Some rules are meant to be broken.
On my last count, there were 847 exhausting rules about saying ‘I love you’. Possibly more – I may have missed some because I zoned out and the moment passed. How soon you should say it, who should say it first, how often you should say it; the list goes on and on and it’s all crap!
There should be no rules about using the three magical words. Of course, it’s probably not ideal to drop an ILY on a first date after you’ve enjoyed dinner and are just getting to grips with where he lives, what he does for a living and what his pet dog is called. But if it falls out of your mouth before you hit the three-month mark, or whatever the latest and greatest ‘expert’ is saying is appropriate, so be it. If you feel it, say it, and don’t waste a second fretting about it.
Every person is different and every relationship is different, so how can you possibly police an expression of emotion? You can’t.
Some people smile more than others – another expression of emotion. Are we going to ration that too, maybe to a healthy five a day?
And let’s be honest, if you say it before you had intended to and his eyes widen in horror as he backs towards the door, he’s probably not the best choice of partner to hold hands with you through the turbulent twists and turns of life. If he’s so easily freaked, just wait until the big stuff comes knocking at the door. An unexpected pregnancy? He’ll spontaneously combust.
One partner could make you feel so overwhelmed with love that you say it sooner and more frequently than you ever have before, and there’s nothing wrong with that. Your ‘I love you’ pattern is set differently in each relationship because it involves two individuals who tick on a unique wavelength.
How soon you say it doesn’t matter. Who says it first doesn’t matter. How often you say it is entirely up to you. You don’t run ILYs like a social media strategy (“Oh no, I’ve already posted once today and the next one’s not due until 8am tomorrow”). Equally, if a day goes by and you haven’t felt it, you don’t have to sit down for ‘the chat’ and discuss where you went wrong as a couple either.
It’s also important to remember life isn’t The Bachelor, and every ‘I love you’ doesn’t have to be idyllic. You don’t have to lead your partner to a tranquil beauty spot, wait until the sun is setting, take their hand earnestly, look them keenly in the eye and lean in as you purposefully say the words. It does count in the kitchen, on the sofa or in the car when he’s picking you up from work too.
The older I get, the more I learn there are no rules, and neither life nor love run to a checklist. There’s no right order, never the right time, and no guarantees.
Nowadays I get on with telling my nearest and dearest I love them when I genuinely mean it. Being true to yourself is what really counts – not following a rulebook.
When Piglet asked Winnie the Pooh “How do you spell love?”, Pooh replied “You don’t spell it, you feel it” – and that bear knew his way around a honey!
Image via favim.com.
Comment: What’s the earliest you’ve said ‘I love you’, and what reaction did you get?