I Love You Doesn’t Mean Anything

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)

  • Verbal
  • Physical
  • Acts of Service
  • Gifts
  • Affirmations

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.

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7 Responses to I Love You Doesn’t Mean Anything

  1. Lisa says:

    Aww… great post, CJ.

    Love you. Mean it.


    • cjromb says:

      There’s an interesting conversation going on on Facebook about this post too. Some good things to think about!

  2. I LOVE THIS! 😉 And I completely agree….with ALL of it. In my current relationship, I love you is a gift that is given only when the feeling strikes one of us. In all of my past relationships, it has been a way to say, “Goodbye.” Guess which has been the most fulfilling?

    As far as the timeline thing goes…I have always gotten an icky feeling when someone I’ve been dating for a short time tells me that they love me. I have just always thought that they must not mean love in the same way I mean love when I finally come around to saying it. I have also always thought that it must mean that they’ve never experienced REAL and TRUE love if they think they can really love someone that they’ve known for a matter of weeks or a couple of months.

    To me, REAL love is what comes after you’ve seen someone at their worst, and you still absolutely adore them.

    • cjromb says:

      Absolutely, Michelle!!! Spot on. 🙂 I want a relationship that, when I’m melting down, my partner can reach over and hug me in the midst of it all, and still be able to say “It’s Ok…I Love You.” That’s when you know it’s for real.

  3. Gail Hite Cua says:

    Well alot of thoughts come to my mind…….differing thoughts, thoughts of love and loss and of how short our time here on earth is. Everytime I told my baby bro Victor, “I love you”, I meant it and I said it every time we spoke. He died in 2001 and I only wish I had said it more often. I miss him.
    My parents were not the “I love you” type…do I miss that I was never told that as a child? Hell yes….. When I got older, I started ending family phone calls with it and everyone took the queue and we all do it now.. But Mom and Dad are both dead now….I often wonder how much they did love me when I was a child…they were so embroiled in financial issues, arguing, alcohol, abuse and raising 7 kids with no money, I think the love got lost in household hysteria.
    I tell my hubby Daniel, “I love you” every nite at sleepy time and he initiates or returns the sentiment. It is true for each of us.
    Saying “I love you” to someone and meaning it is one of the great luxuries and gifts in life. Only when you are dishonest or flip about it does it become a chore or lose meaning.
    Be grateful for all the I love you’s you send and receive. Be generous with I love you’s. Give them away without regret. Life is way too short to hold back….

  4. Karen Schertz says:

    I totally agree. I have to tell you, Kevin and I had a really great discussion about this, and some of Carmine’s FB comments about it, yesterday. We agreed that we were both guilty of saying it absently at times, and that, because there IS love behind it, we need to work on being more present when we’re talking to each other. We can’t let our preoccupations with everyday crap get in the way of what is really important. Thank you!!

    On the other hand, I grew up in a home where it was said constantly, and there wasn’t real love there (oh, my parents loved us, just not each other). They eventually realized their words were meaningless, and split up. Sadly, both of them died within a few months after that.

    • cjromb says:

      Here’s what was said in my house: “I love you but I hate the things you do.” That’s the ONLY time I Love You was said in my house. I’m thinking today about the impact this had on who I am…it’s huge in many ways, which I didn’t really address in this post….going to think some more on this.

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