why do we say i love you

"Three words, eight letters. Say it and I'm yours," whispers Blair Waldorf (played by Leighton Meester) in the hit TV show
Gossip Girl. She's just a teenage girl trying to get the guy of her dreams to utter those magic words, "I love you. " Love is a strong thing, but in today's world it's a term we use rather often and loosely. It's thrown out in corridors, at the ends of teasing jokes, splashed across the Internet on birthdays or late night conversations with just about anyone. It's been so trivialized that it has its own abbreviation, ily. Three words were apparently two too many to express what has become a flippant sentiment. But, despite all this, love still has a powerful allure. It's something we all chase, whether knowingly or not. Rom-coms have associated true love with grand gestures, like coordinating a flash mob, building a house etc. On the other hand, in shows like Gossip Girl, love is the key to sex, but in today's hookup culture, the two are often unrelated. Which begs the question, what is love?

How do we distinguish between the intensity or passion of the word: when does love really mean like and when does it still mean love? The way I see it, love these days is a gradient, broken up into four main types. There's the most inconsequential, the "I love you" we address to Nutella, other foods and objects in general. Now, if you're anything like me, professing love to food occurs pretty often and pretty seriously but, in the grand scheme of things, it's the the furthest from the love we're shown in the movies and other media. Beyond inanimate objects and pets, I for one like to tell people I love them. But the love I express either jokingly or sincerely to my friends is not the same as the unconditional love amongst my family, which is the kind that you don't have to test and, at least for me, is the kind that you feel sure of even when you're sure of nothing else. However, none of this is the romantic love singles pine for on Valentine's Day. That's being in love. And it's complex.

Because sometimes it's fickle and fleeting and sometimes it's forever. But you never know until you give it a whirl. Maybe that's why we've taken to using love for more than just knee-weakening romance. Because the swoony sensation, when it does occur, is a wild ride. It's full of bumps and twists and turns and surprises (both good and bad). Rather than take that leap, it's so much easier to simply proclaim love for your fluffy dog who can't say anything to the contrary, or to your best friend who'll only laugh and respond in kind or to your mom or dad who echoes you unfailingly with an "I love you too. " True love, or even simply an attempt at it, is powerful, and though that's appealing, it can also be scary. Follow HuffPost Teen on More on HuffPost: When I say I love you, it means that I treasure your heart. It means that I value you. And it means that I see a future with you. When I say I love you, it means that I trust you with my whole soul. It means that you being happy, makes me happy.

And it means that I would never ever want to do anything to hurt you. So, when I say, I love you, please do not take itВ lightly. For me, the word love holds weight. It means something to me. It means something more than I like you or, I have a crush on you. To me, I love you, means that I see my universe pointed in your direction. It means that I recognize how lucky I am to have you. And when I say it to you, please remember that when I say I love you, it means that I always will. I don t love lightly. I don t love gently or softly. I love hard. Some may say I even love too much. В But I would rather love hard any day than to take that sentence lightly. I would rather love too much, than to never love at all. В When I say, I love you it means that no matter what, waking up to you would be my idea of the perfect morning. It means that no matter what, sleeping next to you would be my idea of a perfect night. It means that I want to keep waking up to you, each and every morning and each and every transition from fall to summer.

When I say, I love you it means that I can picture what a future looks like with you. And it means that I want one. With only you. So, please, do not take those three words with a grain of salt. Don t shrug at me, or smile a sly little smile. Acknowledge my love. Feel it. Accept it. And if you feel the same, than take my heart with yours. When I say, I love you, I mean it. I m not saying it just to make you happy. I m not saying it to be romantic. I m not saying it because I feel like I have to, or because I feel like there s a deadline I have to reach. I love you means that I want to spend hours talking with you at midnight. It means that I want to grow old with you and still call you perfect even when your wrinkles start to show. It means that even if we end, my love won t dim. My love for you will never end. So when I say that to you, please believe me. And when you are ready to say it back to me, only say it when you truly mean it. Only say it when you believe in me too. В

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