I love you.

Rachel Kay Albers on why she never plays hard to get.

I agree with her completely, and  I do as she does, with one notable exception:  with romantic partners, unless I was very sure that I knew how they felt about me, I did not say “I love you,” even though I may have wanted to. I said other things — “take care of yourself” chief among them — but not the Three Big Words.

I have had no trouble at all saying “I love you” to friends or family.  They are safe; I generally know that they love me too, and if they reject me it hurts but does not devastate me.  It was only when something more than friendship was on the line that I hesitated.

“I love you” have always been dangerous words.  Scary words.

They made me far too vulnerable: if I said “I love you” then I was setting myself up for finding out that the other person did not love me back.  Worse, I risked being seen as needy and clingy, as causing unnecessary drama.  I possibly caused discomfort or embarrassment to the other person, resulting in them thinking less of me. Worst of all, I could have caused emotional pain to someone else, which I determinedly try to avoid at all costs as a matter of principle. And not just “someone else” — someone I loved.

Admitting that you love someone can result in a bar to them remaining friends with you.  I have never believed in dating people with whom you would not want to be friends over the long haul, and I would have hated to lose a friendship because of my feelings.

Yet, like Rachel Adams, I think this is a form of dishonesty; more accurately, inauthenticity.  It is allowing fear to rule you.  It disregards the fact that all of us go through this world only once,  that life is uncertain and death can lurk just around the corner.  It ignores that we need other people, as friends, as lovers, as companions on this road.   It closes our eyes to the possibility of joy.

Love is a great thing.  It needs to be confessed and celebrated, not hidden away in a closet, regardless of what others may think.

So, were I ever to find myself faced with this situation again, I hope I would have the courage and maturity to admit loving someone. Who knows how great the result could be?
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