Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lessons Learned - Saying "I love you" is tricky


When I started writing books, I swore that I would never have the characters figure out that they love each other and then wrap up the book. Like saying "I love you" was all that was needed to make everything okay. No. Acknowledging your emotions is just the beginning, not the end. Nothing is wrapped up in a nice, neat bow just because the words are spoken.

As a matter of fact, a lot of times those three words complicate the entire issue. There was one long term relationship that I should have bailed on a gajillion times but I didn't because "he loved me." You know that and $5.00 would get me a cup of coffee at Starbuck's.

I thought it was such a powerfully wonderful thing to have someone (who wasn't required by blood) love me that it never occurred to me to wonder - did he really? Or was that just something he said because it got him what he wanted? Which was me, still in it for another 3 - 6 months. That sounds incredibly cynical. I'm about 98% sure he loved me but I'll never be convinced that this particular s/o loved me more than he did himself. Or maybe his idea of "I love you" was different from mine.

One of my good friends shares her worst memory from her last relationship. The guy told her, "I love you." And she told him, "Um, thank you?" Beginning of the end. 

I had another s/o who told me he loved me after two weeks. This floored and disturbed me. "But you don't know me!" I argued. He said he loved my spirit, he knew me from the moment he met me. Now why I didn't flee at that moment? Ummph. So only he was surprised six months later when he stared at me accusingly, "You're not who I thought you were." No really? But my snarky butt replied, "Still loving my spirit?" That took care of that "love" connection.

And my all-time fave. Dude slams down his beer on the table. "Well, we gonna do the love thing or what?" Oh. The romance. 
Me: "Beg pardon?"
Him: "Are we in it or what?"
Me: "I reckon." 
Him: "Good. Now what?" 
Me: Shrugs. 
Him: "I guess we should figure that out." 
Me: "I guess so." 
Him: "Chinese for dinner? I know you had a long day and you don't want to cook."
Me: "Sounds perfect."
See now, that's a step in the right direction..

My lesson learned - the words don't mean da-da without something substantive to back it up. Saying it solves nothing  Meaning it helps everything. I don't need to hear it as much as I need to see it.

BougieLand, what say you? Do people say "I love you" too easily? Does it get to a point where it loses its meaning? And how awkward is it when one person says it and the other person doesn't? Or worse when someone says it and clearly doesn't mean it? How soon is too soon to say it? Let's hear your thoughts.

58 comments:

rozb said...

It's easy to say "I love you" when there is soft candlelight, seductive music, and silky drawers being flung everywhere during sexy cocoa time.

But I think it's more enduring to show the love when there are runny noses, coughing up of lungs, matted hair on one side, and behavior of Exorcist-worthy proportions. Now I know you ain't going anywhere, and you truly love and care for us together.

I have been on both sides of the "Who said I love you first?" awkward thing. Nothing is more discouraging than to say it and hear nothing but *crickets*, or have a lukewarm response: "Ooohhh yeaaah. About that - I care, but I'm just not there yet. Maybe one day but..." then they punch you in the arm and say, "Now stop playin' and let's go get something to eat." Yes - happened to me in my younger days. I was gone the next day, with him calling and asking why I was being so serious. After six months of togetherness, the last two cocoa-stirring. SMH.

There should be no timeline on when to say it. I prefer actions, like making sure I never get in a cold car on freezing winter mornings, or if I say "Hmm - the toilet keeps running" or "The door keeps squeaking" and I come home the issue is solved without any fanfare or grand announcement. Just done.

Eyesotp said...

The word 'love' gets thrown around a bit too easily.  I don't even think I know what love is anymore.

blackprofessor said...

I prefer actions, or if I say "Hmm - the toilet keeps running" or "The
door keeps squeaking" and I come home the issue is solved without any
fanfare or grand announcement. Just done.

Roz we are here!! I love a man who just takes care of stuff and gets it done!! My dad came to visit me recently and he fixed stuff that I didn't even know was broken.  If it wasn't my dad, I would have swooned! 

Troy said...

My fiance's favorite line is "Even though you make me crazy, I love you." That's real. It's not some picture perfect moment and it doesn't mean she likes me every minute of the day. But she loves me enough to hang in. I'll take it.

blackprofessor said...

I believe that people say the word too easily! I think a lot of folks confuse lust with love when they meet someone who makes them tingle.  Unfortunately, I have been in situations with men when they uttered the words and I didn't so there were some hurt feelings.

For me, love is an action word.  If you say you love me, you should be showing me your love through your actions.  Otherwise, it probably isn't love. 

bashowell said...

I do think people say "I love you" way too easily. Sometimes near the end of a relationship that is way past its prime "I love you" has about as much meaning and emotion as "Pass the salt".   You shouldn't go all Teddy Ruxpin like somebody stuck a tape in your back and you're just saying "I love you" because that's what the program said to do.  The last dude I was with said "I love you" after like a month.  He got a blank stare and a slow nod.  I should've taken that as a warning.  I won't say it unless I mean it.  And just because you said it first won't make me say it back if I don't mean it.  I've also been on the other side of things where I said "I love you" and dude was like [pause] "Wow. That's...surprising."

Miz JJ said...

"Or maybe his idea of "I love you" was different from mine."
This all day. I think that people can have different interpretations of love. Or saying it can mean different things to different people.
 
I have only been in one relationship where someone dropped the L-bomb before I was ready to reciprocate. I just was not ready to say it, but I knew they were. They'd been ready for awhile. It wasn't until (much) later I was able to say it as well. When I asked this SO if it bothered him that I didn't say it he said "I knew you'd figure out you loved me eventually and I wanted you to mean it when you said it." That was love to me.

Jubi The Great said...

I am a stereotypical Cancer & we love to hear things like "I love you" or "you're special". And sometimes hearing it will outweigh the actions that will take place. I've been burned a couple of times with that, and so I've had to really work against my natural tendency to swoon at flowery language. Being loved is great, but seeing it in action is so much better.

My most recent said "I love you" pretty quickly & I was not prepared for it. I don't reciprocate unless I feel it, and saying "thank you" starts to get pretty old when the other person wants to proclaim their love for you every 5 mins. I'm all for saying it when you feel it & if you chose to share...but sometimes folks forget that the person they are professing their love to has to deal with that as well.

taut_7 said...

sure people say it too often and too early. i grew up in a household where it wasn't said often but it was implied. i can't remember the last time my mother told me she loved me but i know she does with all her heart because of her actions. when i'm romantically involved with a woman i'll be hard pressed to tell her i love her even if i do. i'll get around to it and once i do i have no problem saying it but something about the word changes the dynamics of a relationship.

TrulyPC said...

I feel the words I love you are far too often said in an obligatory manner because either the person feels that the "time has come" or the person doesn't want to make the person who said the words feel bad by not saying them.  Protocol does not make those words what they really should be.

Truth be told I don't remember ever making a declaration with those words to any SO.  I have always been one to show it rather than say it. (cue Oprah) Love really is in the details. 

The times that I remember using the actual words were: (1)conversation with other people when I'm speaking of that individual and (2)with the actual SO when we were having a "working through it" conversation about the relationship.  I am a huge fan of ACTIONS leading the way.

CaliGirlED said...

Roz I am with you here! And the two men I blasted out yesterday did show me they loved me with various "I got that" actions, but neither of them succeeded in protecting my heart and both were emotionally unavailable.

My daughter's father and I weren't even speaking one time, and as I drove up he heard my brakes squeaking a block away. He shook his head and asked, "You know your brakes are gone don't you?" I replied, "Yeah" and kept walking. The next morning he calls, "Look in your mailbox and go get your brakes changed". The next day he calls to see if I took care of that and was appalled by my attitude. I explained to him that my back window was shattered. He called a few hours later, "Meet me at _________ so you can get your window fixed."

My ex and I were at his friend's house for a gathering. I wasn't a big wine drinker, but was good friends with the hard stuff, so I didn't think wine could do what it did to me. When we got home I was drunk and feeling very very sick. After sipping on a Sprite and a few failed attempts of hugging the porcelain throne, he stood over me and stuck his finger down my throat. Yep that was just what I needed, an empty stomach! After that I felt better and I crawled into bed and went to sleep. He stayed in the bathroom and cleaned up.

Yeah that was love! Too bad I wasn't the only one they were loving!

So now I'm looking for the total package, the words, the actions and the ability to express more than happy and angry.

Lady4Real said...

Am I a mini you or something? I didn't get to respond to yesterday's post but that was all me right there and this post right here, BougieCuz, get out my head and remove the bugs that you have planted in the house. It always amazes me how alike we are with these great states seperating us and the slight age gap.

So last week the hubs and I are talking about love, we agree it is not an emotion it is in deed a verb; an action. "I love you" is more than a phrase to be uttered because I make you laugh or lose focus. It's not a phrase to be tossed out over wine and pasta. It is not a "get out of jail free card". "I love you", is a snicker and bottle of midol awaiting me at the end of the month after I get off from work. "I love you", is your favorite video game already on reserve ready to be picked up on it's release date. "I love you" is feeding the children,bathing the children, and putting them to bed while I curl up with my favorite book or hang out with my girlfriends. "I love you" is saying I'm sorry for real and being able to say what you did wrong and your plan to not repeat the error. It's telling the truth even if it's going to hurt, pulling my card when I'm dead azz wrong and helping me learn the error of my ways. Love is being best friends first, confidantes, and awesome lovers.

It took my detoxicing from Disney, being disappointed by 'men' and learning from my elders to learn all of this and then some but at least I'm 28 and I know what love is, instead of 82 without a clue.
Some people mistake infactuation or lust with love but soon find out that they are wrong. Many of us say, "I love you too soon." I don't think it's lost its meaning, people just don't know what it means. It's too soon to say it if you don't mean it.

CaliGirlED said...

Pardon me Chele, I just need to take a brief moment to say:

HAPPY BIRTHDAY SLEEPLESS IN DC!!! Hope you have a wonderful day!

rozb said...

Nothing says love like holding your hair (or sticking his finger in your throat) so you can take care of business!

If he could match his maturity and fidelity with his efforts, he woulda been perfect!

LikeLena said...

Some people lead with their heads, some lead with their hearts. Some lead with the cocoa but that's a different post. I think you should be sincere no matter what you say. Whether it's "I love you" or "I wish I never met you" - say it when you mean it and stand behind it.

Lady4Real said...

 "people can have different interpretations of love", yes in deed. What I feel is love is not the same as my husbands. When he cooks dinner I feel loved, I cook dinner he feels full. If I visit Vicki S, he feels loved, if he stirs my cocoa I feel satisfied, lol.

Lady4Real said...

I hear that a lot. Even though you drive me crazy. You get on my nerves but I love you. I could choke you sometimes, but I love you. Between my Dad and my husband these phrases equal true love to me.

Lady4Real said...

Truer words have never been spoken.

CaliGirlED said...

Dated a man not too long ago, he said "I love you" before 2 weeks had
even passed. (Now I know that's a red flag flapping in the wind). I told
him I was very shocked and was not on that page. He said he understood
and would wait. I reluctantly let myself get drawn into saying it back
about a month in. WTH was I thinking??? Ok I wasn't! Anyway, I quickly
came to realize that he was on a fast track to find wife #2 to prove
that his failed marriage was not his fault. The last straw was the series of "thank you's" that followed a dinner I cooked. It became overwhelming! When I said something about it he couldn't believe his ears.  How could I not want him to show how much he appreciated dinner? Six times though! I told him I didn't know how to process the "thank you's" after about the 3rd one. He was flabbergasted! I bailed!

maureen said...

sending well wishes her way on her day!

CaliGirlED said...

Hell we would have been married! LOL!!!

BklynBajan said...

I grew up in a household where it was never said so I was T-H-I-R-S-T-Y just to hear those words. the first boy that did kept me hanging on much longer than I should have. My bad. Now, I don't say it unless I mean it and am ready to back it up with loving actions that are reciprocated. No more doing doing doing and not getting anything in return but criticism of what I didn't get to. Miss me with that mess.

BklynBajan said...

Happy Birthday SIDC! Do something special for yourself today!

CaliGirlED said...

A friend of mine posted this on facebook last night, "Humm have you ever wondered- where are those people that say they Love you when you really need them... Just thinking."

She got a lot of responses saying, "I love you!". I just shook my head, they didn't get the message.
 

BklynBajan said...

FB has spoiled people. Clicking posts and liking statuses is NOT love (or friendship for that matter).

Only1DivaC said...

Happy Birthday Sleepless in DC!

Earthangel172 said...

"I don't need to hear it as much as I need to see it."

This sums it up for me.

Earthangel172 said...

Happy birthday Sleepless in DC! Wishing you many more to come.

SingLikeSassy said...

I blogged about this once. My parents didn't use those words with us (or maybe just with me, they have a different relationship with my younger brother) a lot when I was a kid. In fact, I can't remember ever hearing them from anybody other than my Granny, who always said she loved me and was very affectionate and loving. I miss her and I feel guilty every day that I did not visit her enough or call her enough before she died. Sigh.

I pointed out the lack of "I love yous" to my parents when was 27 and god forbid we get off the phone now without them telling me a gadrillion times that they love me. In fact, they both came to visit me within two weeks of that conversation (I lived in Nashville at the time). Shoot, I could call my dad right now and he's suspect to tear up and tell me how much he loves me and my brother. Which is nice, but I needed to hear all that as a kid. I vowed if I ever became a mom, I would tell and SHOW my kids I loved them often. They might get sick of hearing it, but (hopefully) they would never doubt it and (hopefully) they would never crave it from the wrong sources because they didn't hear it or feel it from me.

I have told four men I love them in 20 years. Those words are hard for me. If I don't feel it or mean it or feel safe in saying it, I don't say it. I've learned over the years that not everybody holds the same regard and reverence for those words and the unspoken promises behind them that I do. That has been hurtful.

tishatweets said...

I had one relationship where I was constantly on and off with this cat. One day, after recounting the latest bit of drama, I said to my mother "But he loves me though, mom." She stopped what she was doing, looked me dead in my face and said "Honey, all love ain't good love." Changed my entire outlook on love and what it means. And it is one of the life lessons I pass on to other women when it's time.

rhenewal said...

The first man who told me "I love you" added the word "but" to it. In the sentence "I'm in love with you, but I need you to know that I've been seeing another woman". The beginning of the end. My response basically came to "I love you too. But we're breaking up."

A year later, he still professes to love me. And continues to date (and stir the cocoa of) women that are not me. I often tell him "Yes, I love you. Yes, I'll probably love you forever. But I'm not living like that." Sadness.

C Nelson said...

Yes, indeed. Happy Birthday!

Sasha Iman said...

Bias Alert: Saying "I Love You" is not a thing in my culture. Loving someone is very much an act that doesn't need to be announced. You show, not tell.

Declaring one's love for me in order to smooth things out or extend a relationship will get men nowhere because I don't care if someone says "I love you" to me. It's going in one ear and out the other if I can't match words to actions... along with the man involved for trying to pull that swindle.

I mean, if a guy really and truly loves me, I'll know it. So him saying he loves me would be nice, but I'm not waiting with bated breath for it either.

*shrugs* Don't tell me you love me, show you love me..... actions speak louder than words, and all that jazz.

Do people say "I love you" too easily? Yes.

I also think people put too much value in those words, creating a situation in which you either force someone's hand or they say it to be manipulative. Hence the awkwardness that arises when one person says it and the other person doesn't, and the reason why some say it when they clearly don't mean it.

How soon is too soon to say
it?
Dude, we met 2 weeks/months ago..... pardon me while I run like hell from your Ali Larter "Obsessed" arse.

OneChele said...

*Jaw drops open* Like I said, folks have different ideas of love.

Earthangel172 said...

"I prefer actions, like making sure I never get in a cold car on freezing
winter mornings, or if I say "Hmm - the toilet keeps running" or "The
door keeps squeaking" and I come home the issue is solved without any
fanfare or grand announcement."

Spoken like a true Scorpio! My ex was like that. I would come home and things would be fixed without me having to ask. I had a flat tire once.  He came and picked me up, dropped me off at home and took my car to get a new tire. Put my license plates on my new car. Got really sick once and he called into work and nursed me back to health.  Le Damn Sigh. They don't make em like they use to.

rozb said...

We are on the same page here. Yes indeed!

The Bunni said...

Please extend happy & be blessed birthday wishes to Sleepless in DC!  And remind her to remember that every day is a gift - that's why it's called the present!

nylse said...

he stuck his finger down your throat and still cheated on you?? wow!

ShawnSoze said...

I take that "I love you" seriously. Like unless I can see you as a possible Mrs. Shawn, I'm not saying it.

Grace said...

The last s/o said "I love you" like a hello and a goodbye and that's just about how sincere he was with it. So unless I see some actions backing up the words...

thinklikeRiley said...

Does me telling myself "I love me some me" every morning in the mirror count?

Leo the Yardie Chick said...

After hearing people in real life and in the media throw around, "I love you" like a bad cold, I can't help but question the sincerity behind the utterances at times. I'm more a 'doer of the word' in that regard. If you have to tell me numerous times a day, it's a routine.

Then again, being raised in a household where I can count received "I love yous" on one hand probably didn't help. However, I did experience love within my family, and that's what mattered/matters to me. :)

invectiva said...

This right here. I don't owe you reciprocity just 'cause you said the L word. Did you *mean* the L word? If not, then do. not. say. it.

ClayJones said...

In your words, it is a powerfully wonderful thing to be loved just for you, no strings. Unconditionally. It's that no strings unconditional part that is hard to find.

CaliGirlED said...

Ain't love grand?

CaliGirlED said...

Ok why is he your ex? He sounds like a keeper!

William Martin said...

I think it should. If you don't love you some you... who do?

Sleepless in DC said...

CaliDirlED, you rock! Thank you and everyone else for the B-day shout outs. :)

datdudeincali said...

My family was not all "love you" "love you too" so for me to say, it has to really mean something.

GammasWorld said...

I had open heart surgery in '98.  He cried for me and asked his friends to pray for me when I wasn't waking up after surgery.    Once I got to regular room, I was really sick to my stomach.   Dude held the pan while I puked.  Disgusted and all he was there.   When I got home and had orders to walk about a gazillion miles a day, he held my hand as I cried from the pain and fear and walked with me to the corner and back.   

Fast forward 6 years, chick calls me at work to tell me she's pregnant with dude's baby.    Bout the only person that can say "I love you" and mean it in my eyes is my granddaughter and she's getting iffy ... realizing I love you can lead to strawberry ice cream and what not.   

Yeah I'm still working on me :/

Earthangel172 said...

I'll email you on Twitter.

CaliGirlED said...

Man that sucks!

CaliGirlED said...

 Take all this positivity that has been sent to you and run with it!

CaliGirlED said...

Ouch!!!

Yeah you know Gamma's baby loves you if no one else does! How can she not, your hypocrisy is biased in her favor!!! #Hatin #AntiGrandmothers

GrownAzzMan said...

Happy Birthday fellow Scorpio!

rozb said...

I'm glad you are still here. BTW - it is most definitely his loss.

rozb said...

Happy Birthday you fabulous Scorpio Woman you!

From one fab Scorpio to another!

One Chele said...

"There should be no timeline on when to say it. I prefer actions, like
making sure I never get in a cold car on freezing winter mornings, or if
I say "Hmm - the toilet keeps running" or "The door keeps squeaking"
and I come home the issue is solved without any fanfare or grand
announcement. Just done"

This statement is it!  It is lovely to hear the words but when it is shown in your actions it is pure gold platinum to me.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails