Why We Shouldn't Rush "I Love You"

After straining your thumbs from all the swiping, and wearing out your heart from all the lukewarm dates, you finally find someone that you feel a spark with. They become your official “bae,” you now have a date to social events, according to Facebook you're "in a relationship," and now the waiting begins -- the waiting to say those three words…

“I love you.”

It’s a phrase we get so excited to say because of the infatuation-infused buzz we feel once it escapes our lips; we’re excited to see our partner’s reaction to the phrase and to “take the relationship to the next level.” Everything is great…until we realize that our “I love you” wasn’t completely sincere to begin with.

Why does this happen? Well, the problem with love lives is that people are always looking to the future: “Are you official yet?” “Have you said ‘I love you’ yet?” “Are you getting engaged?” “When are you having kids?” Bottom line, it's always the next and never the now. This social pressure of progression has more of an effect on us than we actually believe – we feel pressured to express love or progress in our relationships because that’s what’s expected of us, and, sadly, we sometimes don’t actually love our significant others…we just think we do.

In the past, I have personally said “I love you” way too soon and without giving it much thought. I initially believed my “I love you’s” were genuine as I threw them around like candy in the spring of my relationship, but I was more than dismayed when they became hollow in the fall once my infatuation faded. Looking back, I wish that I had really taken the time to look inside myself to know if I actually loved my then significant other rather than realizing that I didn’t later on.

What does it actually mean to love someone anyway? Do we really even stop to think about that? Or do we rely too much on chick-flicks and Nicholas Sparks for the definition? I would think that, at least on average, the latter would be true. We focus too much on the way people make us feel in the moment rather than who they are as a person. We shield their quirks and ticks from our vision and squint to see the perfect Prince Charming. We’d rather focus on how good it feels to kiss them rather than discussing their values and views on morality. We tell ourselves the red flags are only pink and revel in the easy comfort a careless “I love you” can bring. We want a good relationship, and we want it fast – it’s like going through the Taco Bell drive-thru: “Yes, I’ll have a Quesarito and the perfect soulmate on the side, thanks.”

But real, actual love takes time, work, and patience. It means asking the hard questions and not always liking the answers. It means sacrifice after sacrifice. It means loving people when they’re happy and having a good time, but also loving them when they’re weak and broken.

“I love you” means you love all of the person: their good qualities, and values as well as their mistakes, bad habits, and their past. It means knowing them like your favorite book with yellowed and dog-eared pages that you’ve read so many times.

“I love you” is more than a catchphrase – it’s about another person’s heart and your own, and that's pretty serious. We shouldn't let outside pressures or even ourselves get in the way of taking the time to actually find out what real love is. No need to rush.

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