Why they never said “I love you”

— even though they probably did

“KG… birds??” / me: “yuh.”

Because “maybe” isn’t good enough. And they wanted better for you.

It isn’t so much a fear of intimacy or vulnerability as it is a fear of fuckery — sometimes we don’t trust our judgment.

Here’s how it feels to feel unsure about those three little words:

It’s not that they didn’t care

They wanted you to feel cared for. They wanted you to be happy — both short and long term. They wanted to hear about your day, and when they ask, they actually listen. They heard between the lines.

They wanted to spend time together — they suggested doing things, they took you out, they introduced you to the people in their lives and started to assimilate you into their everyday. They became friends with your friends, they made your family — and your work, and anything else you wanted to share — a priority for them, too.

They touched you — often; gently — and never pulled away when you touched them. They wanted to protect you from harm. They watched to make sure you got the right drink at the bar, and how your boss behaved.

They talked about the future — about where things might go. You were their one and only — you were exclusive — and they made this clear to you. You were special; you might have been the one. Their care for you was singular, and you were not a stand-in. None of this was dispensable or transferable; you might have been building towards forever.

Being with them felt as easy and obvious as grabbing drinks or walking hand in hand. Like, “of course — cheers to this.”

And it really started to feel like something.

So why didn’t they say it?

They weren’t sure. And they didn’t want to hurt you.

They couldn’t tell the future; couldn’t promise it’d be what you both hoped it would be. They couldn’t swear it’d work out, or they’d never leave. They couldn’t assure you they wouldn’t break your heart or otherwise fuck you over — however inadvertently — and they didn’t want that for you.

Because we don’t do that sort of thing to people we love. And they knew this.

They care about you. They wanted everything they gave you to be authentic — and good — and that includes the numerous times they were on the brink of saying something they weren’t sure they could back up.

And they chose to give you something they could stand behind — something honest, something strong, something sincere — rather than spewing sentimentality that might turn out to break your heart.

Because they cared. They weren’t sure, and they didn’t want to make empty, bullshit promises.

They didn’t want to knowingly accept that we might hurt people we say we love. They didn’t want to admit this shit out loud — to deliberately drive that.

Because they weren’t sure whether it’s still love if they might one day walk away — and who is anyone to say with certainty what will happen?

They might very well have loved you — had they been another type of person, they might have agreed they most certainly did and already said it a million times over. Because they definitely cared about you. They cared about you enough to be careful with your feelings. Which meant being sure about what was promised by sharing — or not sharing — their own.

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