You’ve just met and trying to get your relationship going or probably have been together for a while working out the intricacies of your relationship. One thing that is common to both budding and even some established relationships is the dilemma over how often to say those three words, “I love you.” What frequency is too much or too little to remind your lover of how much you really love them – in words?
While others may feel very uncomfortable and annoyed with the amount of affection and attention being showered on them by their lovers; other feel their lovers are not saying and showing them enough affection and are doubtful of their lovers love to them and commitment to the relationship. Still, others believe that saying “I love you” should be considered just as the tip of what there is to say and that their lovers need to be more romantic and emotionally expressive of their love to them.
The truth however is that there is really no formula here. While some couples save it for moments of profound feelings only; others don’t say it much at all but simply indicate their love in small but significant gestures. On the other hand, others virtually use it to sign off nightly as they ceremoniously reassure each other of their unflinching love. However, generally speaking, people like to know that they’re truly loved, even when no grand pronouncements are made. Equally, a lot of people do not like it when their lovers unnecessarily make an overkill of such sweet stuff just to allay their fears and insecurities about the relationship’s survival.
“I love you” can become fairly meaningless or inadequate if it is tossed mechanically, or if it’s accompanied by inconsiderate, neglectful or abusive behaviour. A partner may also feel starved of affection where one partner is wholly inexpressive. Therefore, there is a need for meaningful frequent expression of love and affection with a certain degree of adequacy between spouses.
For starters, it would not be out-of-place to say that the frequency of repetition drops significantly after couples have mutually said their first “I love you(s)” breaking the ice in a new relationship. Naturally, women are more romantic and emotionally expressive than men, a reason why they often need to be reassuringly reminded verbally, that they are still loved and cherished by their spouses. This can still be done through other suggestive means, but words accompanied with actions are the most assuring for women.
However, for many men it is pretty difficult to utter the words “I love you” but this does not necessarily mean that they do not really love their spouse. It is just a bit naturally difficult for a great majority of men – and truly some even consider it unmanly and a form of weakness. When a man fails to verbally reassure his spouse of his love and commitment to her, a lot of women can unfortunately read other meanings into it.
Why do people feel differently about the frequency of their lovers verbal reminders of their affection and commitment through “I love you” statements? As earlier indicated, there is no formula to understand this phenomenon; however, the disposition of both partners is often the most important factor to consider.
First, there are those who feel the need for more “I love you(s)” from their partners. While a partner may feel the need to show his/her love for his/her partner, there is often the associated need reassurance (i.e., a reply of “I love you, too”). This is perhaps where part of the problem is. While initially reciprocating the gesture is always easy to do, with time, the reciprocating partner may find this becoming a little bit unpleasant. There may also be guilt that not reciprocating may hurt their partner and with time, they may feel really pressured to reciprocate the gesture shown by their partner and might eventually lead to resentment.
For those that are particularly romantic and emotionally expressive, there is need to understand that just because you are this way, doesn’t mean that your spouse is also in that league. It would be selfish thinking because your spouse may have his/her particular way of expressing their love for you other than the verbal way and manner you consider best for them to explicitly express their love for you. Putting such pressure on your spouse may make them uncomfortable and annoyed.
It is best to relish the way your partner professes his/her love for you while also noting other subtler behaviours by which such feelings are being communicated. You may like your spouse to be more dramatic and syrupy in their display of affection but it is necessary for you to consider your partner’s feelings towards such explicit display of affection.
There is need therefore to understand your spouse and his/her peculiar way of communication with a realisation that affection and profound conversation, though crucial to any long-term relationship, need not fit some fantasized ideal of a loving relationship. You are both unique individuals with different personalities which must be brought into focus and properly understood to avoid misunderstandings in the display and verbal communication of love in the relationship.
On the other hand, “I love you” can really become too frequent posing a problem. This is often made the more difficult where the other partner finds it difficult to communicate his annoyance and feelings of being smothered. If you feel your partner is too frequently expressing his love for you, and you are becoming uncomfortable with it, you will need to explain this to him/her in a reassuring way.
Most times, such excessive lavishing of love indicates to a certain degree that a partner may be anxious and feeling insecure in the relationship thus unusually seeking frequent reassurances. This often leaves the other partner making a declaration that is not borne out of genuine romantic emotion at that specific moment in time. When this is noticed in any relationship, the most appropriate thing to do would be to respectfully and reassuringly, call the erring partner to order and set agreed boundaries.