Don’t Rush The “Like”: Why It’s Not So Bad He Isn’t Loose With The L-Word
I overheard a close friend of mine on the phone with her boyfriend the other day. After a few laughs and reassurances that she was holding it down for him she uttered, “I love you, bae,” before hanging up. I couldn’t contain my laughter because this boyfriend she’s been “dating” has been incarcerated for two years of their relationship, and they had only met maybe four months before that. I just couldn’t seem to understand when this “love” had happened. I mean besides having sex, seeing a few movies and him sending her “honey-do” lists in the mail about calling lawyers and making sure his mom had a ride to church all before he signed off with “Love always,” it seemed more like he was using her as his personal assistant more than his girlfriend.
It just amuses and saddens me how quick women are to call a man “Hubby” or “Bae” or just to be able to say they have a man, that they’re not taking the time to see if he fits the job description. I’m sorry but unless you have a marriage certificate on file, he’s not your husband or “hubby,” he’s just your boyfriend and there’s nothing wrong with that. You deserve to take the time to get to know a man to see if he’s worthy of being in love with.
Maybe I’m a traditionalist, but people throw around the L-word way too casually for me. I think many women do so because they are so eager to be in that comfortable, committed relationship and they feel like by exchanging an “I love you” before the end of every phone call or before he leaves the bed every morning that it somehow solidifies something, but the truth of it all is all of the pet names and “I love you’s” in the world can’t bring the comfort and confidence in a relationship that time can. Stop TV dinner dating: You can’t put a 2 month relationship in a microwave and think that you’re going to have the same familiarity and trust that 2 years brings. The honest truth is being in love isn’t as much about comfort as people think. In fact, any man I have ever claimed to be in love with has always been someone I have been willing to go outside of my comfort zone for. People are so in a rush to be in love, that they miss all of the great moments that being “in like” has to offer. Love is not all passion and pleasure, it’s responsibility, discomfort, pain and not everyone deserves you inconveniencing yourself in that way.
“Should I say it first?” or “Does he love me or is he IN love with me?” I used to be one of those women who made a big deal over the L-word, so much that I started losing sight of the love I had because I was worried about how often it was said. But as anyone who’s ever watched, “For the LOVE of Ray-J” or “LOVE and Hip Hop” or “Real Chance at LOVE,” we all know that the word can be as transparent as plastic wrapped water. Love is something that is so easy to say, but difficult to show unless you’re legit. I can say I’m an astronaut all I want to, but if you put me in the pilot’s seat of a rocket ship I wouldn’t know what the hell to do.
I used to obsess when after several months of dating my man wasn’t texting me “I love you” messages in the middle of the day. In fact he was absolutely in no rush to say it. Meanwhile after the third date I had friends whose men were dropping the L-word on the regular and I found myself wondering what was wrong with my man who seemed to be chronically afflicted with an inability to express his emotions. But like El Debarge said: Time will reveal. Months later my man was the only one who wasn’t cheating, lying or gone. I’m not saying love always has to take forever, but I personally like my love slow and right rather than fast and wrong. It’s not about how fast you can get it, but how long you can keep it.
Even if your man isn’t dropping L-bombs all crazy, instead of obsessing over what he’s saying, focus on what he’s doing. Cheaters and liars have equal access to the word as well. If a man is taking his time with expressing his feelings, don’t assume that he doesn’t have any. It could be that he’s just that he’s ready to take on the responsibility that comes with it. And make sure you take the time to enjoy being “in like.” “Like” may not conquer all but that’s one of the best things about it: It doesn’t have to.
Toya Sharee is a community health educator and parenting education coordinator who has a passion for helping young women build their self-esteem and make well-informed choices about their sexual health. She also advocates for women’s reproductive rights and blogs about everything from beauty to love and relationships. Follow her on Twitter @TheTrueTSharee or visit her blog, Bullets and Blessings.