To Say ‘I Love You’

I got a mail from a reader. She introduced herself, said some very lovely things about my work, and then went on to say (published here with permission):

I met a guy 4 months ago and we immediately had a connection. Before we even spoke to one another there was this brilliant feeling when we just gazed [into each other’s] eyes.
Fast forward to now and we’ve basically spent every moment together… I would consider him to be philosophical in the sense that he’s always questioning the deeper meanings to life. He’s more aware and less attached than majority people I’ve met, almost always in a peaceful state. He introduced his way of thinking to me and I couldn’t be more grateful for that.
We, literally just days ago, decided, and after MUCH talk about the word ‘love’, to say ‘I love you’ to each other. It feels more than right to say to him.
He is constantly questioning his words though, which i respect but at what point does it stop? It ever?

‘Why do we say it?
Why do we want to say/hear it?
My judgment is blocked by the idea that there is only one kind of love that goes above all others.
I love you, but I don’t understand what it means.
So I love you?
I really don’t know’

This is what he tells me. At what point can you just accept that you love? Does it even works this way?

I replied…

First of all, saying ‘I love you’ is an acknowledgement, a shared expression of the truth, like art is supposed to be. If an old man is dying and nobody will acknowledge that — everyone running around trying to save him, saying things like ‘you’ll pull through’ — the poor man, who well knows it’s the end, feels more and more cut off from them. When finally someone sits next to him and says ‘you’re dying, let me sit with you’ — oh the relief!

Or let’s say a woman sacrifices her whole life to raise her children, take care of her husband, support her family, and nobody ever acknowledges it, nobody ever really thanks her. She’ll die inside, and so will everyone else. By not acknowledging what is good, the good in your life, you dry up.

In this case your man is not saying ‘I love you’ because he’s ‘not sure what it means’. This is likely to be the truth. If he really knew what the word meant like you do — because you are love — then he would say it as naturally as he says ‘life is good’ on a warm spring day.

That doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you. Gazing into your eyes flooded him with love, but he doesn’t really know it, because he still lives in his self, which doubts the experience of love and doubts the meaning of it. ‘Love’ seems to be mixed up with so many other things — familiarity and friendship, sexual desire and sensual pleasure, positive attention and being doted on — that the word seems at best doubtful, almost meaningless. Language here is partly to blame, or people are; they degrade meaningful words. They make God into a person or a silly idea, they make truth into a series of facts or a demagogic decree, they make love into desire and sentimental fantasy.

The word love also seems to suggest some form of commitment, the terror of man. The idea that he might have to ‘take you on’, that he might have to give up the opportunity to have sex with every woman on earth (particularly a problem for young, handsome or powerful men), the idea that you might get your sticky loving fingers over his independence — which includes his hobbies and his other friendships — all this can, for men, creep into the word ‘love’, and make them fear it, or rather make ego fear it.1

Ego knows that it does have to in some way ‘take a woman on’, that it does have to give up its restless sex-speculation, that it will have to, in some sense, commit and give up independence, that you are more important than anything in the world, and also that your emotions,2 your madness, your insecurity, your coldness or your wilful (commitment-fearing) independence must be faced up to, that the man has to raise his game — overcome his ego and yours — to be worthy of you. Ego knows all this and it shrinks from the task.

After about three or four months, and particularly when two people who love each other move in together, ego — which has been smothered by love, quietened — wakes up and begins to reassert itself. Then the problems begin. He begins to get withdrawn or violent3, he doesn’t give you the same kind of attention he did at the start, the sex becomes not quite as sweet, and not quite as often, you start to get subtly anxious or sad, which he blames on you, he has to get away, and then you do too,4 then the ridiculous arguments begin, and the ‘us’ talks, and sex becomes more like wrestling… The usual sad story.

Only a man who really knows what love is, and will do whatever it takes to overcome his ego in order to realise that love, can make it past all this. Such a man will ask you to help him become more of a man, more loving, more conscious.5 You will both together be on the mission. Sex will have a purpose — not as dutiful necessity of course, but something greater than your separate pleasure, to bring more love into the world, to awaken you both, even more, even more, even more.

Such a man is likely to say I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you… and to love saying it, and you’ll love hearing it, and saying it yourself. He might not need a month to say it. A minute after meeting you might be enough, a second. As you are love — in fact as the entire universe is love — there is no need to get to know you or it, it’s just there. Then saying ‘I love you’ is as easy as smiling; and in fact the two things are the same. The face smiles, the mind says ‘I love you’.

Dec 2021 Update

A young reader wrote to me asking my advice about saying ‘I love you’. He shared his story (again published here with permission);

I was acquainted with and rather quickly fell in love with a girl over the past month and a bit. She’s pretty, she paints, and filled me with a bizarre sense of warmness and comfort whenever we were around each other, and although she didn’t speak a lot, her words carried a lot of weight. Smitten, I was, and I received murmurs from her friends about her feeling the same way. So we hung out a bunch, both in groups and just the two of us, and about three weeks into what could be considered the ‘woo’ phase, we’d split off from a group of friends at a party, sat on a rock overlooking the beach, kissed, then afterward I told her I loved her. She hasn’t had more than a truncated sentence with me since.

I’m not particularly in denial and don’t see that anything could come again from this, considering it’s been about two or three weeks since that event and she’s still giving me the cold shoulder. My question is more, considering women tend to be significantly more sensible in my experience, did I fuck up, make some sort of subtle mistake, or is it a problem on her end I probably don’t fully understand?

I replied:

A man can say ‘I love you’ to a woman after ten seconds of knowing her, with marvellous results, but it’s a nuke, particularly for young Western women who can take it to mean ‘I am obsessed with you and I want to possess you’ or something of that nature. It has to be said right — in the right way and at the right moment. If you say it with the slightest needy-weedy cling, or hesitancy, or weirdness of tone, she’ll run a mile, as she seems to have done. It might be that she’s an uptight middle-class mouse or is scarred or scared — but the situation isn’t irredeemable. It can’t be if you’ve kissed — she must love you too, in some way. Give her a call, be light — always be light — tell her the truth — but don’t get all ‘explainy’. If I were you I would  double down on the love; say you just love her, she’s lovely, you don’t want anything from her, you just love being with her. Shall we get a pancake? (and if no, ‘okay, cool’) But I’m not you, nor in that situation. You have to do what seems right to you in the moment. Don’t give up though, not yet.

More on partnership, relationship, love, gender and sex in The Apocalypedia.


  1. This can also all happen to masculinised woman too of course.
  2. Which might, for example, demand that he put you before his work, or demand his attention; then he has to stand firm.
  3. Essentially egoic man is either a bastard or coward. The former will bully the emotion into afeared silence the latter will roll over like a puppy or run from it. In neither case is the emotion addressed.
  4. And so it can seem to both sexes that the cause of the breakup is her. This illusion is compounded by the presence of restless, loveless masculinity possessing so many women.
  5. And perhaps vice-versa, although women, having much less of an ego, are much more willing to change, be intelligently guided.