‘I Love You’–Tag, You’re It!

You can choose to surrender to love or not, but in the end, love strikes like lightning: unpredictable and irrefutable.

— Deborah Anapol Ph.D.

What can I say, the moment felt right, the feelings were all there, I’ve danced around it long enough, it was time to finally say it!!

Those magical three little words:

“I Love You”

Now to be clear this wasn’t me getting down on one knee professing my undying love for her asking for her to spend eternity by my side.

This was me saying…. you are important to me, you matter, you entered my life and touched my heart and my soul. With you I am happy. When I close my eyes and think of you what I feel is “Love”, or at the very least my definition of love.

You are the first person that I want to speak with when I get up each morning and the last one before falling off to sleep at night.

We haven’t exactly hidden our feelings from one another at this point but up until now I haven’t let those three words slip from my tongue…

But now that they have what does that mean in regard to our relationship?

Does it even have to mean anything more than just simply saying to another human being — I care about you, I am here for you, I love you.

Are we even allowed to express our love for another human being and just let it stand as that simple statement of caring and affection?

I guess the answer really lies with the person that says it and the person that hears it, so then I ask what does it mean to YOU??

In my lifetime I have only been involved in a few close relationships and have only uttered the words “I Love You” to three of these women.

The first time wasn’t even to a woman but a 15 year old girl. Jenna, my first romantic crush and my first love.

I was 17 at the time and in the throes of my first real relationship. I had never felt feelings like that before. I think maybe a month into that relationship, when we were talking one night on the phone, the words just slipped out. It’s funny too because it really seems like it’s almost a game of…

“I Love You” — Tag You’re It!!

Once you toss that out there you then have that awkward pause as you await what if any response comes back, nervous seconds pass, thoughts race through your head like “WTF did I just do?”, “Have I just opened Pandora’s Box”?

The moment of truth has come, how does she feel about me?

In that case, she did profess her love for me as well, so yes, I was like the happiest 17-year-old boy on planet earth that night after hearing those words.

Of course, at 17 and 15 what did we know about love?

We knew the word and the classic definitions and we knew we both felt strongly for one another and saying “Jenna, I like you” just didn’t seem to capture all those emotions that I was feeling so it just seemed natural to move to the next word on the emotional hierarchy and say “I Love You”.

Did I truly love her? Looking back, I believe that I did, at least in terms of how I understood the emotions of love at the time.

I mean, it wasn’t the deep type of love you get from being with someone for years, but it was still feelings of love nonetheless and it was precious to me.

I haven’t seen Jenna in over 28 years, but to this day I still think about her fondly, even dream about her on occasion.

When I close my eyes and think of her, I still can feel those emotions that I felt so many years ago, and those were emotions of Love.

Like they say:

“You Never Forget Your First Love!!”

The next major relationship though was the keeper. She was also young, a mere 16 to my 20.

From the moment that we shared our first kiss on a cool October night, the connection to her felt instantaneous.

That evening felt magical to me, like our lips just melted into one another as we cuddled and kissed in the back of the car.

We talked to each other almost every day from that point forward, building on our connection through our words. Emotions that started out as simply liking someone started their metamorphosis into something new, something beautiful.

I can’t recall exactly how long it took me to say those words in this relationship and to be honest, I believe that she may have been the first one to profess her love for me.

This was another case of young love. It was powerful and strong and laced with a strong desire for one another.

Was it infatuation, sexual attraction, friendship, youthful hormones taking over? I’m sure it was all of those things but it was also still the beginnings of love.

This was the first relationship that went from those early feelings of love to something much deeper, something that transcended the romantic love as our lives blended together over three decades. That love has certainly evolved over the years. I’m not sure how much if any of the romantic love remains but there is still love, nonetheless.

There are still strong feelings for this woman that’s been part of my life for what seems like forever and those feelings will never fade. I will ALWAYS love her.

Granted this type of love isn’t as sexy as that love you feel when in the honeymoon period of a relationship but in some ways, it can be so much better.

It’s this deep love that transforms an act of sex to an act of making love when those feelings become so deep and powerful that you truly feel like you are one with your partner.

These are feelings that my wife and I have not shared in a long time, the feelings that I have been missing and longing for in my life.

Sex lost its luster when the connection started to fade and along with it the desire for sexual intimacy.

While I still love her deeply, and I believe she loves me deeply as well, it just no longer translates to the physical expressions of love that I think we all long for and crave and that is ultimately what led me to this new amazing person in my life.

With her, I am feeling that romantic connection again. I want to LOVE her. I need to LOVE her. All my emotions that have been held hostage for so long are escaping into her awaiting arms.

When everything and everyone tells me I’m not allowed to express feelings of love for someone when I am in a relationship with another, I want to just ask why not? I certainly have control over my actions and maybe at the end of the day I won’t act on these feelings, but my feelings are still there and I don’t want to suppress them. I need to let them out.

The people we care about need to hear it from us. We all need to remember that tomorrow isn’t promised to any one of us. Let those around you know how you feel. I needed her to hear it and know it’s not some illusion, it’s real.

So, if you are feeling emotions of Love then just come right out and say it. Don’t fear those words, embrace them.

I LOVE YOU!! (and it turns out SHE LOVES ME TOO !!)

Previously Published on Medium