For several weeks — possibly even over a month — I had been debating about doing the one thing that take any new relationship to the next level: When to say "I love you."
I can't remember exactly when the thought first crossed my mind to say those words to my current boyfriend. However, I noticed that whenever I saw him after being apart for several days or after he did something incredibly sweet or supportive, the words would almost pour out of me. I feared that one day I would accidentally say it — surprising both myself and him.
The whole process of saying "I love you" was a bit different in this relationship in that in my past relationships normally the guy dropped the L-bomb shortly after I began thinking about saying it. I had never found myself caught up in this inner debate with myself as to when to say I love you. In the past, the guys were always the bold and vulnerable ones… I just followed their lead.
This time though, I found myself waiting and waiting and waiting… but he would just never say it. As a result, I found myself doing the silly thing that most young people do nowadays when they are bounded by fear at the thought of saying those three words: I went to google for advice.
I read article after article with all kinds of theories and ideas on the topic. Some people proclaiming how women should never be the first to say it because it can sound needy, while others saying that men shouldn’t be the first to say it either because it might freak the woman out. Others were giving statistics on how most guys say it at 3 months and how women often wait until the 4 or 5 month mark.
After a searching google for advice for days and (admittedly) weeks, I found myself a bit overwhelmed and all this online advice to be, well, just flat out silly.
You see, all these articles and google searching was only doing one thing for me: It was keeping me in a state of fear. All this did was waste my time and put more energy into my own fear of being vulnerable. This fear of him not reciprocating was only keeping my heart closed and preventing me from really speaking my truth and allowing myself and the relationship to move forward.
This is what many of us do when it comes to doing anything that requires some vulnerability in our relationships. Whether it be saying “I love you”, asking whether to move in together, or proposing marriage. There is often that period where we get caught up in fear. We start second guessing and asking ourselves things like “How will the other person react?”, “Will they reciprocate?”, “Will this help the relationship move forward or will it move it backwards?”
This fear disconnects us from the truth that is within our heart. It makes us uncertain as to how and when we should proceed. It can make us hesitant as to when and how it would be a good time to say what we want to say.
So what should we do when we find ourselves caught up in fear of being vulnerable? How can we clear out the fear so that we can truly know with confidence that it is the right time to say “I love you”?
Be still. For starters, its important to take some time to be still and simply breathe. When we get all caught up in fear of being vulnerable the mind can begin to overact. When the mind is on overdrive, it can be hard to really tap into what we feel in our heart.
So take some time for a day or several days to meditate for 15 minutes. Focus on the breath and allow yourself to become calm over hearing the nature sounds or meditative music. If sitting still doesn’t quite work for you, then it can also be beneficial to go for a walk or do some kind of exercise. Getting into your body by doing some kind of movement can help calm the mind down so you can really know when your heart and intuition is guiding you to do.
Know that it’s not the end of the world if it is not reciprocated. Realistically, who doesn’t like to hear that someone loves them? Chances are that whether it is reciprocated or not, your partner is still going to feel flattered. And yes, if the other person doesn’t reciprocate it is going to suck for a while (trust me, I know), but it isn’t the end of the world.
Yes it hurts and it will hurt for a while, but it doesn’t mean that you won’t survive it. You’ll get through it. It may not always create the most comfortable situation, but by expressing your true feelings it does open the door for more opportunity and personal growth to happen — both for yourself and the other person.
Follow your heart. Ultimately, at the end of the day, only one thing truly matters: The truth of your heart that wishes to be expressed. If you can really truly feel it in your heart that you love the person, then say it. Life is too short to live bounded by fear. People deserve to know that they are loved, appreciated, respected, and supported — whether they are really truly open and receptive to hear it and accept it or not.
So how can we really know when it’s the time to say “I love you” when we are centered and feel that it is true in our heart — not when we know 10 of our partner’s hobbies or immediately once you hit the 6 month mark. Ditch the rules, ditch the statistics, ditch the fear… just take a moment to stop and get centered and look within your heart. If the calling is there, then follow it.
Take action now!
Stop what you are doing right now and allow yourself to get centered. Sit up straight in your seat, focus on your breath, and focus on how you feel in your body. Allow yourself to relax and be calm.
Once you feel calm and centered, ask yourself the question that you have been contemplating lately. It may be whether to tell your partner “I love you”, whether to ask them to move in together, whether you want to propose, or whatever.
When you ask yourself the question, focus on your heart center. Do you feel expanded and open open when you say it? Does it feel like there is a sense of release when you think about doing it? Then go ahead and do it! :-)
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This article was originally published at Jennifer Twardowski, Create a Life of Love. Reprinted with permission from the author.