Simply Put, I Love You

I love you
©Michal Collection via

I love you. Why is the world so stingy with these three little words? They don’t cost a thing. And yet, they may be the most valuable commodity any of us possess. In an increasingly isolated world dominated by loneliness, anxiety, and fear, a simple “I love you” has restorative power. However, generational paradigms and societal norms have created narrow and sometimes hyper-dramatic definitions of love … to its detriment. Love is life’s infrastructure, its basic building block, and arguably its purpose, but often love is misconstrued for its lesser derivatives: passion, lust, romantic love, affection, or even infatuation. Is that why we verbally share our love so sparingly? Perhaps. Is it fear of being misconstrued? Fear of no reciprocity?

Though I do not know why we don’t say “I love you” enough, I know I am no longer willing to withhold (even unintentionally) how much the people in my life mean to me… my family, of course, but also the kindergarten teacher who so lovingly cares for my nervous daughter, the grocery clerk who never fails to ask how I am, the neighbor who doesn’t judge me for my family’s early-morning bus stop meltdowns. I love them all.

We each know at least one person who dishes out “I love you’s” like limitless free candy, while others spend them like there’s a strict wartime ration. I was somewhere in between until recently when tragedy hit too close to home, and an emotional inventory instantly revealed how much I love so many people in my life. They matter to me and make my life matter… regardless of how well I know them. I love their simple gestures of kindness or solidarity. I love the way they raise their kids to be such great friends. I love the spirit with which they chase their dreams and win… or fail. These relationships, no matter their depth, are worthy and fertile. Telling others we love them is affirming they are seen, they are heard, they are supported, and we care. I wish we embraced the “I love you” like a child and aimed to tell the adults in our lives we loved them as much as we tell our children. How would that feel? How would that affect others? There are people in our lives who never hear “I love you.” I cannot imagine the impact those words might have on their trajectory. What impact might it have on you?

There is no downside. Saying “I love you” is scientifically proven to reduce stress and make us feel good. Saying “I love you” more is not the emotional equivalent of printing more money. There is no love inflation. We have a limitless supply and an infinite need. We don’t need to hoard it. Love fits every gender, every race, every ethnicity. Everyone needs to be loved, which makes us all responsible to love. What we give is given back. And yet, if some of us are still daunted by those three pesky words, we can still do love. We can show it. We can say, “I’m here for you.” We can text, “You matter to me.” Whatever you do, make sharing your love a habit. It’s an easy win. And, by the way, whether I know you or not, I love sharing life with you.


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