Friday, November 26, 2010

When You Love Someone, You Tell Them Square

I know, if I spend any more time talking about love, heartbreak, or my fucked up relationships on this blog, people are just going to stop reading. And I promise, I'm going to cut the crap soon. 

For now, though, I'd like to talk about retroactive "I love you"'s. 

I have this chronic dilemma of only having guys tell me that they love me after the fact. Sometimes they don't actually say it. Sometimes they don't admit to caring about me at all until afterwards. (Which makes you wonder why I stay, doesn't it?) The bottom line is, if a guy tells me he loves me, tells me how much he cares, or acts like he cares about me a lot, it's usually after the relationship has ended. 

Which, ya know, leads cynical ol' me to call bullshit

When my ex and I broke up at the end of the summer, he seemed more angry at me than anything. I won't lie and say he was entirely unjustified. I came home from visiting him complaining to one of my closest guy friends about what a jerk he'd be at the end. My guy friend gave me a proverbial smack upside the head, and said "Because he really, really cared about you, you idiot." D'oh. Lo and behold, the next time we spoke (we were trying the whole "Let's still be friends" thing) he sounded terribly upset, and like he really did miss me.

That Man and I had a chat a few days ago. If we had an anniversary, I suppose that would have been it. We never actually went on any dates until about a year and a half into things, and I will never forget the date of our first kiss (and after our conversation, he claims he won't either, but he's a man, and we know how they are) We were reminiscing about when things had been good between us, before it got complicated. The conversation took a turn towards whether or not we're going to see each other again, and what would happen if we did. We both know that we're never going to have a functional, committed relationship. Upon him revisiting that point, I cut him off with a "I know, you were never going to love me." Expecting an awkward agreement, instead I got the opposite. "I could tell you that I love you very much, but it wouldn't mean anything to you if I couldn't commit to a real relationship." Yea. Caught me off guard too. I asked him not to lie to me, because telling someone you love them when you don't mean it is just cruel. He said he was going to take the safe route and not say anything. I rolled my eyes, said that's fine, because as much as I'd like to hear him say it, I didn't want him to lie. The reply? "I wouldn't ever say it like this." That Man has truly mastered the art of mind fuckery. Not holding my breath for that to change. 

To be fair, I did that to That Man once too. He was dumping me... for the third time, I believe... yes. Third time. In the argument that ensued over him doing this to me (again. No wonder I have that voice in the back of my head...) I finally let loose that thing that I'd wanted to say to him. I don't even remember what exactly he'd said to me. It something about asking why I stay with him, and why I put up with the bullshit, and why I don't want to just take the opportunity to move on from him. Through the tears, finally, came the admission. 

"Because I love you." 

And finally, there's Prince Charming. After kicking me to the curb in favor of a new girlfriend (Yea, she earned the title. He wants me to meet her. Sweet, isn't he?) he decides to inform me that he loves me and that I will always have a place in his heart for everything that I've done for him. And really, at this point, it just sounds patronizing and condescending. While That Man is hardly the most sincere person in the world, I find this final declaration of love (though probably intended as platonic anyway) to be the least genuine. 

After spilling my guts in all of that, all I really have left to say is... why? Why do we hold in all our "I love you"'s until they really don't matter anymore? Why don't we tell people what they mean to us at the time?

I know, we're scared. We're scared that they don't love us back, or that they don't care about us as much as we care about them, or that if they knew how much we really cared, they'd walk away. 

The only reason I had the courage to tell That Man that I loved him was because he was walking away anyway - I couldn't possibly lose him any more than I already had. (A falsehood, considering we did get back to... whatever we ever were a few months later. Story of our lives...) 

But seriously? We need to get over that. Because what good does "I love you" do when we use it that way? Seriously now. 

So just do me a favor, for my own peace of mind. Tell somebody that you love them. Let them know that you really do care about them. DO IT! Because to have to look back and retrospectively consider the fact that someone cared for you very much is kind of a bitch. 



  1. I have wondered this many times, It has to be 2 different things: first off, he really feels no real love, just companionship, a true liking. The other would be his immaturity, Saying I love you mean a full commitment that they do not want to have.

  2. Gah, That Man...he reminds me of someone. And every time you write about him, it gives me chills. But to your point, I don't know why we do that. Perhaps it is because we are afraid of getting hurt or being rejected. Perhaps we're trying to protect ourselves. But it's crap in the long run. And I've been guilty of it, too. Of holding back. Sometimes, I wonder what might've happened if I hadn't. But that's a fool's errand.

    Prince Charming...I want to slap him. Ok, punch. I'm much more likely to do that then I am to slap. Seriously? Wanting you to meet his new gf? Telling you that you will always have a special place in his heart? He DID manage to sound condescending. Jerk. Huge jerk.

    This was an excellent blog, Jessica. Don't apologize for writing about anything. It's your blog. You write whatever you want.

  3. I feel like saying "I love you" has become way too serious in our culture. Let the words fly if one means them :-) hiding the love hurts everyone involved even more than saying "I love you" a little too quickly.

  4. @Greek I feel like that has a lot to do with the current wave of commitmentphobia in society. "I love you" is too hardcore, it might imply something we don't mean, so we just don't say it. I'm not even asking people to use those words, but simply let someone know you care. I'm sick of hearing after the fact "No, but I really did care about you!" Really? Then don't wait. Tell me.