Julien Smith wrote an article titled “The Case Against “I Love You” where he argues that using the phrase “I love you” may not be such a good thing:
“I love you” isn’t a death sentence for relationships, but it sure as hell does make couples lazy. It takes all of these deep feelings and coalescing them into one vague blob of a sentence that is entirely meaningless.
Using the word “love” means a lot at first– there’s anticipation, tension, etc. It represents a million little things, but over time, it gets overused. It starts to mean nothing– especially if you’re saying it as often as the typical couple.
I have never said “I love you”. I’d appreciate the intention behind it if someone was saying it to me, but I’d be curious about what that declaration entails. Like many other things in our society, it seems like one of those milestones that everyone is supposed to go through. It doesn’t matter why, it doesn’t matter how.
Smith goes on to offer a solution:
Try this instead: If you have feelings that are welling up inside of you and that you want to express how much you care about someone, tell them why and what they are. Don’t just use a phrase that everyone else uses– tell them what’s unique about your feelings and what you think of them.
As I’d argued many times, the imprecision of some of our most used words is a big cause behind people’s unsatisfactory results. Words like happiness and love are in everyone’s list of goals, but they act as placeholders for more accurate concepts, later discovered (or never), instead of actual sensations. My idea of communicating my feelings and telling someone what they mean to me, means saying the unique things that only that person could spark on me.
When it comes to declarations of love, and following Smith’s recommendation, I’d dare any brave couple out there to ask the following: “What do you mean by that?” Be careful, you may not be pleased by their reply. In fact, I’d bet that most people wouldn’t go there because they may realize that love isn’t that special.