Value in “I love you?”

Submitted by freedom on
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Why do (some) humans place so much value in the words “I love you?” It seems actions will indicate whether a person is loving towards you sometimes, all the time, something else. No matter what a person says, actions will speak while words can mislead. Loving deeds remain loving. Loving words might not. Granted the words capture a moment and a corresponding emotional state in each person. Is it that actions speak implicitly rather than the explicit “I love you?” Actions are explicit too, though perhaps not as exclusive. Due to finite time we can only do so much for so many and the people we love tend to take priority.

When one thinks of the many times folks who’ve said “I love you” have fallen out of love or somehow wound up hurting the person they love, it seems something is wrong with the value attribution, even without getting too cynical about it. Why bother attributing such importance to these love utterances? Is it media generated or passed down through parental use of these words or something innate? Do all cultures share the value placed on these words? Do we need so much verbal love/affection or is that too a modern/western phenomenon? I recognize that people have different love languages and so for some “I love you” may be more important. Even the love languages model might be distorted by the western world. Folks such as Osho have some less mainstream views on “I love you.”

Does it matter whether the recipient feels the love is genuine? If so, the words themselves seem to have limited value with the worth established more by the mirroring recipient and we’re left with “I love you” as an exchange where one wants reassuring mirroring. Perhaps that want/need for reassurance is why there such importance to these words.

For some others’ thoughts:

Is it because

the withholding of this sentiment clearly says "conditional love?" "You're on probation, and I'm still deciding how much I like you." Not a safe space for vulnerability and  intimacy.

I agree that in some portions

I agree that in some portions of society that is the default thinking, but that's not necessarily true. There are people that will never say "I love you," yet love a person unconditionally for their entire lives. Saying "I love you" alone doesn't inherently make a safe space. "I love you" can also be used in manipulative manners or too freely to have much meaning.

Alternatively, there's perhaps no such thing as conditional or unconditional love. That's another discussion.

If it's just the message

If it's just the message behind the words, what value do the unique words have? Couldn't the same message be conveyed in other ways?

There probably is some spectrum of conditionality. However, it may be in the receiver's mind frame, not the givers. People claim pets love them unconditionally. How can we know if the pet doesn't say so. Humans also do everything for the infantilized pet. Of course, it will love back as it needs to eat. I'm not saying pets don't love, just that they may not love unconditionally. If it's the human projecting unconditional love from the pet, then it's also perhaps the receiver of "I love you" projecting unconditional love. Perhaps it's up to individuals to decide they can be loved unconditionally.

"I love you" seems to tie into some forever thinking which is where people like Osho take issue with it, suggesting it means "I possess you." Maybe we should be content with love in the moment regardless of what is said or not said. Vulnerability is just that without regard to safety.

I agree that the message

could be delivered other ways, but what matters is whether the receiver can pick up those signals. There's some book about different "love languages," and if your partner speaks a language in which your chosen message isn't registering, then you have a problem. It seems like if you get this language difference on the table, you can each learn to speak each other's "I love you" language, or at least learn to make jokes about your inability to.

Making it a matter of "principle" or "intellectual debate" somehow strikes me as rather chilling. But maybe that's due to my "language of love." Wink

We've been adopted by a neighbor's cat...who is on my desk as I type this. He could eat just fine at their house, but he prefers to hang with us. (They're fine with it.) We call him "The Love Sack" because he's so affectionate. It seems there's more than food going on. In fact we picked out expensive quality food for him and he would barely eat it. Still hung out with us.

"I love you" may sound like "I possess you" to you, but maybe it's worth asking why. Osho never got the relationship piece, even though he got the sex piece. Is this one reason scarcity obviously still haunted his thinking? Why else all the Rolls Royces?


Kitty Coolidge effect?

Kitty Coolidge effect?

Intellectualism is perhaps chilling by its nature. Without it what would we know about the world? We'd still think some idol was making crops grow (suppose we could have missed it in our science). The love languages model might require five questions with one for each language to cover variations of "I love you."

What if one never knows they are loved because love doesn't register, but otherwise gets affection and bonding? Wouldn't the non-intellectual senses still detect love through the bonding? Is bonding even possible without sensing love?

One would hope

genuine feelings would be detected, but the theory goes that some people need to hear their "language" to register.

Personally, as you know, I think inner balance has a lot to do with whether such mole hills as "wrong language" get blown up into mountains or not. The best way to keep everyone on the same page, in my experience, is careful management of sexual energy.

You knew I'd say that. ROFL

If you want to run your love life like a science experiment, let us know how that works out for you.

Interesting topic. I've

Interesting topic. I've thought about this too. My take is that we should feel free to say this to each other if it's to describe an overflowing of loving feeling, to give voice to that feeling. If that's where it's coming from, it's nice to hear in addition to the hug, kiss, squeeze or whatever, especially with eye contact. I also think (and I said this to my wife), that we should strive not to return the words at that moment lest it become a question rather than a statement. This is surprisingly hard to do given our societal conditioning.

Yes, the questioning aspect

Yes, the questioning aspect is often commented on. As is the diametric nature of love and hate with the suggests that "I love you" now can readily turn to "I hate you" later. If the objective is a middle way, "I love you" might be less than ideal.