For me, the answer has always been simple. I would be afraid that he is not going to say “I love you” back to me. I wouldn’t want to get hurt if his feelings are not as strong as mine.
However, I think my answer and my thoughts on this issue are stupid! I bet that surprises you. Look how quickly we say we don’t like something or someone. When you get into arguments you might even say you hate someone. So why are we so stingy with the word love?
I’ve worked at getting over this stigma or foolishness I have with this word. There are all kinds of love. Give it freely. It will always come back to you even if it only comes back to you in loving yourself. You will love yourself more because you are not afraid to use the word and share your love unconditionally.
And what do I mean by unconditionally? It took me the loss of a lover to understand what this word meant.
Let me explain. I was involved with a man that I loved and wanted to be with. Instead, he chose a higher calling. He retired from the SEALs and went to Africa to work with orphans. I was devastated. This man and I had an intense emotional relationship and there was no doubt in my mind that he loved me. But he had a calling that was so much bigger than ‘us.’
I remember this event like it happened yesterday. It was the time in my life when I learned what it really means to say “I love you.” It means my love for you surpasses your choices. It is above my need for you to return it back to me. I can love you even if you are not able, or have the same need, to give me back what I want or think I need. I still love you. I had to decide if my love for him was about ME or about HIM.
I value that time in my life. It took me two weeks to understand that this was truly the first time in my life when I really loved someone. I had to let him go physically but I kept my relationship with him. We communicated daily. It was intense and beautiful. He shared his journey, his love for me, photos of the events in the orphanage in South Sudan. His daily challenges were immense. But he was happy doing this work. It fed his heart and his soul. He had spent years in and out of the tunnels in Afghanistan and his soul was fractured and needed to heal. I would never have been enough for him.
And four months after he left to go to Africa, he was dead.
So never ever miss an opportunity to say I love you. You are saying it for yourself. And celebrating your love, vocalizing it is a beautiful thing. And if it’s not returned the way you want, who cares! It’s not about the one you love, it’s about you, how you feel, and how you have shown up in his life. If he loves you back that’s great. But if he understands that there are no conditions attached to your love, I think it will be fine.
Don’t be afraid to show the best emotion that life has to offer. You owe it to yourself.
Shared from my answer in Quora
Read more about Lynda’s philosophy on life in her memoir LOVE The Beat Goes On