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When is love actual LOVE?
November 6, 2012 6:48 AM   Subscribe

When does "I love you" mean something? And is there a way to say "OMGZ I'M HAVING SUPERSTRONG LIMERENT FEELINGS TOWARDS YOU" without sounding quite that weird?

So I've got a new honey, and despite the fact that I desperately want to, and have wanted to on several occasions, I'm aware that saying "I love you" smacks of desperation, at best, and at worst, of a potential crack habit. We've been dating a fortnight. My own answer to myself would be "Honeypie, you don't even KNOW me". But it got me to thinking.. When does 'I love you' mean 'I love you' and not 'I'm scared I'll die alone', 'You make me so horny' or 'I just want to mush my face into yours until our two faces are one face'?

Is it a time thing, or is it a 'certain number of important milestones clocked' thing? When does it mean something? When can you reasonably KNOW? And also, any suggestions on how I can express my superstrong feelings, and yet not terrify this boy with my crazy lady love-talk would be just plain aces.
posted by f3l1x to Human Relations (33 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
 
I think this depends on the people involved, frankly. Some people want to use that "love thing" early and often, some people are freaked out by it, some people want to ease into it, and so on. I think you need to gauge your own feelings and consider the attitude presented by your partner and salt to taste. What you feel is what you feel; how you choose to express it is an interaction with who you are with, your social setting, etc.

Personally, the only time I have used the word "love" in a relationship before the couple month mark was a disaster. But that was me and the other person, not any kind of universal rule.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:55 AM on November 6, 2012


With my husband I knew it meant something when I could say it when sincerely annoyed at him and mean it, basically using it as a reminder to myself that he made me incredibly happy otherwise
posted by spunweb at 6:59 AM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


You can tell the boy you're nuts about him, besotted with him, delighted with him, and even tell him 'You make me so horny' or 'I just want to mush my face into yours until our two faces are one face.' I'd leave out 'I'm scared I'll die alone' :)

As to when it's love and not limmerence, the two are not mutually exclusive. I do think you have a better sense when the edge is off the twinkle - when you can spend a night at your house without pining, when you've found your own friends you just dumped for three months once again, when you've had some fights and not wanted to kill yourself, etc. It's tougher when you fall hard and fast instead of slow and steady, though.

For me, when it is still something I'm sure I feel in moments of quiet on my own, rather than moments of passion or pining or just googly eyed gazing, I'm sure. YMMV.
posted by DarlingBri at 6:59 AM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


He meant it when he knew he was willing to change long term life goals for me.




For the record, this means I said I love you first, lol.
posted by spunweb at 7:00 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's easy to be all lovey-dovey when everything is going well. What happens when there's a health scare, or a major disagreement or a death in the family? That's where the rubber meets the road.

After the limerace wears off, is it just better that you're together? Are you happy when he get home, even if you're watching crap TV in the bedroom and he's in the other room playing on the computer? Does he still talk to the cats in that high pitched voice? That's love.

Are you both taking it for granted that you'll be getting married. Oh wait, that was me and Husbunny.

But you get the idea. Love isn't a feeling, it's a series of actions. Things he does that make your life easier, more fun and better, and vice-versa.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:07 AM on November 6, 2012 [5 favorites]


If your question is "And is there a way to say "OMGZ I'M HAVING SUPERSTRONG LIMERENT FEELINGS TOWARDS YOU" without sounding quite that weird?", the answer is:

These two weeks with you are the most fun I've had without getting arrested.

We basically just met, but you are a ton of fun!

Hey, when we aren't fucking I like just hanging out with you.

Who knows where this will go, it sure is awesome.
posted by OmieWise at 7:15 AM on November 6, 2012 [8 favorites]


"I'm crazy about you."
posted by bearette at 7:24 AM on November 6, 2012


You're adorable/ I adore you
I think you're really great
I love being around you
You're lovely/charming/marvellous/fun/sweet/etc.

Personally, i'd say "i- i- I think you're swell!", but that's the sort of thing I say sincerely, so YMMV. Don't say it if it would sound sarcastic.

I don't know when I love you means something real. I think it's when you're not scared to say it, nor scared to not say it. Or when you can say it for them, not for yourself. But I'm single, so I might be wrong.
posted by windykites at 7:27 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Things I have said in the past in your situation:
- I like you more than I have ever liked someone before
- This is the most comfortable/easy/fun relationship I have ever been in, and it has only been two weeks!
- I intend to keep you
- Lets keep dating for a long time, okay?
- I like you as more than a friend. (understatement is funny. my finacee and I still say this)
- It is weird how much I enjoy doing boring stuff with you. (best said while you're doing something boring like getting groceries or doing laundry together)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 7:38 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


For us, it was more about gestures, than anything. When I started to notice the flecks and sparkles in her eyes and I feared blinking lest I miss them, or when I held her and she pulled a little back, and I said: "No, I'm not done yet," and she held on tighter...
posted by thanotopsis at 7:46 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


"I Like (with a capital L) like you."
posted by misskaz at 7:49 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


For what it's worth, Mr. ninjakins spontaneously stated he loved me in like, week 2 of dating (though we'd known each other a while before that). He immediately followed that up with "...even though I'm not sure why yet." It knocked the air out of me, but it didn't drive me off, probably due to the honesty of the second statement. We're coming up on our third wedding anniversary, so I guess his gut reaction worked out. :)
posted by ninjakins at 7:54 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Anectdotally, if someone I had been dating for a fortnight said exactly this I would be quite smitten.
posted by Blasdelb at 8:03 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Though I believe the traditional way to express this sentiment is:

I like like you
posted by Blasdelb at 8:04 AM on November 6, 2012 [4 favorites]


And also, any suggestions on how I can express my superstrong feelings, and yet not terrify this boy with my crazy lady love-talk would be just plain aces.

I think you answered your own question: 'You make me so horny' or 'I just want to mush my face into yours until our two faces are one face'. Or, "You turn me on so much;" "You're a really special girl/guy/whatever to make love to;" "Being with you is amazing." Whatever it is that you're really thinking.
posted by BibiRose at 8:04 AM on November 6, 2012


"I'm aware that saying "I love you" smacks of desperation, at best, and at worst, of a potential crack habit."

You realize that both of these things are on the same end of the spectrum and neither of them are true?

Anyways, I'd go with all the other ways of saying it for as long as you can stand it. Hold onto it like a happy secret. Let it buzz underneath all of your interactions for a while, unspoken. You don't get this crazy limerence-time back and the yearning adds a nice bit of intensity and longing to things. That's part of the excitement, tension, passion, wondering.

And don't be worried if that happy secret turns into a happy speech accident at some unexpected point...sometimes that's the cutest.

How you know though? I don't know. Maybe 'I love you' means 'I love you' when it actually does mean 'I'm scared I'll die alone', 'You make me so horny', 'I just want to mush my face into yours until our two faces are one face' and a whole bunch of stuff in between. Well, maybe not that first sentiment. But I love you is really a nice shorthand for a lot of bigger, crazier ideas anyway. Go long for as long as you can.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:07 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I say it when I mean it. How do I know that I mean it?
- I can feel it at all times, even when my partner is annoying me or doing something that pisses me off.
- My partner's happiness makes me happy, and his sadness makes me sad.
- The thought of being without my partner makes me sad, and not because of loneliness, but because I want to share every part of my life with him and I know that my life would be dramatically different in a bad way without that.
- I want to do everything in my power to support him and see him succeed.

I said "I love you" to my current boyfriend three months in. I'm not 100% sure that I had hit all of these at that point, but I certainly feel all of them now (it's been almost a year).
posted by anotheraccount at 8:07 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Other things people say, "I think I'm going to fall in love with you." "I haven't felt this way in a long time." These sound a little bit like they're out of a playbook but I've been happy to hear some version of them. Basically I think there are a lot of things you can say that will be more exciting and romantic than "I love you," if you dig a little.
posted by BibiRose at 8:12 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I would probably go with the facesmushing comment, personally.
posted by elizardbits at 8:25 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


When my guy told me: "I can't wait until you're annoyed with me." I had no idea what he was talking about. I mean, it had been a few months and we'd never had one fight or even minor conflict or annoyance. Things had been so amazing, so hazy-crazy-good that I didn't understand what he meant, and was like, "What?!? What are you talking about?!?"

"That means it's real," he said calmly. Since, we high-fived after our first real "fight" and circle back after any little dustup to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be in love, and for it to be real, warts and all.

That's love.
posted by amoeba at 8:41 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


Play him this song.
posted by mollymayhem at 8:52 AM on November 6, 2012 [2 favorites]


I still struggle with this, but to me, "I love you" means exactly that. It isn't about me at all, it's about YOU.

It's taking how you make me feel out of the equation: the goosebumps, the butterflies, the excitement, the missing you, and the sexual desire I feel. Removed as best I can from my determination. For those things can be love, but they can be a million other things too.

So..Love is more what I am willing to do for you. To make you better, happier, to make your life more whole, to support, uplift, care for, listen to you, even when I have a "better" story. It's the work I am glad to put in, which may or may not inconvenience me to ensure that you know that I will freely put your emotional needs before my own, expecting nothing in return.

At its perfection, "I Love You" is a statement, and not a question. It requires no answer, no reply. It is a declaration of my spirit. It wasn't until a few years ago, that I realized that while I had been saying those three little words over and over again, what I really intended the entire time was "Do You Love Me?" Which, of course, is a completely different thing...
posted by Debaser626 at 8:58 AM on November 6, 2012 [11 favorites]


When can you reasonably KNOW

It's not a reasonable thing.
It means something different to everyone.
some people have "test" it is ____ when _____ happens during _____
some people don't
some people say it on the first date and are married forever
some people coyly hold of for months or years and then immediately break up once uttered
it freaks some people out
others are super comfortable with it
to some people love is just a feeling
to some people it is complicated equation

When does 'I love you' mean 'I love you' and not 'I'm scared I'll die alone', 'You make me so horny' or 'I just want to mush my face into yours until our two faces are one face'?


I think most people actually mean all those things at once, when they say "love"
posted by French Fry at 9:01 AM on November 6, 2012


"I love you" means something when you say it and you mean it. It never means a guarantee, a contract, or a prediction of the future. There's no real way of knowing what you'll get in response, an enthusiastic affirmation, some variety of the billion ways of more-or-less uncomfortable "that's great although I'm not quite there yet" or a genuine deer-in-the-headlights "oh shit" moment. Aren't relationships fun? Looking back, pretty much saying it when I felt it, when I meant it feels like some of the good, honest, meaningful decisions in my life, even in the relationships that went pretty ridiculously badly, all told. I said it a bunch of times, meant it every time, had a bunch of sad endings and one happy one (so far!). Overthinking this sort of thing seems like a good way to spoil the enjoyment of what's good about being in love, which is a shame because heaven knows it ain't all good.

Is there a way to say "OMGZ I'M HAVING SUPERSTRONG LIMERENT FEELINGS TOWARDS YOU" without sounding quite that weird?

"I love you".
posted by nanojath at 9:07 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


Say it in a 'Love ya!' way and not 'I Love You' way and see how he reacts. If you feel it, say it. Usually you'll know how you really feel after you've said it and 'love ya' can go either way. Good luck!
posted by brokenwitch at 9:16 AM on November 6, 2012


And is there a way to say "OMGZ I'M HAVING SUPERSTRONG LIMERENT FEELINGS TOWARDS YOU" without sounding quite that weird?

You're my favorite.

I, uh, think I might have a crush on you. (agreed with the above commenter that understatement can be extremely charming)

Or that face-smooshing thing you said. That one's actually really good, too.
posted by vytae at 9:41 AM on November 6, 2012 [3 favorites]


I have said to someone before: "I am having an awful lot of feelings about you."
and yeah, the face-mushing line is pretty great. anyone sensible would immediately respond to that by mushing their face against yours.
posted by dizziest at 9:56 AM on November 6, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love ____ing with you (hanging out, spending time, being with, etc) - because really that's true, you don't know him know him yet, right?
posted by mrs. taters at 10:09 AM on November 6, 2012


I envy you. Think of this awkward "I love you but I can't say I love you" phase as a small and precious window of opportunity to do the emotional equivalent of writing without using the letter E. Enjoy the chance to be creative! Think how much less exciting it will be when the relationship settles down a little and you can just say "I love you" without feeling like you're licking an electric fence.

After seven years, I still mix it up a bit with my favorite person in the world. Last week: "YOU ARE MORE AWESOME THAN MARU."
posted by stuck on an island at 10:30 AM on November 6, 2012 [10 favorites]


About three months.
posted by ead at 11:06 AM on November 6, 2012


I love you always means something. It means different things for every person, every couple, and basically every relationship (not just romantic). Try to figure out what meaning I love you has for you - that'll give you an idea of what conditions need to be fulfilled for you to be comfortable using it.

That said, I love the options you've brought up, especially the faces one. I'd just say that to him if that's how you feel.
posted by buteo at 11:42 AM on November 6, 2012


I've had more than one relationship where "I think I'm in LIKE with you!" was the phrase of choice, but I like the face mushing one, too.
posted by thylacinthine at 1:39 PM on November 6, 2012


"Damn, you're awesome."
posted by cmoj at 3:22 PM on November 6, 2012


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