too

In ALL, LIFE OBSERVATIONS by Stephanie Klein

"Too” should be a four-letter word. Everything means less when it’s coming from the too place. I love you, too. I miss you, too. Oh, my God, me too! Whoever says it first wins and means it more. Not quite.

I’ve only once been the first person to say, “I love you,” in a relationship. I didn’t care. It was coming out, no matter how hard I tried to will it down deep inside.

He didn’t say it back. The room grew silent, and I wanted to let go. I told myself he didn’t need to respond; I felt his love for me in his hands and saw it in his behavior. It bothered me a little, but my telling him, “I love you,” wasn’t about me. For weeks it wasn’t said again, until it slipped out of me again. I couldn’t help it; it was like swallowing and sneezing with your eyes closed. I held my breath after I’d said it, unsure of what I was hoping for.  He responded, “I love you, too.” I wasn’t convinced; I felt like I lost something.

Recently, I was on the receiving end of a lesson about miss:
You know, when someone says they miss you, Stephanie, you have some options in terms of response. You can say I miss you too and mean it. You can say I miss you too and not really mean it, but what harm is done, so what the hell. Or, You can say something like you said last night. Like, “oh, yeah?” or something. Ouch.

Well, saying, “too” feels like less. And I couldn’t very well say, “thank you.” God, imagine that? If I ever tell a man I love him, and he responds with, “thank you,” I’m going to get up and leave. “Thank you” has to be the worst reply ever. No, I’m sorry, I said, “I miss you. Kinda handed you my beating heart on that one. Thank you is reserved for a breadbasket passed in your direction, not vulnerability."  The best response might be, “I have been waiting so long to hear that. You make me so happy.” Alternatively, he could attack me in a passionate kiss and show me how overwhelmingly happy I’ve made him by expressing myself so openly. If however, he feels like he’s lead me on, that our relationship is now off kilter, he should just be silent and lay there, then look me in the eyes and say, “thank you.” I’ll likely never want to waste my time with him again, despite loving him.