I was listening to Joel’s latest podcast, and he and his guest, Warren Talbot, discussed two things that resonated with me. The first I have talked about in a previous post, and that’s addressing fear: “What’s the worst thing that could happen?” I thought it was great that Warren asks that of himself and of his clients, and I thought it interesting that Joel said he had never thought to ask himself the question. Instead, when Joel is afraid to try something new, he asks himself: “what if everything I have ever done has been to prepare myself for this moment?” I like that as well. They talked about bravery, and as I’ve spoken about in that same previous post, no small bit of my journey has been about getting past fear.
They also talked about I Love You Friends: friends that you love and actually tell them so. This was a new concept for Warren, Joel being his first I Love You Friend. I’m guessing that not too many people have I Love You Friends. I love you is such a hard thing for people to say. It’s so loaded with unspoken meaning and baggage and joy and promises and heartbreak. And here in America, land of nuclear families and isolation and loneliness, I Love You is just too scary, too much responsibility. There are countless tales of people saying I Love You with disastrous results: saying it too soon and scaring your lover off; saying it too late and losing what you had. And the manipulative reasons: saying it only to get something you want; saying it only to keep something you have. Why is this?
What would our world be like if I Love You meant, “you are very special to me, and I care really deeply about you.” If there were no potential ramifications for saying something so beautiful? Why is English so nuanced in so many areas but has only one word for love? Of course there are different levels of I Love You. We all know that when you say I Love You to your child, you don’t mean the same thing as when you say I Love You to your brother or your spouse or your co-worker who just offered to switch shifts with you when you had an emergency. We are smart enough to understand these shades of I Love You. Why aren’t we able to say it more often?
I have I Love You Friends, some men and some women. Two are friends from childhood, one I’ve come to love in the past decade, one in the past year. There are several exes who I still keep in touch with, and some are friends with whom I’ve gone through life’s challenges and we’ve become closer because of our experiences. And yes, I tell them I Love You. I tell them that they are important to me, and I use the word Love because I don’t believe it dissipates the meaning. Because love isn’t a commodity to hoard. What are the clichés? The more you give the more you get? Love doesn’t divide, it multiplies?
I don’t think that saying I Love You should scare someone off or make you look needy or insane. I think it’s too bad that we don’t have the opportunity (and it’s too bad that it’s not encouraged) to say I Love You more often. Or maybe it’s just too bad we don’t have more words for all the emotional bonds that Love encompasses. And because in English we don’t have any other simple way to say, “I really like who you are; I connect with your spirit; I embrace your being,” I Love You shouldn’t be so frightening.
We all have relationships with people who are deeply important to us. The next time you talk to one of these friends, I challenge you to say “I Love You.” What’s the worst thing that could happen?