If you were to tell me you loved me, odds are I wouldn’t say it back. And if I did, I was squirming a little on the inside as I said it.
It isn’t that I don’t love you.
I probably do.
I mean, if you’re saying it to me, I’m assuming we have some sort of connection.
But I don’t love you the same way someone loves their favorite cozy blanket.
I don’t love you the way people love filet mignion or chocolate chip cookies.
I don’t love you the way teenage girls loved Justin Bieber back in 2012.
I don’t say “I love you” to people not because I don’t care about them, but because it seems a disservice to the quality of love we share.
We live in a world where we “love” things that don’t deserve anything more than a relative likeness on our part. We love clothes, cars, sports- material things; we love celebrities, athletes, politicians- people we have never met and don’t know. Then in the same breath we turn and apply that love to the people who should mean the most to us: friends who have laughed through life with us and family who has been a rock to return to.
How is it possible to love a thing or someone you don’t even know as intensely as a person who is actively involved in your life?
So, yeah, I don’t say “I love you”.
It is no longer a legitimate enough phrase to express how much someone means to me; how grateful I am that they are in my life; how I genuinely concerned I am for their happiness and well-being.
I don’t love you like pizza.
I don’t love you like Pentatonix.
Heck, I don’t even love you like Netflix.
The people who matter to me matter so much that their value cannot be contained in a word. My affection for them must span over a lifetime or less of being there when they need me, asking how they’re day is, or even just smiling in their direction.
I shouldn’t have to describe it with an outdated, devalued description, because my actions should show their importance 24/7.
So, no, I don’t love you.
I value you.
More than Dr Pepper; more than Brian d’Arcy James; more than the cast album of “Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812”; more than the word “love” can adequately express.
You matter to me.
And I hope I show you that every single day.