We are just coming out of Beltaine season, so lets talk about those three little words.

I remember with my first boyfriend, he decided to start telling me “I love you” within about a month. Wha?! That was weird. I was 17, very cynical about relationships even then. I thought we’d all be over by the time the school year re-started. I didn’t say “I love you” back, and he got annoyed with me. Once I’d been with him a while, and gotten quite fond of him, I decided MAYBE I loved with him. Then we’d been together a long time, and I think it was kind of assumed that I loved him, because you don’t stay with someone for two years when you don’t, do you?

I remember my mum said once that for a long time with my dad she loved him so much she would have  jumped in front of a car to save him. It was assumed I felt this way about boyfriend number one. I was really thinking “Hells no! Keep that car away from me!”

When I met my latest boyfriend, the whole I Love You thing started pretty quick too. (I know. I’m just incredibly lovable). Crazy quick. But there wasn’t really any dallying around on my side with this one. It was more of a “Seriously?! You’ve only known me three weeks! *thunk* Actually, my god you are awesome, I love you too. Hooray!”

I don’t talk about this with Superman – the less I talk about ex boyfriends the happier I am – or with my mates, as I have a deeply unromantic public persona to keep up. But you lot know I believe in faeries, so you’ve already got a chunk of my vulnerable crazy. I think you can deal with some sop.

What’s always really struck me about the difference between my two big relationships is how different all the love stuff feels/felt. With Superman, it took a short while to actually believe myself (did I mention I am horribly cynical? no-one falls in love that quick, godsdammit) but once I’d thought and said “I love you”, I knew it was true, properly through all layers of my being, like I know I have legs. It’s settled down in the Basic Truths section of my brain along with “I am a lady” and “I have freaky baby toes”.

I always felt a bit uncomfortable with boyfriend no. 1, ashamed, unable to be myself, watching what I said just in case it set him off. He wasn’t a horrible person really, just a crappy boyfriend I ended up being stuck with. It never felt like it was about us, it felt like it was about him. With Superman, it’s just always been incredibly easy and comfortable to be with him. This may be because we are two halves of the same brain – only one is a boy brain, one is a girl brain, and one half is a lot older than the other half. He’s just awesome.

It’s like one relationship felt a bit cloudy, and the other one is in high definition, colours akimbo. One is grey and cold blues, one is orange and red and pink like a bollywood film. One is so un-authentic it’s anti-authentic, the other the definition of authenticity.

I think a huge part of why this is, other than the same-brain thing and Superman-is awesome thing, is because before I met Superman and after boyfriend no. 1 I was mostly single for ages and did whatever the hell I wanted to do, joined the classes I wanted, ate whatever I wanted, read what I wanted, worked when I wanted, fancied whoever I wanted. After being a housewife to boyfriend no. 1 (gah!) it was so so awesome to feel finally free. I think being on my own was so important to re-forming my own identity and getting in touch with what I wanted. Hate cooking? That’s cool. We shall have cereal for dinner. Love witchcraft? I will go to the beach and do a ritual at midnight. Work best at night? I’ll wake up at 4pm and work through to dawn then.

I could also look back and see what I wanted from a relationship. I have a big respect for me now and what I will and won’t accept in a relationship, and that’s awesome. I don’t think I would have had that if I hadn’t had that amazing year of super independence, or that awful first boyfriend to show me exactly what I didn’t want.