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Last week I was chatting with a friend about how uncomfortable it can be when you feel a woman is about to tell you that she loves you. Most men try and do everything in their power to keep her from saying it because they know that once she says it there is a good chance that there will be an awkward silence followed by continued silence, a “thank you,” or a lie. Now there are times when a woman tells a man she loves him and he feels the same way; that’s the magical type of stories that dreams are made of. But chances are… that’s not how it pans out.

So, how soon is too soon to start talking “love” and other relationship keywords that are often said too early?

As a man, I’m always living in a state of skepticism when it comes to sharing too much with women. The reason being that men and women don’t speak the same language when it comes to feelings. As I told my friend last week, “When men say I love you, they mean I don’t want anything to happen to you. When women say I love you, they mean I’m ready to spend my life with you.” It’s also very confusing for both men and women because when you’re not on the same page about “love” it causes conflicts and confusion later on.

In general, most people don’t understand the severity of these relationship keywords. “I love you” or “I miss you” can mean something different for men and women. Men can lead a woman on by saying it too early and women can scare a man away. And, not for nothing, it can be completely opposite too. I’m only speaking from the majority of my experiences and those in my network. However, I’ve seen men tell women they loved them and it freaked her out and she stopped calling him altogether. As a side note, I have always found men who say I love you too early to be frightening. It’s like they abuse the “tell her what she wants to hear” logic too much. Men should work to maintain the sanctity and innocence of that system because it’s been working for us for years.

On the flip side, let’s make sure we understand what these words mean and why it’s not okay to say them too early. I’ve always felt like when you tell a person you love them, you need to make sure you are in love with them because anything else is confusing. I’ve also feel you should never just say it because it’s pleasing to the ear. The statement means something. It means much more than just four letters that you feel you can say several times throughout the day. The same goes for when you tell someone you miss them: the more you say, the more frequently you say it, and the less importance you place on a real severe statement about how you feel about a person, the more it cheapens the phrase.

And that’s why when I’m dating a woman and she tells me she missed me, I’m most likely only going to tell her I miss her too if I truly do. I don’t believe you can miss a person that you just saw a few hours ago or that you see on a regular basis. To me, I understand what is meant by saying it, but it’s a little off to me. However, I’m getting away from the point.

I guess to answer the question about the timeline; there is a timeline in place. It’s when I can truly say that I mean it and that I’m not saying it because she wants to hear it or I feel like it’s been enough time to warrant someone saying it. It could be a few months, it could be a year, or it could be never. I wait because the risk you run when you say it too early or because you’ve been pressured is that you aren’t able to live up to the expectations. Every man should know by now how upsetting “but you said you loved me” can be to a disappointed woman – especially when you don’t really love her.

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