When to say I love you

In 2009 I started dating a really COOL guy. He was European and read a lot of books and introduced me to a lot of movies I hadn’t seen, whether I liked it or not. He rode a motorcycle. We both lived in New Orleans and had a lot of friends (mine didn’t like him because he was a PLAYBOY and also because he once took shrooms without me before a road trip so I had to drive). Then we both moved to Germany, where I didn’t have any friends. He said I was too clingy and dumped me.

We were on-again/off-again for months, but when I was finally settled we got back together, and fought a lot about how serious we were. After a year and a half of romantic confusion, and I decided that after my abroad program ended I didn’t think it was worth trying long distance. He disagreed. He drove me to the airport and tried to convince me again on the way. I ultimately kissed him goodbye, and walked through security.

Boarding the plane, I got a text. “I love you.” It was the first time he had said it in the 18 months we’d known each other. I took my seat, flew back to America, and didn’t see him again for 4 years.

That’s some dumb shit.

Another partner said “I love you” to me within two weeks of us dating, and then ended up being one of my shortest-lived relationships of all time. This isn’t even the psychopath I wrote about recently. Two dudes have done this. It’s pretty unchill, IMO. Like, at least know how I take my coffee before you tell me you love me, I think.

It’s all a delicate dance. In my longest and happiest relationship, we waited a few of months and then woke up in the middle of the night to tell each other before we did acid the next morning, so that we wouldn’t end up saying it high. I guess you could view that as unromantic, but I don’t. It was pretty perfect for us.

I’ve had great experiences, and I’ve had bad experiences. I’m a serial monogamist and have honestly said it a lot for my age. I think at this point, I could write the guide on when to say it. So, I did. Here are some guidelines

Don’t say I love you before:

  • you have each others’ email addresses
  • you know each others’ moms’ first names
  • you’ve been sort of aware that the other probably just pooped in the other room
  • you’ve seen the other cry
  • you’ve been to a restaurant where you had an awful experience and peeked over to see if your partner left a tip you feel comfortable with given your own moral and ethical code
  • you’ve been in a pretty legit argument
  • you’ve asked them if they’ve been tested
  • you know whether or not they identify as an anarchist and/or born-again Christian
  • both parties have made the other orgasm
  • you know how their pajama pants fit
  • both parties have cooked a meal for the other & you have a rough idea of whether they are sad Easy Mac people
  • you’ve seen their apartment on a day when they didn’t know you were coming over and you were OK with it
  • you know 100% whether he thinks traditional gender roles still hold any weight in our society
  • you’ve been on an overnight trip

Do say I love you before:

  • you meet each others’ parents
  • you pee with the door open (ALSO: don’t pee with the door open, you animal)
  • you move in together
  • you spend Christmas together (Friendsgiving is OK)
  • you ask a girl to shave your neck
  • you purchase or make an animal together
  • you buy a tandem bike together
  • you ask a girl to shave her pubes (ALSO: don’t ask a girl to shave her pubes, you animal)
  • you go to a yoga class where you’re suuuper likely to either fart or slip in a puddle of your own sweat and hit your face on the floor (lock it down, baby girl)
  • you get married
  • you tattoo each others’ names on (ATTN: GRACE ON THE BACHELOR IN PARADISE)

I feel like this is a pretty comprehensive list, but invite your stories and advice in the comments. Let’s grow together as a community, y’all.

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