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They’re among the most powerful words ever to be spoken or written, but what do they actually mean? It took me a long time to realise that words are simply sounds and letters and it’s not always a good idea to accept them at face value or believe they are delivered with the same meaning and intent as they are received.

The saying ‘actions speak louder than words’ is an important guide to being able to determine whether there is true and loving intent behind the words ‘I love you’. If someone is telling you that they love you, yet you don’t feel very ‘loved’ working through this checklist will help you determine whether your instincts are right.
There is true love behind the words ‘I love you’ if the person who is saying them behaves in some or all of the following ways:
A truly loving person;

  • Listens to what you have to say
  • Values your opinions
  • Makes you laugh and smile
  • Accepts you just the way you are, flaws and all
  • Supports what you want to do with your life
  • Is truthful with you at all times, good and bad
  • Trusts you
  • Treats you as an equal
  • Respects your family and friends
  • Is giving with their time, money, possessions and affections
  • Understands and accepts the way you handle your emotions
  • Encourages you to take physical care of yourself
  • Is happy to provide for your emotional needs, giving you affection when you need it and time to talk about your problems
  • Encourages you to nurture your own interests and friends
  • Does not knowingly try to manipulate or control you, or make you cry or feel threatened in any way, emotionally or physically
  • Gladly shares responsibility for housework, childcare and financial concerns
  • Will always look to find a fair compromise when there’s a difference of opinion, or conflict of interest between you
  • You know they would do all they could to support you through hard times
  • Shows pride being with you
  • Shows you equal respect at all times, even during arguments

For me, only unconditional love is ‘true love’ and only ‘true love’ is worth having at all. Love is not supposed to be hard work, or an emotional rollercoaster. Personally, I’d far rather be single than be in a loveless relationship. I hope I can give true love to the right person and I expect it in return, is that so much to ask?
So, the next time you hear those three little words, try to think beyond the moment and compare whether their actions actually endorse what they are saying. If you have a nagging feeling that their words are hollow, your instincts are probably right. You can handle managing or even ending a loveless relationship; contact me on twitter with your thoughts @couragequeen.com