When is it appropriate to the utter the words “I love you” (ILU). What is the criteria? Its become commonplace to say ILU when you’re in a romantic relationship with another, when you say goodbye to your parents on the phone, or when your snuggling up with your pooch. What are you really saying to this receiver of love?
A friend sent me this blog post about when to say ILU. While mostly entertaining, one point in this article is especially interesting.
Being overcome by suddenly stronger feelings of love, perhaps because of a Proustian reminder.
Perhaps, this feeling of love comes from a reminder like Marcel Proust had described, but that means that a memory of love had to be somewhere in the depths of the brain prior to voicing ILU. The intriguing word is “overcome.” Being overcome is an effect from a cause. The cause of what? Love? Intimacy? Appreciation? Gratitude?
Not to belabor the point, but in what context do we use ILU?
Bob is a remarkable guy. He has just been so supportive of me whenever I’ve been through a hard time in my life. He always has a listening ear and an open heart. He is also extremely generous. We can go out to a bar and start singing a song and then all of a sudden the rest of the bar is singing along with us. Bob has a great knack for people, obviously. Bob has incredible amounts of tenacity and inspires me to push myself harder. Bob is very present and makes you feel like the only person in the world when talking with him. He is a confidant of the best kind, and a wonderful friend.
Now, that’s a pretty good write up about a person. It would be easy and common to “love” Bob. A friend of Bob’s could say, “Bob, ‘I love you’” or “My friend, Bob? I love him!” What does that tell Bob? Does the friend love Bob for the way he smells? The way he ties his shoes? His preference in Philz Coffee over Four Barrel? Bob is pretty clueless. What if Bob was told exactly the way his friend felt about him? That might seem like a lot in one sitting, but say Bob offered up his time to take his carless friend to run a few errands around town? Bob is being generous with his time and vehicle. Instead of, “Thanks Bob, I love you, bud,” maybe he could say, “Bob, I appreciate how generous you are. It’s really wonderful.”
This is hard. Really hard. Most individuals are uncomfortable giving this type of direct feedback and receiving it, as well. It’s unsettling to hear things about oneself and extremely vulnerable telling others just how you feel about them. Perhaps, though, we can use these words instead of ILU. Overtime, how great would it feel to have obtained such an intimacy with people that you can speak so directly to them?
Why are these words so prominent? Why do they hold so much power over people that have any sense of a heartbeat? Would giving or receiving direct feedback about the context of “love” be more or less powerful than uttering ILU?
As always, comment below or email me privately with your thoughts.