I Love You means Never Having to Tell You What I Really Mean. You’re Just Supposed to Know.

You know I’m kidding, right? But isn’t there a part of you that wishes it were true? We all have unspoken and largely unconscious expectations of what it means when we exchange I love you’s. Suddenly the expectations ratchet up and the game changes, only most of the time we missed the moment when it did and certainly don’t realize the implications.

For a lot of us, “I love you” isn’t just a simple expression of caring and affection. If there could be closed captioning it might read something like this:

Now that I have bestowed my love on you, what it means that from this point on you are expected to read my mind, meet all of my needs without my having to ask for them, and if you get it wrong I will make you pay.

In addition, I have a concept of what trust means that I am not going to share with you and if you can’t discern what it is on your own then it’s yet more evidence to me that you are an incompetent idiot, and that you don’t love me. Again, more proof that I should make you pay.

Yikes! Talk about a hidden agenda and unspoken expectations! For many of us, saying “I love you” makes us feel vulnerable. There is often jockeying between new couples to see who will be the first one to go out on a limb and say it, being the first one to risk being hurt. And that’s really what all this is about. Only a masochistic fool would sign up for being hurt so we tend to spend a lot of our time trying to set up a situation that would prevent that. That’s called ‘our defenses’. The reasoning is something like this: I have exposed myself by being vulnerable and saying that I love you, so therefore, now that you know I am vulnerable, it’s incumbent upon you to never ever do anything where I will feel hurt.

And of course, being the delightfully imperfect human beings that we are, sooner or later we will do something unintentionally to hurt the person we love. At that point, if you’re the recipient, you have a choice. You can either become justified in hurting them back or you can give them the benefit of the doubt. Remember, accusations are the partner to defensiveness and the best way to keep communication open is to leave accusations out of it.

It’s worth spending some time to reflect on what unconscious meaning and expectation do you put into the words, “I love you.” What is your closed-caption meaning? A lot of misunderstanding and conflict comes from unconscious, unshared, unacknowledged expectations. The more you can be aware of and own them, the more honest your relationship can be. Putting awareness and action together is Love Applied!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: