The first time I let a woman know I loved her, she walked right out of my life. Okay, okay, I didn’t say “I love you” exactly. But the setting couldn’t have been more romantic—the two of us basking in the afterglow of midmorning sex, breathless and blissful. We locked eyes and held each other for what seemed like forever. And that’s when I realized how much she meant to me. My phone was ringing in the background as I finally found the courage to brush back her hair and whisper three special words that would convey my feelings.
“Wanna get that?”
But the only thing she got was her clothes and the hell out of there.
What my beloved didn’t understand was that for me, the ringing phone didn’t interrupt the lovey-dovey moment, it defined the moment—the perfect opportunity to show her I wanted to share every part of my life with her. You see, men are stoic believers that actions speak louder than words. It’s why we play basketball rather than chat with friends, give flowers instead of uttering “I’m sorry’s,” and yes, send smoke signals instead of simply saying the L word. The problem: Those cryptic I’m-crazy-about-you messages (like letting you answer the phone to prove you have access to every private part of our lives) aren’t easily understood by you word-oriented women.
So I bribed my braver friends to break the male code of silence and fill you in on the unmistakable signs a guy’s gaga for you. If he does any of the following, he’s pretty much saying, you know, that phrase.
You catch him staring at your eyes.
The eyes are more than just windows to a man’s soul, they can also be a tattletale to what’s welling in his heart. Men always ogle the objects they desire—it’s the reason you’re always busting us cleavage peeping. So consider: With all that eye candy out there, if it’s you he’s staring at, his affection runs deep. There are two types of I-love-you looks. There’s the secret stare (you’ll have to catch him in the act). “Watching my girlfriend at a party allows me a private moment when I can pinch myself and wonder how I deserve this amazing person in my life—a perspective I can’t get when she’s right there in front of me,” says Patrick, 30.
Then there’s the steady gaze. Guys are guarded when it comes to showing emotion. When they lock eyes for a full-tilt, unabashed stare, they’re lowering their shield to let you in. “I’d never hold that sort of eye contact with anyone else, but an intense gaze with my girlfriend reflects how comforted and captivated I am by her,” says Chip, 29.
He stocks his kitchen with stuff you like.
Discovering that his kitchen is loaded with biscotti, cappuccino, and other feminine edibles (that would only pass his lips at gun point) shows you’re lingering on his mind on the most unexpected, unromantic places—like the produce aisle on a solo shopping trip. “One day I checked out my shopping cart and saw all the bags of baby carrots and the bottles of diet soda meant for my girlfriend,” says Patrick. “It struck me that it had become second nature for me to consider what would make her happy, and that’s when I knew I was in love.”
Furthermore, stocking up means he’s gone public with your place in his pad. You see, men like to maintain at least the image of being detached for as long as possible. So leaving unmistakable evidence in our home that there’s a woman present in our life is a bright red flag that you’re the one.
He talks about where he wants to live in three years.
Telling you he plans to relocate to the States one day may seem like a neon warning not to get any long-term ideas because your man’s getting set to leave you in the dust. However, it might also be his wily way of letting you know that he wants you in his future. “Every time I tell my girlfriend where I see ‘me’ down the road, I’m really trying to gauge whether she sees herself there with me,” says Jon, 26. So how do you know when a guy’s just bragging about his grand game plan and when he’s quietly declaring his love? It’s all in the way he talks. If he tells you he wants to move to Boracay, be a beach bum, and ogle the local girls, no dice. If he mentions that he sees himself eventually settling in Makati, then immediately asks if you could ever envision yourself living there, he’s emitting serious long-term relationship rays.
He wears the sweater you gave him all the time.
Trusting you behind the wheel of his wardrobe is something no man does readily. Not that guys are all that picky about their appearance, it’s just that we pride ourselves on being, well, ourselves. “Blame it on the inflated male ego, but to permit any tampering with our identity, even if it’s for the better, is considered a sign of weakness,” explains Peter, 29. consequently, every time a guy does don some item he obviously didn’t pick out for himself, he’s showing that he’s letting you take control and do a little remodeling. It’s a bold statement, one that guarantees he’ll encounter a certain amount of abuse from his peers. Translation: He’s willing to endure his pals’ ridicule to make you happy.
He stands right next to you in public.
Where he stands when you’re out together says a lot about where you stand in his life. Consider this key truth: Call us dogs for it, but guys are hardwired to check out women. “It’s second nature for men to scan every room they enter for possible trade-ups if he’s still in the market for Ms. Perfect,” says Robert, 31. That’s why when a man’s still uncertain about his feelings, he’ll either trail several feet behind you or get out in front of you and lead the path—two safety positions that keep his wandering eyes hidden. “But if he’s in love, he’ll squelch this most basic male instinct,” says Chad, 28. sliding up shoulder-to-shoulder is his way of showing his commitment by keeping his eyes right where you can see them. Plus, sticking close puts him in range of being touched in public by you, and that limits his ability to go after a sexy chick he may spy. “Being side by side puts my girlfriend within lips’ reach, making it easy for her to whisper in my ear or lean in for a surprise quick kiss,” says Ryan, 27. “It’s my way of telling other women I’m taken.”
He doesn’t flinch if you pick up his phone.
Men never know what potentially image-damaging force might be lurking on the other end of their phone line—from ex-girlfriends looking for a last hurrah to an overly inquisitive mom. If we let you answer that jingling time bomb, it means there’s absolutely nothing about us we want to keep concealed from you. “Men aren’t big on sharing. So when a guy lets you grab the phone—possibly making you privy to personal information you could use to blackmail him for the rest of his life—it means he’s planning on staying with you for a very long time,” says Richard, 29.
But more than just sharing his secrets, a guy handing you the rights to his receiver is essentially the same as giving you the key to his kingdom. “A guy’s phone is the last thing left in the relationship that’s truly his own,” says Jeremy, 26. “Giving up that remaining piece of autonomy is something I only do with someone I love.”