family, Love

Contractual Love

Have you ever been the second person in a relationship to say I love you?  This can be seen in any number of ways: a parent saying “I love you” to a child, a friend to another friend, a boyfriend to a girlfriend (or vice versa of course), husband to a wife (vice versa as well).  How should this be handled, as the responder?  How do you feel as the responder?  Depending on the relationship, is it just polite and good manners to have the reciprocity of, “I love you too.”  If it is the very first time you have heard this from a boyfriend/girlfriend, in the event you don’t feel the same way, do you risk making the proposition into an uncomfortable place for the person who broke the hymen of the relationship by responding with how you truly feel?

At times, when you are the responder, you may not realize that you love the other person because it has not been conceptualized in your mind.  At the time, when you are the responder, you are not courageous enough to utter the vulnerable words first; so, by being a responder, if you do indeed feel the same way you may be thankful.  At times, when you are the responder, you gain a sense of power over the relationship as you are guarded to share yourself, or not,  with someone who no longer has that privilege.  Regardless of your feelings and your emotional position toward the other person how long it takes you to respond, the manner in which you respond and, among countless other factors,  what you say will indubitably affect the direction of your relationship and will be remembered for the length of the relationship.  That,  or it will be the death knell.

For relatives, lovers, even friends the muscle memory “I love you too” is presented as part of the social contract.  For fledging relationships a sincere “I love you too!” will likely wax the romance into fast growth.  Even if a freshly hatched relationship, that may be heading toward good things, an unenthusiastic “I love you too” or a vacant response will certainly wane the relationship, even cause a halt that cannot be resurrected.

As I get older I feel Time is not only important but essential but not on my side.  Not intending to waste any of my time, I do not apologize for my crassness, I view the importance of making the best of anything I am involved in.  This may mean that I am willing to be the one who says, “I love you” first.  If I am the respondent and it’s not love I have no plans to float, spin my wheels and waste the others’ time.  At the very least, if I am the respondent, if I cannot honestly say, “I love you too” in a way that will make the other feel special, important, relevant to my life, and a valued person my response needs to be concise and definitive with a clean-cut severing of the relationship.

Relationships are easy to get into, hard to maintain, and worth every ounce of effort that is put into them.  Understanding the contract that you are implicitly entering is essential.

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