Sunday Edition #9: My Column in Yellow
I’ve recently come to the realization that I’m in love with my boyfriend of about six months. I want to tell him but I’m afraid. What if he doesn’t feel the same? Will it ruin everything?
It’s the middle of the night and you are sleeping peacefully but something wakes you. Your eyes open and you see your partner curled up breathing softly, still asleep. This has happened hundreds of times before, yet this time is different. Everything is the same but somehow it isn’t. You feel a movement across your chest and gasp when you realize (No, it isn’t that you have bed bugs) you are in love with this person.
After the initial warm and fuzzy moment ends, it is common for fear to set in as you begin to question whether or not they feel the same. This can cause a terrifying spiral of confusion, doubt and panic because of a fear of rejection and abandonment.
Love becomes a burden.
A million questions come next… Do they love me back? When is the right time to tell them? What if they feel differently? Will they break up with me? Should I stay quiet?
Many of us grasp onto the idea “timing is everything.” That we can only express ourselves during a very specific and special milestone or moment. We believe there is a calculated right time. I’m here to tell you there isn’t. For some, Love comes at us like a whirlwind and others, it walks slowly into the room. Every person is different. Neither is good or bad. It just is.
There are definitely times you should NOT say it because it loses its authenticity….during sex, in the middle of a fight, when you’ve been caught doing something dishonest, or as a way to convince them to stay. A past boyfriend of mine first said it to me right after a company approached me for work that required relocation. It was his power play of desperation so I wouldn’t move away. I didn’t take the job because of it. We were together for 7 more years but I never fully forgave him for using “I love you” as a way to manipulate me.
We are afraid to confess our love for a person unless we will hear them say it back. We jump off the cliff, free fall towards the bottom praying they will throw an “I love you, too” parachute to save us from colliding face first into the rocky bottom of Unreciprocated Love. I understand this fear but at the same time, I wish it were different.
I wish we didn’t feel fear and shame for loving someone who may not currently be in the same emotional place as us. Feeling Love is beautiful. Plus, “I love you” shouldn’t be said simply so you can hear the words in return. It should be said because you are expressing your truth. It is a gift you give to the person who made your heart feel something.
There is no magical equation I can bestow upon you about how and when to tell someone you love them. It isn’t a “one size fits all” answer. It is specialized to each person and situation. You can’t predict the reaction of your partner. There is a chance they feel the same but hadn’t yet found the courage to say so but there is also the chance they aren’t quite there yet. Don’t take the latter as an insult. Like I mentioned earlier, some people need more time to come into Love.
Regardless of what happens, you should be proud and confident to speak your truth. Healthy relationships thrive on good and honest communication. Also, feeling love for your partner is nothing to be ashamed of. If they truly care for you and value being in a relationship with you (even if they don’t fully feel Love quite yet) they will be grateful and appreciative of your Love. They won’t run away.
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My Life in Yellow is not a licensed psychologist or health care professional and the advice within this column does not replace the care of psychologists or other healthcare professionals. Before making any decision or taking any action, you should consult a health/medical professional. Do not disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking advice or treatment because of something you have read here.