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  #1  
Old 06 September 2017, 02:23 AM
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Veruca Veruca is offline
 
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Default Is saying "I love you" actually hard?

[I wasn't sure which forum to post this in. Hopefully I picked the right one.]

You know how there's this incredibly common trope in fiction, where two people have been dating but they haven't said "I love you" yet, and it's built up as this huge, scary milestone?

I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have yet to be in a romantic relationship that's progressed very far, so I have no personal experience to tell me whether this trope is based in reality or not. I've said "I love you" millions of times to friends and family, but never to a significant other, so I'm curious to hear from people with more romantic experience.

Is saying "I love you" for the first time something that people actually fret about? Is it hard to spit out? Does it significantly change your relationship?

Of course, I'm sure the answers will vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. I'm just interested in what people have to say.
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Old 06 September 2017, 02:53 AM
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IME, it's not that hard the first first time. It starts to get harder from the second first time.
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Old 06 September 2017, 03:36 AM
dfresh dfresh is offline
 
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It wasn't that hard the first time, but I soon realized it wasn't true. Later, it stayed not too hard. I should tell my wife I love her more often, but it seems to get lost between chasing kids, doing bedtimes, washing dishes, finding out what she did at work, talking about what stuff we need to send in to school now, and then sleeping.
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Old 06 September 2017, 03:36 AM
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I think you've got something there, Ganz. In my case, it's because I didn't actually have a clue what I was talking about the first time.

My wife and I knew fairly early in our relationship (about 2 months or so into dating in college) that this was going to be it. It was fairly easy for us to say because it was obvious to us that it was true. But then, neither of us had done the serial-casual-dating thing that is often portrayed as the norm in popular fiction. I think that's where the trope comes from - if one is used to a string of casual romantic relationships (a few dates and then moving on, regardless of levels of physical intimacy, etc.), then saying "I love you" represents a sea change in relationship status - it marks a shift (presumably) toward a monogamous relationship, and means the end of the casual dating scene for the foreseeable future.
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Old 06 September 2017, 04:03 AM
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I hear that changing your relationship status on FB is the current real-life trope in action. Who changes it first? What if the other person doesn't reciprocate with updating their status?

The first time I said "I love you."....ugh, that's some drama I'm glad to leave behind.

The second time I said "I love you," I dug into my engineeryness and listed out my assumptions and variables for making that calculation. :P
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  #6  
Old 06 September 2017, 04:10 AM
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Its not hard for me to say, I just don't throw those words around that easily, not even with family for that matter. I also don't use the term 'friend' so easily.
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  #7  
Old 06 September 2017, 04:15 AM
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Thanks for the thoughtful answers!

It's interesting to hear people say it was easy the first time. I've had two past boyfriends say they loved me - once when I was fourteen and once when I was seventeen. Both times I thanked them but declined to say it back, because in each case we had been "dating" (if you can call it dating when you're only fourteen) for a few weeks and it felt ridiculous to be professing love at that point. Neither relationship lasted much longer.
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Old 06 September 2017, 04:24 AM
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It's also one thing for it to be hard to say and another for it to be hard to hear. My dw doesn't get all Extreme about it but it's not on the short list of phrases she wants to hear. Otherwise, we'd say it all the time. We do say it to our kids all the time and we mean it.

I guess my point is it depends on how the person who's listening to the words is going to take it. If one realises that that reception may be quite different from its meaning in transmission (yikes - just noticed I think of it in engineering terms too!) it may lead to hesitation, perhaps reasonably so.
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Old 06 September 2017, 04:58 AM
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Saying "I love you" to someone I'm dating isn't hard in the same way that saying I want to break up is hard, or in the way that revealing my romantic feelings to a friend is hard. My only worry when saying "I love you" is that the other person won't say it back, which hurts my feelings but doesn't necessarily spell the end of the relationship. I'm not afraid of how it'll change the relationship if the other person says it back; if I'm in love, I welcome those changes. I usually feel and say it after about a month or so of dating. I think I've said it to four guys; two of them said it to me first, and of the two to whom I said it first, one said it back right away; the other didn't say it back for a couple months.
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Old 06 September 2017, 10:45 AM
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Brad from Georgia Brad from Georgia is offline
 
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It was difficult for me because my family was very undemonstative with emotions. Kissing and hugging? Don't remember my parents ever doing it, and nobody ever said "I love you." So when I started dating, it was hard for me to be sure of my feelings. Finally got there, and I tried to be more expressive myself, especially after my wife and I had children of our own.
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  #11  
Old 06 September 2017, 11:48 AM
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I think a big part of what makes it so difficult for some people is that it's a really vulnerable moment and some people have difficulties opening themselves up like that, even if they'd be opening up to someone they love and trust. They might be having trouble admitting this vulnerability to themselves. Pretty much the same drives/blocks that lead to the dreaded "commitment-phobia."
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Old 06 September 2017, 12:19 PM
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I think for me it was, and wasn't.
I know there were at least three other people that I was interested in, but where I've never gotten around to tell them how I felt*.
But I have to admit, I don't quite know when in our Long Distance Relationship I told DW that I love her the first time. What we agree on (I am right now discussion it with her) is that when we decided to try it, I was more phrasing it with the cautious "I think I'm starting to have feeling for you..." kind of thing. Of course, it's more than likely that I first sent her a "I love you" in a chat before saying it out loud to her, which might have softened me up for the actual thing.
And after almost 17 years of marriage, saying "I love you", is quite easy, and luckily it's still true.

*. I have to admit that the last two "almost" things were very helpful in deciding how I felt for DW. First of them was just a crush, second one was more than just a crush, and when I compared them to what I felt for DW I was decently sure it was more than just a crush.
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Old 06 September 2017, 12:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Veruca View Post
I'm embarrassed to admit it, but I have yet to be in a romantic relationship that's progressed very far, so I have no personal experience to tell me whether this trope is based in reality or not.
I'm sorry to hear you're embarrassed about that. I wish we didn't make people feel that way. Your experience is more common than you probably realize. Pop culture promotes a lot of hurtful nonsense, including the idea that anyone who doesn't fit a certain basic profile of relationship activity is a freak or less than adult or less than whole. It took me decades to let go of those ideas. I wish I'd done it earlier.

ETA: Interestingly, my youngest brother seems to have let go them many years earlier than I did. Hmmm.
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Old 06 September 2017, 02:00 PM
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Sylvanz Sylvanz is offline
 
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DH said it first and I said it back. I don't remember the details. It was over 34 years ago, and we've been happy through many downs and a few ups. We don't say it much, but it means something when we do. It bothers me to hear people on the phone say: "Luv you bye". It seems so throw away. This is probably more my issue than theirs.

In a previous "relationship" I told this guy that I was crazy about that I loved him and he replied: "I wish I could love you." That I remember for the pure horror/embarrassment. He went on to get married to and have a child with a woman much older than him who promptly dumped him (she'd also lost custody of two children from a previous relationship before he got involved with her. She was kind of a bar fly.) When he moved out of state a few months after I started seeing DH seriously, he asked to see me at a mutual friend's house. I went and we all visited for a while, and I went to leave in future DH's car. X went out with me and kissed me goodbye wishing me a good life. This was during or after his brief go with the mother of his child. It was a very odd situation all the way around. DH, to this day, doesn't know about that, though I doubt he'd care at this point. DH's mom, knew and told me to just let it go, as I had let "wishful" X go.

Wow, hadn't thought about this stuff in forever. I'm very lucky things turned out the way they did, and glad I have DH. X was charismatic and not a bad person, but he had some weird ideas. I don't think it would have worked out at all. I'm way too independent for the sort of person X turned out to be.

Back to the subject. It wasn't/isn't hard to say. It's just scary to hear what the person you say it to might say back to you.
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Old 06 September 2017, 02:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad from Georgia View Post
It was difficult for me because my family was very undemonstative with emotions. Kissing and hugging? Don't remember my parents ever doing it, and nobody ever said "I love you." So when I started dating, it was hard for me to be sure of my feelings. Finally got there, and I tried to be more expressive myself, especially after my wife and I had children of our own.
Sounds like my family. My parents just weren't the hugging, kissing, saying "I love you" type of parents. And knowing their parents that's not too surprising! My husband was raised in a similar family and we both agreed that if we did nothing else differently with our own children it was going to be that they got cuddles, hugs and kisses and were told they were loved.

I should add I don't think I ever doubted my parents loved me but it certainly would have been nice to hear it once in awhile!
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Old 06 September 2017, 03:15 PM
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I can tell you my dad has told me he loved me twice; Once when my parents told us they were getting divorced, and once right after my brother killed himself.
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  #17  
Old 06 September 2017, 04:07 PM
KirkMcD KirkMcD is online now
 
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I have a friend who is 48 and she is quite proud that she has never said "I love you" to anyone but her mother.
She has never been married and has never been in a long term relationship.
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Old 06 September 2017, 04:14 PM
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Veruca, don't be embarrassed. I am also someone who took a long time to start forming serious romantic bonds. Here's my perspective:

Unfortunately, the trope is mostly true, at least in the U.S. I think it stems from the fact that people in a deep romantic relationship mean something quite different when they say "I love you" to each other than they do when saying it to, for example, their parents or close friends. But this leads to a very strange situation where people feel uncomfortable expressing even the friendly level of love to someone they've dated for a little while. Perversely, it's easier - and more socially acceptable - to say "let's have sex" than "I love you" to someone in this situation.

I can use two fictional references: The first, believe it or not, is an ancient episode of The Doris Day Show that left an impression when I was a kid. When a man (who, as I remember, was much younger) falls for Doris' character with many an "I love you", she lets him down easy by saying "and I love you - but I'm not in love with you." The conflation of these two ideas is, IMHO, the crux of the matter, perhaps better illustrated by my other, more familiar, example from The Big Bang Theory. When Leonard first tells Penny he loves her, she has a problem returning it. But as he points out, she has no problem saying "I love chilli cheese fries."

Before I started seeing the woman I married, I was in a kinda-sorta dating situation with someone who was very uncomfortable if I used the phrase with her - unless I meant it in the friendship way. When I first said it to my wife-to-be, there was no problem at all. I really learned to appreciate the "quieter" love we shared.

Good luck to you!
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Old 06 September 2017, 06:07 PM
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Veruca Veruca is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lainie View Post
Pop culture promotes a lot of hurtful nonsense, including the idea that anyone who doesn't fit a certain basic profile of relationship activity is a freak or less than adult or less than whole.
Thanks. I know you're right. I'm usually fine with my "spinster cat lady" status, but it can be awkward when people want to make small talk about romance or past exes or whatever.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KirkMcD View Post
I have a friend who is 48 and she is quite proud that she has never said "I love you" to anyone but her mother.
She has never been married and has never been in a long term relationship.
That's kind of cool. Reminds me of Beatrice from Much Ado about Nothing (minus the part where Beatrice did fall in love in the end.) "I would rather hear a dog bark at a crow than a man swear he loves me."

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChasFink View Post
Good luck to you!
Thanks.
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  #20  
Old 06 September 2017, 06:27 PM
Ellestar Ellestar is offline
 
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I had a hard time with it, in a way. At the time, I was doing everything I could to deny that a) a relationship was actually happening and b) that my feelings were real enough to share. We met on line and had a months-long, long distance email, IM, and telephone flirtation where we talked about anything and everything, but had only barely met once. There was every reason the relationship should have failed or been abandoned, but we just were too into each other to notice.

Then, one day he "said" he loved me (it was in an email). It was a good thing he did because my immediate reaction was not very positive. So I decided to let him down easy and be completely honest about my feelings toward him.

I ended up writing, "I love you, too."

Next year is our 10th anniversary and we still say it practically every day. It was super easy after that first time.
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