I recently led a call for The Good Men Project on the topic of the three words, “I love you.” One man said that love is not just saying the words, but is demonstrated through action. He expressed that love is support and action packaged into deep feelings. I liked his definition.
My life lately has been full of love.
It’s not the traditional, romantic kind that people think about when they ask if you’re in love. No, I’ve had a type of love that includes coming back to myself and back home. I think I’ve mentioned recently that I’ve moved back to Los Angeles. I had been living 120 miles outside of LA, and when that situation stopped working, I decided to return home. In moving back, I opted to live in Mid-City, a central area without pretense. I can get to yoga in 12 minutes and to my friends’ homes in under 30. Heading downtown is easy, and my street is residential.
In other words, I’m happy.
One of my close friends has reiterated many times “I’m so glad to have you back home.” It caught me off-guard at first. Home? I’ve always been here. My heart was here. As I’ve sat with the feeling of being welcomed and appreciated, my care for my friends and my city, a place I’ve lived for 16 years, has revealed a deep sense of love. I’m definitely feeling love for my city and my friends, but that’s not the same as *expressing* that love. It’s not the same as saying the powerful phrase, “I love you.”
The phrase, “I love you,” when broken down, is all about adoration of another. That other may be a lover, a friend, a city. But how can I demonstrate such deep emotion and gratitude? Do I bake cookies? (I do.) Do I spend time with you? (Yes.) Do I give you a massage? (Most of the time.) Do I take you to a park, beach or museum? (For sure.) But what if I need to say the words? Will you hear me? Will you understand the power of these words? What if you’re not there (available) to receive this gift? Should I wait until you’re ready? Or, is it better to say it now just to be sure?
What if saying “I love you” has less to do with the recipient and more to do with the person expressing these deep, powerful words?
So, when is the right time to tell someone about your love?
- Are you saying “I love you” to hear it back?
- Do you want something? (Is it a manipulation?)
- If you don’t hear the same words, will you still love them?
- Can you say it as a pure, unadulterated gift?
- Is this different from other experiences of loving you’ve felt?
- How can you demonstrate it?
Another point: what if you do love someone but the love isn’t romantic? What if you love someone romantically and you’re afraid to say it?
It sounds like this is another essay to explore these topics.