He He Said, “I Love You.” I Said, “Thank You

I certainly hadn’t expected my boyfriend of only a few months to say those words. Obviously, I’m not the kind of woman who waits longingly to hear a pronouncement of love. I had in my life of numerous romances only said those words to four men; two of which I learned later were genuine.

But it freaked me out; yet he was so confident when he expressed his feelings and didn’t even flinch at my response. After he left, I found panic setting in; was it too soon or too honest? Suddenly, my airway seemed much smaller and breathing elusive. If he did really love me, what did this mean? Anyone saying those words to me has left me, hurt me, disappointed me. After all, I wasn’t even expecting this to be something this intense. I was still trying to figure out how to love me.

And then I remembered that in just a short time, he had been there for me, never being deterred by all my nifty defense mechanisms. He is a man that does what he says he’s going to do. He is a man that wants nothing more than to put a smile on my face. He is a man that writes me sweet notes and has never made me pump my own gas. He puts the dishes up and takes the dog out when it’s cold.

But as I thought back over all the moments we have shared, I also recalled how he was like no one I had dated before; he didn’t fit my list of what I thought I needed or wanted. This was a list I had used before, and we all know about the parade of losers that had somehow made it through with check marks. If you are a woman holding on to some magical list, throw it away. Degrees on walls don’t guarantee accountability or stability. Titles on business cards don’t indicate if a man will be there when your cat of 13 years has to be put down. A vase full of flowers doesn’t mean that he will listen when you talk or look you in the eye.

I spent most of my adult life with this ridiculous notion of what love is. But my actual experiences told me love was about pain, sacrifice and never being the most important thing.

Now I know it doesn’t have to be this way. I hadn’t exactly given up but was resigned to being alone. But then this wonderful thing happened, and that night when he said those words, I realized this was my chance; a really good chance to be happy.

So I did in the end say, “I love you.” And I’ve been saying it most every day since without hesitation.

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