DG reader Mike asks:
How long into a relationship is it healthy to say I love you? Is it 2, 3, 6 months? I’m always told I’m doing it to early. I say it when I feel it. However when the relationship ends my women friends tell me I’ve said it too early. I’ve also had women tell me they love me before I feel it’s appropriate. Is there a time frame I don’t know about?
No, there is no time frame. But I do think a month or two is a tad early because you are still in the infatuation stage and really don’t know the other person. It takes months to uncover who someone really is, and it can take a lot longer if s/he is good at keeping on a mask or being who they think you want them to be. So you can say, “I adore you” or “I care about you” but the “L” word is so charged, I avoid using it until I really feel it – and it seems the other is feeling it too.
We make those words mean so much, like “I will stand by you and work out any hiccups,” “I have no interest in anyone else,” or other vows of long-term commitment. However, those three words really mean none of those things. Men have told me they love me, then broken up with me soon thereafter. My ex-husband told me he still loved me after he left me. He wasn’t trying to reconcile, just trying to assure me (I think) that his decision wasn’t out of hatred of me. It can be confusing to hear the words that we take to mean so much and see actions that don’t reinforce our interpretation. That’s why it’s important to use them sparingly until you are in a solid relationship.
Yesterday a man with whom I’ve been communicating online and on the phone for a few weeks told me he was in love with me. I thought it was sweet, but I also know until one has met and spent considerable time together, he can only believe he is in love with the person he thinks me to be. But it is highly unlikely he is in love with the real me. I’ve learned the words can be uttered when you are feeling connectedness, fondness or infatuation, but not true love. You have to know someone to feel that depth of emotion.
I explored other issues around too-soon “I love yous” in “When he tells you he loves you.”
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