It was a leisurely Sunday morning a few years back. Van and I were taking our time getting up; actually, we were snuggling together in a way that was going to get him a little more up than me, let’s say.
After, as we lay there, a wonderfully sweaty tangle of legs and arms, his hot breathe against my neck, he gave me a kiss so tender and loving that I committed the most fatal mistake we gals can do with someone we’ve been dating for a few months.
“I’m falling in love with you,”
I said softly into his ear.
There was silence.
It was the most deafening silence I have ever experienced, before and since.
Did he not hear me? Was he pretending he didn’t hear me? Either way, I wasn’t about to repeat myself.
“Oh boy, did I fuck up,” I told Sara, calling her as I headed back home later that morning.
“What you do? Forget to put gas in your car again?”
“No. I told Van I love him this morning.”
“Kat, I told you before: A woman never, ever, says the L-word until the guy says it first. Why don’t you ever listen to me?”
“Because you’re divorced; if you knew what the hell you were talking about when it comes to relationships, you wouldn’t be.”
“Touche. But, honestly, haven’t I gotten smarter?”
Maybe she has, but was she smarter in this instance? Should men be the first to mutter the three little words — “I love you” — that transform a relationship into something “meaningful”? Or is that a woman’s thing?
Or, does it even matter who says it first, as long as someone says it to move the relationship along?
As usual, the so-called dating experts are all over the map on this one. Thanks, but …
So, forget asking them; the only answer that matters is from men. Why? Because we gals don’t really understand them; all we know is that sometimes when we do what feels natural to us (or, worse yet, follow the advice of some stupid women’s mag), we end up crying into a pint of Rocky Road.
And, according to a lot of guys, Sara’s right; women typically don’t flip out and bolt if a guy she likes tells her he loves her. In fact, she’s probably been dreaming (aka obsessing) about that day.
And if she’s not quick to return the love? Like it or not, men have a lot more experience with rejection than we gals do. This is not being sexist; I’m not saying it’s even fair, and I’m not saying it doesn’t hurt. I’m just saying it is. So, if he says “I love you” and she gets all silent on him, he probably can deal with it better.
But it’s risky business for a woman to say “I love you” to a guy who’s hasn’t quite sorted it out in his head yet. It’s gotta feel like he’s just stepped on a land mine that’s going to explode, spewing diamond rings, engagement parties, wedding planning and, eventually, a minivan. No wonder many want to bolt. Goodbye freedom, hello commitment.
However, regardless of gender, you never want to say “I love you” too soon. Say that to someone after a few months of dating, and you’re talking with your genitals, not your head. Lust is intoxicating, but it ain’t love. It’s like eating the tiramisu before the Caesar salad, garlic bread and pollo al diablo; it might be luscious, but it can’t sustain you. And even if it feels sincere, but it won’t come off that way.
And yet, I’m still not fully convinced. You know how I feel about dating rules, like third-date sex, all the stupid dating markers and the silly games we’re “supposed” to play. Why can’t a relationship develop organically?
So, I’ll ask the smartest people of all — my readers.
Who says “I love you” first?
(and, just because I’m curious, who says it in a gay or lesbian relationship; think about it)
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