Love, What a Joke
I don’t claim to be any kind of ultimate authority on this issue,
A blog post cannot cover every angle (or even close to it) of love
Even though I believe the things i’m about to say, this does not mean I practice them effectively all the time. Ask my friends, I’m not a very easy person to love.
If there is one single word I would say is probably the most abused, misunderstood, complex, and misused word in the english dictionary I would say it is the word love. Why you say? Let me give you an example.
I love pizza
I love my mom
I love the tv show the office.
Love fits in every one of those sentences but carries entirely different meanings. The word love has been trampled and pulled through the mud in our society. And don’t look at anyone else, because YOU’RE part of the problem (so am I). We need to exam what love means (or can mean) and for the sake of length I’m going to focus on one way the word love is used. In this post I’m focusing on how the words “I love you” are used in a romantic sense (husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend).
Let me be completely blunt right off the bat. Love is not an emotion.. And if you think love is some great feeling you get you are completely misguided. That feeling you get is called many other things, it’s called emotional interest, it’s called being validated by someone because you need validation, and in my opinion it can also be called selfishness (more on that later). Yes, if we reduce love to a feeling we rob it of the weight the word holds. And that is EXACTLY what we’ve done, that word (love) means close to nothing when it comes to relationships, especially dating relationships. Before we go further we need to define love. For me I turn to the Bible and there is one passage in particular that I believe nails the essence of love In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul brilliantly writes “ Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”. For the sake of time once again I want to focus on one part of what Paul says “Love is not self seeking”. Wow, is that not what the opposite of love today means? And before you say “well no Tim it doesn’t, a guy buys a girl flowers, a girl might cook her boyfriend dinner, that is not self seeking” ah but this is not true, because if we truly examine ourselves we quickly find that the root of our gesture is so it is reciprocated back. This happens all the time in dating relationships. People will bend over backwards for the other person, but only as long as it is reciprocated. If it’s not then the other person is seen as a jerk and it’s only a matter of time before the relationship ends. “What’s wrong with that?” you might say? Nothing…until these famous words are uttered “I Love You”. Ah really? You do? You are no longer concerned about yourself? You will always protect to the best of your ability? Not be easily angered? Do we realize the weight of what we say when we say those three words to someone? Of course we don’t. If we did we wouldn’t be texting romantic interests “I luv u sew much”, or we wouldn’t be saying those words on the first date, or the second date, heck I don’t think we would say them at all in a dating relationship because to say I love you to someone is effectively saying that it is unconditional, that it is no longer dependent on what the other person does, you are making the CHOICE to love someone through thick and thin. This is essentially what wedding vows are. They define what love means in that marriage. It no longer becomes about fluffy feelings, it now becomes a choice that two people make until death takes them home.
Back to the feelings. Once we mix feelings with love we are on a dangerous path because now how we feel is dependent on if we love someone or not. But this is not TRUE love, this is emotional “love” and emotions as we all know are fleeting. If you’re dating someone and you’re them solely for the feeling you get you need to take a real step back and see why you’re dating them. If all you’re grounded in is emotion then your relationship will never be steady because emotions are not steady. One moment I’m feeling hungry, the next moment I’m feeling full, one minute I feel joyful, the next minute I have anxiety because of bills I have to pay. Trying to ground love in your feelings is like trying to ground a jumbo jet with tooth floss. It’s not only impossible, it’s completely impractical.
Furthermore if we are saying I love you to someone just to hear it back we are once again not really loving that person, you are now manipulating that person to get the response you desire. And if that’s how you’re starting off a relationship by manipulating someone in to giving you the response you’re looking for then you’re set up for disaster. Examining yourself and your motives for saying the things you say in a relationship must be an essential part of your thought life. Sometimes we don’t even realize that we are saying things for the sole fact of getting a response from that person, and when it comes to love we have to understand what is we are saying to that person. You are not saying “hey I really really like you because my emotions tell me” You are saying “Hey I’m committed to you despite what you give back to me”.
Let me say this, I realize that there are abusive relationships that needed to be treated differently. I am not trying to cover every single relationship, and I am not saying that people don’t make mistakes and that there are not consequences to those mistakes. I am simply trying to get us all (including myself) to understand how weighty the words “I love you” actually are once we start to see the definition of love.
Be slow to speak those words, because once you say something it can never be taken back.