Firstly, I believe (in most cases) whoever says "I love you" first in the relationship usually finds themselves NOT having the upper hand as to how the relationship plays out. Think about it, if you are the first one to take that leap and throw the "ILU" out on the table you're willing to be more vulnerable. After all, no one is guaranteed to get the "ILU2" in return. Unless, you're a girl who throws out the "ILU" because you're the *romantic type* and the guy replies with the "ILU2" because he's the *HORNY* type lol!!
AND.. if you have the "ILU" put out in front of you does this mean you are obligated to give the "ILU2" in return?? What if you haven't even thought about it yet?! Because, in that instance, there is just NOT a whole lot of time to ponder a response - you either LOOK or you LEAP - you usually don't get a chance to do both unless you are very clear about how you already feel... Then it's easy.. but leaves the question.. why didn't you say it first then?
I also tend to believe, if you've been dating someone for any significant amount of time (say.. 6 months or more) and the "ILU" card has not yet been played - then you are likely either trying to avoid saying it because one of you doesn't really mean it - OR (and this is a biggie) you are trying to outlast each other in an effort to not get hurt or to maintain some sort of control. It may seem twisted but I think that happens a lot. Not all of us wear our hearts completely exposed.. If you're like me, and you do - you already know that's a risk but at least you know it's genuine.
So, once the ILU cards have been laid out on the table and life continues merrily along, what's next for these three little words??? Do they continue to mean as much as the first time you said them? Do they build up and mean more as you expand your life together? OR - like so many couples out there - do they just become as reactionary as a 'bless you' after a sneeze?! How many people have heard the ILU card played when their partner 'wants' something - whether she wants an expensive pair of shoes or jewelery ..or whether he wants sex or a night out with the boyz.. It happens all the time - sad, but true.
Some thoughts I have on keeping the "ILU's" meaningful... never let the ILU's become hollow or merely responsive. If your partner is on over-drive with their use of ILU's you don't have to be - if you feel it's cold to not respond or give the "ILU2" in return, then say it but ALSO find those moments when you are looking into their eyes and say it - so they know you mean it - versus the "ILU" as you're walking out the door or ending a phone conversation. You CAN do both - as long as the meaningful and genuine ILU's still exist, you're good! Once in a while (especially if you have been together for a while) indulge in the depth of the ILU.. with, "ILU because..." or "ILU for..." but no matter what - MEAN it - you'll find if you have depth behind your ILU's you're more likely to get that kind of response in return.
Cheesey as it all may sound.. cliche as it just may seem.. that's the kind of fit we all want to some extent. A real love.. with all the fixin's - there's nothing worse then hearing a couple say "ILU' when they really want to say "f*ck off" - there is a world of meaning behind the ILU's - use them wisely!
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Cheers my dirtee martini readers!