‘I love you.’
Those three words, in my opinion, used to hold a certain amount of weight when expressed. And while many may have different conceptions of what love is, I tend to presume that when it’s said, it’s conveyed with purity, with personal truth.
However, these days, I hear this sentiment spoken between people so often and so readily that I wonder if the ‘L word’ is becoming as casual and standard as ‘hey, how are you?’
Which made me wonder, “Is the ‘L Word’ losing its significance?”
Now, I’m not honing in on the instances where we’re chatting about our favorite musical artist or restaurant, or even the times where we may simply gush over someone to someone else (‘I love her, she’s awesome!’). I’m focusing on the direct exchange of ‘I love you’ between two individuals who hardly know each other. Maybe they met once and hit it off, but when the L word is shared almost immediately after meeting, it’s difficult not to do a double take.
Sure, it’s coming from the utmost positive and friendly intentions, but I thought that kind of disclosure was reserved for a closer rapport — one that needs a bit more growth to be established in order to reach an understanding that deems the ‘L word’ as a snug and adequate fit. Let’s call a spade a spade: If we only hang out twice, and you’re ending our goodbye with ‘I love you,’ that’s very nice and all, but I can’t possibly take it seriously. If you proclaim love after a week of dating, and the connection is still new and minimal, I’m probably going to see it as very anti-climatic.
“I feel to really love someone, you have to know them, and most people in this generation tend to use ‘I love you’ prematurely,” my 20-something friend said. I might have love for a lot of people and wish them the best, but there are only a handful of people I’d say that I sincerely love.
“If you love me, I know it,” a 2012 Rougebuddha blog post stated. “You’ve shown me. If you don’t love me, I know it. I feel it. You’ve shown me that too. You, casually tossing the words around like a Frisbee only points to the camouflage of your insincerity.”
Humorously, this author summarizes various interactions with her fellow peers that culminate in ‘I love you.’ “You don’t have to end your laughter with a, ‘Girl, I love you!’ Just say, ‘Girl, you make me laugh.’”
And I happen to find accuracy in her commentary; there are several occasions where ‘I love you’ materializes out of thin air. It’s stemming from what, exactly? Being generous? Sharing an entertaining story? Perhaps doling out the ‘L word’ originates from a sweet place, but is there a more suitable substitute that could be used instead? Probably.
Aspiring author C.M. Berry also wrote on this subject. He laments how society is stretching these three words thin; there’s an awareness of value, but not necessarily an attunement to meaning. “It has become so easy for us to just say it without ever thinking about the power behind it,” he said.
‘Power’ is an interesting way to depict this societal trend. There most likely is a particular power in that declaration, and when it’s relayed with thoughtfulness and authenticity, the moment that transpires can be a really beautiful one.
Though ‘I love you’ appears to be on the tip of the tongue, eagerly spewed and hastily said, its significance can still be retained when we’re aware of how we inherently feel and what we’re trying to communicate — all the while, creating something special in the process.
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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 14 Dec 2013
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.
Suval, L. (2013). Is The ‘L Word’ Losing Significance? Love in a Time of Familiarity. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 8, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/12/15/is-the-l-word-losing-significance-love-in-a-time-of-familiarity/