I Love You: to Say or Not to Say?
We’re going to let you in on a little secret…
Are you ready?
“I love you”.
Read on to find out why...
In this post, get ready to find out:
why we don’t say “I love you” (and why it’s 100% OK if you do);
what we say instead (and what you can say in addition to “I love you”); and,
how to know if saying “I love you” is right for you.
Why I love you isn’t in our vocabulary
(and why it’s 100% OK if you do)
Like many of our Relationship Zen protocols, it started off as an experiment to train ourselves to love unconditionally.
We experimented with removing this phrase from our vocabulary because we noticed that “I love you” in mainstream North American media and romantic relationships had become devalued and meaningless (e.g. “Love ya!” as one walks out the door), and at best manipulative (e.g. I love you if/but..”).
More often than not, it sounded like folks were saying it out of habit and expectation.
We didn’t want “I love you” to become a crutch phrase that we just… said to one another. Instead, we wanted our communication to be more heartfelt, conscious, and intentional.
What we say instead
(and what you can say in addition to “I love you”)
At the beginning of our relationship, we decided to say exactly what we liked about each other, instead of “I love you”.
And then it stuck... we just never got into the habit of actually saying: “I love you.”
For example, we’re likely to say things like: “I enjoyed your company this afternoon”; “I admire your determination”; “I appreciate the attention you’ve given to the home while I’ve been busy”; “When you’re sharing your passion with others, I feel connected to you and I soak in how crazy freaken talented and intelligent you are”; “I really love the way you handled that situation at work… it reminded of what a badass boss lady you are”; etc.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with saying “I love you” and in fact, some research suggests that “One of the early signs that a relationship is failing is that couples stop telling each other.” So by all means, we don’t recommend that you stop saying it if you’re already in the habit.
Instead, enhance it by adding WHY you love them and in what CONTEXT.
And of course, follow up with congruent behaviour because saying “I love you” is about conveying commitment.
In other words, a sign of a committed couple is the extent to which they treat each other with love, not the number of times they say “I love you”.
How to know when to say “I love you”?
Let’s be clear. You don’t need to say it to have a fulfilling relationship. But, if you actually want to and if it’s right for your relationship, let’s break down the issue of timing.
For us, the timing depends on the intent behind your words. As a result, we think it’s quite subjective and that’s not a bad thing.
As a general rule of thumb: When your intent is clear, the timing is near.
Check out these questions and reflect on the intent behind your desire to say “I love you”:
Where does my desire to say “I love you” come from? From presence and consciousness? Or, from fear, ego, neediness and expectations?
It might seem obvious, but am I ready to say “I love you”? If yes, proceed.
Do I love this person for who they are (flaws and all)? If yes, proceed. Or, do I love the idea of who they might become? If yes, proceed with caution. ;)
Do I see myself creating a life with this person in the long-term? If yes, proceed. Or, do I love the idea of feeling loved? If yes, proceed with caution. ;)
Would I be better off without this person? Or, am I/are we better off together?
If it feels like the “right” moment and if saying it is important to you and to the relationship, then the timing might be right for you!
Just remember that it’s important not to have an expectation that your partner will say it back to you. Love is unconditional. After-all, you want them to say it only if they mean it right?
Same goes for you: If you’re on the receiving end of “I love you”, don’t feel the need to reciprocate unless you really feel it in your heart, think it in your mind, and feel it in your body.
This can be tricky, but it’s a helpful check-in.
Every relationship is unique and different so you may want to approach the reflection in a way that feels right to you - that’s the important take-away! You’ve got this!
What’s your take?
So what’s your take on “I love you”? What do you think about us not saying it to one another? How do you make it meaningful in your relationships?
Let us know on social media or in our private community Facebook group. And, share the article if you love it!
Sending you love and light,
P.S. If you’re looking for some bonus inspiration, sign up to receive our Free Relationship Guide on our home page because it contains our top 10 relationship mind-shifts that can help proactive couples elevate.