What Do You Mean When You Say You Love Me?

This morning a man said “I love you” to me. We’ve been video calling and texting from across the planet for some time but we have never met in person.

My boyfriend of several years never once said, “I love you” to me. Well, he did, two days after he told me he had been seeing someone else for months and was moving out.

My first husband would say it to me after a fight. I would be crying bitter tears and he would finally ease off his attack, soften, and say, “I love you.” It was my job to say it back, which I would. And with that, our spiritual injuries to one another would be counted. Sometimes he got a point and sometimes I did.

Who says “I love you,” to you?

When My Darling on the other side of the world says, “I love you” it feels like an expression of joy at my presence.

I’ve usually just said something silly or teased him gently. He will smile amusedly and say, “I love you” without guile; without manipulation; with sparkles in his eyes. It feels freely given.

He expects nothing in return and nor do I expect it means anything but, “I love you.” It doesn’t mean, “I’m flying down to be with you.” It doesn’t mean, “Will you forsake all others?” It doesn’t mean, “I will pay your rent.” It doesn’t mean, “I can’t live without you.” It doesn’t mean, “I’m now allowed to hurt you.”

It means, “I’m feeling joy in your presence.”

Joy is a moment of enlightenment; a moment of connection to the Pure Love that is the stuff of the Universe.

Pure love finds a chink in the ego, pours in, and swirls around My Darling and I. That’s all. And that’s everything.

The two of us are really present for a moment; present with one another without thought, without future, without past.

Do you say, “I love you” that way?

When my former boyfriend said, “I love you” (over text that one time) it did not feel like joy. It was as if a fire hose has been opened on me and I was being hit with regret, sorrow, affection, fear, and hope all at once.

This “I love you” felt more like an apology or a plea. It wanted something. It wanted attachment to me. It wanted me back (but with conditions I was not willing to meet).

I am sure this expectation of attachment is what prevented him from saying it to me over the years. I suspect he thought he would be making a promise with those words. A promise to stay forever? Something like that.

Do you say, “I love you” that way?

The “I love you”s between my first husband and I were attempts to reattach after we had hurt one another. We reattached out of fear; not out of abundance.

Never was “I love you” simply a declaration of what was. We said, “I love you” and hoped it would make us feel something. Something like happy. Every “I love you” was a request not to leave or an agreement to stay for just a bit longer.

Do you say, “I love you” that way?

It seems that a lot of people hold the belief that there is a promise contained in those words, whether you’re saying them or hearing them.

There are even guidelines written by well-meaning people about when, why, and how to say, “I love you” to a romantic interest: when it’s too soon; what it means if he says it first; what to do if you accidentally blurt it out; how long you should wait around before he says it…

These rules are meaningful only if you believe that the words, “I love you” are a bargaining chip; something to win or something to earn.

But words are just signifiers of meaning. The real truth is in the substance of the Pure Love of the Universe.

Instead of making hearing, “I love you” a goal, we could make feeling Pure Love the goal.

What is your love goal?

My former boyfriend and I had moments when we were in the Pure Love of the universe. But the moment that he said, “I love you” was not one of them. And the words did not make it so.

My first husband and I were not connected to Infinite Intelligence so neither of us understood how to make “I love you” joyful by opening to Pure Love individually, first.

My Darling and I are each connected to Infinite Intelligence and share moments of Pure Love without expectations of behavior. No strings. Just a lovely moment. Then another.

Have you felt the joy of an, “I love you” without strings? Are you brave enough to say, “I love you” and expect nothing in return? Thought Catalog Logo Mark

More From Thought Catalog