Does “I Love You” Mean Anything Anymore?


For as long as I can remember, I’ve been… well, a bit of an “I love you” slut.

Yes, this is a thing. I know because I am guilty of throwing this word around ever so carelessly, devaluing its incredible meaning, reducing it to another common word like potatoes or dishwashing soap. (And I know I’m not the only one.)

I love you. I love you. I love you. I am not afraid to say it.

My dad raised me to be the kind of person who should not be afraid to express my feelings. To always let people know how I feel, and most importantly to constantly let the people I love know that I love them by telling them. This is where I realized I was starting to become a little, well, lax with saying “I love you”. Throwing these three words around for petty reasons like they meant nothing was something I became used to and I guess to me, it was something you tell people who made you happy, who made you smile, who cared for you, and for people who did tiny favors for you (and I had a lot of these people in my life).

Telling someone “I love you” was something I did for the smallest things like picking up the pen that flung all the way across the other side of the desk, or even giving me the title of the song that I — for the love of me — only knew what the tun tun tun sounded like. It was those simple acts that made me say I love you to these people, and so I realized I might have a bit of a problem.

Because if you love people for just those little favors, what happens when you really mean it? Are the words diluted? Have you used up all of your “I love you”s?

And then I met someone. Someone really special. Someone who I cared about so much that I couldn’t even think about saying these three words out loud — not because I didn’t want to, but because I was scared to. They were funny and smart, and they understood and listened to me. I loved the way their face lit up when they saw me (probably reflecting the same face I had when I saw them). I loved that silly smile they got whenever I said something that “wasn’t funny” but still made them laugh anyway. I loved the attention they gave me, the time we spent together, and basically — I love you, I love you, I love you. But for the first time in my life, I couldn’t find the courage say these words out loud. I finally felt the weight of these words, and how much value they hold.

I so desperately wanted to be brave and tell them how I felt. How I loved the way they’d poke my neck because they knew it made me laugh (I’m incredibly ticklish) or how they’d greet me with a great big hug because they were happy to see me (and I was just as happy to see them). I wanted to tell them these three words, but saying them out loud would make them so real, and I feared that the reality was, they wouldn’t say them back to me.

But I’ve decided that maybe I would keep these three words to myself for now. A secret I would keep close to my heart, and only that one other person would hold the key that locked away all the “I love you’s” I had in me. That they were now the keeper of all the love I have to give, and I won’t deny them of any more love by giving it away to people like free pieces of candy. I will no longer be the “I love you” slut I once was, and I hope they take care of all the love I’m saving for when their love is finally mine. Thought Catalog Logo Mark

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