Saying “I love you” — the when, the how, and the “what’s taking so long?” of it — is one of the most asked about topics in letters I receive from readers. Ten years ago I wrote something that went viral about how women in heterosexual relationships shouldn’t say “I love you” first. I was writing for a website at the time that valued clickbait above just about everything else, and this seemed like a natural lightening rod. It was, and I got both a lot of heat and a lot of love for that post. My feelings have evolved over the years (and I’m also not so concerned about clickbait!), so today I say: Life is short; tell people you love them (but, you know, maybe not on the first date…).
I remember the fist time Drew and I exchanged “I love you’s”:
We’d been (long-distance) dating for about eight months, seeing each other for a weekend maybe once every two to three weeks. I’d felt love for a couple months, but I didn’t feel in a rush to say it. Part of that was because I was aware that these weekends we spent together, although romantic and fun and exciting, weren’t real life and I wanted to make sure my feelings were real, and not based on some fantasy I’d created from this whirlwind courtship. Anyway, about eight months into said courtship, I was visiting Drew in Manhattan for the weekend and was waiting for the bus to take me to the airport where I’d catch a plane back to Chicago. These good-byes were feeling more and more… heavy, and we’d just started talking about when and if the long-distance part of our relationship might transition into something that didn’t require air travel to maintain. As the bus pulled up, Drew pulled me in for a hug and whispered “I love you” into my ear. I said it back and then I boarded for another commute home. (It took about another ten or eleven months before I moved and the long-distance part of our relationship was done for good.)
If you’re in a relationship, do you remember your first “I love you’s”? Or, if you’re currently single, maybe you have a memory from a former relationship?