When Is It Appropriate to Say "I Love You"?
By Elizabeth Barrera
Last Monday I was watching The Bachelorette with my housemate, and before you judge me, let me first say that, yes, I'm very aware that none of it is real and that it's basically all scripted. Regardless of the truth behind The Bachelorette, there was one major issue, among many others, that I had by the end of the Rose Ceremony. Rachel, the bachelorette, was visiting her top 4 contenders' homes. She was meeting their families and having one-on-one conversations with important family members like moms and siblings. During her visit to one of the contestant’s (Dean) hometown, Dean confessed his love to Rachel, telling her "I'm falling in love with you." She answered with "I'm falling in love with you too."
There’s no real problem with this if the person really means what they say and want to plan out a future with their significant other right? It’s a sincere and vulnerable confession, so why would this ever raise a red flag? I didn’t exactly think it would either.
Now, I'm new to the show and I don't know what the rules are. (Hell, I'm not extremely new to dating and even then I still don't know what the rules are.) Sure, the show may be fake, but situations such as the one I just mentioned happen more often than not. The real problem? The long-term damage you are causing for this person - assuming they mean what they say. Because when you truly love someone, you don't let them go. And if you think you're going to let them go, then you don't tell them you love them.
This possibly scripted situation raises a very fair real-life question: when exactly is it appropriate to tell someone you love them? Well, in my extremely humble opinion, you tell them you love them when you truly mean it and intend to spend time on the relationship.
Do not tell them you love them unless you are ready to show them you love them. Do you realize how hard it was for them to profess their love to you in the first place? Do you understand the difficulty in putting those three heavyweight words out there and the risk that comes with it? Are you aware of the vulnerability they're feeling by showing you their most raw and sensitive self?
Have you considered all these components?
Don't say "I love you" or "I love you too" if you don't plan to do anything about it.
Telling someone you love them comes with so much more responsibility than repeating those same words of confirmation in return. It comes with honesty, willingness, bravery, and risk. It comes with self-awareness and confidence. It comes with knowing that the chances of losing are just as great as the chances of winning.
Loving someone comes with more territory than just loving them. It comes with humility, selflessness, and the desire of giving someone your all.
So, if deep in your heart you know that you can't show them the love they deserve or you're not willing to actually focus on the both of you and the development of your relationship, if you're not prepared to make sacrifices, to hug them when they make you upset, to forgive them when they’ve hurt you, to listen to their pain, then don't say you love them.
You're causing more damage by telling them you love them in return than by keeping your words to yourself and staying quiet instead.
You mean it?
Refrain from saying those words in return and let them go.