Posts Tagged ‘love’

Been thinking about that three word phrase, “I love you.”  I know someone who doesn’t use it often, because, as she says, “‘love’ is one of those meta words that can mean different things to different people.”  She prefers to go straight to the detail, the aspect of love that would inspire an ‘I love you,’ and make comment on that. 

It used to bother me.  And honestly, sometimes it still does.  I like being told that I am loved.  I’ve been looking at the whys of that, and what saying ‘I love you’ means to me.  I totally agree that it has become a catch-all phrase, and sometimes I am guilty of using it that way myself.  As I become more linguistically aware, and more intentional about what I want to convey, I have also been examining what I mean when I use the meta phrase.

My truth is that ‘I love you’ has different meanings for me in different contexts.  In order to use that phrase with someone, I need to have a clear, defining conversation about what it means in connection to them.  This is something I am learning to do, and it is something that has made me stop in my tracks on the way to saying ‘I love you.’  I think that’s a good thing.

‘I love you’ is more than just an expression of strong feeling.  It is a promise, a commitment, an acknowledgment, an appreciation, and a sharing of joy.  Beautiful, “here is my truth about you,” joy.  It has no expectation of reciprocation in any form.

For some, it’s a bid for attention, a contract, a binder, and a softener of blows (“I love you, but…)  In other words, it is conditional and part of a power grab.  At its mildest, it’s a statement of insecurity (“Do you love me too?”)  At it’s most damaging, it is coercion, a non-consensual expectation of ways of relating.

I saved this blog entry to drafts because I didn’t have time to finish it, and recently told my lover about it.  It led to a really deep conversation about what we mean with ‘I love you.’  It was caring, and sweet, and unpacked baggage, and was really, really clear. 

One of the interesting things we discovered is how often ‘I love you’ means, ‘I’m grateful’ and ‘thank you.’ May we always be so lucky as to be blessed with appreciation and gratitude for each other first and foremost.  lifetimes


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When children are little, they go through a stage where they can only have one friend.  The best friend.  The only friend.  And they want that friend to have only them.  Inevitably, the one friend makes another friend.  For the original friend, it can be devastating.  They aren’t willing or able to share and anger and hurt ensue.  Later, we learn that there is room for all friends.  That no one person can be the only friend.  It’s not healthy.

As adults, however, society has trained us to believe that this is the way of lovers.  To find one and only one.  That person has to be the sole partner, and if they turn out not to be, if it turns out that we are not the entire reason for their being, anger and hurt ensue.  I could go into the whole patriarchal reasoning behind single partners, having to do with ensuring that the offspring actually belong to the particular male that chose the woman, but that’s really another post.  What I’m more interested in is the delineation we keep between friends and lovers.  When you’re my friend, there’s more than enough love to go around.  I can have lots of friends on many levels.  I can have all sides of me fulfilled by my myriad friendships.  But when it comes to lovers, I have to choose one.  If I find myself physically attracted to another, I must fight it, or be seen as betraying my first lover.  I don’t get it.

It took me awhile to really examine my beliefs around lovers and what fit me most, and then even longer to put it into practice.  It took some experimenting and some tweaking, but I’ve been living my truths for some time now and every day, I feel so good, so happy, so blessed that I can’t believe I am in the societal minority! 

Don’t get me wrong.  I believe in love, commitment, and happily ever after – I just believe that a person can do it with more than one partner at a time.  And right now, I’m living that blessed life, with two fabulous people with whom I share a committment to be together, as friends and as lovers for at least this lifetime.  Today I am grateful.  Today I am blessed.  And today I am humbled by it all.

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