First and foremost, we need to understand that the words “I love you” mean different things to different people.
Some people take that sentence to be the most sacrosanct and beautiful of all sentences in any language. Others use it as a tool. Still others view it as a weapon.
Do you see the problem here?
It’s not that people don’t want to be loved. They just view “I love you” in different ways because of their experience with the sentence.
Someone who was told this by their caregivers and actually treated in a loving way will have no problem saying it when the time is right and they honestly feel that way.
A caregiver who said this to a child in order to get something from them teaches the child to use the sentence for their own gain. “I love you” is potent and when people hear it, they turn to mush and do what you want them to.
Some children who had caregivers do this to them saw how shady this was. Now when someone says, “I love you” to them, they are wary of the person. It’s no different than when a parent or guardian bought you a gift and you question why you’re getting a gift when your birthday isn’t for another six months.
This also happens when adult relationships flame out. They remember being told they were loved but now the relationship is dead. Was it really love to begin with? How will you know real love when it comes?
Then there are the people who say it when in the throes of infatuation or sex. And that’s a pretty big chunk of the population because we’ve all confused love with passion and ecstasy.
But what if you want to be able to say “I love you” without feeling like the ground is about to swallow you whole? Or, what if you wanted to be more responsible when putting out such a powerful sentiment?
I want to say it but I can’t
You might be in luck because you don’t necessarily have to say it. You may be familiar with the concept of love languages, where each of us have a preference in how we express and receive love.
If your partner prefers Acts of Service, Receiving Gifts, Quality Time and Physical Touch, then you don’t need to use Words of Affirmation.
But if you really want to say it or your partner feels loved by hearing it, explore what is behind the fear of saying it.
It could be that the sentence was used as a weapon against you in the past. It could be that you don’t really trust the person even though you have strong feelings. Whatever the reason, you have to work backwards to find the root because it’s a personal one.
Time Magazine consulted psychologists who listed a number of reasons people feared saying “I love you” such as parental divorce, our own failed relationships and because we need to hear that we are loved in return rather than just expressing that we love. We fear rejection.
Acknowledging the reason(s) and allowing yourself to feel the fear will help you turn the panic into peace.
I want to say it but not so quickly
The reasons you might say “I love you” too quickly could be that you want to be loved immediately and don’t want to wait or it’s just plain old infatuation as this article suggests.
People really want to secure a relationship so that they don’t die alone. But therein lies the answer. Your fear is an irrational one because everyone dies alone. Life isn’t like The Notebook where you and your partner die together while holding hands.
Another reason could be that you are addicted to love. You crave that specific cocktail of happy neurotransmitters that only infatuation and sex can give. You might do well in a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting.
Yet another reason could be as an attempt to manipulate. Employ the Golden Rule. If you were falling for someone, would you want them to use the love (or infatuation) you have for them against you?
If this was a learnt behavior, one can understand it but it’s not an excuse to use people. Don’t wait until you get hurt in the same way. Show some empathy and make a change.
People fall in love every day and it’s natural to want to express that in the way one sees fit. Saying “I love you” is like a rite of passage for a relationship.
But if you’re too eager or too scared to say it, just asking yourself why you feel that way will help in saying it at the perfect time.