“I love you” is arguably the most beautiful phrase in the English language (or any language, for that matter).
The meaning, however, isn’t as clear as you might expect. Even poets and authors say that words fail to capture the essence of love. Words just don’t do love justice.
So I prefer to look at love from a wider perspective. While words may fail to fully capture the emotions that we associate with love, love still exists to be understood.
Love isn’t some mythological creature that we hunt to no avail for all of eternity. Love is a state. And it's not just the state of the people in the relationship; it’s the state of the relationship itself.
Let's look broader. There's a relationship between all people and all matter in the universe. Every person in the universe is also connected. These relationships may be so distant as to be almost non-existent, but still.
Love is the pinnacle of all relationships. It’s the highest, grandest and most coveted of all the states of being.
No human in the world isn’t looking for love. Some people have only a partial understanding of love, and others warp the definition entirely, but we all search for whatever we believe love is.
Being the impatient people we are, jumping the gun isn’t uncommon. In fact, doing this is part of the learning process -- part of coming to understand what love is. And when we jump the gun, we fall in love too quickly with the wrong people, and we learn from our mistakes.
Unfortunately, we never know how many lessons we have left to learn. Will this person be “the one”? Or just another mistake to add to the ones you're going to have to make along the way?
Until you learn new things, you won’t know what you don't know.
However, there’s no shame in learning from other people’s mistakes. And lucky for you -- I’ve made more than enough of them, especially when it comes to saying “I love you.”
It’s important to ask yourself these three questions before you tell people you love them. Why? Because saying "I love you" is more sacred than sex. It holds much more meaning.
Here's what to ask yourself.
1. Does my love go beyond my feelings?
I know how amazing you’re feeling right now, and believe me when I say I’m very happy for you. Hell, I’m even a little bit jealous.
But I’m also a bit worried for you.
Depending on how experienced you are with love, you may take the emotions you’re feeling to mean more than they actually do.
Love isn’t just about the emotions you’re experiencing. Those emotions are your mind’s way of sensing there is potential for love to form. Happiness, excitement, nervousness and maybe even a bit of worry are all signs that the chemistry and connection the two of you share may very well be nurtured into love.
While the emotions associated with love are certainly a part of the whole experience, there’s much more to love than that. Remember that emotions come in response to our interpretation of our reality, and that interpretation will change over time.
If you base your whole definition of love on emotions alone, your relationship is doomed to fail.
2. Will saying "I love you" benefit the relationship?
Sometimes it’s too early to say ‘I love you.’ It just is. Sometimes you say it before you're certain you're in love, and you find yourself wishing you could take it back.
Maybe you've said it too soon. Maybe you've scared your partner and ruined what could have been a beautiful thing.
You won’t always know when the time is right, so you’re going to have to go with your gut.
Nevertheless, the more information you have about your feelings for each other, the better. If you’re going to go with your gut, make it an informed and wise gut.
I’m not someone who believes things will just work out if they're "meant to be." I believe you have to be smart to make a relationship work -- and sometimes that means waiting to make sure you mean it when you tell your partner "I love you."
3. Why am I saying it?
Why? What’s the point? Take a moment and seriously think about this. We don’t do things just for the sake of doing them.
No matter how uninformed, naïve or plain stupid people can be, our decisions usually have some logic behind them. We do things because we believe doing them will give us the results we want.
So, let me ask you again: Why do you want to tell your partner how you feel?
Is it just something you want to say? Is it something you just want to "get over with" because you’ve been stressing over it?
Are you saying it because you want to hear your partner say it back? Because you feel like it’s a thing you’re supposed to do?
Is your reason selfish? We think that because loving is supposedly a selfless act (which it, in fact, isn’t, but I won’t get into that here), telling people we love them is selfless. But are you saying this because you believe it will make your partner happy? Is it something you believe your partner wants to hear?
There is really only one perfect moment to tell someone "I love you." It’s the moment you feel your love needs to heard.
When you tell someone you're in love, it's not just because you love this person. It's because you know that hearing those three words roll of your lips will change your partner's life for the better. That’s when saying "I love you" embodies true love.