Vulnerability: Is it okay to say “I love you” first?


{Photo: Flickr}

{Photo: Flickr}

“I won’t say it first.”

“How long have you been dating?”

“But you do right? You do love him?”

“It’s not that scary. I said it first to my boyfriend.”

“I just won’t. I haven’t said it to anyone for years. I just can’t. He needs to say it to me first and then I’ll be ready to respond”

“Like immediately. I love you too. Oh my gawd… finally. I’ve been three months waiting to say this!’ ”

We doubled over in laughter, spilling our drinks, imagining the intensity of the response.

Amidst the hilarity there was a brief reflective pause.

“I think, loving someone means you can be vulnerable with them.  Scary as it may be, saying it first only means you trust him.”

“I think she’s right”

(I love being right.)

“Okay, Okay. I see your point but I’m still gonna wait.”


The word itself gives us a sense of weakness, exposure, and defenselessness.

But what are we susceptible to exactly? What are we most afraid of in the presence of someone we genuinely love?

Rejection? Unmet expectation? Our own pride?

I believe there is a certain kind of strength in vulnerability.

Allowing yourself to be vulnerable with another person is to say:

“I’ve swallowed my pride and I trust you to see this part of me, to see what I won’t reveal to everyone.”

And in the name of that super special romantic love, perhaps it’s to say:

“This may seem foolish to the world around us, but the way I feel is real and I have confidence that you can recognize that in me and cherish it, protect it. ”

I don’t throw the L-word around.  It means more to me than a word probably should but I can understand the fear of saying it first.

Because I usually do. Hey, I’m a thrill seeker.

And although the I love you occasions have been very few, I’ve been met with silence before.

(Well this is awkward.)

However, being thoughtful, discerning, and true in who I open my heart to, I still trusted that I was in a safe relationship. Everything wasn’t going to implode or dissolve because I was honest.

My love wasn’t dependent. It wasn’t awaiting reciprocation for validation.

It just was and I simply articulated what I’d been demonstrating all along, what I had been feeling.

I was vulnerable and it was okay.

Well it was okay after I got over myself, naturally my pride was a lil’ chipped.

Furthermore, your relationship can only become better with honesty. If it becomes worse, then perhaps the better is in knowing sooner than later that you aren’t heading in the same direction.

In the realm of I love you I have no regrets, because I won’t say it to someone I don’t. I think that’s what should be more concerning to all of us — failing to be sincere.

Saying, I love you when we don’t. That’s what causes problems — not an authentic expression of how we truly feel.

Every relationship is different and there aren’t any rules but overall, I think the world could benefit from more honest vulnerability and more expressions of love — verbal or otherwise.

“When we were children, we used to think that when we grew up we would no longer be vulnerable. But to grow up is to accept vulnerability. To be alive is to be vulnerable.”  ~ Madeleine L’Engle





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