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bookish1's avatar

Is "I love you" or "I have loved you for a long time" better?

Asked by bookish1 (13040 points ) July 5th, 2012

I’m trying to work up the cajones to talk to this gay guy I have been in love with for years, and I’d love some Jelly advice on how to do it. I first met him four years ago, and he made me realize I could love men. I don’t think he had any idea (we were just buddies and he thought I was straight as I had a girlfriend at the time). We fell out of touch and I figured I’d never see him again. I haven’t been suffering about it or anything, but I never stopped loving him.

Well, we just got back in touch and we had a wonderful night recently, talking and drinking til 5 am. We were both very happy to see each other again, and he wanted to know when I’d be back in France, and whether he could visit me in the U.S. And he kissed me on the neck as we parted (although he might just have been drunk and had bad aim…). I think he’s been flirting with me via email, but it’s hard to tell with cultural differences/linguistic ambiguities.

I’ll only be here for another month and I don’t want to live with regrets. I won’t be devastated if he doesn’t share the same sentiments, but I won’t feel right with myself if I don’t tell him something. I don’t think it will ruin our friendship if it turns out it’s not reciprocal.

Would it be less creepy/intimidating for me to simply say “I love you” or to give him some back story and tell him that I have been in love with him for years?

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35 Answers

ZEPHYRA's avatar

The latter sounds more fulfilling!

augustlan's avatar

I think I’d start with, “I love you” or even, “I’m in love with you”. The back story can come after that. Leading with it might sound kind of creepy.

Bellatrix's avatar

You should speak from your heart and not get bogged down in the wording. Just tell him how you feel. As you say, you don’t want to live with regrets so trust your instincts that there is a bond between you and tell him how you feel. I doubt when he hears what you have to say he will be analysing whether you said “I have loved you…” or “I do love you”. He will be focusing on the fact that you have told him you love him. Then follow up from there. Don’t overthink it! Just be sincere and open. I hope things work out for you.

bookish1's avatar

Wow, good advice, all. Thank you very much!

@ZEPHYRA : You are right, it would be more fulfilling for me to tell him the backstory, but I am tending to think @augustlan might be right that it would be more intimidating/creepy if I started off with that. And @Bellatrix you are absolutely right too… I am such a linguistic person, I have indeed been getting bogged down in the wording. Made more difficult by the fact that he barely speaks English, and I speak French very well but I don’t know all the cultural nuance that he does! I’m sure I’ll end up mangling it anyway when I break it to him :-p

flutherother's avatar

You could put your hand on his hand and just say ‘do you know how I feel?’

CWOTUS's avatar

I would tell him – if I were you – that “I’ve always loved you.”

After all, isn’t that when time really starts?

mowens's avatar

I’m gay as well, so in addition to my advice… I demand pictures. (only half kidding)

My advice-

I always live by this little golden nugget that Captain Picard gave in the first episode of Star Trek the Next generation. I guess you can tell the nerds early…

Anyway… he said this:

“If we are going to be damned… let’s be damned for who we really are.”

I damn myself all the time. I have no regrets, other than I wish there was more Star Trek to watch. :)

marinelife's avatar

If it is true that you realized that you have lved him for years, why not tell him that?

Bill1939's avatar

I would say both. First, “I love you.” Then, “I have loved you since we first met.” The rest of the story will flow on its own. Good luck.

bookish1's avatar

@flutherother: That sounds so romantic but I am too chicken! And I’d probably bollocks it up somehow, like knocking over his glass. Thanks anyway :-p

@mowens: I’ll send you pics if anything good happens ;) But I assure you, he’s beautiful. And that reminds me of what the Butthole Surfers said… “It’s better to regret something you did than something you didn’t do…”

@marinelife: Oh, I’m going to tell him that eventually… Just not sure whether or not to say it at first. I guess it’ll be obvious because we haven’t spoken in years. I’m not thinking very clearly, hah.

@Bill1939: That sounds like it might flow nicely. Thanks :)

Dude just emailed me to ask me to meet with some of his other friends tonight, cause he’s back in town. I’ve probably been friend zoned, hah. Anyway I’ll try to break it to him tonight if I get him alone :) Thanks again to everyone for listening and your advice.

gailcalled's avatar

I would really try to establish a relationship and at the same time avoid the “love” word. Woo him and see what kind of response you get. If (and I hope you can) you succeed, there is always time for declarations.

You can easily find appropriate language for your long-time feelings.

mowens's avatar

@bookish1 YOU BETTER. I am a keen observer of beautiful men. ;)

I mean that in the least creepy way possible.

If that is possible.

bookish1's avatar

@gailcalled: Thanks, that is good advice indeed… And would be my first choice if I had longer here. :-/ The time factor is kind of what drove me to ask this question. I’m only here for another month, and we both are mad busy and might only be able to get together once or twice more. So I feel like I kind of really need to get this out and see if there’s anything there.

@mowens: Nope, not creepy at all :-p

mowens's avatar

@bookish1 How old are you? I can give you everything I have learned in my 6 years as a practicing gay male. Hhaha. (i did not self realize I was gay until my 22nd birthday. PM me if you’d like.

poisonedantidote's avatar

I love you gets my vote, there is no room for misunderstanding with it. If someone said to me “I have loved you for a long time” I would automatically start anticipating the “but…”, so I would just keep it short and to the point. Once all the cards are on the table, then you can add the poetry and romance and all that.

wundayatta's avatar

If you haven’t already had this conversation, then I would talk to him about how he became aware that he was gay. I might ask him about his relationships, and I might also see if he was willing to either flirt or get a little detailed about his sex life.

Then you could lead up to saying something about finding this a very stimulating conversation, and get into the thing about thinking about him a lot for the last four years. You’ve always been wondering how he’s been doing and always been looking forward to seeing him again. He has meant a lot to you (tell him why). Compliment him profusely—about how good looking he is, and how you think he’s hot, and see how he responds.

Hopefully, he will respond to each gambit and up the ante a bit. It will be a flirtation and of course, you know how it ends.

I would not talk about love until you get more of a sense of how he has been thinking about you. Has he thought of you as you have been thinking of him? Or does he look uncomfortable when you tell him this? What does he say he has been thinking about you? When you compliment him, does he find a way to compliment you, too? Does it seem genuine or just being polite?

If the signs are positive, you might lead up to the “l” word. Your feelings have been strong. You were hoping you’d be able to tell him. Now you feel like whatever happens, no pressure, you want him to know how you feel about him. This doesn’t mean you expect anything in return. You just really think he’s a wonderful person and you can not help but feel love for him.

The key is to offer it as a gift, not as a sign you are expecting anything in return. Because he is who he is. It comes from your heart

Of course, if you get a bad vibe about it, you don’t have to say it. Hopefully he will be saying things all along that give you the vibe he’ll be happy to hear it.

bookish1's avatar

@poisonedantidote: Gotcha, you make a very good point there. Thanks.

@wundayatta : Thank you for that response. Finesse, huh? A Frenchman would be impressed at that coming from an American, haha. Your saying I should offer it as a gift deeply resonated with me. That is how I would very much like to present this, and you put that in a nice way.
And I’ve actually been kicking myself for not starting this conversation the previous time we hung out, haha. He even asked me about my “emotional/romantic life” since we’d last seen each other. And I just mumbled something stupid about how I’ve been with two people in the past few years and broken up with both of them. Nothing interesting, and I should have changed the subject to ask about him. But I was so nervous and stimulated to be around him that I think I just started babbling about something else >_> I had already resolved to start that conversation about him the next time we hung out.
Anyway, thanks a lot. You’ve given me some good stuff to reflect on.

wundayatta's avatar

I was always impressed with the way some writers could write love scenes. They helped me understand a lot of what was going on inside other people’s heads. Also, over the course of my life, I’ve learned that women seem to like to be heard; listened to, yes, but perhaps most importantly, heard.

I don’t know what it’s like with gay men, but many of my male friends have been gay, and they seem pretty sophisticated, intellectually. Emotionally, I’m not so sure they are that different from most men. I think that the education gives them greater emotional understanding, but still, more like men than women. Still, I’m guessing that gay men can appreciate finesse more than most men, especially if it is about emotions. Sex can go either way, I suppose, but emotions require finesse, I think, for both men and women.

athenasgriffin's avatar

I would tailor my approach based on what sort of person he is. Does he like grand gestures? Because starting a romantic relationship with the word love is quite grand. Does he desire excitement? Again, if so I’d start with the I love you. Also, occasionally world weary people can enjoy emotional displays like that.

However, some people find the word to be overused. They might find the gesture more grandiose than grand. If he has been in relationships with people who come on very strongly, then he might be averse to it. (But sometimes the people who protest the most are the ones who most want to be seduced.)

Also, think about what you want. Starting a relationship so strongly almost forces it to heights of passion that quickly burn out. That might be ideal if you want the relationship to end between now and when you leave. But if you are hoping for a longer term relationship, then I think the gradual build is best. Gradual build meaning telling him that you admire him, or adore him, or are enchanted by him.

Mariah's avatar

I think the word “love” deserves more meaning than that which one gives it when he says he’s been in love since they met. To me, love is not something that happens in an instant, and I would be off-put if someone told me it was love at first sight.

bookish1's avatar

@wundayatta : Yeah, this guy is so phisticated, he intimidates me :-p Also, I consulted with my gay bartender and French gay guys especially have a reputation for liking seduction and “the chase.” But lordy, I simply do not have time for that, haha. Would that I did! Also according to the same source, Americans have a reputation for being too direct. Damn it all, haha.

@athenasgriffin : Very good words of caution, thanks. Ideally I would hope for a long term relationship but I can’t always get what I want. But I will be back here for a longer period (year to a year and a half) in 2013, and so I was hoping to see if there is anything to build on, before I jet back to the States. I do understand that some people find the word ‘love’ to be overused. I myself have never used it without meaning it… Again, I am in terra incognita here as a non-Frenchman… But I tend to suspect French people as a rule would be less allergic to the word than Americans can be. But I’ll keep in mind that perhaps I should begin by expressing my emotions in another way and see how that goes first.

@Mariah : Well, I did not mean that I was in love with this guy at first sight. (Although, believe it or not, that did happen to me for my first relationship, and it was mutual and lasted two years, which is a long time when you’re 14.) But I fell in love with him through getting to know him the last time I was here.

gailcalled's avatar

A careful paraphrase will make your point;

“I have had very strong feelings for you since we met four years ago.”

bookish1's avatar

@gailcalled: Thanks! I was already mentally redacting to about that level, haha.

gailcalled's avatar

“Des sentiments forts”?

bookish1's avatar

“Des sentiments forts” means ”some strong sentiments” ; “de forts sentiments” means “strong sentiments” in general. Either way, he’ll get the gist :-p

wundayatta's avatar

Where is David Sedaris when we need him?

gailcalled's avatar

@wundayatta:In France talking unpretty French.

@bookish1: So, de trés forts sentimenst does pack its own punch. Turn off the computer now and get out and just do it. Isn’t it now le cinq à sept there?

bookish1's avatar

@gailcalled : Huh? C’est quoi le cinq à sept? And I’m just prancing about getting dressed to go out and hopefully meet him, haha.

gailcalled's avatar

Tu le sais bien.

bookish1's avatar

Oh, that is québécois, according to Wikipedia. Never heard it before :-p I like it !

bookish1's avatar

Wow, it went very well last night. Here’s to finesse, paraphrasing and feeling it out! I began with “It’s thanks to you I realized I could love men,” and that got the point across. The first thing he replied was, “Well, that is the biggest compliment anyone has ever given me.” We hung out a bit more and just had fun. And then I stole a kiss when we were saying goodbye, and that turned into an hour long good bye kiss.

Thank you so much to everyone who chimed in here. The conversation was very helpful indeed to me. I didn’t really have anyone with whom to talk about this in my native language, haha.

gailcalled's avatar

Sol, what comes next? Do you both have time to hang out together before you return to the US?

bookish1's avatar

Yes’m, the way we left it when we finally parted, I am pretty sure that will happen again as soon as can be arranged :)

bookish1's avatar

Jellies, I am most grateful for all of the advice and kind words I received on this thread.
I kept telling myself, it’s better to regret something you did, than something you didn’t do, and I really believe that.
It’s funny, I didn’t even tell him either “I love you” or “I have loved you a long time,” but I said what I needed to.
A month after I told him, we were finally able to hang out one last time. And it was one of the most beautiful nights of my life. And we are still friends. Better friends now, I am inclined to think ;)

Inspired_2write's avatar

How can you truely love someone when you have not shared in his life?
You are infatuated with him.
Tell him that you feel very comfortable in his company..and let him decide to take it further thatn that .
You can write to each other too.
Maybe it could just be a life long friendship?

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