I Love You. Whatever that means.

I find myself in the car, caught up in deep conversation, and I am hit by a wave of emotion. I look at my partner sitting next to me, and I put my hand on his knee. “I love you.” He grins. Then I say, “Even though I have no idea what that means.” And he grins wider.

It has been one of our ongoing conversations for years. What does this Love thing mean, anyway? I love my cat, I love my kids, I love my husband, and I love spaghetti. I think, for a moment, we need different words. Should “love” be banished for vagueness? He is surprised to hear my claim that I can summon this “feeling” of love without a particular object in mind. I experience this expansion in my chest and I call it love. Is it a mimic if there is no loved? Is love a transitive verb?

As the conversation continues and we poke about in the details, it is about my experience of love, not love in the abstract… or even his experience of love. My feelings are examined, prodded, and labelled. Is it really love or is it something else? Can you love somebody and then not love them? What does it mean to be in love? Can you feel love and something else at the same time? Is it just a chemical process triggered by sensory stimulae? That “love” of spaghetti… what is that, really?

And then he looks at me. And he says, “This is why I’m still with you after all this time. Because we can have this conversation over and over, and there is always something new.”

“I love you,” he says. “Whatever that means.”


4 responses to “I Love You. Whatever that means.”

  1. It is mildly astounding to me (only in the way that something that you’ve lived with all your life can remain mildly astounding to you) that English only has the one word for love, when it seems to be such an important concept to all of us.

    Perhaps we would if it were tangible. You can’t point and say “that’s love-alpha”, or “that’s love-beta”, by a set of physical signs, so it is difficult to impart the distinctions.

    I’ve read that the ancient Greeks had at least four words for it (see C.S. Lewis’s ‘The Four Loves’ (in his guise as a scholar, from that period where it was assumed you could read Greek if you were reading anything scholarly, I’m afraid)), but that was a sufficiently different world that the distinctions may not translate well.

    Perhaps, on a cultural scale, our lack of precision simply allows us the luxury of vagueness and wriggle-room. Of opportunities for drama. Because we wouldn’t want to be bored.

    On the question of whether love is transitive, I would ask if the love you invoke is truly objectless. Are you, possibly, loving the universe, or even loving love itself?

  2. …IF! U HAVE “NOTICED!”, IO HAVENT, Exactly, SAID OR “Typed! Out THAT-“I LOVE YOU!”-NOW! I HAVE BEEN, “Debating!” With Myself!

    I HAVE, a # of times-WONDERED the SAME thing-I LOVE Chocolate!, I LOVE a Sunny Day! EXCUSE-WHAT!, the FUCK, IS LOVE!

    (DAM! IF, I WOULDNT “like!” to HAVE a “reasonable!” amount of Stocks! in THAT DANG “Company!” MIGHT, make a “Penny or 2!”)

    I THINK, THIS “IS!” REALLY, “weird!” I GO, throw, who the HELL knows, THAN, MAYBE a day OR 2, U go throw IT, AND we THINK the SAME things!

    ITS, a REAL Trip! There I go, AGAIN-“Talkan!” GOOD OLE “CLEAR!” Dixie!

    Theres, NOT a DAM, Thing ’bout the FACT, “U!” GOT the “priviledge!” tp “LEARN!” to learn, tyhe “Original!” English!; NOW! AINT a DANG Thing I CAN do ’bout the FACT, “I” JUST HAD to LEARN the “IMPROVED, FINER”, Form of English!

    THINK, MIGHT have Evan been Part of the reason They “fought!” OVER 200 hundred years ago!

    ANF, just THINK, ALL THIS time-They BEEN sayan, WE JUST wantted to Start a New Country!

    AINT, IT, amasing, JUST what THIS FUCKED UP WORLD! CAN think of!

    Now, Earlypo! REALLY, THINK!-MAYBE, we COULD do a HELL of a lot of “Good!” for each other!

    Crazy Thought!

    MAYBE, we CAN, “Develope!” the Center, to “Act!” or whatever “AS its Own City OR Area OR whatever!

    We MIGHT be able to set up some kind of system, u COULD SAVE some “Green!” IF, ur a “Member!”

    To BE a member-

    ANY! “Faith!”
    ANY! Sex
    ANY! Age
    ANY! Profession

    The ONLY Thing, I COULD THINK of u HAD to DO, IS “Believe!” IN GOD!

    Listan, Browe, ur AIM MAY be improving ’cause u DID nick my ear, BUT u STILL DIDNT get ME! SO THERE!

  3. […] I came home and told my husband about my reaction, and he asked, “And when did you see the Loch Ness Monster?” I thought of all the times that (as Camus puts it in The Myth of Sisyphus) the set has fallen away, and the absurdity of our lives became apparent. I thought about the night I stayed at the Buddhist Abbey, and the prayer wheel fell off the shelf above me in the middle of the night, causing me to sit straight up in bed with the words, “Wake Up!” at the top of my mind. I thought about the first time that my strict logical positivist viewpoint was challenged, when dealing with constructivism during my B.Ed. (“But!” said I, “What I teach has right and wrong answers!”) I thought about my first encounters with postmodernism, non-violent communication, pagans and meditation, about the day that I finally realized that my physical yoga process mirrored my mind-states, about coming to”know” that knowledge is provisional, and subjective, and mediated by our experiences… when I found out that I don’t really know what I mean when I say, “I love you“… […]