Why Men Should Say "I Love You" First
While having dinner with my friend recently, let’s call him Drew, we stumbled upon the topic of saying “I love you” for the first time in a relationship. In Drew’s last relationship, after only a few short months of dating, his then girlfriend uttered those three irretractable words.
She said I love you first...he didn’t say it back.
It’s no surprise that many women have been in a similar position, myself included. We blurt out how we feel whether it be premature, alcohol induced, or 100% true, and then we feel fragile, vulnerable - or like we screwed up - when those words go unreturned.
Cue the insecurities.
“Why didn’t he say it back?”
“Does he love me?”
“I feel so stupid now.”
In the case of Drew, he simply wasn’t ready to say those words back; he just wasn’t there yet.
Now to be fair, there are many variables that factor into a person saying "I love you" for the first time and for the person saying it back. That said, we all have a different pace in which we arrive at those three words. For some men, if they’ve gotten hurt in the past, they are much more reluctant to say it, especially too soon. Not to mention, men aren’t used to expressing themselves as openly as women are. Likewise, the word love is much more prevalent in a woman’s word bank than it is a man’s.
“Omg I love that bag! Where did you get it?”
“I love your hair like that!”
“I love that new bronzer from Bobbi Brown!”
See how the word love gets used so freely? It gets habitually thrown around in place of “really like”, diluting the core value of the word. As a result, "I love you" doesn't mean the same thing for everyone.
I know it seems like I'm over-analyzing here (I am!), because the truth is, it shouldn’t matter who says “I love you” first. It really shouldn’t. However, saying the words is rarely the issue; meaning them - independent of the outcome - is usually the issue. So while many people subscribe to the belief that whoever feels it first should just say it first, I don’t believe this to be true for women.
Here’s the sad truth: even if a guy claims that it doesn’t scare him away if a woman says it first, the fact still remains true: it means more to the woman to hear it from the man than the other way around.
Well for starters, a man’s "I love you" and a woman’s "I love you" are very different. For a man to initiate “I love you” it has much more impact than the reverse, simply because a woman needs to hear it - it’s a verbal form of security. For men, if they are happy in a relationship, they don’t require those words.
Moreover, a guy and his friends sure as hell aren’t sitting around having a conversation about “Well she hasn’t said she loves me yet so I’m not really sure where things are going." That'll be the day! Women on the other hand, have much different conversations with their friends. After a girl has been dating a guy for a few months, the questions start flooding in from her friends.
“Soooo, have you guys said ‘I love you’ yet?”
“Do you think he’s the one?”
“Do you think you’ll move in together?”
The point is, when a woman says "I love you" first, she potentionally puts a man in a lose-lose situation. That is, if a man says "I love you" back and doesn’t mean it, he will lead the relationship down a bumpy road. In the event a man doesn’t say anything back - or worse - he says “thank you”, the woman is left feeling like she is powerless. Many times it feels this way for a woman because she was hoping (and perhaps expecting) the man to return the sentiment. In this case, “I love you” becomes something you are trading rather than giving. That is why it feels like you are giving up something - because you feel as if you are on the bad end of a trade. That's not real love.
Love doesn't need to be perfect. It just needs to be true. -Unknown
So to all the women out their brimming with the L word on the tip of their tongue, I urge you to demonstrate your love through your actions rather than your words. Let the man do what he’s supposedly good at - “manning up” - and muster up the courage to say it to you first. It might take some time for him to get there, but let him. At the end of the day, it’s the guy who gets down on one knee to put a ring on a woman’s finger, not the other way around.