Join 3,512 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)

Tags:

Did I inadvertently tell my beau that I love him?
February 19, 2013 2:54 PM   Subscribe

I gave my boyfriend a surprise gift of a list of one hundred things I loved about him for valentines day. He found it after I left his house and called to say it was the most thoughtful thing anyone had ever done for him. I don't want to be the first to say "I love you" because I never have with any of my previous relationships and prefer a guy say those words first, but upon further reflection I am wondering if the list would count as the inadvertent equivalent of saying those three heavy words.

There have been a few times when I thought he was going to say it and it felt like he wanted to say it but hasn't. If I've learned anything from metafilter, it's not to play games but I just can't put my heart out there like that first and feel safer if a guy expresses his love verbally before I do.

For clarity, the question is: Did I inadvertently tell my beau that I love him with the list? And, I do have very strong feelings for him since we've spent so many months together but am not sure if I can say I LOVE HIM without some hesitation or trepidation. Also, he may or may not be granted a visa to stay here, which means I don't want to invest TOO Much and then have to see him go in a few months
posted by soooo to Human Relations (35 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
Soooo, imagine it the other way around. He left you a list of one hundred things he loves about you. I think there's only one conclusion....
ps thanks for this wonderful idea, I will steal it from you, if you don't mind.
posted by ouke at 2:58 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I do think saying, "this is what I love about you" does mean that "i love you" but if you think you can't say the actual words then just leave it as-is.
posted by dawkins_7 at 2:59 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


You said it 100 times.
posted by John Cohen at 3:00 PM on February 19, 2013 [26 favorites]


Absolutely not the same.

'I love you' can only be said in its original form of "I love you" and no substitute will suffice.
posted by Kruger5 at 3:01 PM on February 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


You wrote a list of 100 things you love about him. Whether you officially did or not, the message is pretty darned clear.
posted by murrey at 3:01 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I don't think telling someone what you love about them is the same as saying "I love you." That's a highly charged phrase with a specific meaning and sentiment, almost a term of art.
posted by payoto at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Don't worry about it. Seriously. You're laying good groundwork for saying it for real and it looks like he's totally receptive to it. :)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 3:03 PM on February 19, 2013 [10 favorites]


Don't underestimate the density of men.
posted by Team of Scientists at 3:06 PM on February 19, 2013 [28 favorites]


I don't want to invest TOO Much and then have to see him go in a few months

Um, if you love 100 things about him, that ship has already sailed. Unless three extra syllables is literally the difference between you "investing TOO much" and completely not giving a crap if he falls off the planet.

Words are not the gatekeepers of feelings.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:07 PM on February 19, 2013 [46 favorites]


You know that "I love you" isn't a legal commitment, right?

If you're asking, "Does any use of that four-letter L word mean the functional relationship equivalent of 'I love you'?" then the answer is "It greatly depends, and you know you and him and you-and-him better than we do."

You're beanplating, and the more you worry about it, the worse off the both of you will be. Let it go and revel in the fact that you made a pretty outstanding Valentine's Day gift.
posted by Etrigan at 3:09 PM on February 19, 2013 [18 favorites]


I don't know if you are Facebook official but this seems pretty legit to me.
posted by Tanizaki at 3:15 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you wait for a guy to say he loves you first, chances are he means what he says.
posted by KokuRyu at 3:24 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think saying "I love you" is a particularly meaningful speech act that in practice means more than just communicating whether or not you love someone (if that makes sense at all), so I do think that your gift is different in key ways than saying those words. But your gift does show that you care about him or are otherwise value your relationship with him, which is not surprising considering that is the entire point of giving such a gift in the first place. You said yourself that you have very strong feelings for him and that is probably obvious to him anyway regardless of all of this. If you are comfortable giving him a gift like that and not comfortable saying "I love you", that is fine, as long as you don't feel like you're having to hide or pretend about how you feel about him.
posted by burnmp3s at 3:27 PM on February 19, 2013 [2 favorites]


Seconding Kruger5, Team of Scientists, and KokoRyu.
posted by ageispolis at 3:42 PM on February 19, 2013


Some people show their feelings through their actions, not their words. You're one of those.
posted by davejay at 3:43 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think if you don't want to invest so much you shouldn't do things that look an awful lot like investing a great deal.

And, no, I don't think a list of all the things you love about someone is the exact same thing as saying "I love you," but it'd be close enough for me. Then again, I think you're putting a lot of unreliable stock into the words and the "who says it first" aspect in the first place.
posted by sm1tten at 3:58 PM on February 19, 2013


No, you didn't say it. "I love you" is "I love you"; "here is a list of things I love about you" is hinting round the subject, but it's not actually saying the words.

Also... I get why it feels safer for you if you're not the first person to say those words, but honestly, it's a false kind of safety. If you love him, don't wait around trying to guess if he's going to say it and worrying you've inadvertently said too much; just grab the bull by the horns and say "I love you." There's a real, huge feeling of freedom in being able to say "you know what, my nerves and fears are not the boss of me, and I will speak my heart with pride".
posted by Catseye at 3:59 PM on February 19, 2013 [11 favorites]


You didn't say it explicitly, but you said it. You love him. Not saying it doesn't mean you can control your feelings any better.

So if you love him, then love him. Let the visa stuff work out separately from your feelings. Life is short. Love the people you love and sort out the rest later.
posted by inturnaround at 4:04 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If I've learned anything from metafilter, it's not to play games but I just can't put my heart out there like that first and feel safer if a guy expresses his love verbally before I do.

You wrote out a list of 100 things you love about him.

If that's not putting your heart out there, I don't know what is. You may not have said "I love you" as a sentence (and you don't have to if you're not comfortable with it), but if someone did that for me I'd assume that they loved me/were in love with me. Because why else would anyone do such a thing? It's not something you do for a friend or a casual fuck buddy.

It also seems like you're confused about the feeling of love and the word "love". Like if you don't say the word that means you don't feel love, or that you have to say the word to call forth the feeling. You obviously have deep feelings for this guy regardless of who says the sentence "I love you" first or whether he has a visa to stay in the country.
posted by Sara C. at 4:06 PM on February 19, 2013 [7 favorites]


I don't understand all this parsing of the distinction between "I love you" and "I love these 100 things about you." You didn't just accidentally start using the words "I," "love," and "you" in that order about your boyfriend, over and over. If I got that kind of list from someone I was dating, I'd have no question that she loves me. Whether you choose to express it one way vs. another way is almost beside the point.
posted by John Cohen at 4:16 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


but I just can't put my heart out there like that first and feel safer if a guy expresses his love verbally before I do.

Love isn't about safe. List, schm-ist. Say it or don't, but don't let fear hold your heart back.
posted by Ideefixe at 4:21 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


I think you already love him, whether you say it to him now in a more direct way or not. Whether he gets the visa or not won't change that.

Love comes with risk -- that change, circumstance, lack of chemistry, or a serious misapprehension about the person we love will make us hurt. My feeling is that it is better to play this game than stay safe.

And btw, that list sounds very sweet. I think I'll be borrowing that idea for my very beloved Bear's bday.
posted by bearwife at 4:57 PM on February 19, 2013


No, you're good.

But...

I don't want to be the first to say "I love you"

Coward. And I mean that in the nicest possible way. Be bold. Be brave. Be amazing.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 5:11 PM on February 19, 2013 [20 favorites]


you think you took the safe cowardly way out...but i bet he heard "i love you" 100 times! i sure would be hearing that if i were in his position and had been given such a (wonderful) gift.
posted by zdravo at 5:16 PM on February 19, 2013


From the other side of the question and in opposite genders, I received a list like this from a boyfriend.

While it was not a gift per se (just a random email -- titled "44 lines about 1 woman," no less) and while nearly ten years later, it still ranks as one of the most kind, vulnerable, amazing things anyone has ever done for me, I did not actually feel it was equivalent to him saying "I love you." I just thought it meant he really liked what was on the list, felt it was simply a sweet and genuine expression of fondness rather than any kind of grand gesture.
That being said, he called me a few days later and closed out our conversation by saying something like, "You know I love you, right? I'm completely in love with you. But you already knew that, right?" He then refused to say the precise words "I love you" again until we were in the same room because he wanted to say them first, and in person (we lived about 90 miles apart).

So.

Having experienced that, I don't think you told your boyfriend that you love him exactly, but I do think you love him, and he may (or may not) take your list as a hint. And please believe me: There is nothing wrong with saying "I love you" first. Your heart was made to be broken and mended and broken again. It hurts, but it's worth it*.
posted by divined by radio at 5:19 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


If you said to your boyfriend "Hey BF, you are always on time. I love that about you" then I don't think anyone would say that you said you love him.

However once you make a list of 100 things you love about him and give it to him as a surprise gift on the one day of the year specifically earmarked for romantic love and declarations of same then most people (but apparently not all as seen on this thread) would say that you said you loved him.
posted by any portmanteau in a storm at 5:31 PM on February 19, 2013 [4 favorites]


the inadvertent equivalent of saying those three heavy words.

My friends and I have a word for this. I'd say you let it slip on acci-purpose.
posted by Room 641-A at 5:41 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Anecdotal evidence.

Point A: I told my S.O. that I love him, and he ... did not reciprocate the sentiment. Point B: my S.O. told me that he loves me.

Between Points A & B, my S.O. twice told me that he loved X about me, and it was contemporaneously understood by each of us that Point B was the first time he told me that he loves me.

Epilogue and notwithstanding, while those six months between Points A & B were a bit oof, these days he tells me that he loves me every day. So you lose some, you win someā€”take the risk!
posted by reparata at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, dude, you just said it one hundred times! :-) Sounds like the cat is basically out of the bag, so it may not work out with him saying it first. Sounds like he was very happy about it though. So that's good, right?
posted by mermily at 6:21 PM on February 19, 2013


One thing this and other Metafilter threads shows: not everyone views "I love you" the same way. So in some sense, your question depends upon him a lot too.

I was honestly kind of shocked when I started reading AskMe to see how many people wait what I consider a really long time to say it, or consider it some Monumental Event or giant big deal. I mean, it's not like it's an unusual or difficult thing to feel (for me, anyways, which I guess is part of all this -- for some people it is).

So to me, yeah you basically said it, or at least what you said is only different in a minor, unimportant way. To people who see them as Words of Power not to be spoken unless you have performed the proper rituals and are prepared to make a sacrifice to the gods, then no you did not say it.

You may have some idea where your boyfriend stands on that if you've even discussed this issue with him.
posted by wildcrdj at 6:55 PM on February 19, 2013 [3 favorites]


Did you tell him you loved him? No.

Did you tell him something that, to many people, would be functionally the same thing? Yes.

Did you tell him something that, to many other people, would be not at all the same thing? Yes.

Is there a way to tell from a mark on your boyfriend's neck or a blood test which kind of person he is? No.

Is there better than a 50 percent chance that whether he thinks you said it or didn't say it is going to affect anything that happens from this point forward, especially negatively? No.

Is this mostly about you freaking yourself out that you've now told him you love him and thus lowered the whammy on yourself and now you will get slammed in the same way I always feel like whenever anything good happens to me, that means I will then be hit by a bus? I suspect so, yes.

So in the end, is this mostly about you realizing that it's okay if you expressed something that feels to him like love, even if you would hesitate to attach the specific "I love you" ritual to it, because that doesn't mean he's going to run away? I suspect so, yes.

And does this mostly mean that you would be a lot better off appreciating the fact that you are in a happy relationship with someone you are so fond of that you might actually have accidentally said you loved him because you were in the middle of listing 100 things you love about him, rather than worrying about What It All Means? I suspect so, yes.

Is any of this going to stop you from getting hurt if, in fact, deep down, you either love him or really, really like him, and it doesn't work out because it just doesn't, or because he doesn't get a visa, or because it turns out he's a trained killer on the loose living under an assumed name? Well, no. Those are the breaks. You say you can't put your heart out there, but it is already out there, flapping around, bleeding, feeling, beating, and ultimately sometimes feeling like it just got the crap beaten out of it. It's done, not because of what you said but because of how you feel, and that's okay, and it's nothing to worry about any more than life is always something to worry about.

Is my opinion.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:45 PM on February 19, 2013 [27 favorites]


Do I love Linda_Holmes' answer? Yes.

Seconding it.
posted by Sal and Richard at 10:08 PM on February 19, 2013


You wrote a list of 100 good things about him. When you say "I love you", you encompass and accept the bad things, too.

You have not said "I love you" or it's equivalent.
posted by itesser at 1:26 AM on February 20, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't think you "said it" said it, but it is possible that he understood it that way. As the responses here clearly demonstrate, people's interpretations and thoughts on love and the words "I love you" vary tremendously. There is no way to know how he took it without asking him.

That said, your having done this inadvertently makes me think you should just tell him, straight up, that you love him. Here are my reasons:
1. If this really was an accidental "OMG what if he understood it that way" thing then it sounds like your brain is trying reeeeaaalllllllly hard to express those feelings you're working really hard to repress. These aren't destructive feelings you should be withholding, if you ask me. This isn't like you're holding back the desire to dump a cup of salt in your eye. This is love, and this is quite likely reciprocated love. Give your brain a break, eh?
2. He reacted with deep gratitude and by being really touched by it, and this is something that quite literally has "love" written all over it. Your boyfriend is not getting scared off by the "L" word, and that is awesome. He clearly has strong feelings for you too. It sounds to me like he is basically screaming at you "YOU PLUS ME PLUS LOVE EQUALS HAPPINESS", and I think rejection is a pretty slim chance.
3. Being the first to say "I love you" is scary but empowering. I was the first to say it in my current relationship, and it was the first time I had been the first, and let me tell you... it was scary and "OMG What if this screws everything up!" but it was also very satisfying. I was owning how I felt. I loved him, it wasn't something I ever wanted to be in denial of or scared of feeling, so I told him. (FWIW, after I told him he blinked at me for about 8 seconds without talking and then basically said "Finally!! I love you too!")
4. Dude, life is short, and love is in short supply in the world. It sounds like you have a great relationship with a great guy. Own it and rock that shit! Be brave! I can tell you from experience that being the first to say it is a fun thing to joke about with your parter in the future. (ie. "Yeah, I forgot to add detergent to the dishwasher before I started it, but I said I love you first so I get a free pass.")
5. And if he IS taking it as your saying you love him do you really want it to be a wishy washy "maybe she said it, maybe she didn't" kind of moment? I wouldn't. I would want it to be absolutely and undeniable.


You're brave.
You're strong.
You can do this.
Go barf some awesome emotions at your boyfriend. :)
posted by PuppetMcSockerson at 4:05 AM on February 20, 2013 [1 favorite]


divined by radio, the first time my husband told me he loved me, it was the exact same way ("You know I love you, right?") Hee. We were on a camping trip in June. We've been married for six years and he now is completely convinced that he said it for the first time on our second date, in February. He will totally even argue with me about it!

From my own experience, I'd say that if you spend a lot of time thinking of all the things about him that you love, and how amazing he is and how amazing you are together and you keep ALMOST saying it but stopping yourself at the last moment because he hasn't said it yet and what if it's WEIRD... you do love him, whether you say it that way or not.

But I join the chorus upthread urging you not to let "previous relationships" and arbitrary preferences of who says what when get in the way of your actual current relationship and feelings. Enjoy this time! It is a fun and happy time!
posted by oblique red at 9:09 AM on February 20, 2013


« Older I use a wired lavalier mic tha...   |  Where can I find a good, clear... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.