Is ‘I love you’ still key to a success relationship?
I said it once and I’m going to say it again, I did not come from a lovey dovey family. That being said, of course saying ‘I love you’ and the whatnot does not come easy, if anything it is unheard of in my family. The only visible form of emotion that were a common thing in my family is anger; we’re very comfortable in letting ourselves go crazy with anger. Naturally, growing up in that kind of family environment, I was uncomfortable with any form of affection; be it in action or in words.
I had my first serious relationship when I graduated from high school, but we had to do an LDR because I went to a university outside the city. It was hard but at that time I thought I nailed the whole entire LDR thing. I was faithful and I care about him a lot, although I don’t really say it out loud. I wasn’t one to be clingy to my boyfriend, I also rarely say that I love him, but I did mention that I missed him on several occasions.
Turns out, he wanted more. He wanted me to say ‘I love you’, ‘I miss you’, and what have you; he wanted me to say that often. We had several fights about it; I find it ridiculous that I have to say all those things when I can just show it with my action. My naïve younger years thought that action speak louder than words. So, long story short, he cheated on me. When I knew about it, he said that he cheated on me because I wasn’t caring enough for him; I seriously think that does not make any sense. I probe further, and finally he told me he felt like he was dating an ice queen; all because I rarely say ‘I love you’ to him. I can’t, for the life of me, comprehend that reasoning at all.
Naturally I thought to myself that the next time I was to be in another relationship, I would throw the ‘I love you’ like one throw gold coins if they fart gold coins in the first place. But it was not five years later that I had my next serious relationship. This time, I dated a friend of mine. I remember my promised; I was going to throw the ‘I love you’ more frequently now. But, the timing was never right. It’s either we’re always hanging out with a bunch of friends, or we’re too busy eating great food, or simply we were too immersed in our conversation about life.
One day, as we were just hanging out like we used to, I looked at him and for no apparent reason I told him I love him. For the first time, I feel like I mean what I said, and I didn’t just say it because I feel like I had to say it or because the other person says it first and for fear that things are going to be awkward I said it back. It was genuinely something that I said because I felt like that was the first feeling I got when I was looking at him. From then on forward, we rarely said it but anytime I looked at him, I knew that I still love him and I hoped he could see it in me too.
We’re still together four years later, and although we still say ‘I love you’ to each other, for the first time I felt like saying it was easy. I didn’t feel like I lost some part of me when I said it. I also don’t feel like I turn gooey when I said and I admit that I love someone else other than me. I guess, this feeling was the feeling that was missing from my previous relationship that made it feels impossible for me to say ‘I love you’ to my ex boyfriend. At that time, I thought that I couldn’t say ‘I love you’ to him because I was raised in a family that doesn’t say ‘I love you’, because I was raised by parents that don’t proclaim their love in words (or actions!); it simply was because at the back of my mind I knew that I don’t really love him, not in a way that I thought I could love other people other than myself.
So, at the end of the day, I don’t really think saying ‘I love you’ will grant you a success relationship, but saying it and to actually mean it could probably one of the defining measures of a success relationship. At least, that’s what it is in my current relationship. I have been in a monogamous relationship with my current boyfriend for four years now, and half of our relationship was spent by us living apart or taken over by our work that requires us to travel to a lot of place; we spent our first months of relationship with him living in Tunisia and I was living in Malaysia, afterwards he had to move to South Korea while I stayed in Jakarta, and the next year it was the other way around. I guess, when you do want to say ‘I love you’, make sure you really mean it; it’ll warm the other person’s heart and it’ll warm yourself too.