I love you. A declaration of loyalty, affection, and trust; the most powerful words in the world. Depending on yourself and the people around you, you may hear this statement every day, or almost never.
image credit: Ryan Kramer
I have never sincerely told anyone I love them, in person. It’s not that I’m not able to love, because I am and I do. But I place so much value on ‘I love you’, that the confession of it is most precious thing I can offer anyone. The love I have for others is a closely guarded, secretive part of me that I’m not comfortable with exposing (although I am writing a blog post about it, so I suppose it’s not that bad). I am not an outrageously affectionate person. If I like you, it’ll come across subtly, when I really listen to what you have to say, when I smile more to make you feel at ease, when I make inside jokes and share funny stories with you. You won’t find me offering hugs or kisses frequently. And you definitely won’t hear me say, “I love you.”
I recently asked a group of friends how hard it was for them to tell someone they loved them. Most people said it was extremely difficult. Why is saying “I love you” so hard? I think it’s because we are afraid of becoming too intimate with other people. Admitting love is giving someone else power over you. Admitting love is a commitment, an official announcement of your faithfulness and affection. Admitting love is leaving your hiding place before knowing the coast is clear, leaving you vulnerable. Admitting love exposes truths and emotions that changes relationships forever.
image source: https://pixabay.com/en/heart-castle-love-padlock-fence-268151/
Perhaps my inability to say it is also due to familial influences. In my entire life, I can only think of one instance where the phrase was used in a 100% sincere context. For my eleventh birthday, my mom got me a book, and wrote a message inside the cover.
I am so proud of you. Happy birthday. I love you. -Mom
This was quite shocking, and not because my mother doesn’t love me, because I know she does. But in my family, we show love through actions, not words. My mother, an immigrant from China, has sacrificed so much for me. She left family, friends, and a job behind for a new country with a language barrier and uncertainty, so that her children would have better lives. Her devotion to and care for our family is the token of her love, and it is more than enough. Still, I can’t help but wish sometimes that it was easier to say ‘I love you’. And I have to admit, when I read this message, it was so jarring that I started crying.
Not being able to tell your loved ones how you feel is a scary impediment. You can never be sure if the people you care about know how much you care. What if something happens to your loved ones before you get to tell them you love them?
Expressive lovers don’t have to worry about this. They seem to have no problem at all with saying “I love you”. They go about their lives with the knowledge that people they care about know that they are loved. Nothing is left unsaid. Hugs, kisses, and other forms of physical closeness is abundant. Lots of people say “I love you” to their parents every time they get off the phone or leave the house. Sometimes people carelessly fling the phrase around to guilt trip and emotionally bribe others. Everyday in the hallways of my school, friends embrace and couples kiss, and people declare their love for each other. It’s nothing extraordinary- expressive lovers are happy in the loudness of their love.
On the other side of things, being a conservative lover is not all bad. We are less likely to get hurt, or waste our time on people we don’t really care about. It’s easier for us to tell between real love and simple infatuation. And just as a well-kept secret is juicier when told, a closely guarded heart is valuable to those granted access to it. Since we place so much weight on love, if we find the courage to confess it, you can bet that we’re telling the truth.
Do me a favour after reading this. Go and tell someone that you love them. But if you can’t do it, just cannot find it in yourself to be able to say it, that’s ok too. Just as there are thrill seekers vs. cautious homebodies, there are expressive vs. reserved lovers. Everybody has had different experiences and influences, but honestly, it doesn’t matter much in the end. Bottom line: love is love is love.
image source: https://pixabay.com/en/psychology-psyche-love-compassion-789612/
If you stuck through that whole thing, you’re a fabulous unicorn. Gift of the week is a free invisible sleeve of Oreos, and if you don’t like Oreos, then you get chocolate chip oatmeal cookies instead!
Weekly bribe- I mean, reward- aside, if you were able to relate to this blog post, I grant you congratulations and condolences. Know that you are not alone in this struggle, and that it doesn’t mean anything is wrong with you. There are billions of ways in which humans on this planet are different from each other, and the ability to say those three words is just another one. And remember, if you express how much you care through what you do and not what you say, that is perfectly fine. Actions speak louder than words.
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Thank you so much for reading!