Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared.
Human relationships are some of the most complex, difficult and anxiety inducing issues that most of us deal with at some point in our lives.
One of the hardest things to do is to learn how to tell someone you love them. It is hard because it puts us in a vulnerable position. We are exposing our fragile and softest parts of our selves.
What if our love goes unrequited? What if it creates an awkward silence between the two of us?
These are valid concerns but not concerns that we should put a lot of stock in. And why do I say that? Because we only feel vulnerable when expressing our love for others when we are focused on the future i.e. we are focused on outcomes. We hope or expect that they will respond in kind. But this is not the hope or gift that pure love asks for.
When we seek outcomes from the way we say I love you, we are speaking of infatuation and lust which we so often confuse with love.
As I wrote in another post about how to prove love love is eloquently expressed by 1 Corinthians chapter 13 verses 4 to 7: Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, 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.
You don’t have to be Christian or even religious to appreciate the truth of those verses. Love is a freely given emotion. It is the recognition of that same spirit, the greater spirit if you will that we recognize in others as being a part of ourselves.
We can look at Buddhism for some ideas on the meaning of real love. The Four Immeasurables are a great foundation and understanding of what I consider to be true love – unattached love – in practice:
May all sentient beings have happiness and its causes,
May all sentient beings be free of suffering and its causes,
May all sentient beings never be separated from bliss without suffering,
May all sentient beings be in equanimity, free of bias, attachment and anger.
Perhaps true love can best be seen as the desire for others to be happy without an attachment on outcome.
Most of what we view as love is a selfish love, the love that is based on outcomes or attached to a hoped for outcome. I say I love you in the hopes that you will say you love me back, or perhaps that you will like me better or maybe even in the basest sense, sleep with me. These are all poisoned definitions of love, a love that is selfish and self seeking.
So whether you want to know how to show someone you love them or how to tell someone you love them you need to first filter through your own self awareness, the love you feel for them. Is it authentic love or conditional love?
If it is conditional love you are expecting something in return. If it is authentic love it is unconditional, you expect nothing else in return.
If you are unsure of where the root of your love comes from, perhaps you can first learn how to tell someone you like them. This is much easier. You simply tell them that you like them, but it comes across much more authentic if you can identify the reasons why you like the person you’re talking to.
Something like: “Man you are so generous and that is one of the reasons I really like you”, works better than a simple “I like you”.
If you feel content offering that bit of information up without expectation of anything in return, then saying something similar to someone you love without a sense of expectation is authentic love.
Again it is much easier to say: “one of the thing I love most about you is the way you are so kind to animals and old people”.
A simple “I love you” is also very potent but it can make us feel vulnerable even if we think we are just saying it without expectation. But think of it this way, saying I love you to someone you love is a gift that you are giving them. Let them comment on the gift or not, it is not important. The important thing is that you gave that gift freely and willingly.
And like a young seedling it will grow and blossom in their hearts, you have helped sow the seeds of compassion and understanding and those seeds will grow and take root in that others heart and soul whether they know it or not.