Don’t EVER say “I love you,” just to hear it back.
I don’t remember where I read it (it was probably on some sappy pinterest board), but about halfway through last year, I read the above sentiment.
My grandmother doesn’t throw “I love you”s around quite like I do, and I think you’d have to buy my brother a ferrari to hear him say it. Not everyone expresses their love verbally, and that’s okay. My grandmother isn’t one to ever say “I love you,” but I say it to her, and when she calls me “love” or her face lights up when I go home for the weekend, she doesn’t need to say it.
My boyfriend and I, on the other hand, say “I love you” probably a dozen times a day, and on days when we don’t say it as much, I used to get anxious and insecure. I used to want him to always say it first. When I was the one to initiate the “I love you” on days like that, it was an expectant admonition. It wasn’t always me expressing my love, but it became me expressing my love in order to hear him express his love back. That is a laboured and unhealthy way of expressing affection. Of course, every single time I meant it, but it wasn’t about him anymore, it was about me. I said it to hear him say it back, and I held back many “I love you”s because I didn’t want to say it first too many times, and I was afraid that one day he might not say it back.
Once I realized that there were so many instances in which I made this expression of love all about me, I immediately wanted to change. I was no longer going to withhold “I love you”s, and if I was feeling so insecure that I would only say it simply to hear it back, I would express that insecurity instead. With these small changes came an immense freedom and an increased sense of comfort. It was easier for me to express my feelings, because suddenly they shifted from insecurity to selflessness.
I only say “I love you,” whether it’s to a friend, Amar, or to family, when I have a genuine need to express my love for them, and I’ve since found myself saying it a lot more, and have felt my insecurities surrounding affection and expression begin to melt away.
I will carry this simple lesson with me for the rest of my life, and into every interpersonal relationship I have.