Picture an intimate night with your boyfriend — laying comfortably in his bed, the room dimly lit by candles scattered about, quivering with desire in ‘barely there’ panties beneath his shirtless form…and suddenly he leans down, brushes his lips along your neck, and whispers “I’m going to stop saying ‘I love you’.”
Talk about hitting into a brick wall. Only this was merciless, full force impact.
My arms that were once tightly around his neck grew heavy and fell to my sides as the color drained from my face, “Excuse me?”
He sat up and started to explain, “I know you’ve been going through a lot lately…”
I went into this freak minor turmoil of everything I had done and said within the past few hours spent together prior to him whisking me to his bedroom. And I scanned my brain of what happened last week and the other day and a few months ago to give me some sort of idea of where this was coming from. Subtle annoyances and little arguments that I thought were solved suddenly blew up into a much greater importance in my mind and I was on the brink of a panic attack. This, being in an already a vulnerable state practically naked under him, was not a good time for him to go from, 60 to 0, and not love me anymore. I was frantically scrambling through words I could say to him to stop him from talking, but I did my best to keep a blank face and nodded for him to continue.
“And you know I love you, but I don’t want to keep saying it to make you happy. You should be confident in knowing that you make me happy, and all I want is to make you happy. Me saying three little words, one simple phrase, doesn’t need to be repeated daily to prove that to you.”
He kissed me, but I couldn’t kiss back. My emotions were completely thrown out of whack.
“So…you do love me?”
“Of course I do,” he ran his hand along my cheek, “you should know this by now. I’m all yours, and I don’t plan on leaving any time soon. I don’t tell my mother I love her every day, but that doesn’t change that I still appreciate and love her very much.”
Needless to say, I was no longer in the mood to have sex anymore (which, added another frustration to my plethora of raging emotions). This change was not expected, though I am acutely aware that change is not always convenient, I didn’t know what stirred this up. He wound up falling asleep on top of me, but I had difficulty taking a deep breath and calming myself down. I hoped maybe he would sleep on it and tomorrow would return to normal.
Almost two weeks went on, and I was getting pretty pissed. I brought it up to him a few times, but the dialogue always trailed off into another topic. Everyday I consciously did something, anything, to make him slip up, but he caught on instantly and would mess with me, saying how cute I was for trying. I didn’t find myself cute, nor did I see anything cute about this situation. At night before falling asleep, I would send a lengthy and heartfelt goodnight text, ending with ‘I love you’ of some sort; to which he replied with, “Same.” I found myself in awe with how easily I could have thrown my phone against the wall, and not cared at all. None of my efforts were successful – I even went as far as to torment him in bed, instructing him not to touch me unless he said those ‘three little words’. And he refused.
But, other than that though, nothing in our relationship changed. He was still the same wonderful boyfriend that I had known since he first said that he loved me.
I thought of why I needed to hear him say it, and whether or not it was what I needed to hear or wanted to hear. Maybe I was being stupid and over-thinking every scenario because of how elementary saying ‘I love you’ had become. There was no inclination of there being any trouble with out relationship, and neither one of us are bad people, so, why was I worried? Why was him not saying ‘I love you’ so troubling to me? There are countless words in the English language, but none of them could ever truly describe how he makes me feel, how genuine of a soul he is, how incredibly and blissfully happy I am to be his. ‘I love you’ now seemed so limiting. In fact, it almost seemed like cheating, like a cop out, because of how available the three little words are to everyone else in the world. Though they are significant in it’s use, it failed to convey how special my boyfriend is to me. Saying ‘I love you’ to my boyfriend was an understatement.
Being an emotional person by nature, I indulge in the love I have for him, and the love he has for me. No matter the circumstance, I do my best to cherish him always, and extend myself to further show how much he means to me almost instinctively. ‘I love you’ can be expressed in a multitude of actions and affections, and I realized that from the start of our relationship, we were already saying I love you in our own way. In the beginning months of our relationship, I told him that flowers reminded me of funerals, so he didn’t have to worry about wasting money on roses and daisies that would die anyway. A few days later, he showed up to my house carrying two bags of baking flour, smirking, “I know you don’t like flowers.” I couldn’t help but grin like a fool; it was one of the sweetest gestures anyone has done for me, and we’d spent that afternoon baking cookies in the shape of sunflowers.
Sure we have set routines after being together for some time, but the love never left. When we spend days apart, separated by college exams and full time work schedules, we make sure to check up, encourage and remind each other to take care of ourselves. Before bed, I make sure to call him, to listen about the stresses of his day so he doesn’t go to sleep with nonsense on the brain. Whenever I see his favorite soda stocked on the shelves, I pick up two. I still consider how my decisions might affect our relationship, and making choices that are beneficial to myself, and for him as well. When I tend to lose myself in my emotions, he pulls me out, and still thinks that I am no less of an amazing person, regardless of things about me that probably will not change.
I started to write a list, noting how we both show each other how much we love one another, and being able to scribble these down with ease and certainty was the reassurance I was ultimately looking for.
All of those questions — Why was it important for them to be said? What does saying them really do for our relationship? Is this what is going to validate how much he truly cares for me? — began to answer themselves. He was right. And I knew, despite my insecurities, he loved me very much. We have a year and a half of evidence to support that. I didn’t need a hallmark card or a grand display to convince me. I loved him, and he loved me, even if he doesn’t explicitly say it all the time.
(However, he said ‘I love you’ after another week and a half.)