Love stories

When I was sixteen or so, I thought I loved my good friend’s boyfriend.  He thought he loved me, too.  We hung out alone together sometimes and I think on one of those occasions he was saying goodbye to me and an “I love you” slipped out of him and I said it back.  And we tried not to make verbal affection into a regular routine or anything, but we still insisted on hanging out together platonically and stoking the sexual tension instead of avoiding each other like we should have, so I think we did say it to each other a few more times during particularly fraught moments.  Funfact: for some fucking reason he turned around and told his girlfriend I was hitting on him all the time and it was making him uncomfortable, and she had this big formal talk with me asking me to please stop it, and that traitorous act pretty much killed my feelings for the guy in an instant.

My first-ever boyfriend when I was seventeen started doing this thing where, when I’d ask why he did something, he’d go “because I love you?”  His tone was kinda half-joking, but he did it often enough that I eventually realized he was hinting that he did in fact love me.  I have no memory of when or how we got to the point of outright saying “I love you” to each other from there, though.

My second boyfriend asked, point blank, “do you love me?”  We’d been together less than a week at that point, and I think we were hanging out in a park. Truth be told, I didn’t love him.  I assumed that I would eventually, because I was attracted to him and enjoyed hanging out with him*.  But I didn’t love him at that time.  Unfortunately, years of relentless bullying in school had put me on high alert and made me think his question was some kind of trick or trap, so instead of telling him how I felt, I defensively asked “do you love me?”  He said yes, and then I couldn’t bring myself to say I didn’t, so I said it back.  Funny story: he broke up with me a week later for someone else.

Sometime around this point, I briefly acquired a girlfriend, chiefly by virtue of being too shy to say no when she aggressively hit on me.  She, too, asked “do you love me?” point blank.  I once again said yes just to avoid awkwardness.

My third boyfriend…I can’t remember how I-love-yous were exchanged.  I’m drawing a complete blank.

With my fourth boyfriend, I said it first.  We were lying there in post-coital bliss and I just…said it.  And he froze like a deer in headlights. I started frantically back-pedalling, telling him my declaration didn’t have to change anything and I liked our relationship exactly as it was and blah blah blah.  I can’t remember what he said, if anything.  I do remember thinking, for the next few days, that he didn’t love me back, and wondering how long I could live with that.  Then he finally did say it, and told me that his paralysis had been because he was startled and thrilled, not freaked out.  If that was truly the case, I don’t know why he didn’t smile or reassure me or anything, but whatever.

My husband and I started out as friends.  He fell for me.  I remember there being a lot of “Hey, can I tell you something?” “Yeah, what?” “Um.  Never mind” type conversations.  Then he definitively let me know he was interested in me by ending a phone conversation with “Ireallyhavethehotsforyoubye.”  Eventually – I think because I’d started seeing someone and he got jealous – there was somewhat of a confrontation that culminated in him yelling “I’m in love with you!!!”  It was a classic romcom moment, and the gravitas was so thrilling that I dumped the other guy and went out with him despite not being particularly attracted.  Eventually I managed to drum up some semblance of feelings, and made some speech to him about uncertainty…”I don’t know where my life is going or what I want…but I know I”m in love with you” kind of thing.

With the rebound guy directly after my husband, I got flustered and upset over…something.  Not wanting him to leave my apartment so soon or something, I forget.  He asked “…Are you falling in love with me?” and I was like “…Maybe.  I dunno.  Shut up!”  Somehow this segued into us eventually being on an I-love-you basis with each other.

A few years after that, I had a really really intense but short-lived relationship with my first poly guy.  The chemistry was immediate.  By the third date one of us burst out with “I know it’s really, really fast, but think I’m in love with you” and the other said “oh my god me too.”  I’m not even positive who started it.

Then came Minx.  The origin story there has been documented.  And I only ended up telling The Pedant I loved him in, what, the second-last email I ever sent him?  Third-last?  Something like that.  Also documented.

When I post-coitally gushed, “I love you, zebra!” at The Bunny I maaaay have been sneakily trying to get an I-love-you in under the radar and assess his reaction.

That’s the sum total of relationshippy I-love-yous I’ve had in my life up to this point.

Oh, there’s one more, but it doesn’t exactly count: I briefly dated a guy when I was 22 or so, in-between boyfriend #4 and my husband.  I was in love with him (or thought I was, but in retrospect I’m thinking it was just infatuation).  I never had the guts to tell him, and then he bailed on me in a sort of spectacular way.  In between dating poly-guy and dating Minx, I found this “one that got away” on Facebook and messaged him to say that I’d been in love with him back then and it always bothered me that I never told him.  Turned out he was currently single, and we ended up dating again for a few weeks.  But we were starting pretty much from scratch and I definitely didn’t fall for him that time around, so I never said “I love you.”  There was only the “I loved you” via Facebook.

I also have tons of platonic friends I say “I love you” to.  Usually I was the one who started it, and it was barely scary at all, I guess because a platonic I-love-you is generally seen as an expression of what’s already been going on, while a romantic I-love-you often comes loaded down with a bunch of pressure and expectations.  Saying “I love you” to a partner for the first time feels like handing them an anvil and going “yeah, could you just hold on to this for me, like, indefinitely?  Thanks.”

That one guy I reconnected with through Facebook, though?  It always bothered me that I hadn’t told him my feelings at the time.  I was dragging that around with me for like fifteen years.  It’s why I wanted to tell The Pedant I loved him a lot earlier than I ended up actually saying it, and it’s why I’m increasingly tempted to say those words openly to The Bunny sometime soon.  Because when someone makes me that happy, I think they deserve to know it.  Even if they don’t say it back.  Even if the relationship self-destructs right after.

I hesitate, though, because if the words do freak The Bunny out and make him distance himself from me, it’ll hurt incredibly much.  Things will be cut off right as they’re about to bloom, for me.  Guh.

How did your first “I love yous” come about?  Tell me your stories. 🙂

*And I was too immature to realize that that’s not necessarily how love works…


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8 responses to “Love stories

  1. Argentum

    I’ve told two men I loved them. The first was a close friend, after a drama filled year in my very early twenties, which culminated in my breaking off all contact. I was head over heels for him, and he didn’t want to date me, and I thought I would feel better if I didn’t see or hear from him, at all. I didn’t feel any better, though; the unrequited love still ate at me. So I gathered my courage and sat him down, and told him I loved him. He said not to. I got over him not long thereafter, and have since then firmly believed that it’s better to say directly how you feel. The second man I told I loved him was a pen pal. I was completely infatuated, and he never said it back, but this didn’t bother me, somehow. He still wrote every day. I had no delusions that we would meet in person, so it really didn’t matter whether or not he loved me. I eventually fell out of touch, but still think quite fondly of him (if slightly guilty for not writing more often).

    My longest relationship was with a boy who – in retrospect – feared initiating a DTR conversation. We went to grad school together, reconnected about 6 months after graduating, started going on dates, and eventually started sleeping together. I was attracted to him, and flattered by his ‘southern gentleman’ type chivalry, and weirdly turned on by his crazy Republican stances. He was dear to me, but I wasn’t in love with him. I sensed, however, that he wanted to be on the fast track to marriage (he never said as much, but there were signs). I’d just started having sex, and wanted to fuck as many different glorious men as possible (I never said as much, but there were signs). We never had a DTR conversation, I continued to fuck whomever I pleased, and he continued to assume we were an exclusive couple. He said “I love you” once during sex, and I pretended not to hear. When I finally fessed up to sleeping with someone on a vacation I went on, he felt thoroughly betrayed. He walked out of my room and I never saw him again! If I were in the same situation again now, years later, I’d probably take responsibility for both of us and make sure he knew how I felt. Ultimately, though, it’s everyone’s OWN responsibility to ensure they’re not making false assumptions about someone else’s feelings/plans/thoughts. Being deliberately misled is one thing. But going on fun dates or having fun sex does NOT give you an automatic right to anyone’s exclusive affection.

    I’m contemplating initiating a DTR convo with a boy now, actually. I’m not in love with him, but I’d be interested in pursuing a relationship. He’s in another city, and I have no idea how interested he’d be. I know in my head I should just ask. But for some reason, I never do…

  2. I don’t have a good relationship with those words. They’ve been said to me by more than a few people. I didn’t respond well or kindly, for the most part.

    The first time I believed it was over in an e-mail in 2003. He was my best friend, long distance and I was completely smitten and completely terrified of my feelings. We had a fight. A bad one, shouting and sobbing over the phone at two in the morning, not caring at all that we were waking our families (we were seventeen). I threw the phone across the room after hanging up on him. He emailed just after sunrise. It was the most powerful letter anyone’s ever written me. “You’ve forgiven me more times than God,” and “I want to tell you that I love you.” I forgave him. I didn’t say it back. He said it again, a few times over the next few years. I didn’t say it back. I should have.

    Spouse said “I love you” while drunk not two months into our relationship. I don’t remember when we started to say it sober.

    I did fall in love with the Techie. It was unexpected and unwanted. I swear I went through stages of grief coming to terms with the feeling. I did not say it.

    Aside from family and clearly platonic expression, that’s it. Just not comfortable with the words, I guess.

  3. trillian

    I only know I definitely said it less than 5 times. In my entire life. Never first, I am too chicken for that. I remember wanting to tell this guy that I think I was the most madly in love with (and broke up abruptly with out of panic after about 3 months, which I so regret now), but never managed to. I felt he wants to tell me, too, but we both had SO MUCH baggage and it was so intense and it almost made me sick. I never managed to acknowledge I need to normalise this relationship fire otherwise it will break. So it did. And it did because of my stupid inability to communicate verbally, and when all drunken hell broke loose on a crazy Friday night, and I had my chance to break that wall through, I got offended and princessy and threw the guy out of my apartment and never spoke to him again.
    Just sad, really, and I was this immature at 32, so no, it’s not a teen story.

    I decided to give myself 1 last chance now. Next time I will JUST SAY it no matter what. It can’t go any worse than these other ones did?

  4. rodclark2014va3rod

    I had blue balls and said it once just to get “in”. I ended up failing to penetrate, and cumming in her pubic hair. We ended up getting married.

    • …Wait. Isn’t that the plot to that old song, Paradise by the Dashboard Lights?

      • rodclark2014va3rod

        You’re probably correct; I’m not very good at song lyrics but I do vaguely recall that song.
        I’ve ended up “in love” several times; may have said it to the wrong one a 4th time recently. She said it first, and her previous BF not saying it was a big issue for her. So, I said ILU and a lot of things improved

  5. Thud

    “ …. it feels so good to have someone who knows how weak and stupid you are at times and yet still finds you amazing simply because they love you ….”

  6. Pingback: Douche alert! | hiding in plain sight

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