Not long ago, a teenage MySpace friend –he was the lead in a play my kids were in (I did his make-up) so let’s not even head to the gutter– posted something onto the Bulletin board and asked this question:
How soon is too soon to tell someone you love them?
After some careful thought, and since Sonny Boy has a girlfriend now too, this was my reply:
You should only say that when you are ready to take care of that person for the rest of their life and put all of their needs ahead of your own, and give up your right to hold a grudge when they screw up. Before that, it’s not really TRUE love, it’s hormones on infatuation crack.
I had to choose my words very carefully. If you’ve been reading here, you already know I can get a bit long winded. This young man is devilishly handsome, a rebel on the outside, but not to his core, and very bright, but also 16. My words could have been taken as very preachy, pathetic, overly protective, out-of-touch. Love is a very delicate thing for any of us–but at 16?! It’s the be-all and end-all, over-the-moon crazy fantastic, but very rarely the real true genuine thing. How many high school sweet hearts do you know who are still together, and still in love? I know three couples.
I wanted to add to what I told him, but brevity was necessary, again the “preachy” factor. This is what I have told my own kids about “wuv..twue wuv” (sorry I love the Bishop from Princess Bride). Falling is easy, staying takes a lot of hard work and commitment. Staying in love is a CHOICE, not a feeling. Telling someone you love them should wait. If it’s really real then you may have the rest of you lives to tell them just how amazingly profoundly they turn your insides to jelly.
This is something else a young man should know about his young lady: she is a fragile and delicate thing. Now don’t go sending hate mail about being equal to men. This isn’t about equality in the workplace or society. This is how we are created, emotionally. We girls may be tough as nails on the basketball court, or court room, or the assembly line, but when the man we love best of all does something to wound our soul, it’s like putting palm trees on the north pole. It will kill it faster than you can say POOF! Knowing this, a young man needs to be very careful.
The other thing he needs know about the heart of the female persuasion: it was designed to be given away– once. Females were created with a need to be loved. Males were created to be protector and provider of that love. When a guy tells his girlfriend he loves her, she is inclined to think “he’s the one” and it will last forever. He more often than not says this to get some quick action, and will move on when he’s tired, bored or finds someone else who catches his eye. That leaves a young lady’s heart bruised, jaded, broken; and she’s less willing to trust the next guy who says “I love you”. Eventually she may stop altogether, but gets into relationships just so she won’t feel the lonely ache in the pit of her heart.
I LOVE YOU are three of the most powerful words on the planet. I wish more people treated them that way. And my mySpace friend sent a reply. He said it was the best advice he’d gotten back, and then reposted my answer for all his world to see.