It's easy to say, 'I love you New York.' It's not so easy to say, 'I love you, Mr. Big."
Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City, Season 2
It's one of those episodes that makes every woman cringe in sympathy. Carrie tells Mr. Big she loves him for the very first time and he says...well, nothing...in return. Suddenly their dreamy relationship becomes nothing more than an awkward mess as Carrie practically dissolves into an insecure puddle on the floor.
I think everyone's had this feeling at one time or another. You've been dating this guy and it's going amazingly well. You think about him a thousand times a day and every time he walks into the room, your heart skips a beat. You have tons in common and he always make you laugh. And you wake up, one day, realizing that you love him.
But even though you're spending all your time together and maybe even spending the night--and you can't stop gushing to your friends about how this could really be the one--you still can't bring yourself to utter those three little words when you're in his presence.
Why is it so hard to say I love you? We asked Janine Bush, Founder and President of J. Allen Matchmaker why, even in this day in age, those little words hold so much weight.
Simple, she says. "Because you're exposing yourself to rejection."
That's right because let's be honest here. When you say "I love you" you need to hear the same words back. And if your sweetie doesn't respond, like Mr. Big, that can send you into a tailspin. Suddenly, the power dynamic switches dramatically and you find yourself the vulnerable party, ready to bleed at the slightest hint of rejection.
But Bush says, don't freak out--unless he insists it's never going to happen. "He may be more guarded with his feelings or perhaps he doesn't feel it yet," she says. "If in doubt, ask him if he thinks he could ever get to those feelings with you."
Of course, it helps if you aren't telling him you love him by date #2. Not only do you risk scaring him off by something like that, but you might be lying to yourself as well. After all, infatuation can be fleeting and doesn't always mean there's real, genuine love behind it. Bush suggests, "Wait until time passes and when your feelings are confirmed, say it."
And what about the opposite end of things? When he declares his love for you and you're not ready to say it back? "It's ok if you don't say it back as long as you address it," says Bush. "Communication is key. If you don't think you'll ever be able to share that feeling, it's only fair to tell that person. If it scares you because it's moving too fast or it's never happened before, the communication point remains the same....tell him."