Last week, he asked me when I starting waiting for him to say “I love you”— an indirect way of asking me when I started loving him. I couldn’t answer because I couldn’t pinpoint a date or time. It happened gradually, with the very definition and understanding of my love changing as our relationship progressed. Even if I had could discern the exact moment, I would have considered playing dumb to save myself from admitting that I had fallen for him long before he had for me.
He admits to being more stressed out about this term, even though the distance and the routine are exactly the same. The only difference is that now he’s exposed his vulnerability, allowed himself to admit to feelings that may have been lurking under the surface; he’s allowed this relationship to mean more to him. I’m so much calmer now because he feels this way. Now, I feel like we’re really in this together and I’m not the only one trying to hold to on.
He first said those three words over the Christmas holidays. A Wednesday night. We went to the basketball game, and when we got back home, we chatted in bed before we fell asleep.
“So,” he asked me at length, “what do the little hearts at the end of your notes mean?”
I had in recent weeks, taken to signing emails and notes with a heart beside my name.
I knew then what he was getting to and I didn’t want to make it so easy for him. I thought I had felt this way for him for a while now and I didn’t want to offer that admission.
“They mean ‘fuck you Master’," I teased.
We laughed and the subject shifted. At length he paused.
“Girl…” he started before trailing off.
“Never mind, I was going to tell you something but…”
“Oh Master! Please tell me!”
Somehow my begging, and his resistance, turned into a tickle fight, which turned into wrestling, then into his hands tugging down the thin, black straps of the silk slip clinging to body. Somehow, my pleas to hear his secret turned into his parted lips making silent words along the curves of breasts and over my nipples. Somehow, my appeals to him turned into his hands grasped around my wrists, pinning my hands over my head. Somehow, his cock found its way inside me and pulsated inside as he thrust his hips against mine and pounded hard into my body. When pulled my hair back and asked me: “Who owns this girl?”, I suspected as I responded: “You do, Master”, that if he said those long-awaited words tonight, he would reserve them for the height of passion. He would rely on the testosterone and the aggression of sex to drive the words out of him, to compensate for the potential vulnerability he might otherwise reveal.
I was partially right but he was much gentler that I expected.
He moved his arms around me—freeing mine, so that I could wrap them around his back. It was as he slowed his cock into long, gentle dips into me, and changed the pattern of his kisses into softer brushes, that he whispered:
“I love you.”
“I love you too,” I blurted out, without hesitation or deliberation. I had been anticipating his words, so I had no reason to reflect before giving my response.
We squeezed each other tightly, and as he came, he pressed his rough cheek into mine and his heavy breaths into my neck.
Having never been in love before, I wasn’t sure what it would feel like and if it would be as crazy or grand as the centuries of art and texts and film and song have suggested. It turned out not to be crazy and it started out far more subtley than I had expected; starting with a gradual buildup that required initial pushing before steadily gaining its own momentum, then tumbling so quickly that I was forced, by its velocity, to roll along.
When I started falling for him, there was nothing I wanted more in the world than to know if he was feeling these same things for me. I wanted to know if I was becoming to him—as he was for me—not just an important person, but something almost vital. Something that, when removed even for a few days, made life feel a little off. I wanted so much for him to feel everything I was feeling, to verify my ideas, to confirm my suspicions. I was glad that he decided to.
So after sex that night, he spoke and I listened intently. I have this journal to vent and analyze but there is little opportunity for me to hear his thought-processes, his deep reflections. He told me of many sweet reasons for his words of love, but in passing he also said something along the lines of: “I really didn’t think this would work out, that you were ready or mature enough, but I’m glad it did.”
And because it was a night of emotional outpour, of courage on his end, I did not press him on this little phrase although it bothered me greatly.
The next evening, after going we went out with his friends, we resumed our nighttime chatter as we settled into bed.
“Master,” I asked him, “What did you mean yesterday when you told me about all the doubts you had about us?”
I phrased it like a question, as if I was welcoming discussion and open, honest answers. But I wasn't. I was holding an interview—I wanted him to give the job—but I needed him to mention all the keywords so that I could justify giving him the position.
I was hurt by what he had said the previous day and I wanted a satisfying explanation. I was hurt by the previous day's statements because I had invested a lot of myself early in the relationship; I had given him my submission almost instantly, my virginity relatively easily. I had invested time and emotion into the idea of him, even though I knew from the start that it would be full of the strain of long distance. I took these risks because he had been taken great interest in me, he had reassured me, he had somehow convinced me that everything would be fine.
Only on that night of I loves you, did he finally tell me how unsure he really had been; about all of his doubts; about conversations he had with his friends about me, about us. He waited until this night, to tell me that he didn’t think it work and his words--although open and honest--made me feel so violated, so cheated. I felt that if he had been as openly wary as I was, I might not have taken so many risks. I felt like if he had shared his thoughts with me earlier, I might not have opened myself up so quickly to potential heartbreak.
I felt like it was by pure happenstance that it did end up working out for the best, and not because of core compatibility, not out of a true desire to make things work. It frustrated me that he thought me to be immature, when from the beginning I had told him about my age, my sexual inexperience and it was he, who convinced me that this would not be a problem. It was he that promised that if there was potential between us, he would guide me through the inexperience and take care of me. And while he has done all those things, hearing his doubts, made me believe that there were times when he really didn’t see long-term potential and that he was willing to risk my feelings, my involvement, my time, my commitment, everything, on something that he wasn’t sure could ever have meaning.
In retrospect, I don’t think that’s what he meant when he expressed all his hidden doubts on that Wednesday night, alongside of I love yous. But at the time, this is how I interpreted his words. It was hard for me to hear that he—my Master—who appeared to be ever stoic and certain, who had convinced me to let my guard down and act in ways that were sometimes counterintuitive to my own logic, was perhaps more uncertain than I had ever been.
So that Thursday night, when I asked him for clarification of his words, I wanted him to say that he had his doubts because every new relationship involves large doses of healthy skepticism as a mechanism for self-protection. I wanted him to tell me that even though he was scared, he had always wanted it to work out, because he had liked me from the beginning and started to care deeply for me early on. I wanted him to tell me that despite the uncertainty, he at least had a hunch, a feeling, that this would be special and not that I was just some experiment that happened—by chance alone—to work out.
However, his answers to my questions that night didn’t alleviate any of my fears. Instead, he just ended up telling me about more of his doubts, about the conversations he had to others about me, that he probably should have had with me instead.
Upset, I wriggled away from him as he was talking. He kept trying to hold me and asking me to stop being upset, but I couldn’t put together all my muddled thoughts and I kept fighting him. I wanted him to keep trying to hold me, to suddenly understand why I was so upset and tell me everything I needed to hear. But as intuitive as he generally is, as well as he has come to know me, my silent demands were unreasonable and impossible.
We said our goodnights and we went to sleep, still touching but not curled together, not with the sound of his heartbeat in my right ear.
Our morning rituals were the same as they had been for the preceding days of the work-week. We cuddled as the morning light crept into the room during the twenty minutes before Master had to get up. Then, Master got up before his alarm went off and tucked the blankets around me before heading to bathroom to get ready. After dressing and packing his bag for work, he peeled away the blankets and prodded me to wake up. Then, when I had stretched and sat up, he gestured for me to kneel high on the bed, as he stood by the edge—so that we could speak to each other almost at eye level.
He told me that he would be late coming home from work today, and he ran his hands through my knotty hair and kissed me. I smiled and wished him a good day at work. It's hard for me to stay angry for a long time, and here, sleep had dissolved most of the uneasy feelings while his tenderness and patience dissolved the remainder.
“I’m glad to see your smiling and happy again, girl,” he told me as he was leaving. “I didn’t like those crocodile tears from last night.”
But those words fuelled my resentment. Last night’s tears were by no means false in any way and I hated that he dismissed them as such. That night had probably been the single most frustrating night I have ever spent with him—where I wanted more than anything to be loved by him, to bask in the happiness that being in love could mean, but simultaneously antagonized by the perception that he had once played with me so carelessly, and the fear that he would continue to do so.
But I didn’t want to cause a fuss before work and ruin his entire day, so I kissed him and waved goodbye as he walked through the door.
The day was long.
I was trapped in the house by my own misery, which grew conveniently alongside the perfect scapegoat of a snowstorm. The friends I was supposed to see cancelled plans due to the inclement weather, so I stayed inside all day. I felt agitated but with no means to expend my energy other than formulating my reasons for being upset. And when I had thought of all the things I wanted to say to Master, I just wanted him to come home so that we could talk, so that I could get it out of my system and get back to the happy place we should be in now.
Even with his forewarning that he would be late, waiting for him to come home—a usually manageable task—became excruciating.
Then, when he called me and told me to come downstairs, that we were going out, I frustrated that our talk would be postponed. But I figured there was no point in sulking, so I got ready and met him. He had friends in the car, so I put on a smile and made small talk and tried to not let on that I was feeling down.
The minute they were gone though, Master immediately recognized that something was wrong, but when he told me we were going to his parent’s house for a little bit, to avoid negative feelings before the visit, I simply blamed my listlessness on the storm.
I think I was able to put on a good show at his parent’s house. They had guests over that night, so we all chatted. But Master saw an underlying sadness in my eyes and asked me if I was okay, every time there was a free moment.
We left late that night, and the roads were still unploughed and piled high with thick, gray snow. We drove in silence for a while, as I looked out of the window, watching the fog make dim halos of light around the street lights.
“You seem sad,” he said.
“Are you tired?” he asked.
"No," I said flatly.
“Are you starting your period?”
“Did I say something stupid tonight?”
“Should I stop asking right now?”
The drive continued but we did not hold hands as we usually do, since he rightfully needed both his hands on the wheel to navigate the slippery, snow-saturated path.
At a red light, he took my hand and looked at me.
“Are we okay?" He squeezed my hand. "Because this doesn’t feel okay.” There was a plea in his eyes--deeper, more powerful than his words and glazed by a film of tears.
He had said I love you two nights ago, and instead of being elated, I had for the last few days been bogged down with analysis. I should have been happy that he had finally exposed himself to me but I was worried that despite three words he hadn’t really let down his guard at all. I was worried that even after those three words, he still would still hide himself from me in the way that he had before: that he would not trust me enough to tell me his thoughts, and discuss with me his fears.
It was that look, however, that silent appeal that begged for everything be okay, for us to go back to being happy, for me to love him back, that pushed me to talk.
I told him how much it was hurting me to learn that while I was increasingly giving myself up to him, as he reassuring me and encouraging my vulnerablity to him, he had been maintaining his own walls, refusing to budge, refusing to let me in, refusing to share with me. I told him that I wanted him so badly to trust me, to be able to tell me things, for us to be able to make decisions together.
He explained his side a little more: his difficulty in opening up, the necessity for this relationship to have developed slowly in order for him to understand these feelings, and the promise that he was now ready to share more of himself with me.
I sobbed all through the ride...even after he had said all the words I needed to hear and we told each other that we were okay.
“Why are you still crying?” he asked me after time had elapsed and tears were still streaming down my cheeks.
Through staccato breaths, I managed to answer, “I don’t know anymore Master, I’m happy now, but it won’t stop.”
“I think” he said to me, as we pulled into his parking spot, “That you are crying for me, all the tears that I can’t shed.”
I turned to him with a smile. There was still a film of water in his eyes, and I was joyous to see it, for the unformed tears was the token of emotion, of affection, that I had been searching for. He is often steely and composed and calm, but that hint of emotion peeking from the surface gave credence to his words, convinced me that we could indeed be feeling the same feelings for each other.
It was that night, when he told me how much I had come to mean to him and I could see in his eyes and hear in his voice, what he actually meant by the I love you, that I finally let myself feel happy. Happy, and relieved, and comforted, and blessed that I had found him. So happy that I had found this wonderful man, and that he did want me just as much as I wanted him.
That night, I realized that all of the affection and need I had felt prior to this night may not have been love. Or perhaps it was the early stages of love, growing in its preliminary form. I realized that while I had started falling for him a long time ago, the feeling that I had called love was amorphous and ever changing. It didn't matter though, labels were trivial at that point. All that mattered was that on that night, my feelings for him—that baby love, budding inside me—blossomed into a thousand glorious flowers.
Three weeks has passed—how the time flies! Here we are settling into a new routine, or rather, the same routine...but infused with different meaning. Here we are, both nervous in our own ways because we have admitted to ourselves, and each other, and inadvertently to the world, the seriousness of this relationship and all that we hope it becomes.
Fear still exists because we are both pragmatic enough to realize that nothing in life is certain. We are both frightened because we fear that poor circumstances or newly discovered personality flaws will challenge our compatibility, our willingness to be together. However, I think we also both realize that this is a worry that all couples must face when starting a journey together.
I feel ecstatic though because I really do feel like we are journeying together. I feel better knowing how he feels and to know that it is reflected in how I feel. I makes me feel so good, so happy, to have him in my life.