Friday, September 12, 2008

You don't have to SAY you love me...

I was thinking about love this morning.

Well... not exactly. I was thinking about how it is people know when they are loved. What makes someone FEEL loved?

There's an odd thing about that.

Everyone knows that "actions speak louder than words," right? Of course.

So why is it that so many people seem to need to hear those three words? Why do they need to be TOLD "I love you" for them to believe it?

I can tell you- as can many, many other people, I'm absolutely sure- that someone SAYING "I love you" doesn't necessarily mean squat. They can say it every day, for years, and still have it not mean a damned thing.

And yet...
how do you know if you are interpreting someone's behaviour accurately? How can you tell if what they DO means what you think it means?

Some behaviours are relatively easy to interpret, that's for sure. If someone beats the crap out of you, chances are pretty good that they don't "love" you. There are all sorts of other ways of treating people badly that are a really big clue that love is not the primary motivator.

So how do you account for people who stay in bad relationships, even abusive relationships, regardless of how they are treated? How many of them believe that the other person loves them? How many people believe that BECAUSE the person apologizes, and tells them that they love them?

And the flip side... what about when someone treats you well, or nicely? There are all sorts of possible positive behaviors, but I'll cut to the big one: If someone makes love to you, does that mean they love you? Ha! I'm betting we can all easily agree that that ain't necessarily so.

It's a quandary.

I think people often want to be told "I love you" because they somehow believe that it is EASIER to interpret those words accurately, than it is to interpret behaviour accurately. They want verbal confirmation of whatever actions they are experiencing, as if somehow, getting those to "match up" makes everything clear. They want that "missing piece" of intentional verbalization of feelings, in order to put it all together.

This would all be much simpler, of course, if people actually MEANT "I love you" when they say it, rather than the entire gamut of other things that are generally meant by those words, ranging from "I want to have sex with you and I think this is how I can get it" to "I'm afraid if you leave and I haven't said this, then if you die in a horrible accident I'm going to feel guilty for the rest of my life" to "this is what I'm supposed to feel, so I'll say I do."

It would also be much simpler if everyone agreed on what love itself MEANS, anyway.

Most people seem to think it means something along the lines of "Aren't you lucky! I have chosen YOU to be the person who meets ALL of my needs!"

I'm more of the "I really enjoy being around you, and I'd like to share some of myself with you, and do whatever I can to help you meet YOUR needs" persuasion.

At any rate, the very definition of love is not well established, nor agreed on.

So. Back to the beginning.

If someone acts like they care about you, there is often this nagging doubt (and sometimes it is accurate!) of the validity of the interpretation of such behaviour. So most people also want to be told. But if you are TOLD, then you can't be sure that it means what you think it means.

Most people default to wanting the words. Words seem to be so much more concrete, so much simpler, so much easier to grasp.


That's mind boggling, what with the rampant misinterpretation of nearly everything ever said, about anything, whether such misinterpretation is intentional or not. And what about that "Actions speak louder..." thing?

Back to my question.

What makes someone FEEL loved? How can you know, for sure, how someone feels about you? How can you ever get off that edge of "maybe," of doubt, of having SOME evidence to support caring, loving feelings, but never enough to let down your guard?

I guess my real question is this:

Do people who have never loved and been betrayed not go through all this torturous questioning? Do they just believe, without hesitation, without doubt, without twisting themselves up into knots needing to be sure they are not, once again, misinterpreting or falling for bullshit? Are they able to give and receive love, whatever that is, without the crushing pressure of knowing exactly what it feels like to have that turn out to be a load of crap? Can they just hear the words, or be treated well, and feel loved?

And if so, is that a good thing? Or a dangerous thing?


CoyoteFe said...

Greetings Hilinda -

My two cents in answer to your question: Yes, the people who have never loved nor been betrayed still twist themselves into knots. Sometimes the fear of pain feels just like pain.

Katherine Crocker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Katherine Crocker said...

And perhaps it's a quantum thing--once you've been hurt or betrayed, you have a whole different perspective on the things that happened before the final hurt or betrayal (i.e. your perception waveform has collapsed). And so it comes back to the validity of perceptions--my broken finger may be less serious medically than your multiply-fractured legs, but that doesn't necessarily change anything.

Of course that's just my opinion (I could be wrong).