May 11, 2021

“I Like You” is the New “I Love You.”

There was a time in my life when the highest compliment I could extend to another was comprised of three little words.

Time and perspective have shifted which three words they are.

I always tell friends how much I love my children, Dylan and Eliza. They are the air that I breathe.

What’s really magical is that I like them. If I met either one of them today for the first time, I would want to get to know them. I would be intrigued by their intellect, infatuated with their wit, and drawn to their integrity. Their God-given good looks would be the cherry on top.

There are people in my life who are grandfathered into those three little words: “I love you.” I have family members who I genuinely love but don’t actually like all that much. Like seems to be a choice that you make; love seems like a choice that was made for you. I wouldn’t seek them out at a cocktail party. Quite honestly, at this stage of my life, I don’t do much to cultivate the relationship because there’s no spark, no connection. I’m big into chemistry now, though I struggled with it in high school.

When my husband forgets his manners, I tell him, “You’re lucky I love you because I don’t like you a whole lot right now.” He fully understands the distinction. I would use like to describe a person who is engaging—someone who sparks my curiosity.

I’ve seen couples fall out of like and still love one another. You can love your spouse the way you love a brother or a sister. It’s a slippery slope; that’s all I’ll say on that subject. The word flat comes to mind. Passion is a critical ingredient in my marriage; that can be a source of great attraction in all ways, and it can turn in on you.

Like feels more like an action verb to me. Love (noun) without like (verb) feels a bit dull and monotone. I want to be in love with the someone I like most of all. I’m lucky because I am. Actually, luck has nothing to do with it; I have really worked that part of our marriage.

When I’m feeling disconnected, I look for reasons to like him. There are relationships that start as a friendship caught on fire. Ours started as fire that aged into a divine friendship. We have ebbed and flowed over our 35 years together. Anyone who tells you they haven’t is lying. Happily, our love is in full bloom.

It’s trendy to say you love yourself. What are the current buzz words? There’s self-love, self-care, yet I don’t hear much about self-like—”the act of learning to like yourself because, sometimes, the act of loving yourself can feel daunting.” (etlyoga.and.therapy)

Do you like who you are? Would you be attracted to someone like you? What are the qualities you like about yourself? What qualities do you think people like in you? The more I like myself, the sassier I become and when I don’t like myself, I am entirely out of sorts. 

I thoroughly enjoy my own company. I have no issue with taking myself out to dinner #tablefor1. I have outgrown obligatory lunch dates with people who feel stale. I like my bread and my friends to be fresh. I have a zero tolerance policy on dinner dates for the sake of social obligation. Me time (noun) is the most valuable currency I have. When I spend it, I consider what I will receive in return. I like who I am enough not to sacrifice myself in order to make someone else feel better.

I am a kind person. I don’t know anyone who would disagree. Over the years, I have become more discriminating about who I will and will not share my likeable energy with. Spending time with people who don’t feel good is like drinking poison for me. It’s a toxic exchange I have no desire to be a part of. I leave feeling drained, like someone sucked the energy out of me. An energy vampire is a made-up creature said to feed off the life force of other living creatures.

I have enough wonderful people in my life. I’ll take a pass.

One of my favorite mantras is “Friends are the family we choose for ourselves.” Long ago, I drew up a contract with myself which gives me permission to rank like over love under special circumstances. I have a small family and have cultivated a circle of friends that is invaluable to me.

If you are the salt of the earth or the other half of my heart, I’m not the slightest bit concerned about whether we share blood. I am, however, particular about whether your intentions are pure and if you are generous of spirit. I know what I bring to the table, so I don’t mind eating alone.

I am a passionate gardener. The lessons I have learned while up to my elbows in dirt have made me flourish. Watching flowers unfold and shrivel up in time has taught me that some things bring us joy and those very same things may die at some point. That’s how nature works.

I will not give weeds the opportunity to choke out the rest of my garden. I have cultivated patience in myself from sitting and watching the flowers that want to bloom. I have cared for them consistently. When I eventually see buds and ultimately blossoms, it still takes my breath away. I tend to their needs and allow Mother Nature to handle the rest.

Are we still talking about my garden? Yes, and no. I encourage everyone I know to take inventory of the flowers in their garden.

Do you have any weeds in your life that need to be pulled? Are your existing relationships a habit or a choice? Do you walk away from time together liking yourself more? Or less? Do they grow on you or off of you?

According to Wikipedia, “Heliotropic flowers close their petals at night but open in the morning light and then follow the sun as the day progresses.”

I have friends that feel like sunshine and make me want to open my petals in the morning light. What a delightful image that conjures.

The ultimate compliment in my world is I like you. It is extra sweet when offered in conjunction with I love you, yet stands alone in friendship. Close your eyes and take a moment to think about the people you genuinely like; now notice if the corners of your mouth have turned up without you even realizing it.

If you want to wow me, tell me you like the way I make you feel or you like the energy I bring into a room. If you want to engage me, tell me about what gets you out of bed in the morning. If you want to intrigue me, tell me about your dreams. If you want to wow me, tell me about how you want to change the world.

If you want me to like you, be who you are.


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