I used to think that saying ‘I love you’ all the time was a bit of an exaggeration. Whenever I heard couples on the phone saying ‘Bye, love you’, I used to think: ‘Why do they have to say that all the time?’ I use to think that the more you said ‘I love you’, the less meaning the words had. A bit like saying ‘Are you alright?’ when you meet someone on the street. It doesn’t mean much, does it? It’s just part of the greeting process.
I don’t know what has changed, but I now think in a totally different way. And the process didn’t go like: ‘Ok, from now on, I’ll say ‘I love you’ every morning when we go separate ways to work, in every text message or call and every night before we go to sleep (with some added ones when we cuddle and the words appear out of nowhere again)’. No, none of this was planned.
One day, I just realised that one day didn’t go by when I didn’t say ‘I love you’ to my partner. I mean, I have had other relationships before and this didn’t happen, so it does bear the question: what has changed? Yes, you thought right. I guess when it feels right, the words just come out without you thinking too much. And yes, I do think I have loved before, but I don’t think it was a love strong enough to say the words every day, if that makes sense.
It doesn’t happen just with couples, though, does it? I, for one, can’t hang up when I talk to my dad before saying ‘I love you’ first. Or to my grandma, or my mum, or my sister. I mean, the people that are very very close to your heart make you just want to say it, because you want them to know exactly how you feel.
When you think about the meaning of the words ‘I love you’, what comes to mind? To me, it means: ‘I’ll be there for you always and I appreciate you in my life, just the way you are’. I think this covers it. But some kids have their own translation of the words, and each and every one makes perfect sense. They show that you don’t necessarily have to say the words to show someone how much you love them.
Here’s what the kids said… (these are from a study where professionals asked kids aged 4 – 8 years-old the question ‘What does love mean?’). Some are quite funny, but they are all so honest…
“When my grandmother got arthritis, she couldn’t bend over and paint her toenails anymore. So my grandfather does it for her all the time, even when his hands got arthritis too. That’s love.” Rebecca- age 8
“Love is when a girl puts on perfume and a boy puts on shaving cologne and they go out and smell each other.” Karl – age 5
“Love is when you go out to eat and give somebody most of your French fries without making them give you any of theirs.” Chrissy – age 6
“Love is what makes you smile when you’re tired.” Terri – age 4
“Love is when my mommy makes coffee for my daddy and she takes a sip before giving it to him, to make sure the taste is OK.” Danny – age 7
“Love is when you kiss all the time. Then when you get tired of kissing, you still want to be together and you talk more. My Mommy and Daddy are like that. They look gross when they kiss.” Emily – age 8
“Love is when Mommy gives Daddy the best piece of chicken.” Elaine-age 5
“Love is when your puppy licks your face even after you left him alone all day.” Mary Ann – age 4
“When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little stars come out of you.” Karen – age 7
“You really shouldn’t say ‘I love you’ unless you mean it. But if you mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget.” Jessica – age 8
And the above is exactly the point of this post. People need to know how we feel. It’s so good to know how other people feel about us, so why do we sometimes hold back? Saying ‘I love you’, in whatever way it comes, is the most selfless thing you can say to someone. Yes, it makes you vulnerable. Yes, it means you wear your heart on your sleeve. But then again, if you don’t let feelings take over often enough, what is the point in living?