pm

    I think it does more harm than good to place so much importance on 3 words and when they are said. We see time and time again on here that people (women mostly) can spend so much time either 1. so hung up on whether he has said those words that she isn’t enjoying the relationship for what it is or 2. deluding themselves that just because he has SAID the words that it somehow excuses bad behavior. I think in a healthy relationship, the “I love you”s will happen organically.

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    • avatar

      ktfran June 17, 2014, 2:14 pm

      Yes. This.

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  • avatar

    ktfran June 17, 2014, 2:13 pm

    I’ve never said it first. But I’m also very guarded and overly cautious with my feelings. In fact, the kid basically told me this and I never really thought about it before. Towards the end, I would start to make a joke or say something sarcastic when we were discussing his leaving, he would look at me, then I told him what I really felt. Sometimes I didn’t think I opened up enough with him, but I can’t beat myself up over it.
    .
    In hindsight, something similar happened with my ex-fiance. About four months in, he was ready to break up with me. I’m pretty sure it was because I was “distant.” It wasn’t until I truly opened up to him that we worked everything out.
    .
    So, I’ve always waited for someone to tell me how they feel about me first. I’m slowly realizing that I can’t do that. That I need to open up. That might not mean me saying “I love you,” but I need to offer up something if I feel it.
    .
    I guess to answer Wendy’s question, I’ve rethought my original position and say do what feels right to you.

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  • avatar

    Jessica June 17, 2014, 2:14 pm

    I said it first in my most recent relationship. I held it in for months. I waited until I was about to explode. The desire to say it literally kept me up at night. I was so afraid that he wouldn’t return my feelings. Fortunately, he did. But I never want to be the one to say it first again. I agree with you, Wendy. I don’t want to give up that currency again. I’ve been too emotional generous in the past.

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  • lemongrass

    Lemongrass June 17, 2014, 2:14 pm

    I said it first and he said it back to me a few weeks later when he felt it. It was no big deal. I wasn’t giving up any power because there is no balance of power in our relationship, we are equal partners and always have been. I don’t love without trust and if I didn’t trust him enough to be vulnerable then I wouldn’t have really loved him.

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    • avatar

      Liquid Luck June 17, 2014, 3:01 pm

      “if I didn’t trust him enough to be vulnerable then I wouldn’t have really loved him.”
      .
      Just wanted to say I love this line. It’s exactly the thought I was having trouble putting into words, and you nailed it!

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  • avatar

    CattyGoLightly June 17, 2014, 2:15 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever said it first, that I remember! It wasn’t waiting for the power or anything, just that I’m kind of a puss.

    With my current boyfriend, it was kind of funny when he said it… we had just had sex, and I said “I love your D” and his reply was “Well I love YOU!”

    A romantic story to tell all our friends.

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    • avatar

      lets_be_honest June 17, 2014, 2:22 pm

      Love it!!

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  • BriarRose

    BriarRose June 17, 2014, 2:16 pm

    In my current relationship (which I view as my most successful and loving), my boyfriend said it first. He is not the most expressive person and it meant a lot to me to hear it from him, unprompted.
    .
    My boyfriend was quite the bachelor before we met and he told me a few months into our relationship that things felt so relaxed and pressure free in the beginning (compared to what he had experienced in the past) and that he was quite grateful for that. This is all speculation on my part, but I think that allowed him to realize how he felt about me and say so without being scared or worried that I would instantly want things to become super serious (even though they totally did, haha). I don’t mean to say that I played a game–if I had felt I wanted to tell him I loved him, I would have–but I think letting him take the lead worked well for us.

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  • honeybeenicki

    honeybeenicki June 17, 2014, 2:32 pm

    I have no idea who said it first in my relationships? Is that bad? I think with my ex it was him and I honestly couldn’t even fathom a guess with my husband.

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  • veritek33

    veritek33 June 17, 2014, 2:43 pm

    My ex said it first. I had wanted to say it but I just couldn’t for some reason. I didn’t come from a home where we said I love you a lot. It was just something that’s understood.
    I’m not a very verbally affectionate person. To me, actions speak louder than words, so when he was showing me acts of love I felt it more than when he said it.

    Hell, he told me he loved me the day before he broke up with me and then later said he hadn’t loved me for six months before the breakup. So – actions > words to me.

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    • BriarRose

      BriarRose June 17, 2014, 2:50 pm

      Yeah, my ex-husband told me he loved me the day before he asked for a divorce. Feel you on that one! I’m definitely a “words” person, but these days I make a point to pay attention to actions to see if they back up the words.

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      • veritek33

        veritek33 June 17, 2014, 2:53 pm

        Oh yeah! My ex was always telling me how much he loved me and how we were gonna get married and he was gonna get a second job to buy me a huge ring (even though I told him many many times I didn’t want a huge ring and I didn’t want him to have to get a second job to buy one, etc.) He pretty much never followed through on any of his promises or declarations.

        I guess since then words just don’t mean as much to me. Actions are so much more important (for me). So the next guy will hopefully SHOW me that he loves me, not just tell me.

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        Kate June 17, 2014, 2:58 pm

        That’s why I roll my eyes when LWs start off saying their relationship is so amazing and they’ve even talked about marriage and rings and looked at houses together. It means *nothing*

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    • GatorGirl

      GatorGirl June 17, 2014, 3:04 pm

      I agree. I don’t come from an “I love you” family, and have always been more of an “actions speak louder than words” person. But GGuy and I do say it way a lot compared to my childhood. And I do want to raise my kids with more of a combination of words/actions affirming they are loved, because it is nice to have the words too. Now I’m rambling.

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      • veritek33

        veritek33 June 18, 2014, 3:43 pm

        I agree. I think it’s good to have a balance. It would be nice to hear my parents tell me they love me more often, so I don’t want my kids (future hypothetical ones) to question it even for a minute. So I’ll probably say it more in my own nuclear family.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 18, 2014, 4:54 pm

        GG I completely agree. I think my dad has maybe said I love you to me maybe 10 times in my life? And probably 8 of those were when he’s drunk. We’re irish – we don’t share feelings unless it’s after beer. But I know that’s not how I want to raise my kids. I don’t want them to have to just feel loved, I want them to hear it too. I KNOW my Dad loves me. He’s so supportive and always has my back and has been the one person that has given me permission to stand up for myself in all situations and to not worry about being the bigger person. So I know he loves me, but I really wish he’d say it more. Especially because it has created this dynamic where I feel weird saying it. :/ So we just never discuss things like love.

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        lets_be_honest June 18, 2014, 5:06 pm

        Yes! I feel like you’re talking about me and my dad.

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 18, 2014, 5:10 pm

        Do you guys also occasionally get black out drunk together and have your step mom take you to denny’s at 2 am and then get in a fight about your grades in school?

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      • iwannatalktosampson

        iwannatalktosampson June 18, 2014, 5:07 pm

        Oh and alternatively (sorry I’m going down the tangent rabbit hole) Colin’s family is Italian (Sicilian, technically, but whatever, same thing) and they are so vocally loving. As someone who loves stereotypes I find this extremely validating. They are loud and loving and it’s so different from my family. Well except the loud. We’re loud – but like sarcastically loud. He is one of three boys and his dad will refer to them all as baby and at first I thought it was so crazy. But he says it in an east coast Italian way and now that I’m used to it it just sounds endearing to me.

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  • thatswhat-she

    Meg June 17, 2014, 1:44 pm

    As someone who has felt pressured by a few too many too-soon “I love you”s, I am happy I said it first to my now-husband. I felt it, waited a few weeks, and then said it– and luckily, he returned it (and had planned to say it first in a few days, on a holiday). I am glad it happened that way because I’m 100% certain I wanted to say it. I’m sure people without a history like mine might feel differently, but for us, it worked :).

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  • avatar

    Anna June 17, 2014, 3:03 pm

    My ex said it first and it was pretty quick but I said it back and we ended up being together for 9 years. My current boyfriend and I have only been dating 3 months and have not said it yet but I realized a few weeks ago that I do love him. I’m pretty sure the feeling is mutual but I plan to wait until he says it first.

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    • Diablo

      Diablo June 18, 2014, 6:27 pm

      Anna, you wanted to know what to do in Myrtle beach? Tell that boy you love him!

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    Liquid Luck June 17, 2014, 3:15 pm

    Maybe I’m just not the flowery romantic type, but I’ve never put much stock in saying “I love you,” so I never really cared about who said it first, and I haven’t seen much of a difference in any of my relationships because of it. I’ve only had a few, but I think I’ve covered all the options except for the “I said it first and my relationship imploded” one, so I don’t really believe that my lack of a penis had any impact on it whatsoever.
    .
    I said it to my high school boyfriend first, but he said it back right away. We were together for six years and broke up because we just had different long-term goals, so I’m pretty sure it didn’t hurt me there. My next boyfriend said it first, a couple months before I did, but looking back on it, it’s pretty clear that he didn’t actually love me . He treated me like crap, so telling me he loved me had no bearing on the reality of that relationship. And my now-husband and I didn’t even say it to each other at all until we were already living together and had not only discussed marriage and the future, but had actively started putting those plans in place. We both knew we loved each other, but saying it out loud didn’t seem important to either of us. It was definitely a case of actions speaking louder than words, so much so that the words weren’t even necessary.

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    Ella_ June 18, 2014, 2:59 pm

    I’ve only had one serious relationship, so I’ve only said I love you to one boyfriend. We started dating when I was 22 and he was 23, and we said it after about six months I think? We were up super early and we were just laying in bed watching the sun rise but then were just staring at each other and I think we both knew what the other was about to say, but then my boyfriend finally said it and then I said it back right away.

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    KMJ June 18, 2014, 4:48 pm

    I have told someone I loved him first. I don’t see why you wouldn’t. I think it’s silly to play games, especially in my mid-thirties. I don’t have time for that.
    I felt certain of it first, perhaps, but either way, I said it first and I did NOT want him to say it back just because I said it. I wanted him to say it when and it if was true, and he did shortly after.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo June 18, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I told M i loved her first, three weeks in, in bed, after lovin’. Basically the same scenario/moment as every male douchelord on the planet. Colossally bad decision, if you were to ask any advice columnist from Wendy to Dan Savage to Prudie. But like KMJ above, I never liked to play games either, and never claimed to have good judgment in matters of love. In my case, though, it is one of the best memories of my life. Gentle warm summer rain falling, audible through open windows. Rachmaninov Concerto #2 playing. She kissed me hard enough to hurt my mouth. If you feel it, say it. Too damn little love expressed in this world.

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  • Classic

    Classic June 18, 2014, 7:53 pm

    I said “I love you” to Ronon first but I already knew that he loved me because I could tell by the way he looked at me and by the way he treated me like someone so important and valuable to him. He told me he loves me and that he is in love with me. Now we both say it every day.

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    Laur June 24, 2014, 5:05 pm

    I said it first. We had been dating for 7 months. I had felt that I loved him pretty early on but was waiting for him to say it first. I decided I didn’t want to wait anymore for a few reasons: (1) I knew I loved him and wanted him to know and decided that if he didn’t immediately say “I love you” back I would be OK with that, (2) I was going to meet most of his family at a cousin’s wedding in about 3 weeks, and was anxious about being around all that love and just blurting it out when we weren’t alone/ I didn’t feel like someone else’s wedding was the right place for me to express my love for the first time, (3) He was the one to ask me out initially, which I thought gave him more of that “relationship power” that Wendy references above. I felt that by being the first to say “I love you” I would be equalizing the balance of power some (sure, you were the one to summon the guts to ask me on a date, but I was the one to summon the guts to say those three words first, so now we’re even!)

    Anyway, when I told him, he said it back. He told me that he had thought about saying it more than once before, but each time he thought about saying it he wasn’t fully sober, and he wanted to be sober when he said it. We’ve been dating for 3.5 years now and have living together for 1.5… so far so good!

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    • Cleopatra_30

      Cleopatra_30 June 24, 2014, 5:38 pm

      I totally get your first point, that is how i approached it when i said i love you to my BF. We talked a few weeks before about it and i told him pretty much that i felt that way, and he just said he wasn’t quite ready yet, but knew the feelings were there. So i knew when i said it to him first he probably wouldn’t say it back and i was OK with that because i knew where he stood anyways with his feelings for me.

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  • Cleopatra_30

    Cleopatra_30 June 24, 2014, 5:35 pm

    I recently said the L word to my bf of almost 6 months, about 2 weeks ago maybe? He hasn’t said it back yet, and he explained that he wasn’t ready yet. He basically said he is trying to wrap his head around those feelings and understand them so to say. He has said the L word to past GF’s, and a lot of the time it was either too early, or things ended shortly after, for other reasons. And so he is just trying to get past the anxiety of his past L word experiences. So i am being patient, but it is definitely nerve wracking to not hear it back. I mean I understand him, but it still has thoughts running through my head of hims second guessing ‘us’ and me, which is crazy cause he obviously isn’t. But all the anxiety of not hearing him saying it back gets me all worked up.

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