Commentary by Terry Anker
What difference does it make? Does anybody care if he asked first? It seems that the order of things is routinely determined, well, by the order of things. Who says what and when makes all the difference in a contract. Who says “I love you” first seems to carry an enormous burden, not because of the import or authenticity of the assertion, but because of the potential risk of laying out one’s position without absolute certainty of the listener’s point-of-view. Yet, the first mover, some think, has an advantage. They get to frame the issue and lay out an agenda to be matched – or refuted.
In the often Byzantine sphere of human social interaction, we can find ourselves mired in the minutia. We hold back our desires and even our needs all for fear of how we might be perceived by others. But if we have a strong need and don’t share it, are we intentionally manipulating and attempting to control the perceptions of the ones that we claim to care the most about? Is it right to hold back, knowing our own feelings, simply to await the optimal time to spring our notion on our would-be target? Relentless directness may be no better. Do we want to live in a world where folks blurt-out every whim and yearning? As a former US President was much maligned for asserting, “it wouldn’t be prudent.”
So how do we balance the admirable quality of forthrightness against the much less seemly trait of being constantly needy? Perhaps, if we took the time to evaluate our own wishes in comparison with those of the others near us, we’d be best positioned to fairly interact. Don’t say “I love you” first or last unless we mean it. And, if we do, why wouldn’t we say with reckless abandon?