You’ve begun to date a guy you like. Each encounter makes you like him more. He’s funny, thoughtful, smart, romantic. He cares about making you happy. He’s not self-absorbed. He sends you sweet, caring emails and gives you sincere compliments. You find yourself falling in…??? What? What is this?
Like? Are you falling in like? You definitely like him. But it sounds so platonic. So high school. So insufficient for your affection toward him. But yet you know that it is important — nay, critical — to like someone with whom you want to spend more time. In fact, there may be people in your life (e.g., relatives) who you love but don’t really like. You don’t relish spending time with them. But you know they love you and you love them.
Are you falling in fond? This is not a term we hear. But you are definitely fond of him. You grow fonder all the time. He hasn’t dipped into the disappointment side of the Delight/Disappointment Scale — or at least rarely. He’s brought you flowers, showered you with affection, and an appropriate amount of calls and emails to tell you he cares about you and misses you. He takes you on fun outings and always seems happy to talk and be with you.
Or is it lust? Maybe he has heavenly kisses, delicious caresses, and even holding hands gives you goose bumps. You are definitely hot for each other. Maybe you have — or haven’t — slept together, but either way there is definitely sexual appeal. Maybe you’ve fallen in lust. (See “Falling in lust.”)
Or are you falling in love? Love is such a nebulous term. I wish there were as many words to describe the gradations of fondness, adoration and endearment as there were Inuit/Eskimo* words for snow. Yes, you love him — you love the way he makes you laugh, his tenderness, his willingness to talk about important things, his awareness when he’s done something wrong, his insatiable appetite for self-improvement — and dark chocolate. You love many things about him. So are you in love?
Whatever you call it, you’re enjoying it. So continue to bask in it and see if you can avoid labeling it as long as possible. There are some drawbacks to labels.
A downside to labeling it “falling in love” too soon is that you may not really know the person yet. After a few dates, I was obviously acting love struck when a guy asked, “Are you falling in love with me?” I was surprised by the question, and uttered, “I’m moving in that direction.” It was folly as I barely knew him. I liked how he’d treated me so far, but after a few more dates I discovered a mean streak that hadn’t surfaced. I’d let myself think I was falling for a guy I hardly knew.
Another possible downside is you may feel embarrassed a few weeks later when you have to explain to your friends why you’re no longer together. They may ask, “I thought you were in love?” To which you may have to respond, “I thought I was, too.” Your judgment will be questioned and the next time you declare yourself in love they will roll their eyes.
Or maybe it will be scary for him if you tell him you’re falling in love and he’ll back off. Some men get afraid that you are expecting a commitment if you tell them you’re falling in love. You will only see a flash as he mumbles, “Exit, stage left.”
So wait a little while before you declare you are in love, and instead be happy to be in like, fond, or even lust.
* From Webster’s dictionary: “Inuit are those inhabiting the regions from northwestern Canada to western Greenland who speak Inuit languages and call themselves Inuit (not Eskimo). Inuit is also used in the U.S. as a general synonym for Eskimo. This, however, is inaccurate because there are no Inuit in Alaska and Inuit therefore cannot include people from Alaska (who speak Inupiaq).”
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