When you love less, the person who holds your hand won’t notice. In fact it will only make them grip tighter. They’ll check the street for you before you cross and maybe even hold their arm out to keep you back until its safe.
They’ll be the first to notice you’re cold and give you their jacket. They’ll wrap their body around yours because they love being close. They’ll whisper in your ear how beautiful you are.
They’ll be the first to say “I Love You” before you hang up the phone. You’ll feel each word because they meant for it to be intentional. They’d say it more often, but they know it would scare you. You’ll say, “You too” or “Ditto.” You’ll hear their smile growing on the other end at the mere sound of your verbal reciprocation. They won’t notice the difference in your delivery, simply because it’s you.
When they tip your face up to kiss you good night, they’ll take a pause. They’ll admire that beauty mark above your lip for the 100th time because it is yours. And when your lips touch they’ll sigh into it because it feels just as good at the first time.
They’ll notice when you’re not yourself. They’ll hug you close to let you know it’s safe to talk about it. When your body squirms to break free, they’ll rub your back softer, easing you into it. Because they love your walls. Simply because they’re yours.
When your mom calls to invite you both to dinner, they’ll cancel whatever plans they have. Your mom will spend the night talking to them and when they’re not looking, nod to you in full parent approval. On the ride home they’ll talk about how great your family is, and how you two should spend more time with them.
They’ll be the first to bring up the future. They’ll paint you a picture of your happily-ever-after. You’ll smile. Throw their dreams over your shoulder like spilled salt. And because you’re not saying no, they’ll take it as a yes.
They’ll text passive aggressively when they haven’t heard from you in hours. It was hard enough when you rescheduled plans for a friend’s night out. But they respect your independence. They’ll huff that your responses are too vague. They’ll ask why you don’t care. They’ll tell you they don’t feel like a priority. But one kiss from you means you’re sorry and they’ll accept it happily. Simply because it’s you.
When you’re the person who loves less, your hand will sit still; unwrapped, but present. You’ll accept their coat, and wrap your arms around yourself for extra warmth. When they’re upset you’ll leave them be. “If they want to talk, they will,” you’ll say. It’s not your place to pry.
You’ll only say “I love you,” when it matters. When they need to hear it. You don’t think about ever afters. When you’ve broken them down enough, you’ll let them go for good. Because you love them you know they deserve better. They’ll cry. They’ll bargain. They’ll fight for you. But you know it’s for the best. They’ll tell you how much they love you anyway. But it won’t be enough, because to you, love never is.