I got told a lot in my youth that there were two words I had to be very careful about using. The first one was “hate”. You can dislike something, I was told, but to hate it you have to be really sure because that’s a big word.
And that formed a pretty positive habit. I learned that before I used the word “hate” I had to think about the situation. Did I really hate something? Was there some kind of understanding I could give? Did I even want to hate it and hold hate in my heart?
The other world I was taught to exercise caution with was “love”. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner I thought this was a fitting topic.
Many, many people in my life encouraged me not to say I loved something. Could I love a person and love chips? I was taught no. I could like chips and I could like them very much. But I could not love them.
Now this instilled a pretty bad way of living in me. I got it in my head that even though I felt like I loved things, I shouldn’t express that I loved things. I should be careful about saying the word “love” even if I really meant it because the more you use that word, the less it means.
But that wasn’t the case with hate. I could hate something and then hate another thing and the hatred would be stronger. But if I loved two things, that second thing I wouldn’t love as much because I overused the word.
Does this make sense?
Now a few years back I made the decision to pretty much say screw it.
I’m a passionate person and when I say that I love that tree I genuinely mean that I love that tree. I would probably fight for that tree. However, when talking about food and other things, I can say I love it without taking meaning away from something else.
Let’s say three years I said, “Wow! I love that brownie” because the brownie was amazing. Does that mean when I told my husband I loved him the first time it meant less?
No. What kind of weird, backwards logic is that?
How often we use a word has no bearing on what that word means. That would be really weird.
However, there’s a really weird shared idea that if you tell someone you love them too much, it’ll lose it’s meaning. Or if you’re someone who uses the word love too much, it has no meaning.
I cannot emphasize this enough. This isn’t true. I can tell my husband, my pets, my family, my friends, the trees I love them whenever and however much I want to and it won’t matter. It won’t mean I love them less.
I say “I love you” and I use the word “love” strictly when I do love something. I’m not going to miss an opportunity to remind someone or something of my love because I’m worried it’ll lose its meaning.
It won’t lose its meaning so long as I love that thing.
What does have a bearing on my usage of the word is actions. If someone disrespects me, betrays me, or is toxic to me, I will stop using that word because…you guessed it…I stopped loving them.
Stop shaming people for loving.
I’m not kidding. There are plenty of articles out there about how you shouldn’t use the word love. And, once you’re married, you should use it sparingly.
It genuinely upsets me that we have to measure our emotions. It genuinely upsets me that the other definitions for love are forgotten. But focusing on the first part of this paragraph, why do we have to measure out our love? Why do we have to hate others for falling in love too quickly?
Saying that you didn’t love someone just because you broke up is not right. You can love someone and break up because you don’t love them anymore or are not compatible. Every love is going to be different.
It’s okay to be passionate. It’s okay to experience love and to love often.
I don’t understand why people are shaming others into not using the word lightly. Because what happens? We start to feel like we don’t have a right to use that word. We question our emotions, our feelings. We question the validity behind passion. And that’s a crime.
I encourage you to check out this article ‘cus it’s pretty cool. It also raises the point language evolves.
But then, there’s something else.
We should never rely on our words to convey emotions.
If I say I love a bug and then torch it, mm maybe not. If I say I love a person, then hit them, mmm maybe not. If I say I love someone and proceed to instigate fights, disrespect them, and ignore them I don’t love them.
And that’s tough.
I think that we often find ourselves in a pretty sticky situation. We realize that our love isn’t there (friend, family member, significant other, etc) or has changed (like with a toxic sibling/parent/family member) and we don’t think that we can say we don’t love them the same or at all anymore. But we keep saying it because we are supposed to.
Because it’s easier than cutting ties with something familiar.
And this sucks.
There’s always therapy to work things out or at least try to but when we feel we don’t love someone we aren’t doing them any favors by staying with them or at the very least by saying something that isn’t true. That’s lying. And that’s lying on a very big scale. You’re lying about one of the deepest, most intimate emotions.
That’s not fair no matter who you are talking to.
I’m not saying run up and say, “Hey! I hate you!” I am saying, if you don’t feel love for someone, tell them in a diplomatic way.
You know, I think our dynamic is changing (family member). I don’t feel the same way I used to but I don’t know why/and this is why (significant other).
Of course there are so many ways to say this and broach the topic but those are just two. Having an open conversation with someone about your feelings for them the moment those feelings change is important. For one, you might be able sort things out and pinpoint what’s happening. For another thing, you might be saving that person from loving someone who doesn’t love them back.
At the end of the day, I hope this helps someone. Maybe someone sensitive. Maybe someone in the same position I was. It really is okay to love someone, something, whatever. You can take pleasure in a food and say you love it. You can date someone for a week and realize you love them. Everything is situational. It’s just a word.
If you love something, love it. Don’t run around trying to justify how you feel, question your emotions and their validity, or doubt what love is. You can love anything you choose. You can love with varying degrees of intensity. You can love in different ways.
Love is love. And I love to love.