10 Reasons You Should Say "I Love You" First, Even If It's Scary

by Annie Foskett

I have never said "I love you" first. While I believe that women can and should ask men out, request to be exclusive, and even propose wedded bliss, somehow the archaic "wait for him to make a move" mindset has seeped into my subconscious. Or... maybe I'm just chicken. (Probably the latter.) I'm not sure if I've ever even wondered, "Should I say I love you first?" because like the best-when-fried poultry item that I am akin to, there's just no way I would take the plunge first.

Plunge? That sounds awful. (FWIW, I am in therapy to deal with my fears around intimacy.) Saying "I love you" is not a plunge; it's a god damn beautiful declaration. If you are in a relationship and you want to say "I love you" — assuming it's not two dates in — pop bottles, because you've found that elusive thing that movies, books, and plays have chronicled for eons. Love is nothing to be ashamed of; it's something to be proud of (and brag about... have you seen Instagram during wedding season?!?).

Not to diminish the nerves that come up around actually saying the words for the first time. It's scary. So scary that I have never done it, and I'm not sure if I ever will. (Here's hoping.) However, I thought a lot about it and came up with 10 reasons you should say "I love you" first. Here they are:

1. Because Of The 2016 Election

Trolls can @ me all they want, and the rest of you can realize that I'm being tongue-in-cheek. Still, if the only thing holding you back from saying "I love you" to your partner is the patriarchy? Do it anyway. It's scary, but look at Hill dawg; she's still alive.

Remembers those '90s "no fear" shirts? Same, barely. Anyway... that's you.

2. Because It's Empowering

Saying "I love you" first is a gift to yourself because it means that you are acknowledging your own wants and needs, and taking an actionable step towards having them met. You want to tell someone how much you care about them. You can't contain your love for them. These are all really cool things, and you will feel so good saying the first ILY because when do you not feel good after following through on something that made you nervous?

3. Because They'll Probably Say It Back

OK, the first "I love you" is always awkward, but usually people just say it back no matter what, you know? Awkwardness is scary, so your SO will probably just blurt it right back at you, whether they were ready or not. And if they don't? No worries. They'll say it when they are ready. (I know, easier said than done.)

4. Because It's A Compliment

Seriously, at worst, the person you like will feel flattered when you pop the three most terrifying words out there. If your partner runs away screaming, they'll be back if they truly love you. Which brings me to...

5. Because It's A Jerk Litmus Test

Again, if bae freaks out when you say "I love you" and you're at least a few months into dating, bae is not bae. Bye, bae/jerk.

6. Because It's A Bucket List Thing

Poll your friends to find out how many of them have said "I love you" first. I bet the percentage is lower than our president's approval rating. (38 percent on a good day.) Just saying it will be an awesome accomplishment, especially if you're usually nervous about sharing your feels.

7. Because Your Boo Might Be A Chicken

Hey, your lover could be bursting at the seams with feelings, but they could just be too terrified to say it. (Same.) Do them a favor and extend a hand/phrase.

8. Because Not Holding Back Feels So Good

Kind of like finally peeing after holding it for a long time? But seriously, it's so hard to keep feelings that are as big as "love" to yourself. Rather than continue to blabber on to your friends about the love of your life, tell bae already!

9. Because The Sex Will Be Better

OK, so I a little bit made this one up, but logic would follow that once you finally are vulnerable via words with all of your feelings with your partner, you can be that much more vulnerable when in bed with them. If this is your only motivation to say the words, mayyybe don't. But it could be an added bonus, you know?

10. Because You Want To

At the end of the day, the best time to say "I love you" is when you truly feel it. There's nothing quite as wonderful as falling in love, and while saying the words is nerve-wracking, they're just words. The right partner will either say them back to you, or be mature and kind and eventually say them to you in their own time.

The weight these three words have is what makes them so great to hear, but also what makes them so scary to say. I'm not the bravest of ladies, but after writing this, I want to fall in love so that maybe, just maybe, I can be the one to say it first. I have shivers just thinking about it. Woo! Say it, babes.

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