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Should You Say the “L” Word First?

There’s nothing better than the first time someone says, “I love you.” It’s like tasting the best ice cream you’ve ever had while floating on a white, puffy cloud. But who’s supposed to say it first? Does it have less of an impact if a woman says those particular three little words before a man does? Maria wrote to me asking my advice on this very subject:

I’ve been dating a wonderful man for four months now, and I’m in love. We’ve been exclusive for three months, and I know he deeply cares about me and would do anything for me. But he hasn’t told me he loves me yet, and I’ve come to believe it’s better in the relationship if the man says the “L” word first.

The problem is it’s becoming increasingly harder for me to NOT tell him I love him, as I’ve known I’ve loved him for a long time now. I do believe he loves me, but I also know he’s had a rough time of it in his past relationships and might just be gun shy about telling me so. What’s your take on who should say “I love you” first? I don’t want to force anything and potentially create an ongoing awkward situation, but I feel like I’m ready to burst!

Maria, thank you for this fantastic question! We’ve been talking a great deal recently on Sparks! about the beginnings of new relationships on the Friday Takeaway (see this month’s series: “How Soon Is Too Soon…”) so your timing is perfect.

I’m hoping that you and everyone else who reads my blog, has taken my Smart Sexy Soulful Dating™ courses or listened to a preview of my audio series, knows by now that I’m not a fan of rules or having a set way of doing anything. Rules are for games and sports — they have no place in your love life.

Live Authentically

My hope is for you to be authentic and completely natural, listen to your instincts, and do what feels right to you now, instead of following what’s politically correct or adhering to some advice you read in a book.

Maria, you say you feel like you’re going to “burst” if you don’t tell this man you love him. Meanwhile, your head is telling you to suppress that pure emotion and wait for him to speak the “L” word. But guess what? You’re going against your own nature!

I agree that it’s a much greater high when a man says the “L” word first, but not for the reasons you might think.

It’s because, for the most part, when a man makes a choice to truly love a woman, he’s a better partner than the man who was pulled into the relationship clinging to his independence. It can also be difficult to tell whether his “I love you, too” is simply because when you said it, he felt he had to respond in kind. In general, hearing him say these words without your prompting makes you feel safe, feminine and relaxed.


Being Fair By Being Honest

What about when you’re holding back and sitting on your emotions? Is that better? I think not. If you love a friend, a parent, a child, do you ever hold back telling them you love them? Of course not! Think it’s a different kind of love? Think again. Love is love. It’s just your fear of rejection that stops you from expressing it.

Here’s where your dating smarts come into play. If a man has been exclusive with you and is making you “feel” loved, why is it such a crime to share what you’re feeling? To me, it’s a disservice to him, yourself, and the gift of love to have an emotion but keep it on the shelf. Fear is a motivator for a lot of people, but in this case, it’s not actually pushing you forward, it’s literally stopping you.

The Art of Showing and Telling

Marie, you mention that he committed to you within two-four weeks of when you met and that his relationship past might have left some protective barriers. That’s understandable. However, he’s showing you in every way how he feels. In the past, you’ve been the leader with men, but my guess is that you were loving men who weren’t ready (or at least not ready for you). This appears to be different based on everything you’ve written to me about his behavior, and I strongly encourage you to separate this man from your other relationships.

Perhaps you need to be the brave one here.

You really have nothing to lose! If you’re worried about your self-esteem or being rejected, then your love has strings attached. That’s no way to live, or to love. Tell him you love him and lose the attachment to what you think he might or might not say back to you.

We’ve all been in this position before. Feeling the “love” before hearing the words. I remember my husband told me one night when he thought I was asleep. He too, was scared to say it but even if he hadn’t said it first, I would have gladly told him how I felt.

Be brave, Maria!

Ok. I love you. All of you reading this. There, I said it! And I’m not worried if you’re going to say it back!

Now, I want to hear your stories. Have you ever been brave enough to say “I love you” first? Do you think it’s necessary for a man to be the one to reveal it? Please share this post with your friends and let’s chat in the comments below!

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