Confession: I Lied About “I Love You”

Falling in love? Tricky business.

When I was sixteen I told a boy “I love you” for the first time. I remember it because it was such a big first. But I also remember it because, as soon as I said it, I knew that I didn’t mean it.

James was my first real boyfriend. He was a good guy and we’d been hitting all the relationship milestones I’d always been told you were supposed to hit—he’d introduced me to his friends, we’d started with the pet names, we kissed hello and goodbye in public, we had an assumed date on Friday nights.

Are you ready for I Love You?

You love his lips, his eyes, his crazy laugh--but do you love him?

It was like I had already been supplied with the blueprint of how our relationship was supposed to progress, and I was following the directions, like putting together an IKEA table. So far, everything was coming together right on schedule. Then, somewhere around the two-month mark, people started asking me if we’d said it yet.

“Said what?”

“You know. The L word.”

Dear Mr. Ice Cream, Unless you love me back, I'm admitting nothing.

Once the questions started, it didn’t take long for me to get impatient. If people were asking, that meant it was time, didn’t it? If we weren’t saying “I love you,” there must be something wrong. After all, isn’t the point of a relationship to fall in love? I became so preoccupied by the desire for James to be in love with me that I never had time to wonder whether I was in love with him.

And then, one night, as James dropped me off at my house, there was a really long silence. “Alright,” he said finally, eyes down, hands in pockets, shifting from one foot to the other, “Sleep well, okay? Also, I love you.” I said it back.

It wasn’t until I was inside, in my pajamas, and finally coming down from the oddly victorious high of hearing a boy say “I love you” that I started thinking. My first thought? Oops.

Um, now we just want to spend the day watching "Love Actually."

I didn’t know what love was exactly, but I suddenly knew, very clearly, that I didn’t love James. I liked him a lot. I thought he was nice, and attractive, and I enjoyed being around him. He made me giggly and I liked seeing him happy. But love was something more than that. When I’d said it to James, the words had seemed empty, like just another step in the instruction manual. After all, I’d only known the guy for a few months—how could I love him? I was sure I would love him. But I didn’t yet. I just didn’t know what to do about it.

So I didn’t do anything. The words “I love you” continued to come out of me until eventually I did mean it. I reasoned away my initial lie—it wasn’t important, it was a stepping stone, a fake-it-til-you-make-it sort of thing. Wasn’t it?

This bear? Major cop out. Just say it or don't!

Years later, long after James and I parted ways, I told a different boyfriend I loved him and I meant it. He said it back, but the next day he confessed that he shouldn’t have said it, that he wasn’t sure if he’d truly meant it and he wanted to wait to say it again until he really knew. I felt crushed and betrayed. I cried and yelled at him. In my most vulnerable moment, he’d said what he thought I wanted to hear rather than what was true. It was the worst lie he could have told me. I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to trust him again.

It was just about then that I really started to understand what I’d done to James. Even worse, I’d been too much of a coward to ever be honest with him about how I really felt.

Since then, I’ve spent a lot of time trying to figure out what “I love you” really means. I still don’t have a good definition, but I’ve felt it enough to know when I don’t feel it. And I know those three words don’t fit—can’t fit—neatly into the instruction manual of a relationship.

Have you ever felt pressured into saying the L-word, or said “I love you” too fast? Tell us in comments!

Posted in: Confessions, Uncategorized, Your Life
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  • Anon

    I’m in the worst situation right now. I started going out with a guy I knew about for a while but had only just met. Somehow we ended up saying I love you after a few days, I don’t know who said it first. I knew it was a mistake but I thought it can’t hurt if I just say it right? It’s better to spare his feelings? I’d been in a similar relationship before where I said it but didn’t mean it while he did, I was stuck for almost a whole year and I never had proper feelings for the guy. Luckily he moved away and he broke up with me so that we didnt have to have a long distance relationship. I was so relieved. This time, I’m the one moving away. I told him I didn’t want a long distance, but that was after the I love yous. He said he didn’t want to break up and started to cry. He is very very clingy and suffocating every day 🙁 i feel like such a biatch for leading him on but I don’t know what to do. I was confused, I thought I started to love him; when I tried to break up with him he started to cry! I didn’t know what to do so I agreed to be with him but see other people when we were apart. He said he wouldn’t and I said I (probably) wouldn’t either but I knew I would and I already have (I left a week after going out with him). I literally have no idea what to do, I mean of course I know what I should do but I don’t want to do it. I need to break up with him but I just don’t know how. He will start crying, I will hate myself. I’ve lied to him many many times and those lies have lead me here, but even if I hadn’t lied I still would have broken his heart. What do I do? Please help me 🙁 I’ve considered waiting until he finds someone new and breaks up with me, but I doubt that he ever will, he’s talking about forever. We’ve known each other for 2 weeks, we’re 16!!! I’m so appalled by what I’ve got myself into and I don’t know how to get out. Does anyone know what I should do? Every time I think of things to say to break up, I realise I’d be contradicting my lies and he’d realise I meant nothing that I said. Also, how do you break up long distance? I could be a b*tch and send him a Facebook message, but that would just be awful for him, but skyping him would be awful for me 🙁 that’s really selfish I know. Help me please!

  • Nicole

    I was pressured :/ my best friend and i dated two guys that were best friends, kinda funny, but after two months i heard my friend and her boyfriend had already started saying they loved each other… i got really pressured and wasn’t thinking right and at the end of the night of us all hanging out i gave my boyfriend a hug and kiss and said it. i immediately regretted it… i should have listened to my heart because i knew i didn’t really love him…not yet at least… but by then we broke up and it’s on to the next one! 😛

  • Jazzyfaye moore

    I think we all have that moment where we think we love a boy and when we seperate from him we would think that we lost the greatest boy in the world……we didnt and the best thing to do is take your love for him and put it in your pocket until the next boy come along because by then youv’e gotten over him. : )

  • Royal

    yeah… this kinda s*** often happens. you hit someone, and life hits you back.. >:( but that’s alright, because one day everything’s gonna be okay 🙂 and when you’ll find someone whom you wont have to lie to, it’ll all make perfect sense..<3<3

  • Anonymous

    oh noo… That maked me sad… but i know that you’ll find someone and you’ll know the right moment to say the word and he’ll say it back to you…