THE BLOG
02/19/2014 12:56 pm ET | Updated Apr 21, 2014

Saying the L Word After Divorce

Every person I've ever talked to who is newly divorced says one or more of these things in reference to dating after divorce: "I will never get married again," or "I'm done with dating, it's just not in the cards for me," or "I am never going to meet someone, ever again" or "I'm too old. Who would want me?"

Every single one of these same people ends up falling madly in love. It's almost comical. I run into someone, and he or she is glowing and happy and you can see this giddy teenager-like love in him or her. It's actually wonderful. I love it, and I enjoy seeing people happy.

BUT, as much as I do think love is love, whether you're in 7th grade or 90 years old, I can attest to the fact that falling in love after divorce is much more complicated. AND, if you say the L word too soon, it could lead to problems.

I totally get that feeling of meeting someone who you seriously have fallen for so hard, you can barely breathe. There's nothing like sitting at work barely able to function because you keep thinking about that kiss, or the way he held your hand, or that look he gave you that made you weak in the knees. And he's YOURS! You know he's feeling the same way.

Not to burst your bubble, but everyone is in love for the first three months of a relationship. So, if you tell someone you love them after a couple weeks, or even a couple months, it might be true, and you really might mean it. Or, you might realize later that you didn't, and that your mind was clouded with lust and infatuation and when you really got to know him or her, you realized it wasn't love. So, isn't it better to wait until the infatuation part of the relationship fades just a little bit?

I remember one time, when I was in my 20s, I was dating a guy for about three months, and one day he said to me, "It's been three months, and I feel like I should be falling in love with you and I'm just not." Ouch. That was a killer. But, I realized later that the fact that he didn't say "I love you" during the infatuation period was a real gift, because the break up might have been more upsetting and confusing had he said it. Of course, maybe he was never infatuated! LOL! Although, I think he was. I actually heard he has never married, and he is probably 45 now. So, maybe it wasn't me. Anyhow, back to the my point -- what's the hurt in waiting to say the L word?

There are some people who get divorced and are unable to say I love you to anyone. Ever again. It's as if they never want to be that vulnerable again. Then there are those who desperately want to get over their divorce and soothe their pain by manufacturing what they think is love in their minds, and saying it to someone (or lots of people) to try to heal or mask or cover up their unhappiness.

Sometimes I think that there's a limit on the number of romantic relationships in a lifetime that you are allowed to say I love you in. Think about it. Do you really want someone saying I love you to you, knowing they've said it to 15 previous significant others in their life?

I thought of a few things you could say to someone instead of "I love you" that are just as good, if not better at times.

1. I trust you.
2. I respect you.
3. I'm proud of you.
4. I'm sorry.
5. You're my best friend.
6. I really enjoy being with you.
7. You're hot.
8. My heart pounds when you're in the room.
9. You bring out the best in me.
10. You make me really happy.

I love you really is nice to hear. It makes you feel secure and safe, like you belong to someone. But, it means nothing if the person's actions don't back it up. On the flip side, a person might not say it, but all the kind gestures and thoughtfulness he or she displays might say it for them.

Maybe you got sick and he or she brought you Nyquil and chicken soup. Or, maybe he sat there and held your hand while you cried about the fight you had with your sister. Or, maybe she got tickets to your favorite play and you realize, "She really listens to me!" I really believe you can see "I love you" in a person's eyes. "The eyes... they never lie."-- that was Al Pacino in Scarface.

In closing, I want to say this. You really can't control who will tell you they love you. What you can control is making sure you love yourself. Because if you do, you'll be a happy person. There's no doubt about it, even if no one in your life is telling you they love you in a romantic way at the present time. Furthermore, if you have self love, love will surely come your way! So, look in the mirror and say the L word to yourself!

Jackie Pilossoph is the author of the blog, Divorced Girl Smiling. She is also the author of her new divorce novel with the same name, as well as her other divorce novel, FREE GIFT WITH PURCHASE. Ms. Pilossoph is a weekly business features reporter and columnist for Sun-Times Media. She lives in Chicago with her two kids. Oh, and she's divorced!