I love you. These three tiny words are used to sum up how much we care and appreciate another person.
Recently, I spoke with a friend who told me the importance of this phrase for her. She explained the way she had used it in the past. She explained the way she had abused it. She explained the intention she now had behind each word and the power that it held for her and the person she loved.
I love you.
If you stop to think about it, it’s a beautiful thought. The idea that expressing the full magnitude of your feelings towards someone else is just not possible. There aren’t enough gestures in the world or words in the dictionary to convey the depth of your attachment. And so, we shorten our sentiments into this sweet little phrase.
Most people don’t use the words lightly. They won’t just say it to anyone. They’ll save it for a partner, a child, a parent, a sibling or a dear friend. Maybe someone they’ve connected with on a deeper level. Someone from church, a volunteer program or a rally of common values.
Whenever and whoever we choose to say it to, when we say it purposefully, it is felt. It is received. The person hears these words and softens inside.
Did you ever have a time in your life where you kept these words close to your heart? You wanted to tell someone you loved them but you were scared? You didn’t want to be rejected. You didn’t want to be vulnerable. You didn’t want to give away your power to someone else. So you whispered the words to yourself when you thought of them. And you thought of them constantly. They seemed to be the reason the sun rose every day and the sun set each night. The rhythm of your life is tied to this person you love and long to be loved by.
It’s not always easy to admit when we care and appreciate another human being in this way. It’s not easy to admit we’ve gotten used to them. We want them to hang around a while. We want them to share more moments with us. We want to love them. We want them to love us.
We have built up these three little words to mean so much. We hold onto them so tightly and when we are bursting at the seams, we simply can’t keep it in anymore. Maybe they said it first, maybe you did, but it is out. I love you! It feels like pure joy in your heart.
For weeks, months, even years, it may remain a beautifully purposeful phrase that you use.
But for a lot of us, we use it and reuse it. Instead of the whispered words on a shared pillow in the dark of night, it becomes a huff, paired with a tug at the sheets; code for “you’re hogging the warmth again”. It becomes something we say out of habit. Maybe first thing in the morning or when you say goodbye before heading off to work. You squeeze it into the end of a phone call. You speak it in a rhythm that has become detached to the words themselves.
You no longer have the same magnitude of thoughts and emotions attached. And it’s not that you don’t have these thoughts or emotions for the person anymore, you just don’t attach it to the words which have become habit.
When my friend tells her partner that she loves them, she stops, she breathes, she emphasises her first word I, she pauses again, love you. She admits that sometimes in the flurry of life, she begins to say “I love y…”. She stops herself. She takes a breath. She starts again. I. Love. You.
When you say anything with intention, it means something. People know it means something. They stop and listen. They take it in. I practice intention a lot and yet I am blown away at the power that my friend has created with her intention. She has brought back the meaning to the phrase I love you. She has brought back the magnitude of every gesture and every word that was never enough to express the pure joy of another human being.
To bring intention into your words, your relationships, your life, is one of the most powerful things that you have control over.
So please, use intention and use it wisely. The next time you tell someone you love them, make sure you really tell them. If you do it right, you won’t have to explain. They’ll know.