I Love You doesn’t mean anything…When you say it all the time….
I had a brilliant conversation this past week with a life coach and friend of mine, Lisa.
I’ve been thinking for days about the many things we discussed. I started having the insight breakthroughs while were still on the phone, and they haven’t stopped!
I hope you have conversations like this in your life! When I talk to her, it’s always meaningful. Sometimes I have those OMG moments RIGHT while I’m on the phone. Sometimes, they happen later. ALWAYS they happen!
I’ll probably post about some other insights from our conversation, but this particular topic has been in the front seat of my mind, so it’s getting OUT. Maybe it will make you think like it did me…
Amongst all the other things we were talking about, we mentioned the languages of love, and talked a bit about how people express themselves. We didn’t talk about what they each were, and I’m not sure I remember, but I’ll give it a try…
Let’s see (without research)
- Acts of Service
Did I get them? I’m going to resist looking them up.
I express myself using various levels of each of these. My strongest ones, though, by far, are verbal displays of affection (which I think of as “I” or “my” statements – I love, I like), personal affirmations (You have, You do), and physical affection (I don’t need parentheses to explain this one 🙂 ).
So…the big ah-ha…was about one of them: Verbal displays of affection. I regularly say “I Love You”, “I Like You”, “You are my favorite ____”. And I will admit…I struggle with insecurity in situations when that’s not reciprocated in my core personal relationships.
The ah-ha came when I expressed how I was used to hearing “I Love You” in every partnership relationship I’ve been in to date. I was expressing how that made me feel secure and treasured, and how insecure I felt when it was absent….(This wasn’t your average “how’s the weather conversation” my friend and I had. 🙂 I realize why it makes me feel insecure as well, which is valuable to discover about yourself…anyway…
Out of Lisa’s mouth came
“I Love You doesn’t really mean anything when someone says it all the time.”
Oh, MY, she’s TOTALLY RIGHT! Ooo, I didn’t want to HEAR that! How was I going to feel SECURE if I didn’t have that ringing in my ear at the end of every call, or returned every time I felt compelled to say it?!
But then I started to think about this and talk to her about it some more….
I left my 21-year long marriage after I felt like it had irreparably fallen apart, but check this out….Every time we hung up the phone for nearly 21 years, we’d said “I Love You” to each other!!
Here’s how much *I* meant it…can I admit? When I was on the phone with him, because I was so unhappy at the end of our relationship, you would have not-infrequently witnessed my middle finger highly visible on my end of the line at the exact same moment I was saying “I Love You”. (Good thing we didn’t have Face Chat on our iPhones!)
Here’s how much *he* meant it, if I may be so bold as to speak for him….For the past several years I’ve been trying to express this in various ways: “You say you love me, but I don’t FEEL like you do.” After I asked for a divorce, we had a conversation where I inquired what he’d really been feeling…and he admitted he actually HADN’T been feeling “I Love You” anymore.
Ahhhh…I Was Right, but I Was Right isn’t fun to snuggle with on that one.
So, as it turns out, the words, I Love You repeated often, weren’t worth a damn thing. In fact, I suspect they contributed to the frustration of the situation because they were being uttered dishonestly. I wonder now what would have happened if there had been more honesty between us. But that’s another post.
When I think back to other relationships…wait, I’m not in those anymore either. And may I add? I feel like “I Love You” doesn’t usually mean anything when someone says it right away either. I’ve noticed that most of the time how short the relationship is going to be, is almost in direct proportion to how fast someone says “I Love You”. I even wrote a poem sort of about this. http://budurl.com/cjdrawn
Mind you, I’m not saying “I Love You” has to mean “I Will Love You Forever”. We can’t promise we’ll feel some way in the future. What I AM saying is that, at least in my marriage, there were likely plenty of times where I Love You was being said, and wasn’t even really thought about, and possibly not even meant.
What happens with you’re with someone who doesn’t say it? I suppose you could ask them to say “I Love You” more often. But isn’t that all about you? It has nothing to do with them, and asking another to change can be a slippery slope. What about changing you?
What if you could put your insecurities aside and try to look at this another way.
When you’re with someone who DOESN’T so easily say I Love You, when it’s NOT a natural constant part of their Hello/Goodbye repertoire, it stops you in your tracks when they DO say it. They likely make more of a point of telling you, too. You HEAR it; how could you miss it? It ends up having significant impact and meaning; it touches, it alters, it moves you.
And, because it’s a special occasion, and you know it’s not natural, if you’re not busy with your own anxieties and insecurities, maybe you can begin to appreciate the effort they just made. Perhaps you’ll be even more touched by the emotion they must have felt that compelled this verbal expression of affection.
Is this what I want in my new life, the one I’m working so hard to have? Do I want “I Love You” said without meaning, or before someone really CAN mean it? The Secure Me says No, absolutely not. What I’d like to do instead is feel a strong level of appreciation for who someone I Love truly is inside, so when he DOES say “I Love You”, I am deeply honored and touched.
And when someone I’m with doesn’t verbally express this, I want to be secure in his affection because of all the OTHER ways he says it with everything he does, including with the simple gift of his attention and time.
And Lisa? In case YOU didn’t know? I TOTALLY LOVE YOU! 🙂 You are an amazing friend and coach (affirmation), and when I finally meet you, I’m gonna hug the stuffing out of you (physical). If there’s anything I can do to help you, let me know (service), and I’ll have a great bottle of wine ready for us to drink over dinner in October (gift). There, all my bases are covered.
For my friends who’ve read this? I hope this helps you. Cuz I like all of you, and even Love some of you.