I Regret Saying “I Love You”

Dave and I started off wobbly. That’s the best word for it. When I saw Dave, it was literally love at first sight. But Dave saw me as a friend. I broke up with a nice guy, because I was so in love with Dave. Dave went on living his life as normal, but added in my friendship. 

It was awkward. I know I came off as desperate. I was fearful that the person I wanted to marry would never want to marry me. 

After months of being friends, I decided to tell him that I wanted more. I had finished some book about being brave and not operating out of fear and who knows what else it said. So I told him I wanted to be more than friends. I told him I was interested in dating him. I will never forget the look on his face. It was a mixture of confusion and I-knew-this-was-coming and “Oh shit.” 

He was not in the same place. I thought I had been brave, but I had actually been cowardly in trying to make something work. 

So we stayed friends and it was everything I had feared. And I felt like a rejected loser. 

Later, Dave decided he did want to date me. Asked me out in a beautifully romantic way. A boy at my window at 2am. Asking through the screen, to a chorus of cicadas and crickets, if I would date him. I found flowers and music in my car the next day. 

But I was terrified he would change his mind. I had a difficult time enjoying those early days of finally being what he wanted. I figured he would snap out of it. Remember he didn’t want a relationship. Go back to his dreams of traveling the world, becoming an academic, sitting next to a fireplace, surrounded by books. A lifelong bachelor. 

But our first kiss told me he wasn’t playing around. When we had been friends, he mentioned in passing that he wouldn’t kiss a woman again if he didn’t know that he loved her and wanted to marry her. So our first kiss was more than lips touching. It was a proclamation. 

And it should’ve been enough. But my love language is Words of Affirmation. I was eagerly anticipating those three little words. And they were never said. Days turned into weeks. I started to get nervous. 

Certain friends didn’t help. Many of them weren’t mature when it came to relationships, and they planted seeds of doubt that I watered with my own insecurities. They said he was going to change his mind. He wasn’t committed. I was more invested than he was. 

None of it was true. Dave’s actions were the opposite of all those things. We didn’t kiss very often, but our kisses were indescribable. He planned thoughtful dates, with all the details screaming “I love you!” 

It wasn’t enough, and I ended up doing something I regretted from the moment it happened. And I couldn’t take it back. People I shouldn’t have been listening to told me he didn’t love me. So I planned a special date to get an “I love you” out of him. It was desperation. And it didn’t end up working. The setting, the mood, none of it. I sat there waiting for him to declare his love, and he couldn’t stop talking about the stars. So, I forced the moment.

“I love you.” I don’t know what I was expecting. But his eyes were sad. I had fabricated all of it. I meant what I said, but the timing was wrong. Everything was wrong. I had only done it out of fear. After several seconds, he said, “I love you, too.” And I could tell it wasn’t how it was supposed to play out. I had stolen something from him. 

I don’t know how long it would’ve taken him to initiate it. I regret that I basically butchered a milestone. All because I bought into a lie that his lack of words meant a lack of love. 

Dave doesn’t always say the words, but he always shows it. Always. His love language is Acts of Service. He can go three days without initiating an “I love you,” but he’s never gone even one day without showing me. 

I was too immature then to see it. I got caught up in needing to hear the words. I cringe when I think about how infantile I was about all of it. 

Dave says “I love you” when it matters. And he always says it back to me, even though I throw it around several times a day. He’ll be going to the grocery store, and I’ll say, “I love you! Be careful!” He will always respond, “I love you, too. I will.” He never withholds reciprocating the words. He just doesn’t usually offer them first. But, sometimes, when I’m leaving, he says, “I love you.” Or he says it completely out of the blue. And 33-year-old Lyndse knows whether he says it or not, that he does. He loves me. 

The week of Valentine’s Day 2009, we found out we were pregnant. Our first child. We were elated. One of the best days of our lives. He took me in his arms, kissed me, captured my gaze in his, and said, “I love you so much.” And it was perfection. 

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