Rattlesnakes make us shake in our combat boots. Skydiving shocks us, bombed midterms haunt us and getting a job after graduation just straight-up scares us. These things are, without a doubt, terrifying. However, many collegiettes would face all four of them in a heartbeat if it meant skipping out on being the first to take the great leap of L-O-V-E faith.
Saying “I love you” for the first time may seem particularly petrifying…but it doesn’t have to be! So go ahead—shout it from the rooftop, sing it to the world or, at the very least, whisper it to your SO. Read on to remind yourself that there’s nothing wrong with telling him or her how you really feel.
1. There are no set rules
Your syllabus tells you that you must submit your 10-page paper by midnight on Monday. Your internship supervisor requires you to show up by 7 a.m. on Fridays. But who or what decides when it’s the right time to drop the L-word? Well, that’s all you.
College of Charleston senior Marissa Myhill dealt with this inner dilemma while trying to determine whether or not to speak up. “I did not say I love you first, but I had told him I was falling in love with him,” she says. “He responded with: ‘Well let me be the first to say, I love you Marissa.’”
Although Marissa was the first to mention the subject, she didn’t think she could commit to it entirely. “I wanted to say it, but I think what held me back was I felt like it was too soon or we hadn’t been together long enough to say it,” Marissa says. She also points out that it wasn’t the first time she’s felt restricted by the rules we’re led to believe exist. They’re not real, so don’t let them run (or ruin) your love life!
2. When you know, you know
Remember when Karen from Mean Girls recognized there was a 30-percent chance it was already raining because she could feel it in her boobs? While we assume/hope your romance radar is just a teensy bit more accurate, the same idea applies.
It doesn’t matter when—or where—you feel the love. Whether it’s in your head during a date, your shoulders mid-kiss, your knees after a weekend trip or your toes on a random Tuesday, the sensation has a way of making you hyperaware of its presence. So, unless you want to deal with tingly toes until your SO finally takes it upon himself or herself to say I love you, you’ll be better off if you go with what you know.
3. It’s easier than waiting
Good things do come to those who wait. Whoever said that first wasn’t wrong. But even better things come to those who ditch the waiting game and speak from the heart. In the words of Temple University senior Leah Wenhold, “Being the first to say I love you is better than being the last!”
Instead of sitting on a seriously strong “I love you” because you think the hands of some imaginary clock are pointing to the wrong time, stand up and stop being so overly patient that it’s silencing your ability to share your feelings!
4. Your SO probably feels the same way…and is probably nervous, too
The fear of rejection is real—so real, in fact, that we’ve all been there. “It may seem daunting if it’s the first time you’ve ever said I love you,” says Stephanie Huynh, a freshman at Lehigh University. Stephanie may be spot-on about the intimidation surrounding our three favorite words, but what she says next really gets to the heart of the matter. “If you can tell they feel the same way and they’re just as nervous, I don’t see any problem with ‘exposing’ your love first. Chances are, they feel the same”
Belmont University sophomore Sarah Self experienced this firsthand. “My boyfriend and I had been long distance for about six months, practically the whole time we were dating,” she says. “I was so chicken about saying it because I’d never told anyone I’d loved them in that way before. Finally, I just worked up the nerve and kind of half said it. I hinted in a text, saying ‘Well, that’s not the only thing I love about you.’ When he asked what else I loved, I said, ‘You.’” Sarah was beyond nervous throughout the time it took for her boyfriend to respond. He then told her he felt the same way. As Sarah puts it, sharing her feelings “was so worth it.”
While there is no official right or wrong time to say I love you, there is (or will be) a right time for you. You’ll know exactly when it strikes, and, though you should never feel pressured into talking before you’re ready, we hope you find comfort in your freedom to reveal how you feel whenever the heck you please.