It was somewhere in the middle of our third or fourth session of lovemaking when I blurted it out unexpectedly. It coasted into our space on the tailwind of a pleasurable sigh, and it was out of my mouth before I realized it.
“I love you,” I said, breathlessly.
He paused for a moment, eyes on me, a look of surprise briefly crossing his face—then he regained his composure and said it back to me, just as quietly: “I love you too.”
Later, when we were still and I lay there listening to the sound of his breathing as the shadows danced across the wall, I played the scene back in my head and wondered if it had been impulse or intention.
Was I really feeling it or was I just caught up in the moment? Was I overcome with emotion or overcome with being dickmatized?
When do you know that you are truly catching feelings for someone? And when you do know, when do you tell that person? Do you say something right away, or do you wait until you believe or know that those feelings are reciprocated?
I have always been a firm believer in giving people their flowers while they can still smell them. When I love you—romantically or otherwise—you know it.
I tell my closest friends that I love them every time I speak to them, but that is a tricky sea to navigate when it comes to a romantic relationship.
In my specific situation of being nonmonogamous, it creates an extra layer of trepidation. Nonmonogamy is already a complicated situation, and with emotional attachments to more than one person involved, it can turn very messy very quickly if not dealt with correctly.
The first thing I ask myself is, am I truly feeling a strong emotional connection with him or am I intoxicated by good sex and good vibes? On more than one occasion, upon asking myself that, I have found that it was the strong physical connection and intimacy I was feeling.
It’s not uncommon, and nothing to be ashamed of—many a great woman has been overcome by the spell of good D. What you feel may be deep and powerful, but it may not necessarily be love. And that’s OK.
When I do analyze it and can confirm that what I am feeling is a deep emotional connection, I want the person to know. Sometimes I can sense in them that they are feeling it, too, and that makes me want to give voice to it even more.
Because, of course, there is also the pride factor. There are some people who just never want to be the first to say it, no matter the circumstances. I am not one of those people, but I have had experiences with those people. Whenever I have said it first, it seemed to have signaled to them that it was OK to get lost with me in the feelings forest, and they have revealed their feelings and emotions for me as well.
Timing is a factor, too. We all catch feelings at different speeds. Not everyone is on the same page at the same time.
There are people who catch feelings the first time they have sex, and there are others who need time—sometimes months and sometimes longer—before they start feeling anything closely resembling love for the other person.
So when you are the person who catches them quickly, do you hold them to yourself for a certain amount of time, or do you go ahead and express what you are feeling, whether it is reciprocated or not?
I have experienced the situation of not having my feelings reciprocated. It can be awkward initially but easy to overcome if both people handle it maturely. You can’t control another person’s emotions; you can only control how you choose to respond to them. Sometimes your response is easy to figure out and sometimes it’s not. Love is sometimes like a raisin in the sun.
When you are the person who is more of a slow burn, what do you do when the other person expresses their emotions to you first?
I’ve been on the receiving end of this as well. I made myself ever mindful of his emotions. I liked him well enough, but I wasn’t feeling for him what he was feeling for me. He didn’t spend his time trying to sell himself to me, which is a mistake people often make in these situations—instead, we continued to enjoy each other’s company. The love connection never happened, but we remain very good friends to this day.
Sometimes it just all comes together, but you won’t know that until you go through it.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, and while that may sound trite, in this particular circumstance, it still rings true.
Emotions are a scary thing, but we win nothing—and possibly lose everything—when we deny ourselves the experience of feeling them.
They say it is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all, and that is especially true here.
My advice is to be open and honest about your emotions whenever you feel them, because you may never be given the chance to express them again.
On Tuesday from 11 p.m. until midnight ET, I will be taking over the official Twitter account of The Root to discuss this very topic.
Please join me for a live discussion on how long it takes for you to start catching feelings and when you start expressing those feelings to the one you have them for.
It will be a good time.