December 29, 2015

Has “I Love You” Lost its Meaning?

couple, love, kiss, black and white

“Be Impeccable with your Word: Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the Word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others.Use the power of your Word in the direction of truth and love.”  ~ Don Miguel Ruiz  (The Four Agreements)


It was one of our worst arguments.

My partner at that time and I had been yelling at each other for what seemed like days. Doors had been slammed, ridiculous strands of emotionally charged text messages had been exchanged, and I was in a place of feeling extremely hurt.

As was typical for us, there had been no apologies or resolution of this epic conflict, yet he sat down next to me at my dining room table and said, “I love you.”

No…no, you don’t, I thought—and maybe even said out loud.

If this is love, then I don’t want it.

I perceived this as a late fourth-quarter hail-Mary pass when us as a team were down by more than any touchdown at this point could render success.

Of course, we never have the right to tell anyone else how they feel or make assumptions about their experiences at all. But our cycles and patterns of interaction toggled back and forth between somewhat of a cold war of avoidance and tumultuous arguments—it was hard to believe that he loved me.

I could not see it, nor could I feel it.

We have perceptions based on the energy and actions of others, but his uttering these words after what happened both infuriated and saddened me at that time more than the conflict at hand.

How dare you use those words as a band-aid, I remember thinking.

The “I love you” statement holds the most amazing combination of words that we have available to us. It is an opportunity to verbally express a realized feeling of what is most beautiful in this world. But so often these words are used in ways that are not authentic, because we are not aligned with them.

I am not one who believes that fear is the opposite of love. I believe that every emotion, thought and action stems from either fear or love, but love is in it’s own category. Fear though, and all of the emotions that stem from this—insecurity, anger, jealousy, and envy, is the only thing that can bury and close us off to experiencing love that is always there.

We have both an opportunity, and a responsibility to “be impeccable with our word.” This means, never saying anything that we do not mean, anything that is not true, and in this case to not say “I love you” as a means toward expectation toward the future or even of an expression of what we had realized in the past.

Our words hold power, but our minds attach to them too much emotion or expectation, or they can feel as if they are verbal remnants or echoes of that which was maybe genuinely felt during an earlier time .

Sometimes we tell someone that we love them at a certain point in a relationship. We say this for many reasons and too often than not it can carry with it a lot of weight. If these words feel heavy to either party, this is likely due to unnecessary baggage of expectation that we can sometimes attach to this expression.

After people have been in a relationship for a long time—be it a romantic partnership or even that with family, the “I love you” can lose all sense of warmth and meaning. They can become a default manner of ending phone calls, used at times in lieu of apologies, or uttered in a robotic sense in the same meaningless way that we sometimes ask “How are you?” when we run into an acquaintance on the street.

It is rare to have someone actually say this for what it is really meant to be—an expression and acknowledgment of love and connection in that moment. 

These words are not an apology. They are not pity. They are not a chance to fix someone that we may feel needs fixing. They are not something that is said to ease the pain of a break-up, nor to seal the deal on exclusivity and/or commitment in a romantic relationship.

The words can be an expression and communication of what our heart is feeling–nothing more, nothing less.

Other times, when this is said in a genuine way, we can sometimes resist our receiving of them due to our fears, or maybe a false belief that we are not worthy of love.

I do now believe that my partner who said this to me did love me on some level, but I do not feel that neither of us allowed ourselves to fully realize (make real) this in that particular relationship.

Ours was a codependent relationship by all definition. We were both relying on each other for the fulfillment of aspects of ourselves that we should have been developing and maintaining on our own. We leaned on each other for validations and we each flipped roles from being angry to being somewhat of a victim on a regular basis.

The healthy connection where we were both on the same level, loving and accepting each other for all that we really were underneath all of the layers, was something that we never found before the relationship had to end.

We cannot experience and be in alignment with love for another if we are not first in alignment with it within and for ourselves. It is from this place, always in the present moment, that our words can be an expression of what our hearts feel.

I am accountable for my role in that relationship.

I judged him for what I perceived as him not being true to his word, when I was doing the same thing, in my own way. I was acting in ways and speaking in ways that were not true, not loving to myself, nor were they loving to him. I was too scared to feel real love him, much less speak of it and so was he, for his own reasons—and so things spiraled.

We are all here but for such a brief time. Joy and love are here, every single moment, if we can just align with it. If we can manage to just calm down, and first love ourselves enough to be responsible not only for our emotions, but our thoughts and perceptions which lead to our words, we can do, feel and connect in ways that are so unbelievably beautiful.

The “I love you” is always true.

Love is always true, but we can choose to be aligned with this love and not in a place of ego, self-protection, and defensiveness in any of it’s myriad forms, in order to for it to be spoken from a state of authenticity.

We all deserve to feel, speak and hear words of love that only reflect the true essence of love in that moment—again, nothing more, but absolutely nothing less.



Author: Katie Vessel 

Editor: Renée Picard

Image: Nadia Morgan/Flickr 

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