“I Love You”

The first time a guy said this to me I felt my heart sink. Not the feeling you expected, huh?

We had been dating for a couple of weeks, only saw each other a few times because I was in school and he was a year older, already working. I had met him at a party and we just hit it off. We did a lot together, but I was constantly afraid that I was spending too much time with him and neglecting my friends, which should have been my first clue because when you love someone you actually want to spend all of your time with them.

We had just finished watching a movie, I don’t even remember which one, and he was about to leave. I remember I made him laugh and he just looked at me and out came those words. I felt my heart drop, the heat leave my body and time slowdown. My brother came up stairs within seconds to tell him his ride was there. I didn’t know how to react. Nobody had ever said that to me. He was expecting me to say it back. I felt so pressured as he looked at me with hopeful eyes and all I could say in that moment was : “You too.”

When he left I felt like I could breathe again, but then that guilty feeling set in. We had only been dating for a few weeks, it was new. Very new. I had never been told what to do in that moment, nobody ever tells you how to respond. At first I tried to convince myself that I would learn to say it and mean it, but that never happened. I felt pressured to say it all the time. He would say it and then wait for me to say it.

We broke up a few weeks after that, for many different reasons. But that is not why I chose to post this on the internet. I feel like some time or another we are all in this situation, and we all feel guilty if we do and don’t say it back. The thing is, we shouldn’t have to feel that way. Some people take things fast and some slow. I was still in school, I was still living like any other High school kid. He was working, living like an adult. We were in different worlds and lifestyles.

Saying I love you is a big step in a relationship, but that doesn’t mean you have to say it back if you don’t feel it. I learned that if the time is not right for me, all I have to say is that I want to take things slow and if the person then leaves, they didn’t love me enough to give me that time. If someone really loves you they won’t pressure you into saying it back and they won’t make you feel bad if you don’t.

The relationship I had wasn’t a good one, but it also taught me a lot about what I wanted and didn’t want. I also learned that relationships scare me right now and that I am just not ready for any of it, and that is okay.

I sometimes wonder how things would have been different if I didn’t say it back, would he have left me right then? Would I still have broken up with him a few weeks later? Things cross our paths not to weaken us or make us feel like bad people, but to help us learn. Had that not happened I would never have learned how to handle that situation differently.

Being in love and loving someone are two completely different things. I was in love with him, but he loved me. And I guess in the scenario I was the bad guy, but if you don’t feel the same way about someone, there is no use in pretending or forcing it. It only ends up hurting the one you were trying not to hurt.


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