Life is too short to keep love to yourself. Here are 7 reasons why you should just tell him (or her).
“Matt, why is this one not targeted at guys telling them to communicate their love?”. Well, it is. It’s about all of us really. The phrasing here, “Tell Him”, refers to a classic duet between Celine Dion and Barbara Streisand which seems to be a frequent summary of some of the greatest advice in the realms of love I’ve ever heard. Whilst a dialogue between a younger woman seeking counsel from an older woman about a man she loves, it really does tackle one of the greatest struggles that exists in the realm of relationships on both sides of the fence – the communication of love.
In the song, a younger woman conveys the struggle of many young men and women. Being scared and being afraid to show your care. What if there’s someone else? What if I’m wasting my time? What if what if what if?
It can be really hard to tell someone that you love them. There can be overwhelming fear and uncertainty when even considering the idea. When you’re single, how do you know what to do in order to build a relationship or let someone know you care? How can you be sure whether or not they will respond positively or run screaming the other way? How much game do you need to employ in order to catch the one your heart desires?
When you’re with someone, many of us still find it an equally difficult challenge to communicate the level of concern and care your heart contains for the person you’re with. Many times, the knowledge of love is assumed, but not always received or felt or known.
There are so many different factors which may affect the birth of a relationship or influence you against being direct about what your heart, mind, and decisions have chosen about a person. And like you, I’ve seen it go either way on every single approach – holding back, going all out, “treat em mean”, yo-yo, no-yo, all-yo, whatever. But after a long time of watching and seeing and experiencing all the ways people do and don’t love, I think I’ve found the piece of advice that seems to hold true no matter what situation you find yourself in.
You should just tell him. Or her. Here are 7 reasons why.
#1: Because people don’t hear it enough
If you know me you’ll know that I love Lord of the Rings. Among the many great characters and plotlines in the land of Middle Earth, there is a tale of two sons, Boromir and Faramir, both of which have very different experiences with love. Boromir, who exemplifies the token hero in his family and kingdom, is well acquainted with the accolade of his people and the love of his father. Faramir, whilst a hero in his own right, feels like the unsung runt of the litter, overlooked and underappreciated, even though there are so many reasons to celebrate him.
Many people unfortunately experience what it’s like to feel like Faramir in this story. Many people feel overlooked and like no one is there to celebrate them. Young men and women have their internal light diminished as they live their lives without the appreciation their heart yearns for. Husbands and wives wither in an environment where love is assumed yet not truly communicated or given.
Wouldn’t it be a shame if that person on your heart had so many reasons to be celebrated, and yet didn’t feel that way? And what a greater tragedy if you noticed and even cherished those things about them, but never told them about it? We all need our fans and our cheerleaders. We all need someone to believe in us. And if you think this person is worth loving, if you’ve noticed great things about them, then what a shame if all it ever remained was internal notice.
#2: Because you may never get the chance
There have been many surveys of people as they approach their final years of life. In multiple surveys of people’s last words and wishes, including this one from Business Insider, we find that many people die with so many words left unsaid. Life feels long, and in a lot of ways, it is, but in just as many ways, we really don’t know how many days each of us are going to have.
We recently finished rewatching The Office (and you know I love The Office). There’s a really great line from one of the CEOs, Robert California, in one of the episodes where a multitude of characters are struggling in communicating with the people they love. He says, “Fear plays an interesting role in our lives. How dare we let it motivate us? How dare we let it into our decision making; into our livelihoods; into our relationship?”.
How true it is that fear may save your life from the bite of a snake or spider, but it may also rob you from communicating the love in your heart to the one who may need it the most. Perhaps we should have greater fear of having left things unsaid than of saying them and having things go a certain way.
#3: Because relationships are built intentionally and don’t happen by accident
How did you get into the job you have? You got yourself together, you prepared your resume, you put in all the applications, and you were eventually selected after putting yourself through the interview process.
How did you get the house you had? By inspecting multiple places, doing your research, ensuring you earn enough to cover costs, and entering the laborious exercise of moving all your possessions from your previous dwelling to your current one.
How do you have the friends you have? Because you deliberately set aside regular time for them. Phone calls, movies, DnMs til 3am in the morning, you chose to do all of it. And you continue to choose to do it to maintain the relationship.
So, how do you form and build a relationship with someone you love? Just the same way you build anything else. Intentional, focused, repeated effort in the direction of that person’s heart.
Love is a pursuit worth devoting your entire life towards. And even once you have the person, the pursuit should never end. The treasure of their heart is a great reward to the one who will find, pursue, and look after its precious contents. It’s amazing what you’ll discover as you continue to appreciate and uncover the great prize of the life of a person.
#4: Because he/she may not be sure
How do they know you love them? Because you’re putting out signs? You’re giving them signals? You told them on your wedding day? You said “hehe” instead of “haha” in your messages and you like their photos on Facebook even though you don’t like anyone’s photos on Facebook?
These things can all be so ambiguous that the person you’re convinced knows how you feel about them probably doesn’t know. The things you’re doing for them, it’s likely that there are several other people doing just the same. Or perhaps it was so long ago, you haven’t really done anything for who this person has become now. When you’re “Like 307 out of 503” on their latest Instagram profile pic, it’s not really clear what your little digital gesture means. When you’ve been married 21 years and you haven’t done anything romantic for the last 14, your wife may not feel as cherished as you think she should be. When he’s fighting and trying and putting all his effort into looking out for you and you haven’t said thank you, there’s a chance he doesn’t feel as appreciated as he is in your head.
You should just tell him. Or her. Move out of ambiguity into clarity.
#5: Because it’s better to find out than assume
“What if he doesn’t like me?”. “What if I put myself out there and she shoots me down?”. “What if she finds out how much I love her?”.
I think a scarier question should be, “What if he never finds out?”. “What if we never have a chance together because I never said anything?”. “What if I stopped living in emotional limbo with this woman for 4 years and just got some clarity and finality on it?”.
It’s good to know. As potentially painful as it may be if they find out, the pain of them never finding out will always be far worse.
In the words of the song, “You can’t let the chance to love [them] pass you by”.
#6: Because if you don’t, someone else will
I’ve recently had some major and expensive trouble with my car. Through a number of struggles I faced in 2016 and 2017, my car unfortunately suffered neglect during a time it needed some work done. I felt like I was barely keeping ahead of things for myself that looking after too much else was a real stretch. The work done on the car since then was insufficient to repair the damage and I’ve recently had to replace the engine in order to get it going.
While my car is now going great, it really is a clear illustration of a painful truth in life. If you don’t look after something properly, you’re going to lose it. As many excuses as I could come up with for the damage with my car, and as many genuine reasons I could have had regarding limited ability to look after it, the reality is that my actions still produced neglect and the need to replace what was there.
Tragically, this can happen in the realms of love too. As it should. I know in my life if I ever fail to look after the one I love, I should lose them. The same way that I should lose a job that I squander or employees I fail to look after. You don’t let the repeat DUI driver keep the licence. You don’t let the negligent parents keep the malnourished child. Even in the realms of the “legalistic Old Testament”, if you failed to look after the food, shelter, and conjugal needs of a slave (who had the least rights of anybody) that you decided to form a romantic relationship with, they were free to go where they could be cherished and valued. More thoughts on that in Contract vs. Covenant.
May it never be said of us that we failed to look after the one who was entrusted to our care.
And perhaps this is a person you don’t have a relationship with. So many times I see people who “love” a guy or a girl and start to get really jealous and emotional when someone else makes advances on them. How tragic that if they had made the same advances, perhaps the outcome could be quite different.
#7: Because love kept to yourself never reaches or helps anyone
Love is the greatest need of the human heart, but if it remains locked inside, it never reaches its target. In fact, the position of Scripture is that if you say you love someone but your actions don’t show it, then you don’t love them. You’re deceiving yourself even. “The light isn’t even in you”. What you do is your reality.
Feelings are nice, but they don’t change anyone. They don’t motivate a person. They don’t call a person to be better than they are. They don’t give people the safe place they need to achieve great success in life. But love in action is what the world is waiting for.
And it’s what you’re waiting for. And it’s what the one you say you love is waiting for. Reach them. Let them know.
In the Song of Solomon, the Shullamite bride of the king is enjoying describing her utopia of what seems to be a perfect relationship. And in her perfect relationship, where she once doubted and belittled herself towards the start of the song, she surmises the state of her love and relationship with the following sentence: “He invited me into the banqueting house, and his banner over me was love”.
I absolutely love that because it shows the strength and beauty of a woman or a man who knows that they’re loved. Like a flower that blooms under the greatest care, it’s a sight that is worth seeing every day. And you could have that flower blooming daily in your own home.
What’s the banner that you’re putting over the man or woman that you love? Is there even a banner? Are there any words being said? Are there any actions being carried out? Would they be able to say like the Shullamite woman that the banner that sits over their house and heart was your love?
I think her or his satisfaction and freedom should be the goal of any man or woman who loves someone. We should make it our highest priority to ensure that man or woman we love, that husband or wife, that girlfriend or boyfriend, that potential person that we hold in such high esteem, is so aware and so entrenched in the love that they receive that they literally can go and change the entire world.
So with all the reasons against you, I would submit to you that you should just just tell him. Or her.
How about you? Do you think you should tell them?
PS. Here’s the song that this post was based on. Corny as anything, but sage advice.