You’ve been dating for months, perhaps nigh on a year. Things are going amazingly. They’re cute, they’re funny and they’re damn near perfect. So why are you struggling to tell them how you truly feel?
If you’re struggling to express yourself, the good news is that it’s something you can learn. But in order to overcome this obstacle, you first need to understand where this angst stems from.
Why is saying “I love you” difficult?
- Emotional perfectionism. You worry you’re slipping into an irrational way of thinking. That’s an understandable concern, but, when it comes to love, there’s really very little logic to begin with. The feelings are new and unfamiliar. It can be tough knowing how to channel them.
- Rejection anxiety. By telling someone you love them, you may feel you’re exposing yourself, laying your soul on the line to be ripped away from you. You don’t want to be perceived as weak, perhaps even vulnerable, when in reality you know you’re strong, independent and can stand on your own two feet. You might conclude that it’s simply safer to not risk it.
- Low self-esteem. If you’re convinced that you’re not worth much, you’re not going to believe anyone else values you, either. You may believe that you’re simply not ‘entitled to’ or ‘deserving of’ being loved because you’re sure no-one could ever feel the same way about you as you do about them.
- You’ve been burned before. In the past, you might have taken a leap of faith, been brave enough to face your fears and tell that special someone how you really feel about them. If it didn’t work out, though, you might have been left feeling humiliated, unwanted, pushed away. If you let your guard down again, you’re terrified that history will repeat itself.
How to say “I love you”
Whilst we’re always a little sceptical of clichés here at Miingle, it often really is true that’s it’s better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all. Just take a moment to envisage the lifelong regret you know you’re guaranteed to be wracked with if you never, ever tell them how you truly feel.
You might be less anxious telling them over the phone or in a letter, but nothing else truly compares to the intimacy, emotional vulnerability and profundity of telling them in person. Choose somewhere they’ll be comfortable and that is right contextually for your relationship. If the two of you are all about the PDAs, go ahead and tell them over dinner or in the park. But if you know they’d prefer to hear it in private, save it for when you’re cuddled up under the duvet after spending a romantic evening together.
Also, think about your timing. Spontaneity isn’t a bad thing, but make sure it’s positive spontaneity, as opposed to yelling it as something akin to a trump card during an argument. It should feel natural, organic. After a perfect date or a wonderful day together would be ideal.
Be prepared for any response. Don’t be complacent. Even if you’re sure they feel the same, don’t preempt. Don’t punish them if they don’t say it back straight away. They might be feeling pressure too, or be taken aback. They could simply be overcome with emotion.
Saying “I love you” can seem like the most terrifying thing you’ll ever do, but keep it in perspective and think about the long term. If they feel the same, it’ll be the best thing you ever do. If they don’t, at least you know and can act accordingly. Either way, life is about taking risks. Plan how you’re going to say those three little words and you might just be amazed at both yourself and just how much it changes your life.