3 small words, many big meanings.
The many meanings of “I love you.”
The word ‘love’ takes on many different forms and meanings. There are casual ‘luv ya’ texts to a friend, the love we share between family members, the love we have for a best friend, and then there is the deep, intimate love we feel in a relationship.
The type of love that can be expressed by no other way than the genuine, look-you-in-the-eye: “I love you.”
The words themselves are only words. What gives them meaning are the commitments you make when you say them:
1: I will put “we” before “me”.
To love someone is to link your emotions to theirs. To share in their happiness and to lend them your strength to heal their pain during times of need.
“Me” becomes “We.”
As Robert A. Heinlein eloquently stated:
Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own.
2: I accept ALL of you.
We all know that nobody is perfect (sorry to be the one to break the news…) and building a relationship is one of the times in life that we are most starkly reminded of this.
We are confronted by our own flaws and shortcomings just as we are of our partner’s. We intertwine our lives, habits (good and bad) and routines.
There will inevitably be things that might frustrate or annoy you about the way he or she does things, but at the end of the day a relationship is about accepting someone’s flaws and even finding beauty in them.
Obviously — there are also dealbreakers — things that you refuse to, or shouldn’t, tolerate.
But barring any extremities, love is about acceptance, and accepting someone for who they truly are is at the very core of it all.
3: I will keep my promises through my actions.
Just like ‘I love you’ are only words, so are promises when they are not kept.
People who make promises do not deserve your love and respect — people who keep promises do.
Each partner enters into a relationship with the pledge and responsibility to align their words with their actions, follow through on promises, and be consistent in how they show up for each other as loyally as life allows.
4: I respect you and this relationship.
You cannot love someone you do not respect. When you do love someone, though, your respect for them grows deeper. You respect their thoughts, feelings, and opinions as if they were your own.
You take these things into consideration when making decisions that affect you both. And perhaps most importantly, you never act in ways that betray the trust of those you respect.
5: I trust you.
Another cornerstone of love, is trust.
As the anonymous quote goes:
Love is giving someone the power to destroy you, but trusting them not to.
But the trust that comes along with love is not just pledging your trust in them, it is trusting that they are making the same commitments to you when they say these words back to you.
It is the trust that you can count on them as they can count on you. It is the trust that they will be honest with you, as you are with them.
6: I will never stop putting in effort for you.
Love is a verb. It requires action to truly exist. It requires effort. It requires consistency.
When it comes to love, our generation seems to be setting off fireworks. There is a spectacular display that is quite often beautiful, but unpredictable and ends as quickly as it began. Leaving behind only the memory of the experience.
Long-lasting love is much more like stoking a fire. It starts off with a slow burn, and the momentum builds over time as more pieces continue to ignite.
Then, it burns steadily — as long as it is stoked and maintained.
We cannot expect a fire to continue forever if we walk out of the room, just as we cannot expect a relationship to last if we don’t continue to give it the attention it needs.
7: I am here for you, no matter what.
Being in love and committing to someone is not a fair-weather endeavor.
It is not a part time job. You are either in, or you’re out.
This means standing beside them on the sunny days, but also holding the umbrella over them on the rainy days. Taking care of them when they are sick, comforting in a time of need, taking on life’s challenges together.
Commitment is not a matter of convenience, it is a matter staying true to your promises by any means necessary.
8: I will make you a priority.
Yes, strive for success. Yes, go for that promotion at work. Yes, hustle to take your business to the next level. But be very careful not to destroy your relationship through neglect in the process. Before you were a CEO or a high-powered attorney or a doctor, you were a man or woman who fell in love. You are a human being who is intimately and emotionally connected to another human being.
Even the greatest accomplishments in life lose their meaning when we have lost the person we always wanted to share them with. The key is to find a balance. To build off of your relationship as a foundation. To appreciate your teammate as part of your success as he or she supports you along the way. Letting the scales tip too far in either direction will only lead to disaster.
9: I will also keep myself a priority.
In any happy, healthy relationship, it is important that the two individuals who are together still remain two individuals. Of course your lives are combined into one and you have become ‘us,’ but if either partner begins to lose sight of their hopes, dreams, hobbies, or whatever makes them, them — it can bring about a deep dissatisfaction that could be projected onto the relationship.
This is another reason why self development is so important, as well as personal growth. We need to be sure to not only grow as a couple, but also as individuals alongside each other.
10: I’m in this for the long run.
When making a lifelong commitment to someone, you are committing to being there for them “in sickness and in health.” Sickness — may not be a common cold. It may be a large, life-altering challenge. It may be the sickness of a family member. Maybe, your own sickness. It may not necessarily be a literal health challenge, but perhaps a rough patch in life that tests your commitment and love. You are not pledging to be a fair weather spouse and only be there when times are good. You are pledging to be there — always.
Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength, pleads no excuse of impossibility; for it thinks all things lawful for itself, and all things possible. — Thomas a Kempis