When to Say I Love You

You’ve been dating a guy for a few months when he shows up at your door with a small silver bag.

After kissing you hello, he hands it to you and closely watches your face.

You reach into the bag and find a slim black box nestled in the tissue paper.

You open it…

And gape at the diamond tennis bracelet.

“Let me put it on you,” he says eagerly.

As he fastens it around your wrist, you feel uncomfortable.

You dread to think how much it cost.

But he seems overjoyed. He admires the way the bracelet sparkles on your wrist.

You feel like an exchange has happened, but you’re not sure what you’ve just agreed to.

The Gift of Love

When you’re in love with someone, you want to give generously.

You want to show them how much you adore them.

How could there be anything wrong with a gift that comes from the heart?

One of the most precious gifts of all are those three words: “I love you.”

As soon as you know you’re in love, you want to sing it from the rooftops.

“I’m in love! I’m in love! I’m in love!”

But what about the other person?

Is it fair to make them receive your gift of love when they’re not ready yet?

Telling someone, “I love you,” when they’re not ready for it is like giving them a priceless bracelet when they can’t afford anything that valuable to give in return.

Don’t let your gifts throw off the balance in your relationship.

There’s a better way to express love that strengthens your connection without risking rejection.

The Hidden Motives Behind Love Confessions

Rom-coms teach us that no love affair is complete without a grand romantic gesture and passionate declaration of love.

In the cinematic world of rom-coms, that passionate declaration creates the turning point in the story. The resistant heroine finally falls in love with the awkward hero once she knows how he feels.

The lesson? If you want someone to fall in love with you, you have to tell them how you feel.

But is that true in real life?

In real life, it turns out that those three words don’t necessarily have the magic powers we attribute to them.

Just because you say, “I love you,” doesn’t mean that your partner will say those words back or even believe you.

A study found men tend to assume that women say, “I love you,” to increase commitment, while women tend to believe that men say those words in order to sweet-talk her into sleeping together. [1]

If rom-coms are your guide, it may be that you do have an ulterior motive in disclosing your feelings. You want the grand romantic moment where he says that he loves you back.

If he can’t say that, you feel gutted. You took a risk, disclosed your feelings, and discovered that he doesn’t feel the same way about you as you do about him.

That can end a relationship prematurely—not at all what you intended.

So what should you do instead?

Love in Action

Many of the great writers on love, including bell hooks and M. Scott Peck, see love as an act of will that takes effort, rather than an incredible feeling to be enjoyed.

A person knows you love them not through what you say but rather through what you do.

As M. Scott Peck explains, “When we love someone, our love becomes demonstrable or real only through our exertion—through the fact that for that someone … we take an extra step or walk an extra mile.”

In other words, taking that extra step or walking that extra mile is a declaration of love. It’s better than words. It’s love in action.

A loving action considers the other person’s wellbeing.

If you know, for example, that giving your beloved an expensive gift too early in the relationship will make them feel uncomfortable, you don’t do it.

If you know that confessing your feelings will make him feel awkward, you find other ways to express your affection that you know he’ll appreciate.

You might tell him that you like him better than pizza, or you need him more than your morning coffee.

You might tell him that his gorgeous grin lights up your life, or that the best part of your day is when you’re snuggled up with him.

There are many, many opportunities to show him love in the ways he likes best.

And one day, it might just feel natural for those three little words to slip out, because you’ve been giving and receiving love for so long.

[1] http://assets.csom.umn.edu/assets/165677.pdf

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