Three little words can make a relationship if it’s what you want to hear, or they can break a relationship if the words aren’t forthcoming or the recipient gets scared on hearing them. Saying ‘I Love You’ takes a massive leap of faith, but what if you’re going to say it first, or already have?

In an ideal world, saying these words would be just like the rules of giving and receiving – You don’t give to receive; you should give wholeheartedly and without expectation of what you’re going to get in return. But as we all know, this is not the way that it goes, and when it comes to saying ‘I love You’, the only words that you want the recipient to say is the exact same thing back to you. You don’t want to be greeted with silence, empty space where they used to be, or ‘Um..well…er.’ Remember in Ghost when Patrick Swayze’s character could only respond ‘Ditto’?

And then of course, there are the times when the words just slip out like a rogue fart. Alcohol and the joys of sex can have you running your mouth before you know it! I have heard a number of tales of mid sex declarations and generally three things can happen here:

1) He pretends he didn’t hear it and carries on shagging
2) The words are a mood killer and they’re confronted with a limp penis
3) He says it back whilst in the throes of ecstasy, which throws out one of three situations:
a. Happily ever after because they meant it
b. They pretend that it wasn’t said and an uncomfortable silence looms
c. They actually have no recollection of it because sometimes guys say things in the heat of the moment. To be fair, if they’re enjoying themselves enough, they’ll probably say anything!

Generally speaking, I think it’s fairly safe to say that it’s men that utter these words first because, well, many of us expect them to. It’s one of those unspoken rules. But ‘rules’ are there to be broken and there is nothing wrong with being expressive and communicating in a relationship.

Someone does have to say it first, and if you don’t, then you’ll have to wait. If you are considering saying the ‘magic’ words (or already have), remember the following:

1. Are you telling him that you love him because that’s how you feel or, because you just want him to say it so that you’ll know where you stand? Sometimes in our quest to ‘define the relationship’ we hunt down and sometimes orchestrate situations. Be careful of biting off more than you can chew.
2. It’s better for these words to be uttered naturally, by both of you. Don’t say it as a way of manipulating your partner into saying it because you’ll automatically sour the moment. Say it if it naturally and you get a natural response that you won’t question.
3. Try to minimise your predetermined vision of things. It’s unavoidable wanting them to reciprocate but there is a possibility that they may not say it in the way that you expected. They might say ‘Me too’ or something else that doesn’t quite fit. Don’t push it because they may be having stage fright and if they really do love you, they’ll find a way to say it better the next time round.
4. Sometimes it has a negative result. This is why I suggest avoiding any form of manipulation or trying soothe your insecurities. In the wrong relationship or in a situation where he may feel that you’re pressuring him, he may bolt.
5. Don’t say the words if you have an inkling that you are in a bad relationship. Many of us ignore red flags and chase men that are cheating or that are emotionally unavailable. Saying the words rarely changes anything; it just draws you in deeper into a bad situation.
6. Judge the timing. It’s different strokes for different folks, but if you have been together for a matter of weeks, rather than months, I’d slow your roll. Likewise, choose your situation right – don’t try and take advantage at a weak moment!
7. If you have said it during sex or under the influence of alcohol and had mixed results, either bring it up sober or with clothes on, or put it down to ‘heat’ of the moment.

In the end, Demi Moore’s character in Ghost came to accept her husband’s choice of endearment, albeit, after he was dead. It’s all about communication, intention and meaning. It doesn’t mean jack sh*t if they don’t mean it and there are different ways to say ‘I Love You’ and as long as they come with the right actions and intention, you’re on the right track.

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