I Love You: An Essay

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. ~ 1 Corinthians 13: 4-7.

I love you. It’s amazing how much promise, hope, joy, sorrow, pain, and ambivalence these three words elicit. Particularly in a day wherein people have become lazy, relying solely upon words to express a sentiment at the expense of actually demonstrating that they mean what they say, I love you has, to me, become nearly devoid of any true meaning. When I love I do it completely. I give my heart and soul unselfishly and, subsequently, place my relationships high on my priority list. I do not understand why others believe that it is simply enough to just say it without following through with actions.

I write this now because I am contemplating my romantic future several years after my divorce. My second divorce from my mistake marriage which is a long story in and of itself (and best left for another time). However, my first relationship following my divorce—albeit rather short-lived—was an exercise in futility and a character-building experience. Insecurities, indecision, narcissism, and naiveté plagued any semblance of longevity or happiness.

Big mistake number one: he was “separated”—which really meant that he wanted to have a wife and a girlfriend. A girlfriend for the fun, novelty, and sex, and a wife waiting for him to come back that provided some odd stability in his mind.

Big mistake number two: I kept taking him back after every break-up. I have to admit I was acting like a stupid girl. I am most definitely not stupid. Nevertheless, the fear of being alone—something I now enjoy—affected my usually intelligent decision-making processes. And I got hurt. Several times. Each subsequent injury—whether intentional or not—created new wounds or opened old ones, and eventually added enough salt for a 50-gallon drum of margaritas to them all.

I firmly believe that if one does not love oneself then he or she cannot love another. This, to me, is the primary law of love. Absent the capability of loving oneself it is impossible to extend such sentiment to others, yet people try repeatedly to love another, all the while devoid of the capacity to do so. They believe that mere utterance is analogous to actions. That saying those three little words is enough to get one’s point across, to make the other person believe in all the hopes and promises such words ought to convey. In reality, however, where too many people rest upon the laurels of said words, even more of them erroneously and habitually trust the speaker. I believe this is at the heart of the decline of society—that people believe words without deeds and that those who speak such meaningless utterances are taken at face value without actually having to put effort into realizing their true connotation or into making the other person feel said value.

I cannot fathom a statement that is more comprehensive, more descriptive, and more reflective of what love truly is. In my relationships I have been confronted with a dearth of such guidelines. Pridefulness, lack of protection and trust, malice, spite, selfishness, and the absence of kindness have been my experience and it seems as though I repeatedly become involved with individuals who do not adhere to the aforementioned words of wisdom. Am I listening to myself? I do not follow these words either. In such circumstances, smart women and men are reduced to stupid adolescents despite a plethora of experience which should guide them away from false beliefs and toward veracity and authenticity.

What, then, is love? Truly it is caring for another as much if not more than one cares for him- or herself. Putting another human being atop the priority list is, indeed, the best gift one can bestow upon another. To demonstrate such a level of nurturing and attention that transcends personal consideration is an unparalleled demonstration of the profundity of one’s heart. Yet of all the relationships in the world, I would imagine—as any apt cynic would—that the words are spoken far more than they are actually demonstrated. ’Tis but a shame, really. Even more distressing—at least to me—is the number of those within these relationships who are perfectly content and comfortable with the status quo.

Not I, that’s for sure. I am one of the unfortunate minority who are not merely satisfied by actionless words. I have experienced far too many times the verbal sentiments of love with nonexistent actions. Or, even worse, the words followed by violence and pain. Ergo, to me, deedless protestations of love are simply words. Meaningless. Empty. Worthless.

So here I am; endeavoring into the dating world as one would dunk one’s toe into a scalding bathtub or freezing lake, with the oxymoronic combination of cynicism and hope. The former is a result of my experiences and the latter a reflection of my eternal Disney-esque belief in true love and happily ever after.

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” ~ Lao Tzu

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