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I love you

I often feel that not enough love is expressed in the world.  I have seen many valid reasons why people are hesitant to express love, or are hesitant to trust someone who is attempting to express love toward them.  But I think the fact that "I love you" is such an underutilized phrase in society, and the fact that saying "I love you" can often scare the person hearing it are two indications that there isn't enough love going around.

I tell Conrad that I love him.  I tell him on a daily basis.  Normally multiple times a day.  It feels good to tell him.  It feels good to actually love him, and to know that when I'm saying it, it means something and isn't just empty words.  I tell many of my close friends and family members that I love them.  Not every time I talk to them or see them, but often.  Perhaps not as often as I should.

But there are so many people that I love that I do not and even, due to the nature of our society, cannot tell them.  I love my students.  One day I was talking to a student and felt so much compassion for him I started crying.  I wanted to hug him.  I wanted to tell him that I love him.  But I didn't.  I feel like it would be inappropriate.  I don't know how the action would have been received, nor do I believe it would have been seen as professional from the perspective of my colleagues or superiors.

Why does "I love you" have to be a scary phrase?  Why does it intimidate people?  Why is it taboo in so many different settings?  It doesn't have to mean "I want to marry you."  It doesn't have to mean "I'm sexually interested in you."  It doesn't have to mean anything negative at all.  It shouldn't be uncomfortable for someone to hear, and a person shouldn't feel a necessity to hesitate when deciding whether to say it.

Why do I love you?  There are many reasons.  Evolutionary psychology teaches us that love is an advantageous trait.  That members of a species which band together to help each other out have a better chance of survival.  We don't have to face all of the challenges of a competitive and harsh world alone.  We can face them together.  I feel love because the endorphins in my brain are released when I think about doing kind things.  I feel love because I am capable of empathizing with other people and understanding how I would personally feel if I were in their place.

What makes me scared to love you?  There are so many things.  Maybe I've been hurt by someone I loved in the past.  Maybe I've extended trust to people who I felt loved me and was betrayed.  Maybe I feel like accepting someone's love necessitates a huge commitment, which I'm not ready to make.  Maybe I'm angry about something and refuse to accept love, or believe that its expression is sincere.

What makes me remain silent about the love that I feel, even though I do feel it?  Societal norms.  The fear of rejection--that the love won't be reciprocated.  The fear of being misinterpreted--after all, "I love you" can mean many different things in different contexts and to different people.

I'm learning how to love people.  More precisely, how to express that love in a way which is meaningful and appropriate to that person.  I do think that the words "I love you" should be uttered more often and should be more socially acceptable than they currently are.  But I'm learning other ways to express the feeling without using those words as well.  I want people who know me to understand the love I feel.  I want them to feel the love I have.  I don't want to be guilty of keeping my love to myself.  I don't want to remain silent and leave a person unaware of the feelings I have.  Love is beautiful when it is shared.

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