Sunday, November 8, 2009

I love you....who says it first?

My boyfriend (I shall refer to him as "B") and I recently said those three little words to each other for the first time; "I love you". This was even after B bravely met my family for the first time at my brother's wedding last weekend (no pressure there!). But, I digress....

I found it interesting that my female friends, both Christian and non-Christian alike, universally agreed that the woman should wait for the man to say "I love you" first. The reasons for this included:
  • The man should lead in the relationship.
  • I would be embarrassed if I said it first and he did not reciprocate.
  • He would feel "pressured" if I said it first.
  • And, other variants thereof.

One friend suggested I "plant the seed on the sly" by signing an email "Love, Learner" and see if he noticed and said anything. I opted not to do that because I figured I was either going to tell him so or wait, not go half way or be "sly".

In the end, even though I knew that I loved B for a while, I decided to wait for him to say it first while doing what I could to express my love to him in ways that did not include just saying the words. I decided to wait because since we started to get to know each other he has had a good feel about when to move forward in our relationship, and I trust his judgement and want to follow his leadership. I later told B about my friend's opinions that I should wait for him to say "it" first and his response was something like "hmm, interesting".

After thinking about this some more I have wondered about another possible reason for waiting for the man to say I love you first. Given the masculine ability to separate emotions from thought and logic better than many women seem to be able to, myself included, perhaps it is prudent to follow the man's lead for when is the right time to say "I love you"?

What do y'all think?

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In other news, I just recently noticed I had a follower named Jody! Hi Jody and thanks for following my blog :)

30 comments:

Elusive Wapiti said...

Bah. He knew you did before you said it.

Anyways, woman should say it first. It's her job to be all mushy and stuff.

The Librarian said...

Interesting question, Learner! My opinion, for what it's worth: the man says the "L" word first, but it's up to the woman to create the kind of atmosphere where he knows the words will be welcome. Yes, it may be up to the woman to be all "mushy and stuff," but I think it's up to the man, if he is serious about leadership in the relationship, to to take that big leap of faith.

Of course, there was that time I got the "L" bomb dropped on me when I really was not looking or hoping for it, and that got embarrassing really fast...

wombatty said...

I agree that the man should say it first - mainly because the man leads. But this caught my eye:

I would be embarrassed if I said it first and he did not reciprocate.

Frankly, this is irrelevant. I could use the same excuse to wait for her - who wants to be embarrased, especailly in a situation like this?

Kathy Farrelly said...

"Frankly, this is irrelevant. I could use the same excuse to wait for her - who wants to be embarrased, especailly in a situation like this?"

Exactly wombatty.

As EW said.

"Bah. He knew you did before you said it." (As you intimated , L)

There are just some things that one knows and feels.

Whoever says it first?

Well, I think it just all comes naturally.
To be honest I cannot remember if I or my husband uttered those three words first.
I do remember him placing his arms around me, and us both declaring our love for one another.
Just can't remember who went first.
It just all felt so right.

Professor Hale said...

If your whole purpose of saying it is to get validation, then you should wait for the man to say it. For the most part, saying it and whan you say it is irrelevant. Since you do not define "love", and it can mean many things it is at best a polite greeting and at worst a practice in self-deception (making it mean what you want it to, instead of what the speaker intended).

In relationships, I prefer that both people say whatever they want whenever they want and not conform to artificial rules or "game". I am sure that this policy of mine have resulted in several rejections by women I preferred, but conscience has consequences so I am OK with that. Since my goal is not to increase my lifetime "batting average", I have nothing at risk by honesty.

Your apprehension about when to say it, and who says it first are bounded up in the myth and mystery of saying "I love you" as if it is more important than "I care about you" or "I enjoy being with you".

Until a man takes a bullet for you though, it is all just words.

Ame said...

interesting comments ...

what i'm sensing from the comments is that the men don't know why a woman would even consider 'waiting'

that is interesting to me, and i think it might intimate that men might not understand how much this choice for a woman to wait can be a subtle declaration of her choice to follow him rather than lead ... or at least if such a decision is made due to these reasons ... and not b/c she's manipulating him in any way.

however, i think it is probably more case-specific, and creating a general rule for all people would be difficult.

in a relationship where the man has been wounded by a previous woman who overstepped her boundaries, such as with my husband, it is necessary for me to be more tender and aware of how i allow him to lead and how i express that to him.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

Because I believe that in a relationship, pursuit is the role of the man, he should say it first. It's a part of the pursuing, IMO.

Aggressive women are a turn off to man, or so I've been told by my husband.

Oh, and I never thanked you for linking to my little marriage post a few weeks back. Very flattering. Thank you.

Learner said...

EW,

I hope he knew I loved him before I said so :) I can do mushy.

TL,

it's up to the woman to create the kind of atmosphere where he knows the words will be welcome

Yes, I believe a friend gave me similar advice :)

Hi Wombatty,

I agree that the embarrassment excuse is a cop out for sure.

Hi Kathy,

I do think, as Ame said, there is some element of individuality.

Prof Hale,

Love is at best a polite greeting? I don't believe that for a second. Eros, philia, agape are all more than that regardless of the imperfect practitioners thereof. You just might be too cynical for your own good bro. Of course I probably am not cynical enough for my own good so you can take my opinion on the subject for what it is worth!

Ame,

how much this choice for a woman to wait can be a subtle declaration of her choice to follow him rather than lead

Interestng thought, and I think true for me.

Learner said...

Hi Terry,

It does seem that leadership and pursuit have some relationship to each other.

You are welcome for the link, it was an excellent post about love :)

Professor Hale said...

You err,
Love is not a polite greeting. SAYING "I love you" is a polite greeting. It otherwise conveys no useful informaiton between two people who have already established that they enjoy each other's company and have a romantic interest. How much of that do you need before you are qualified to say, "LOVE"? an unanswerable question and not one whose answer is in any way valuable.

If you look at love as the verb and not the noun, then perhaps a more useful declaration between romantically linked couples is, "I will love you". Not as an expression of future devotion, but of intent to act.

Much more of this and I will have to change my pen name to Professor Landers.

Learner said...

Prof Hale,

Ooooh, okay, now I understand that when you said Since you do not define "love", and it can mean many things it is at best a polite greeting and at worst a practice in self-deception that "it" was "saying I love you" and not "love" itself as I inferred from your sentence construction.

And, I do agree that love is an ongoing action, not a noun.

Jonathan said...

It seems to me that the very question of who goes first is one that points to "the game." I'm not a big fan of games.

I like what was said regarding love declarations, "it's not real until he's willing to take a bullet for you." I'd go further. It's not love until he is willing to come face to face with your greatest weaknesses and not run screaming for the door.

On the other side, I'd say that all the declarations of belief that "the man leads" are only so many words until one is willing to stick by that conviction when the man is leading you to do something you don't want to do or disagree with.

(This is, of course, not to say that someone should allow themselves to be led to do something that they believe is morally wrong.)

wombatty said...

Jonathan wrote:
I like what was said regarding love declarations, "it's not real until he's willing to take a bullet for you." I'd go further. It's not love until he is willing to come face to face with your greatest weaknesses and not run screaming for the door.

This can't have much to do with being the man as the same is true for the woman - she must also be 'willing to come face to face with your greatest weaknesses and not run screaming for the door'.

Learner said...

Jonathan said :
It's not love until he is willing to come face to face with your greatest weaknesses and not run screaming for the door.

On the other side, I'd say that all the declarations of belief that "the man leads" are only so many words until one is willing to stick by that conviction when the man is leading you to do something you don't want to do or disagree with.


Agreed bro

Learner said...

she must also be 'willing to come face to face with your greatest weaknesses and not run screaming for the door'

True that, Wombatty

The Librarian said...

"I would be embarrassed if I said it first and he did not reciprocate."

Well, yeah. But, if the relationship prospers, and unfolds according to plan, at some point you'll be sharing a bathroom. And at some point, either one of you will have a gastro virus, or other human event. Embarrassment is part of the human condition. We will all experience it, regardless of circumstance. There is a certain dignity, I think, in letting someone know how his/her presence in your life has affected you. If it is not reciprocated, fine; that is up to him/her. I said it once to a man who is a truly good person; he did not reciprocate, but I did not feel embarrassed by it, because, first, he is truly a good man; and second, he showed respect for me and my feelings and didn't do that evangelical thing where he thinks that saying "hi" to a guy to him means you're already picking out the china pattern and baby names. He is still someone whose opinion matters and who I trust with questions. I said to him once, that his presence in my life was a "heart-opening exercise" such as I'd experience in a really good yoga class, and there is a value in having people in your life who, if not "THE One," can direct your own heart to a place where you can see the possibilities.

And if anyone asks, right now I'm running a temperature.

Ame said...

The Librarian - :)

Learner said...

Oooh Librarian- I hope you don't have what has kept me at home since Sunday!

Re: your comment- There is a certain dignity, I think, in letting someone know how his/her presence in your life has affected you.

I agree and you said it so beautifully....I can't express myself like that when I have a fever!

The Librarian said...

I attribute my A+ in English Lit in 1st year university to the fact that I was having a screaming-high fever at the time I was writing the final exam, and all synapses were firing full-time! Y'all want to ask about water imagery in "To the Lighthouse? I can do it!

Of course, if you are writing a foreign-language exam, I'll just fill in every single blank space with something in the pluperfect tense. It's a trade-off.

The Librarian said...

And, by the way, if you really want to walk the talk of Christian love, go to Jon Acuff's blog and donate to build,staff, and support this mission:https://www.firstgiving.com/scl

I'm unemployed, and I've just contributed.

Learner said...

LOL Librarian,

I once scored a 97% on a neuroanatomy final exam while running a 103 degree temperature. I thought it was an act of God :)

Ame said...

i just love having smart friends ... i always know where to go when i need info! :)

Anonymous said...

Isn't it nice to have that out of the way now. :)-Norm

Learner said...

Hi Norm :)

Yes, it is. I mentioned to him the other night that maybe it was silly for me to wait for him, but either way I was glad we were saying it to each other now :)

Anonymous said...

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Shushu said...

I think in a relationship the man must say those "magic" words first. In my relationship i said it first Unfortunately I didn't received the answer that I wanted it. He just gaved me a big and tight hug..But didn't ruin our relationship, in fact it was just the opposite. We are happy togheter. And no.. he didin't said that he loves me .. we talked about that and i understood all his problems. Because at least I want a serios relation :) ... so if it comes to give you girls an advice is : don't be afraid of your feelings toward your beloved. Say what you feel and if this will scare your partner, talk open wide with him about this. If he don't understand even then, that maybe means you have lost your time with him :)
( sorry for my bad english)

Jesse said...

"it's up to the woman to create the kind of atmosphere where he knows the words will be welcome"

This is about the best take on a woman's role in such things that I've heard--I now have a concise and on-the-money response when these sorts of topics come up in my presence. Good stuff.

And I'll broaden it and say that methinks it's up to the woman to create--or at least try to create--the kind of atmosphere that inspires confidence, risk-taking (with the inevitable failures that sometimes result), initiative, etc. in a man that so many women speak of wanting but seem to expect to just "be there" as if through little or no effort of their own. Men and women should be assets to each other's growth in a relationship, not obstacles. If they're not seeking and working to help the other become more mature then something's amiss.

Learner said...

Hi Jesse,

The Librarian is a wise woman :) I hope your Christmas was good bro!

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