The Vulnerability of Saying ‘I Love You’ for the First Time

It felt like deliberating at the top of a high dive with no guarantee of a soft landing.

Eleni Stephanides
Human Parts
Published in
7 min readFeb 14, 2024

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Photo by author

My girlfriend and I had just spent a lovely day wandering through caves and sipping coffee next to roosters. We’d shared a gluten-free pizza while looking up at the stars from massive rock formations in the ghost town of Columbia. Now back at her house, Spotify was turned to a compilation of early 2000s pop ballads. We danced in her room as her chihuahua and torty cat slept bundled into cushy balls on the bed beside us.

She and I had been dating for two months at that point, and I wanted to tell her I loved her— but the words just wouldn’t leave my mouth.

Why does the thought of it make so anxious? Why does it feel like jumping off a high dive with no guarantee of a soft landing?

Saying “I love you” for the first time can feel daunting for anyone. Part of the apprehension comes from what Lacey Johnson described as “fear [of] inciting a re-creation of the dreadful moment in Sex and the City when Carrie impulsively blurts out an awkward ‘I love you’” (after Big gifts her a crystalline duck-shaped handbag). In response he mumbles, “You’re welcome,” and swiftly flees the scene.

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Eleni Stephanides
Human Parts

LGBTQ+ writer and Spanish interpreter who enjoys wandering through nature, reading fiction and mental health content, speaking Spanish, and petting cats.