Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Saying I love you is really unnecessary

You've seen this, right?

In yesterday's post, I shared about how Mr Fix It didn't say the words "I love you" to me until a trip to Cabo almost five years into our relationship!  So this poses the question, how long is too long to wait to say "I love you" to someone?  Or even better, how soon is too soon?  Or if you really want to go there, is it even *necessary* to say I love you to someone?

For me, it wasn't.  And here's why:

After the first couple months of dating, Mr Fix It and I talked about his ex-wife and divorce and previous relationships.  I remember one very specific conversation where he casually mentioned, "I will never again tell a woman that I love her until I know for 100% certainty that I am going to put a ring on her finger."  He probably never thought much of it again.  But I stored it in the file cabinet in my brain.

It struck a chord with me.  I appreciated it.  I respected it. 

I think in today's world, we use those words way too lightly.  I remember in high school a pastor saying that "Guys use love to get sex, and girls use sex to get love."  I didn't want to be one of those girls giving it up just to hear my guy say "I love you."  And I respected that Mr Fix It wasn't going to use those words casually.  As a Christian, many biblical passages speak truth to me about humanity, relationships and what it means to 'love' others.  There is a verse in 1 John 3:18 that reads: "Let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth."  You see, to me, Mr Fix It had a hundred other ways that he let me know how much he cared about me in actions.  The words he spoke were amazing and nice and were something I desired for sure.  But you know what truly showed me how much he loved me?  The first time we went on a camping trip with his family. 

We were camping at Trinity Lake in No Cal and would go wakeboarding every day.  To get onto the boat, you had to walk down the bank of the lake and through this super muddy, orange, murky water.  It was gross.  Well, as we headed down there one day with Mr Fix It's brother, sister-in-law and some friends, Mr Fix It stopped at the bank and picked me up over his shoulder.  At first I screamed thinking he was going to throw me into the lake.  But then I realized, he was carrying me over the water and gently set me on the boat so I wouldn't have to get all dirty.  The other wives and girlfriends made a few jealous comments about their guys doing the same for them :)  That little chivalrous act meant more to me than simply saying "I love you."  He proved it.

I could go on for days about all the little things that I appreciate so much more because I recognize them as his 'loving gestures' instead of taking them for granted.  As I mentioned yesterday, we split up for a while in the middle of our time together.  And once we got back together, I immediately started telling Mr Fix It how much I loved him.  And one of the very first times I said it to him, I told him "Don't say it back to me."  He asked me why and I told him about when we were first dating and how I remembered his comment about how he won't say those words again until he's ready to put a ring on a woman's finger.  He just smiled. 

It may seem awkward to say I love you to someone and get responses like "You're so sweet," or "Thank you so much," or "I know you do."  But for me, it didn't matter.  I knew how he felt about me.  And so on that day in October, 2008 when we were strolling along the white sands of a quiet beach in Los Cabos and he looked at me and said "I know you've been waiting so long to hear me say this, but I do love you."  Oh man, I just melted.  I knew it was forever. 

It took 5 years for him to get there.  And for some, that may be way too long to wait.  But I knew he had been hurt.  I knew he had been taken to the cleaners, had his heart ripped out and stomped on.  I knew he was jaded and unsure of whether he could trust a woman again.  And I knew that we loved each other.  So I was willing to let him get there in his own time.

In all honesty, I had actually given him an unspoken deadline.  I had told myself a little earlier on that if we hit our five year anniversary and he hadn't at least started talking about marriage, then it was probably gonna be time for me to move on...I mean I was 36 at the time (37 now)...I wasn't a spring chicken anymore!  :)  So I found it funny that 4 months before that 5 year deadline, he finally brought it up...and it was all on his own.  I never once said anything like "So when are we gonna talk about marriage?"  And just two months before our five year anniversary, he put the ring on my finger :)

So, tell me about it, ladies.  How long would you wait to hear (or say) the words I love you?  Is there any way you can possibly put a 'deadline' on it or a timeline?


Patience said...

L and I were both coming out of long term relationships and we wanted to take things slow. I believe we were about six months in before we said I love you. We both knew we did, but it was just unspoken.

PartyPlannerGal said...

I love the story where he picked you up and carried you over the muddy water. Wakeboarding is so much fun, by the way!

I'm pretty sure I said "I love you" first, about six months into our relationship when we had a big conversation about how different we are from one another, and almost broke up! I asked him to give "us" another chance. I'll bet he's glad he did (well, most days, at least ;))

SG said...

I think every couple and every relationship is different and you should say it when you are ready and comfortable to do so.

I mentioned yesterday that Kristian told me he loved me after about 2 months of dating which at first freaked me out a little because I thought it was too soon...until I realized I loved him too then it didn't freak me out as much.

I think it's probably much harder when someone has been through painful relationships or divorce though. I can see where Mr. Fix It was coming from on wanting to wait. He sounds very sweet!

A Los Angeles Love said...

I love this story and the thoughtfulness with which you both approached the words "I love you." Because I tend to agree with you - we throw them around so easily, as a culture. It's almost a leftover of high school puppy love or a misunderstanding of lust or real compatibility. And it took both of us a while (not five years, but a while) to figure out what love meant and that we were in it. But for us, we said the words when we knew it was deeper and stronger than just romance. We said it when we knew this could be it; even if we weren't ready to make that lifetime commitment, we knew this relationship was worth it.

Five years is a long time but, like you said, it was the actions that spoke louder than words, and you knew him well enough to know why the words themselves were hard. You're lucky to have each other.

Salt said...

I think that it's amazing that Mr. Fix It kept true to what he said after his other relationship ended. Gosh I can't even imagine how much it must have meant to hear him say those words especially knowing the importance that they have to him!

I think "love" is thrown around way too much. I've been guilty of doing it myself. I think M first told me he loved me 5 months in, which was like a new record for me!

Bicoastal Bride said...

You made some great points in this post, and I think it completely varies for each person in terms of how they like to express and receive love. To a writer like me, words mean a lot, and saying/hearing “I love you” is an important affirmation. But I also realize that words are just that – only words. So, I think it’s also very important to show love through actions. Though it means a lot to hear Stephen say “I love you,” it’s the little things he does that really give meaning to those words – when he cooks dinner for me after a long day or laces up his sneakers to join me on a run, even though he might really feel too tired. It’s those moments that really mean the most.

Chocolate Lover said...

I totally agree with you that "I love you" is thrown around way too easily these days! And actions speak so much louder than words! Every couple is different and every person has their own limits. What may be too long for someone may be just right for someone else!

Chic 'n Cheap Living said...

This is too sweet and I'm sure it was hard at times, but you understood each other to wait. I feel that within 6 month there is some part of you that just knows whether that other person can be suitable as a long term partner.
Like you said, it can be said or unsaid. The sweetest is when it is demonstrated like when Mr. Fix-it did it with you. I personally waited only a few months with Mr. Gadget and that was just right for us.

Mrs T said...

Ok now I understand why it was worth the wait. What a great love story you have. And I am glad he met your internal timeline!! Eeekkkk

I waited for Mr B to say it first. I tend to fall for people pretty fast. But I could tell this was different some how. I didn't want to scare him off! It took about nine months, but it was so good to hear him say the words.

Vanessa said...

This post makes me smile because early on in our relationship I said to Marc that people say 'I love you' way too soon. I do believe this but had forgotten saying it but he retained it in his 'filing cabinet'.
He then didn't say 'I love you' for so long that I began to worry! Eventually I said it and he responded by saying he'd wanted to tell me for so long but had what I had said in his mind and didn't want me to think it wasn't really true! Now we say it all the time :)

buhdoop said...

What a great post. My fiance told me he loved me very soon. I told him to go to bed :)

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