I've been thinking about this a lot lately. It's the centerpiece of romantic comedy, the trigger of romantic tragedy, featured in every TV show and movie depicting two characters who fall head-over-heels for each other. I imagine it's largely because I've got new romantic interests in my life. I'm not the only one who's ever Googled it, though the answers should be plain enough. I'm talking, of course, about
Q: Is it too soon to say “I love you?”
A: You say “I love you” when you feel it's the right time.
And that changes the question to
Q: How do I know it's the right time to say “I love you?”
with the most obvious answer being
A: When you love them.
How do you know you love someone? How can you tell when NRE starts to fade? Is NRE, or “puppylove,” not real love? Who even decides what's real love? Why is it a faux pas to say it before the other person is ready?
I have this terrible, awful habit of falling in love fast and hard. Chances are, I have loved someone from afar long before words of a relationship or dating have been uttered. I love passively until I'm given permission to love actively. But, that ends up with me already in love, and kind of waiting for the other person to play catch-up. Not that I mind waiting, of course, I love love and I love being in love and I love sharing love. So I keep my lip zipped as long as possible. I don't want the object of my affection to feel pressured, as they do in movies, when I pronounce my feelings.
My extremely self-conscious approach to admitting my adoration seems to have caused an after-effect of guilt. I'm the sort of person who goes back and forth between ecstasy of a new lover to doubt and fear, as if my partner might suddenly realize they can do much better. I do, indeed, feel like the first time I tell someone that I love them, I'm stabbing them with a dagger, digging my claws in, and I realize that if I say it too soon, it may be a dealbreaker. That's a risk I take, I suppose.
Love opens me up and makes me vulnerable. I'm never more paranoid for the delicate stability of my heart and the heart of my lover and the heart of the relationship than at that pinnacle moment. I am shy to admit my love, like it's a bad habit, like it's an inconvenience, like a heavy weight.
I'm writing about this now because I feel these three words, three little bombs, sitting on the edge of my tongue, aimed at someone who has not yet heard them from me, and it's too soon. Too soon, I know. I'm met with a predicament. Either I prepare myself, and just say the words, or they slip out by accident. I've already caught myself several times, and this is not a nuke I want to drop by happenstance. It's very precious. And it's definitely too soon to expect the same. I don't, really, expect this person to return the words, probably not for a long while, and I'm okay with that. Just because I'm ready to say them doesn't mean they are.
I never understood why movies make a big deal about it—love happens and it doesn't always happen to everybody at the same exact moment. So what if they aren't ready to say it? If you love them, be patient, and keep loving them, and one day, they'll be ready.
Will I say the words? I don't know. How's this; I'll post this blog entry after I do say them. So you know I've admitted it, if you're reading, and you'll know I haven't tossed myself from a high building in shame.
Wish me luck.