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I Love You - See? It's Easy!

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Love. It really is a nice little word that rolls off the tongue, but to a girl dating a guy for a grand total of two months and two weeks it can stick, trapped somewhere between the teeth, stubbornly refusing to come out. You might easily tell him that you LOVE that meal he took you to, or that you LOVE his jumper. Casually telling him how you love spending time with him? Easy peas. But actually saying that you love him is, well, sometimes impossible.

Spoilt by a childhood of Disney films, teenage dreams of Dawson and an adulthood of Austen (and OK...I admit it Twilight,) the big declaration represents a moment of validation; you've made it to the finish line, you've won. Getting there becomes something like a challenge, and there is little to do but wait, because a girl has to wait for it. Right?

Even the most rules-sceptic girl would agree that saying it first is never an option. It's just not the done thing but more so, half the fun is the delivery and like reading the last page of a book, you risk missing out on the entire plot.

Still. If I felt it, if I really felt it, there should be no problem saying it. And therein lay the problem; how do I know if this is the real thing?

After the very first night I spent with Number Six, I marched into my best friend's flat, threw my arms up and declared; "That's it, I'm in love."

"You're not in love." She replied, rolling her eyes.
I have a habit of being 'in love' with anything; shoes, miso dishes, but more dangerously, men. Let's not forget the incident with 'Prince Charming'; it took me a whole 48 hours of knowing him to go from mild interest to full blown passionate delusions.

Could it be that I was in love? So soon?

The Oxford Illustrated dictionary defines love as "A virtue representing all of human kindness, compassion, and affection; and "the unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another".

I'm not sure I entirely agree.

If love is in essence a challenge, there has to be an element of selfishness; a need that leads to that hook, be it sexual or emotional dependence.

Anthropologically speaking, the study of 'love' is divided into categories - biological, psychological and evolutionary. Within these, the general consensus is that love has three stages; (because as a rule of thumb academics feel the need to divide everything into three...)

• Biologist Helen E. Fisher, categorised love into lust, attraction and attachment
• Psychologist Robert Steinberg, came up with the 'triangular theory of love' which divides love into intimacy, commitment and passion

A linear timeline for falling in love which begins with animal chemistry and ends with a sibling- like dependence, implies that not only are the two mutually exclusive but that the term 'love' is valid for even the basest of animal magnetisms. Ergo qualifying my 'love' for Number Six, Robert Pattinson and the guy I had a crush on in year 7.

If falling in love is really that easy, when then is the right time to say 'I love you'?
My first boyfriend told me he loved me by writing 143 on a piece of paper (something about the number of letters in the word 'I love you'.) He did it about two weeks in, and I later discovered he'd declared his love in the exact same way to his ex.

Golf Boy waited an excruciatingly long amount of time. But when he said it, I felt the entire world fell away like a smashed snow globe leaving just us in the middle.

Number four (or the one I never really talk about) said it at just the right time, and I don't remember feeling anything at all, but then, I never felt much for him anyway.

And then there was Number Six. I've been telling him I love him silently in my head for about a month. He told me he likes me, that he really likes me, that he really really likes me. And then, it happened.

"I really like you." He said.
"Me too." I replied for the hundredth time
"No, I REALLY like you." He said again
I smiled.
"I would even say, maybe falling in love with you?"
Say it you coward. Just say it.
Then he paused. "How...do you feel?"
Seriously? You're making ME do it?! I've never been a very patient person, and it was clear it needed a nudge. I rolled my eyes "You know I love you, you idiot!" I replied.

I'll admit it was a bit of an anti-climax. I was expecting him to have thought of the right time, the right place, I wasn't expecting an epic Notebook style declaration, but I wanted to at least be sure he meant it. Now that it was said, now that it was out in the open, I felt the words sit uncomfortably on my lips.

"Well, I'm glad that's out the way," he said, sighing "It's like a weight's been lifted. Wow so we've gone through another relationship landmark."

I suppose we had, but we rushed through it so quickly I didn't have time to stop and enjoy the view. Maybe hearing the words 'I love you' isn't about winning at all.

And so I carry my 'love trophy' awkwardly, and return the words with embarrassment because it feels like we'd jumped the queue into a club where we didn't quite belong... yet.