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Premature I Love You's -or- Let's revisit the 90 Day Rule

July 27, 2023

I say “I love you” to my friends, often. Why? Because I don’t hear it enough. I don’t think most people hear it enough. I crave hearing it. I think most people crave the acknowledgement and affirmation that comes with those words.

When you’re dating, and there’s been no implied or explicit commitment to anything long term, it can be misinterpreted. So, I put off expressing such meaningful sentiments until I have a firm sense of where the relationship is headed. You can know when someone is saying “I love you” because they honor and value you and you’re building out a friendship as opposed to when they’re in love with you. It takes a while, but you gain that sense with time and experience. Once you’ve figured it out, it’s easier not to misinterpret.

But there’s a trick to this, and I’ve been tricked many times. (“Tricked” is not the right word. “Fooled”? Not the right word either… I’ll have a think on it.) Not only have men told me they love me prematurely, but I’ve done just the same. In my experience, when romantic love is declared too soon, it can be incredibly dangerous. (This happened with David. He started it, though!)

Sexual chemistry feels like love. It really does. Unless you’re old enough to know better — unless you’ve had enough sex to know that intense sexual chemistry is an early relationship phenomenon. It’s like having a new car. The smell is marvelous, and it’s all pristine and perfect. The sound of the engine is the most satisfying purr. You feel like it’s all come together for you, You are The Shit! It’s absolutely sublime. Then it’s time for that first car payment, and buyer’s remorse sets in. That’s why it’s important to employ the 90 Day Rule. If you don’t, and the I Love You’s come out too soon, it becomes an implied commitment to something long term. And that’s not wise until you’ve spent a bit of time with someone.

Intense sexual chemistry wanes. It’s inevitable. And sometimes, it plays out like it did with David, that the shiny new penny that was me wasn’t so shiny and new after just a couple of months. I mean, within those first 90 days it played out like that. Shame on David for jumping the gun on the I Love You. But shame on me for believing him. (And yet, “shame” is not the right word.) I did want it so badly. And that’s a trick, too. We both got the cart before the horse. I should have known better. I did know better. But as I tell my nieces, stupid has no age limit. (But “stupid” isn’t the right word.) It was hope, expectation, wonder, and actively choosing to settle into the notion this one might be the last one. I knew soon enough it wasn’t as I’d hoped, and eventually it all played out precisely as it should. And that’s a good thing. As much as it hurts things didn’t work out, it is exactly as it should be. I know that through and through. And it hurts less each day. That’s the beauty of time. Time does not heal all wounds, but the pain lessens with time.

Manufactured relationships, forced commitment, obligation to a person who isn’t quite right — it’s incredibly uncomfortable and it does not satisfy. Living in a fantasy isn’t sustainable. In the past, I’ve managed to live in the endorphin bubble for a long time, sometimes for years. But all along, there’s that thing in my gut yelling, “GIRL! You are in over your head here!” And God help you if you live together. Untangling that mess is a nightmare.

So, in short, with a potential long term, employ the 90 Day Rule. No declarations of love for at least 90 days.

If you’re building out a friendship, and there is no implied commitment, and you love your friend, tell him! And if you transition from romance to friendship, and you love your friend, tell him! Because it’s the right and good thing to do.

There’s also this thing about love — love does not demand its own way. If you love your friend, tell him! But don’t make the mistake of expecting the same from him. Some men aren’t wired that way. That doesn’t mean they don’t love and value you, it just means they can’t say it. And that might mean they’re emotionally stopped up, and that’s clear confirmation from the Universe it’s all well and good you’re “just friends”.

Ah, men. God love ‘em!

“Lovers come and go, but friends stay.” -Me

Photo by Surface on Unsplash



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