Happy Valentine’s day everyone! Let’s talk about how much love sucks!
More precisely, let’s talk about how much the common definitions of “love” suck. Usually when somebody says “I love you” they mean “I feel a feeling!” That’s nice, I guess? The problem I have with the “I feel a feeling!” definition is that I’m not fucking psychic. How you feel inside your own heart does not affect my life. How you treat me does. If the way you treat me makes me feel loved, I don’t give two shits what label you choose to put on your feelings for me. If the way you treat me makes me miserable, I don’t give two shits what label you choose to put on your feelings for me.
To me, the word love is only meaningful as a verb (not like that, pervs :)). If you can’t treat me in a way that makes me feel loved, you don’t love me in any meaningful sense. I have had entirely too many people say the words “I love you” and then prove that they didn’t. As an aside, if you’re going to come crying to me in the comments about how you can’t prove a negative, fuck all the way off. If someone consistently acts like they don’t give two shits about my happiness, they have proven that they don’t love me. And if someone supposedly loves me but expresses it the way they like instead of the way that actually makes me feel loved, they don’t love me in any meaningful sense. They might feel a feeling, but they can’t care about me very much if they’re not willing to do the stuff that actually makes me feel loved.
Here’s an example: if you love using pet names but you’re partner doesn’t like being called anything but their actual name, either come up with some kind of compromise you can both live with (maybe a non-traditional endearment or a nickname) or just deal and don’t fucking call them things they don’t like being called. If you insist on calling them sweetie or honey or whatever when you know they don’t like it, you’ve made it entirely clear that you don’t care about their feelings.
Sadly, when people say “I love you” my first thought is “stop flapping your lips and prove it.” It’s easy to say you care about someone, and much, much harder to do the work of actually making my life better. Some people seem to think just saying “I love you” means I magically feel loved and they don’t have to make any real effort to treat me well. That is not even remotely how it works, assholes. If you don’t treat me the way I want to be treated your “I love you” is nothing more than a series of mouth noises.
Speaking of actions, grand romantic gestures aren’t fundamentally loving either. They might be loving if your partner enjoys them and you treat them well even when you’re not trying to sweep them off their feet, but if you casually blow them off and disregard their feelings the vast majority of the time (or any of the time, actually), and then suddenly fly across the country to see them, you don’t fucking love them. Skip the plane tickets and spend some time thinking about whether you actually want to be in a relationship with someone you can’t be bothered to act like you care about. It’s consistency and little things that really matter, not how well you can orchestrate some magical moment that has more to do with your love of spectacle than about the person you supposedly love. There is no cheat code to relationships. If you want one, you have to do the fucking work. And if you don’t want to make your partner’s life better, then what the fuck are you even doing with them in the first place?
Another definition of love I have issues with is the idea that infatuation is love. No, infatuation is an intensely pleasurable altered state that has nothing to do with whether the object of your infatuation is actually romantically compatible with you. You might grow into meaningful love with the person you’re infatuated with, but you might also find out that they’re kind of a jerk once the infatuation wears off and you try to have an actual day to day life with them in it.
Love, aside from being a verb, isn’t meaningful if you’re trying to apply it to someone you barely know. How can it be when you have to know what actually makes someone feel loved to love them in any meaningful sense? Infatuation is nice and all, and makes it easier to get to know someone, but it is absolutely not a substitute for learning about someone and caring about what you learn. Infatuation can make it easier to do the work of caring for someone while you’re in the throes of it, but it’s how you act when the infatuation wears off that really counts. Do you still treat your partner well when you’re working extra hours to get a project done? Do you take them to the movie they’ve been looking forward to for months, the one that isn’t really your thing, even after you stop getting butterflies in your tummy every time you see them? Do you make time for them even when the laundry is piling up and you have to spend half your weekend running errands? If you don’t, then don’t fucking kid yourself that you love them.
If you “love” someone, love them. Treat them like they matter to you. Do things that make them happy. Make them a priority in your life. Love is great and all, but don’t kid yourself that you love someone when you really don’t give a shit.