I’ve wanted to say those three little words for months. I’ve felt them for as long as we’ve been together and last week after a lot of waiting I said them: I told Boyfriend that I love him. Actually what I said was, “Because I love you, you big jerk.” A little romcom cliché but it’s what I said.

After an evening of TIFFing I called Boyfriend to talk and as we talked I got more and more upset. Not saying how I was feeling was driving me insane. I was afraid and I didn’t know how to do it. The last time I told someone I loved them it was the Big Ex and he didn’t say it back. If Boyfriend didn’t say it back it would break me and I knew that I wouldn’t be able to stay with someone whom I loved if they didn’t love me back, that’s not something I’m willing to do again.

So I said it without knowing what he’d say back, hopeful and terrified all at once. And you know what? He said it back. He said, “I love you too, Shannon Hunter.” It was as if someone lifted a weight off my shoulders and breathed air into my lungs all at once. No more guessing games. I don’t know if I waited too long or if I just waited as long as I needed but saying it felt more right than anything I’ve ever said before—except when I told my mum that I would rather stay home on Saturdays and watch Ninja Turtles than go to ballet… that was probably equally right.

When I was little we used to play he loves me, he loves me not with flowers and as I waited for him to either say it back or break my heart I could see the petals falling in my mind. The last one would determine everything that came next.

So for the first time in five years I know I’m with someone who loves me, I know I’m with someone who will always be there for me and I know that I have a chance at the future I want. I’m happy when I’m single, I’ve never been the type who needs a boyfriend to feel whole, but when I’m with someone that I really care about I do turn into a bit of a girl. I imagine living together, I imagine walking a puppy that we picked out together, I imagine falling asleep and waking up to the same person every day. Life with someone you love doesn’t have to be boring, I want puppies not babies, I want adventures not a wedding, but more than anything I want someone who I know loves me the same way that I love them.

Maybe it took a little longer than I thought it would but a week before our anniversary I know that I am loved. No more guessing games, he loves me he really loves me.

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