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FluffyChicken's avatar

Is saying "I Love You" worth the baggage?

Asked by FluffyChicken (5486points) July 9th, 2013

Due to being hurt in the past, I have come to a point in my life I have asked current lovers not to tell me they love me unless they really mean it, and I avoid using the phrase “I love you,” whether I feel like I love the person or not. I have observed that once that phrase starts being used, I begin to create expectations of the other person. Instead, I have started using phrases like “I really really like you,” or “I really appreciate you.” I have found that it is easier to avoid creating expectations using language like this. But, there’s a feeling of in-completion, or cut-off-ness that comes with avoiding the “L” word which is also somewhat painful. Do you think this is an appropriate way to guard one’s heart? Would it be better to use the word Love, and learn how to not pile the word with expectation and baggage(the more difficult path), OR is it better to love more freely, but not express it as such?

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14 Answers

KNOWITALL's avatar

I’m a long-term ‘heart guarder’ and it’s difficult. Even if you’ve been hurt before, you have to open yourself to others or it gets very lonely and those feelings of being cut off or isolated can get more intense.

What I’ve been trying to do is to remain open and risk the hurt, because people may touch my heart and be gone in a year, but I still gain by knowing and loving them. Being hurt is a risk with anyone, even family, but it’s worth it.

Headhurts's avatar

This is a very interesting question. I have been with my boyfriend for 6 years and he has never told me he loves me. I have asked and he will give me a cuddle and says “who knows”! He has been really hurt in the past. I tell him a lot and he will just reply with a cuddle or will hold my hand.
He should know by now though after all this time, that I completely adore him and would never hurt him. Or maybe, he just doesn’t love me. To answer your question though, I would say if you love the person, tell them, if not, then don’t.

LornaLove's avatar

I love this question. I think even if you have not been hurt (which is possibly rare). Using the words I love you does create expectations. So to be guarded in this way would be healthy until one decides one commitment level. If a person sticks around saying nothing for a long time though, I would wonder if that person was worth my time and effort.

FluffyChicken's avatar

@LornaLove This is how I feel as well. In your opinion, where is the time cut off? In other words, how long is too long?

LornaLove's avatar

@FluffyChicken That is a tough one to answer. That would be a personal choice? I think behavior is often more of an indicator of commitment more than words. Or actions more of an indication of love.

Some say a lot of words without action.

marinelife's avatar

Do not cut love out of your life. The loss is too great.

Coloma's avatar

Everything is subject to change. One can say ” I love you” and really mean it in the moment, but this does not always mean that feeling will be sustainable, not does it always mean the person is fickle.
Hold on loosely….and it is up to you to not attach infinity to a few words that can be expressed genuinely in the moment.
No-thing is forever, and one can feel and express “love” without it becoming a life sentence.

janbb's avatar

If I asked my Ex (husband, that is) if he loved me, he would say, “How do I know? I don’t know what love is.” That really hurt!

Aster's avatar

That would hurt me too. Quite insensitive , I think, and frankly chilly .

tups's avatar

Silly as it may sound, I think love is a verb. One can say “I love you” but not act accordingly, does it mean they love you? The may think they do, but if they don’t act like it, they probably don’t. I hate it when people say it over and over again and just make it feel so empty. It’s in the eyes and in the actions.

josie's avatar

What good is a loving relationship without admitting it?

augustlan's avatar

I think it depends. Are you the type of person who ‘falls in love’ frequently? Or are you able to have a relationship knowing that it isn’t love? If you’re a frequent flyer, I’d examine why you seem to fall so easily. I’d question if what you are feeling is really love, you know? I’ve always discouraged the overuse of the term, reserving it for only those times that it’s really love. If you’re not sure, you probably have never actually been in love.

In my experience, when you really do love someone, it becomes incredibly hard not to tell them so. It’s a struggle to end phone calls without saying it, or make love without saying it. It feels kind of deceitful, and it’s such a relief to finally say the words. (My now-husband and I resisted saying it for quite a while because it happened so fast.) If you’re not having that internal ‘fight’ with yourself, maybe you’re not really in love.

Now, assuming you really are in love…don’t hold back! Part of loving someone is being willing to risk being hurt by them.

bookish1's avatar

Great question. I agree that the L word does often establish expectations. Probably especially for people in straight relationships who have a societally-defined path open to them. For queers, it feels like we have to make this stuff up as we go along, because there is no rule book.

I think there are ways of expressing that you love or are in love with someone, without saying the word, if you are worried of turning it into a competition or forcing the other person to say it first before they are ready. I recently had to navigate this situation myself. I’ve become very close very quickly with a new guy I have been seeing. We have been very considerate of each other and take turns making each other dinner, giving massages, or doing errands. We have both been saying things to each other like “I really appreciate your company” or “I care about you a lot.” I have felt myself falling in love with him, and as @augustlan said, it was a constant internal struggle not to tell him. I waited a few weeks to make sure I was certain, and to figure out how to tell him. Also, I wanted to see if there were good prospects for a long term relationship here before opening up about my feelings. I even ended up writing him a note, because I was so nervous of saying it in person, and I was scared to pressure him into feeling like he needed to say it too if he did not feel it. But as it turns out, I ended up blurting it out to him one night when we were tipsy, before I could even give him the note…And he told me he already knew that I loved him from the way I treated him, and that he loved me too! It was indeed a relief.

There are different ways to approach saying this, but I do agree with above posters that it is worthwhile to take the risk.

Kardamom's avatar

^^ Yay for @bookish1 I’m grinning from ear to ear : )

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