If we're going to pick three important words for our relationships, let's skip right past I Love You... because, we all get that, right? It's important, say it while you can, when you feel it, don't hold back. Love is everything. All you need is love. Life is short. One love.
Yes, yes, yes... And...
Words are just words. 'Love' has so many meanings, and is so over-stated (or under-stated), that many times it's meaning is inflated, de-sensitized, or so full of multiple possible interpretations that it almost becomes meaningless without relative context and felt experience through time.
By context, I mean something along the lines of relating and presence.
Presence is another thing altogether. It truly is a sort of living-art practice.
How do you offer and express your presence? How do you show love?
I've got three simple words that can help.
Three words that are also often used without much thought, but that can put a spin on things that will evoke meaning and true connection.
Words we also so often forget to slow down and actually emphasize with presence... and receptivity. For the real response they evoke and make space for.
A response that is likely not about you, or even necessarily about being loved back.
They are three words that do more than express YOUR feeling or devotion.
Three words that invite another in - to be seen, to open up, to share with you... to actually nurture and create a relationship of caring and sharing.
You have to be willing to let in a little silence, in shared moments. Sometimes, a lot of silence - because people can be taken aback when they realize you really mean these three words, and aren't just saying them because everyone does.
So, you have to offer them up with a little time, too.
When truly meant beyond the surface, flippant expectation that usually comes with them, these three words can change everything for someone who feels alone or disconnected, in any of the infinite ways that can show up.
Three little words about being loving.
But you have to really mean them, and really want a true response, for them to have the kind of impact, medicine and connection I'm referring to.
How are you?
Next time you want to tell someone you love them, try this first:
How are YOU?
Then pause and wait. Meet their eyes.
Let any silence show them that you really, truly care and want to know, even if it takes them a moment or a few tries to put to words what their true answer is.
Save 'I love you' for a bit later... they will feel it more, I promise.
Update: I also asked friends on IG:
What simple words or phrases have shown you love and caring more than 'I love you'? I'd love to know your first response right now. Or take it as a journal prompt.
I'm loving the responses. That comment thread is HERE.