Can one word save your relationship?
Probably the most overused word in the English Language. What sucks about that is that English speakers really don’t have a choice.
Many other languages have a plethora of words that effectively describe love’s essence and yet in English there is only one. You can try to use ‘like’ or ‘adore’ or any other polite synonyms but the effect isn’t the same.
What makes it even worse is that if you want to explain to a person that you think that they are an important part of your life for now and you wouldn’t trade your intimacy with them for all of the gold in the world, and you say anything other than love, they won’t believe.
For many people that word is a lot of unnecessary trouble to use. Love in English, has so many other complex connotations when dealing with relationships that you can’t tell if they are talking about ownership or monogamy or a suicide pact.
Let me recommend a lighter approach.
Take pizza for example. No seriously, take pizza.
You love pizza. Everybody loves pizza.
You tell everyone that you meet how much you love pizza, right? And you don’t mince words either- you don’t say how much you adore pizza or how likable pizza is, you fucking love it.
And no one gives you any shit about that.
You’re allowed to use that word in English, with no qualms, about pizza or any other inanimate object.
Now take it a step further.
Some animate objects are fair to love as well, like your family dog or your aquarium full of goldfish- but as soon as you extend that feeling toward humans outside of your blood family, people start getting sketchy and squeamish. Not only do the people who want to express a feeling have a hard time saying that they love a person, it’s just as hard for the person hearing it! Being told that you are loved comes with an obligation for reciprocity and those wicked compound cultural definitions may not be your truth at the moment.
So we all suffer, without fulling expressing ourselves with one another because we can’t say aloud the one word that the language allows us to say to define our feelings.
Pitiful lot, indeed.
What if we could remove the stigma and gravity from the word with some easy to remember rules and see if we can save our stupid relationships, especially ones with the people in our lives that we care about only slightly more than we care about hot and fresh pizza?
Here’s some reminders-
1. SAYING YOU LOVE A PERSON DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER.
If you love a song, no one expects you to love only that one song until you die. You can immediately love the very next song that you hear and no one gives a rat’s ass. Same with your beloved pizza fetish. If you decide to eat a hot dog from a street vendor and love it just as much- everyone gets it completely.
Use this knowledge when you want to use the word love. Remember that love is for the moment and for the past, yet it has no control over the future. The saying that we all know, that if you love something you’ll set it free, should be a reminder to you that the things that you love, you actually don’t try to trap for eternity. So saying it to a person shouldn’t feel like it is a ball and chain around your ankle.
- SAYING I LOVE YOU SHOULDN’T BE A GUILT TRIP.
If I scream that love you after some great sex that is as true as my pizza exclamation was after I finished a slice. I should be able to say that I love you, without feeling badly. We both should be aware that it doesn’t mean that I now want to spend every waking moment with you. Amateur literally means doing it for the love of it. Of course, that’s not an English word, is it? We’re all amateurs, especially in our understanding of ourselves and relationships- we know that as we grow, our feelings and tastes and lifestyles can change and we should be able to love whomever we choose for as long as that love exists without guilt or remorse.
- SAYING I LOVE YOU OUTSIDE OF WEDLOCK WON’T SEND YOU TO HELL EITHER.
If you say that you love a coffee spot, are you now married to that location?
Can you love your coffee place and switch between many different coffee shops because you love their blends without being a coffee cheater?
Of course you can because even writing or reading that sounds ridiculous. The fact that people think that they are more important than coffee is beyond me. So if you are seeing someone and tell them that you love them- they should not interpret that to mean that you belong to them solely, no matter how loyal you are or are not, or how quickly you said it.
In most of human history, kiddos, marriages came about for practical reasons; land, titles, money, etc. and love was not a requirement. I’m not saying that arrangement is preferred over our current set up of rampant romanticism but I am saying that at least then they knew what marriage was- a business. And that business had nothing to do with you loving your partner; you could have as many side chicks as you wanted as long as you did right by your wife and kids. Realize now that you have the ability to select your partners and if you find one that you love, well, tell them. And it if it changes tomorrow, hell, in an hour from now, no one should feel pained by this. This should be a mark of approval, for this moment, the same way it is when you say you love those argyle socks, or that really tiny purse dog.
Religious people tend to have trouble with professing love, probably the most. Telling god you love him or her pretty much means sacrificing love for any other gods and doing nothing other than what your religion of choice has told you to do with your entire life. This makes a lot of people afraid of telling a human, which is made in the image of their god BTW, that they love them, even if they actually do, because they know in their religion it means I’m stuck worshipping only you. They know from church that if you promise you love god and then try to change your mind about that later on, they are hell bound for all eternity. And since most marriages in our country take place in a church, in front of the eyes of a god, it’s super hard even as a non-believer to tell someone that you love them without envisioning that the rest of your life is dedicated to being the personal dishrag of this partner for better or for worse.
This is not love.
So dudes, please feel confident enough to say I love you more about the people in your life that you care about than you do. Say it so much that it loses any kind of seriously grave value, like when you’re talking about your new X-BOX game….make your partner roll their eyes because you tell them that you love them so fucking often that they look for the silence between you saying it and relish your quiet more than anything else.
On the flipside, if you are told that you are loved don’t hold onto it like it’s a golden ticket. All you need to understand is that right now, they think that you are awesome and wanted you to know that- it doesn’t necessarily mean that your sunset years will be spent arm in arm. Relax.
So let him say that he loves you without you freaking the fuck out… and if it is too hard at first just imagine that right after it, he also said, “at this present time” -that way your corny ass doesn’t get confused about the meaning.
Mind you, if all that it takes to make it work between you and another person is to say I love you 57 times a day, give it a go but if I were you, I wouldn’t delete my POF account. This slight one word change in vocabulary will only save your relationship, like the title suggests, if your relationship is stupid. I’m no Schopenhauer, but I’m confident that there are so many more important issues that need to be tackled between long term partners in order to make it work, that even if you physically could not utter the words I love you to anyone because you had become mute, if you and your partner have worked on your finances, your schedules, your future goals and your families, it’s pretty obvious that you are serious and in it for the long haul.
Love is the only word that we have for this overwhelming desire to lavish praise and share how much we adore something in English. So use it often, with relish and in the presence of the kick ass people who are making your life livable, this very second.
Thank you for reading this. Oh and, I love you.
Featured image by Zack George: Flickr.