Guys are taught from a young age to be strong and stoic. These were the signs of masculinity, to lead and take charge, especially in relationships. But it raises it’s own unique problems, that end up with men who enter relationships, developing deeper feelings and wondering, is having feelings embarrassing? How do you deal with them? 

harriet with a heart on her nose

I want to tell you that it’s always good to be open about your feelings. We are in a society where men and women can express themselves without fear or ridicule. Of course, there is always a time and a place, and you have to be aware of your surroundings and situation.

The trickiest time, I believe, is at the start of a new relationship. Both parties are caught up in the adrenaline and intoxication that comes with being someone new. There’s the chase, with stupid rules such as “how long to wait before texting back” or “rejecting every 3rd offer of meeting” to demonstrate how you’re not completely besotted by your new partner. Maybe at this point you already know you’ve found someone amazing, but you won’t say it because surely it’s way too early.

Then comes the settling down period, where you start integrating your partner into your regular routine. They meet your friends, you meet their friends, everyone knows you’re an item. Things feel good and you have the urge to tell them how much you like them, you’ve been throwing the L word around in your head a few times. But it still feels too early, the relationship could still hit an iceberg at any point, so maybe it’s best to stay cautious?

Finally you get to the point where you’re basically married. I mean, when people think of you, they automatically think of your partner, and vice versa. You’re so in sync, you can read each other’s minds. You’re comfortable together and your relationship feels rock solid. But now it feels like it’s too late, it doesn’t really need to be said does it? And your partner hasn’t said it yet either, which makes you a bit nervous and you think maybe you should wait for them to say it first, because what if they’re not at that point yet and if you say it now you’ll just embarrass yourself?

As you can see, in the above situation, there doesn’t really feel like a right time to share your feelings. It either feels to early, or too late. Unlike the movies, there’s no spontaneous thunderstorm and a lone street lamp to illuminate your confession of love.

There’s also the question of who should say first, the guy or the girl. Do you tell them casually, perhaps at the end of a normal sentence, or do you make a big deal out of it? It’s such a personal subject, and the fear of rejection is always high, no matter how much you trust your partner.

I’ve found that there’s no real rule for who should confess first. I’ve had the guy say it first to me, and I’ve been the first to say it. I think it really depends on who you’re with, and the dynamic of your relationship. Some men feel that they should take the lead, and so they want to be the first. Some men prefer to be more stoic, and prefer the safety of being able to say it second.

I think there will always come a time however that you feel like you really, really want to tell your partner your feelings. You realise how wonderful and amazing they are every time you look at them, and you want to articulate those feelings and share them. When you feel like this, when you’re confident and happy with yourself, when you think “This is how I really, honestly feel.” towards this person, is when you should tell them.

That could be near the start of the relationship, or it could after a while into the stable period. The when isn’t as important as you might think. It’s only the strength and conviction of your feelings. When those feelings are strong and true, there is never anything to feel embarrassed about. It takes strength to tell someone you love them, because it can be seen as a weakness. But your chosen person shouldn’t ever see it as a weakness and you should trust them not to.

So how do you show your feelings? How do you tell your girlfriend that you love her? Well again, this depends completely on you and your relationship. Imagine how your partner would like to be told best, and do that.

For instance, if you think you’re in a very confident and comfortable relationship, then just casually adding it to the end of one of your conversations can be very subtle and nice. It’s said in a way that could sound like it’s been said a million times before, and so makes it seem like perhaps you have thought it for a while, but this was the first time you’ve remembered to say it out loud.

If you think your girlfriend is into big displays of affection, then making a big deal about telling her how you feel can also be good. This can be in the form of a heart felt speech, surrounded by candles and flowers, or in the token of a gift signed off with “I love you.”

No matter how you decide to tell your partner, or when, just be confident that there is nothing to be embarrassed about. Having feelings isn’t a sign of weakness. You don’t have to be a stoic, manly man. Showing and sharing your feelings is how you make your relationship stronger.

  • Christopher Ragland

    I have not that exact problem, with saying it. I have only had like 4 times that I would of said it.
    1st time I was liking this girl & the day I realized that I wanted to try with her was the day she moved out of state. (V_V)
    2nd time I was thinking of her every day so I wrote down how I felt, since I was afraid to say it, so I gave her the note. the next day she acted like she saw me do something horrific in front of her, so I made up a lie to try to make everything more like it was the day before. She said her reason that it wasn’t gonna work, then while out eating I saw her with someone else. She had lied, felt like a knife in my chest. But I waited hopping she would change her mind, but after a long time of waiting I found out she married that guy (T_T)
    3rd I started liking someone even thou I had yet to meet them in person, I said how I felt they seemed OK with it, then I tried to say something supportive to them & they took it as an insult, & wouldn’t listen to what I said trying to explain what I meant. (O.O)
    4th so now I’m “gun shy” and the girl I want to say it to, I’ve done everything but say it. cause I’m afraid that history might repeat itself, & I might end up never seeing of hearing from her again. She might know but IDK if she would even feel open to the idea. I don’t know what I’d do if she said no. (@n@)
    So thats where I’m at now.

    • lanykid

      think of it in a risk/reward situation. best possible outcome vs the worst possible outcome.
      in my (admittedly limited) experience the best thing you can do is tell them how you feel because the best thing that can happen is that you’ll end up together and it works really well, you get married and die together at the age of 103 with 20 great grand children. that against the worst possible situation, which is she gets upset and doesn’t talk to you again. the silver lining of that being that you eventually get over her through lack of contact and you can move on with your life. and on top of that you know that it wont work out because she’s not into you.
      what actually happens when you admit you have feelings for her will most likely be somewhere between the 2 options, but by talking to her you end up knowing where you stand.
      just my thoughts
      good luck

  • Christopher Ragland

    I have not that exact problem, with saying it. I have only had like 4 times that I would of said it.
    1st time I was liking this girl & the day I realized that I wanted to try with her was the day she moved out of state. (V_V)
    2nd time I was thinking of her every day so I wrote down how I felt, since I was afraid to say it, so I gave her the note. the next day she acted like she saw me do something horrific in front of her, so I made up a lie to try to make everything more like it was the day before. She said her reason that it wasn’t gonna work, then while out eating I saw her with someone else. She had lied, felt like a knife in my chest. But I waited hopping she would change her mind, but after a long time of waiting I found out she married that guy (T_T)
    3rd I started liking someone even thou I had yet to meet them in person, I said how I felt they seemed OK with it, then I tried to say something supportive to them & they took it as an insult, & wouldn’t listen to what I said trying to explain what I meant. (O.O)
    4th so now I’m “gun shy” and the girl I want to say it to, I’ve done everything but say it. cause I’m afraid that history might repeat itself, & I might end up never seeing of hearing from her again. She might know but IDK if she would even feel open to the idea. I don’t know what I’d do if she said no. (@n@)
    So thats where I’m at now.

    • lanykid

      think of it in a risk/reward situation. best possible outcome vs the worst possible outcome.
      in my (admittedly limited) experience the best thing you can do is tell them how you feel because the best thing that can happen is that you’ll end up together and it works really well, you get married and die together at the age of 103 with 20 great grand children. that against the worst possible situation, which is she gets upset and doesn’t talk to you again. the silver lining of that being that you eventually get over her through lack of contact and you can move on with your life. and on top of that you know that it wont work out because she’s not into you.
      what actually happens when you admit you have feelings for her will most likely be somewhere between the 2 options, but by talking to her you end up knowing where you stand.
      just my thoughts
      good luck

  • NeilW

    It isn’t easy for everyone. My family wasn’t big on opening up, and you grow up somewhat reluctant to open up as a result. I’m much more emotionally open on a keyboard than I am in person. I should say “I love you” far more often than I do. But how?

    • Carl

      Just do it, mate. Just look ’em in the eye and say it. It’s easier if it’s just the two of you, since there’s no-one else there to overhear and… well… spoil the atmosphere. There doesn’t need to be any big build up. No need for flowers, romantic music, or any of that stuff.

      Just say it. It’s a huge charge when it hits, so ride it for all it’s worth. You won’t regret it.

  • NeilW

    It isn’t easy for everyone. My family wasn’t big on opening up, and you grow up somewhat reluctant to open up as a result. I’m much more emotionally open on a keyboard than I am in person. I should say “I love you” far more often than I do. But how?

    • Carl

      Just do it, mate. Just look ’em in the eye and say it. It’s easier if it’s just the two of you, since there’s no-one else there to overhear and… well… spoil the atmosphere. There doesn’t need to be any big build up. No need for flowers, romantic music, or any of that stuff.

      Just say it. It’s a huge charge when it hits, so ride it for all it’s worth. You won’t regret it.

  • Carl

    I will freely admit that the first time my GF (as she was then) headed back home to Aberdeen after the first time we’d ever actually physically met, I sat on a bench at the platform at Leeds railway station and absolutely cried my eyes out. Sobbing… the works.

    Same thing happened every time we parted after either she’d visited me or I visited her.

    Thing is, Harriet, you talk about there being “no spontaneous thunderstorm and a lone street lamp to illuminate your confession of love”… but for me, there was. Certainly in my own head, if not in real life.

    It happened on New Years’ Eve at the Frankenstein’s Castle bar in Aberdeen (the Scots are SO much better at NYE than we are in England – we’re absolutely shit at it. I’d NEVER had a good night out on NYE before I met Sarah). We were sat at a table in a crowded bar, waiting for the countdown to The Bells as they call it up there, and she was chair dancing and singing along to whatever was on the PA… and it was literally like a bolt from the blue. I felt like someone had run an electric charge through me. Up until then, I’d been responding to her “I love you”s almost automatically. I THOUGHT I meant it. I was pretty sure I meant it… but until that moment, I didn’t really know for certain.

    Now, this was a MASSIVE thing for me. Until then, I was (and still am at times) a little emotionally distant. That’s why this was so big and so important. So what the point of this story is, is that you’ll KNOW when the right time is, even if you normally have the emotional range of a stunned halibut. Then, it becomes easy and natural, and you realize you’re not saying it enough.

  • Carl

    I will freely admit that the first time my GF (as she was then) headed back home to Aberdeen after the first time we’d ever actually physically met, I sat on a bench at the platform at Leeds railway station and absolutely cried my eyes out. Sobbing… the works.

    Same thing happened every time we parted after either she’d visited me or I visited her.

    Thing is, Harriet, you talk about there being “no spontaneous thunderstorm and a lone street lamp to illuminate your confession of love”… but for me, there was. Certainly in my own head, if not in real life.

    It happened on New Years’ Eve at the Frankenstein’s Castle bar in Aberdeen (the Scots are SO much better at NYE than we are in England – we’re absolutely shit at it. I’d NEVER had a good night out on NYE before I met Sarah). We were sat at a table in a crowded bar, waiting for the countdown to The Bells as they call it up there, and she was chair dancing and singing along to whatever was on the PA… and it was literally like a bolt from the blue. I felt like someone had run an electric charge through me. Up until then, I’d been responding to her “I love you”s almost automatically. I THOUGHT I meant it. I was pretty sure I meant it… but until that moment, I didn’t really know for certain.

    Now, this was a MASSIVE thing for me. Until then, I was (and still am at times) a little emotionally distant. That’s why this was so big and so important. So what the point of this story is, is that you’ll KNOW when the right time is, even if you normally have the emotional range of a stunned halibut. Then, it becomes easy and natural, and you realize you’re not saying it enough.

  • Formedras

    I think there’s one useful rule about when to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend you love ’em: not on the first date. Beyond that, no rule is right. (Even that one’s wrong in certain circumstances.)

  • Formedras

    I think there’s one useful rule about when to tell your boyfriend/girlfriend you love ’em: not on the first date. Beyond that, no rule is right. (Even that one’s wrong in certain circumstances.)