Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Okay, I take it back -- it's not news, it's CNN

In light of the fact that Christmas and New Years are over and it is now time to move on to the next corporate holiday (Valentine's) we have this fun little article care of Frisky via CNN (via Salon Broadsheet). Headline, "Why women shouldn't say 'I love you' first".

Was your first thought, as a woman "well, if I don't say it, who will?" Well, you're naive.
"...but at the risk of having my feminist card revoked, I think it's naïve for a woman to utter those three little words before a man does."
Why is that, Wendy?
"And the truth is, it often takes men longer to get there than it does for women. Men process their emotions more slowly, they're usually more cautious about taking their feelings and relationships to the next level."
Ooooooh. Now, aside from the broad stereotyping (well, and the gent stereotyping), what is wrong with this sentence? Elsewhere in the article, Wendy goes on about how it's okay to be rejected when you ask a guy out or make a move on him (she even green-lights women to propose to their man -- which, I don't see as being all that different circumstantially than saying the L-word first), but somehow it's not so okay to risk rejection by expressing your emotions to a guy you're getting serious with. Er?

When I'm in a new relationship, (as I have been frequently in my life), I can't necessarily get a hold on my emotions. I'm so damn happy, he's "the one", and I agonize for months when is the right time to say, "uh, hey, I, uh... love... you?" but I've pretty much come to terms with the fact that that's a pretty stunning revelation, and it's really hard to know what to say back. That is, unless you're so gung-ho that you're also about to burst. But really...
"But an "I love you" uttered too soon, before the man has processed his feelings and reached the same level of adoration could end a relationship that just as easily could have had an eternal shelf life."
O, rly? I had no idea that if I hadn't said "I love you" to the guy I was dating Senior year of high school (met with a "congratulations" -- for which he should have been punched in the nuts and prevented from ever procreating), we could still be together. Uh huh, right, and monkeys might have flown out of my ass. Saying "I love you" first is taking a chance of making a mistake, and I hate to say this, but that's what relationships are about. As my dad says, there's only one that every really works out (adding, "and none of them work out until they do", signifying his deep connectedness to monogamy and whatnot, but in reality, the only relationship that ever works out is the one you have with yourself). Thist statement, however, notes that no, it really is the end of the world if he breaks up with you.
"And if the woman doesn't get the response she expected, it could damage her confidence enough to derail the whole relationship entirely."
See what I mean? Look if you say "I love you" and he says "congratulations" chances are pretty good that the relationship, keeping up with the train metaphor, was off the tracks already. I have a second problem here though: STOP EXPECTING SOMETHING BACK when you say "I love you" the first time. That's the problem. We're not conditioned to tell people we love them, we're conditioned to expect them to say it back when we do, and that's the whole problem.


If you love someone, if you truly love someone in the "the more you love someone, more you want to kill them" kind of way, you say "I love you" without expecting it to be returned. By the time you get to the relationship that's going well, probably going to work out at least for the semi-long-run, you've learned to refine what you mean when you say it, and not only that, you've learned how to say it in a non-demanding way that isn't going to make him "suddenly feel pressure to manifest that emotion".

Or, even better, before you've gotten to the point where if you don't proclaim your love you will assuredly explode, you ask "what are your thoughts on the love-word?" Yes, the other person is just as taken aback as though you had claimed your heart for their homeland, but at least you haven't gone quite as far out on a limb as all that. I did this with the Schmoogie, and his response was "I've thought it a few times". I still brought it up, I still ended up saying it first, but I also established that we were on the same page.

I do think that Wendy is trying to get women to first establish that they are on the same page with their intimate partners, but making a broad generalization on the subject and just saying, "you know what, despite your feminist inclinations, defer to your man on this one, ladies", is kinda immature and naive. Everyone has a different approach to using the love-word for the first time, and you're only going to figure out the best way for you by making a few mistakes on the way.


Of course, you could always make sure your dog is around the first time you spring the "I love you"s on your guy so that if he doesn't react the way you want him to you can start laughing and say "I was talking to the dog, silly!"


And, if you're a lesbian there's no chance of having your overtures rejected because we that all know that all persons of the same sex process their emotions the same way and in the same order. Always.

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