Those three lit­tle words

No phrase holds greater power than ‘I love you’. Here’s how to keep it ro­man­tic, ex­pres­sive and panic-free.

Glamour (South Africa) - - All ABout You -

if you haven’t gone there yet, say­ing ‘I love you’ can be more angst-rid­den than a root canal. But if you’ve been say­ing those words for years, it can feel like they need an emo­tional re­boot. Read on for ways to de­clare your love ten­derly, fear­lessly and with a full heart.

If it’s the first time

Say­ing ‘I love you’ can be a ter­ri­fy­ing, starry-eyed – did I men­tion ter­ri­fy­ing? – thing. But the vul­ner­a­bil­ity that makes it so in­tense is also what al­lows a re­la­tion­ship to cross over into new

and ex­cit­ing places: sex is bet­ter, laugh­ter is louder, com­mit­ment is stronger.

There’s no rule about when it’s right or who should say it first. Your in­tu­ition will prob­a­bly tell you, so pay at­ten­tion. When the word love feels like it’s about to climb out of your mouth, think, ‘Why now? Why this per­son?’ If you know you love him or her – and you’re sure it’s not just lust – say it! Re­mem­ber, you’re al­ready brave enough to be open with your­self about how you feel.

If it’s, like, the mil­lionth time

The words might roll off the tongue eas­ier, but they’re no less rich. Look your part­ner in the eye and tell them you love them, and why.

It’s not just in­stinc­tual any­more; you love them be­cause they nursed you through the flu, sup­ported you through work drama, stood by you when your mom got sick. You know the say­ing, ‘How do I love thee? Let me count the ways’? Go on, count them. Out loud!

If it’s un­re­quited

Maybe your love sto­ries are mov­ing at dif­fer­ent speeds. Maybe you’re burst­ing with love, hint­ing with­out re­cip­ro­ca­tion. Or vice versa. If ev­ery­thing else checks out – com­mit­ment, close­ness, sweet kisses – it’s prob­a­bly shy­ness on one of your parts. If so, stay calm, it will come.

But be care­ful with those who don’t ac­tu­ally want love. A friend once con­fronted her long-term boyfriend about the fact that he’d never said it. He ad­mit­ted he didn’t love her yet, maybe never. That’s painful stuff. Still, she can fi­nally stop won­der­ing.

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