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-   -   What does "I love you" mean to you? (http://www.polyamory.com/forum/showthread.php?t=3645)

RatatouilleStrychnine 09-03-2010 11:19 AM

What does "I love you" mean to you?
I'm interested in exactly what people mean when they say "I love you" to their partner, and whether it means anything different in polyamorous relationships.

Monogamous people sometimes say that part of being in love is preferring your partner to anybody else, which is an aspect which clearly wouldn't apply to polyamorists.

Most polyamorists I know either want or are already in at least one relationship with a permamant, lifelong commitment of some sort. The sort of emotion that draws you to those kind of relationsips seems fairly easy to define as "being in love". Some people in polyamorous relationships will have two or more relationships like that, but what about those other kinds of relationships that we might have? What about those secondary/tertiary/etc relationships that will never reach that type of commitment for whatever reason?

What do you need to feel or know before you tell a partner "I love you"? Is love purely emotional for you, or is there a rational component too?

Ariakas 09-03-2010 12:52 PM

It means that I care for someone enough that their happiness is a fundamental concern of mine....:)

I don't hand it out easily either. Love to me, specifically romantic love, implies a certain level of commitment (which does not mean fidelity)

Tonberry 09-03-2010 01:37 PM

I think the best way to explain what I mean by I love you is "knowing you exist makes me happy". It means I want them to be happy, crave them when they're gone, and they're in a special part of my heart.

I don't think it's much different than in a mono relationship. Just, the "I prefer you to everyone else" becomes "I prefer you guys to everyone else". Although I would say it's a different kind of feeling rather than a "better" one. I love my friends too, in a different way, that doesn't mean I think they're inferior.

I think loving someone is emotional and physical. Your heart beats faster, you're all smiley, you know what that's like I assume?

I think in my case "I love you" also means "I want you to stay a part of my life, and while our relationship might stop at some point, I don't have an end in mind".

redpepper 09-03-2010 03:26 PM

It's akin to namaste to me... "Your spirit and my spirit are ONE." I can have this with everything. Birds, feathers, a rock.... It is a matter of depth. I say I love you when I feel it's depth.

marksbabygirl 09-03-2010 07:08 PM

In the past, it has meant "I want to spend my life with you" "I want to grow old with you" "I want to raise children with you"

It has also meant "OMFG that was amazing sex, and I want to do that again"

For right now it means "You are important to me, and I can't imagine my life without you" regardless of how often or how much contact I have with that person.

Morningglory629 09-03-2010 08:05 PM

It means something in that person moves me in a spiritual way, we are connected, there is trust, we are vulnerable to eachother, there is mutual admiration and life with him/her has been so much better.

idealist 09-04-2010 03:46 AM

When I say "I love you" to someone and we have a long term relationship, it means that we have loved one another for many years. We have demonstrated honesty with one another. We have a mutual trust and respect for one another. We find that we are able to work out conflicts and come to resolution which feels right for both of us. We still look forward to spending time together. We connect mentally, emotionally and sexually. We have each demonstrated an interest for self-growth. We have each been able to confront one another when necessary. Neither of us is feeling any fear or doubt about having an emotional connection for the rest of our lives..... It just feels right.
(I can say this to three men in my life.)

Elusive Love
By: Idealist

Although love creates the desire within the lover to possess,
Love can neither be contained nor possessed.
The lover desires to find security within the love.
This fleeting sense of security can be felt for periods of time.
It is futile to attempt to capture love and own it as a possession.
Love will possess you instead.
Love is within you and waiting to be expressed and shared,
And it conveys itself in so many different ways.
It is the foundation of life itself.

Lemondrop 09-04-2010 04:20 AM

I guess I'm a bad example, or my monogamous wiring is showing. For me, "I love you" *does* say that I prefer you above others, and also that I want to spend my life with you. I *rarely* say I love you to non-romantic partners--my children, OF COURSE, but (don't judge) my parents raised me to not say I loved them. My MIL tries to force it from me, and I hate it. But that's a tangent.

My partners are all what I would consider long-term partners. When I say, "I love you" I mean you are special to me, I commit to you, I will take care of you when you need it, and you are my family. When I say it, it's special, because I don't say it to a lot of people. However, weirdly, when someone is special to me, but not in the "I love you" category, I tell them to be safe. The only one who's ever figured that out is Easy, who gets me. :D

TruckerPete 09-04-2010 04:23 AM


Originally Posted by Tonberry (Post 42861)
I think the best way to explain what I mean by I love you is "knowing you exist makes me happy". It means I want them to be happy, crave them when they're gone, and they're in a special part of my heart.


It's easy to love when it is returned. The most interesting time I ever said "I love you" was within the last six months.

I was on a business trip, and planned on seeing an ex. (With permission, of course.) While exes are normally exes for a reason, the reason this particular gent was an ex was because he wasn't ready for long term commitment when we dated, was military, and got posted. I loved him intensely at the time. We reconnected after he came back to the area, about a month before my trip, a few years after he broke it off.

At one point, we were sitting together, and I was simply filled with love for him. I knew he had strong feelings for me, but was 95% certain I wouldn't be hearing an "I love you" from him. I said it anyway.

He was a little taken aback. I explained I didn't need to hear it in return. It was just how I felt, and I was not implying a need for anything more than that moment. It was such a pure moment for me, because I am normally fraught with "Will they say it too??"

He visited in the summer, and surprised me by saying it back. We kept in touch and frequently said we loved each other. It just is and in no way diminishes my other loves.

He has since found someone to be with. I don't hear from him now, but I know that is what he needs. He's mono, and could not give her the attention she deserves if I was around to distract him. I have no negative feelings about this whatsoever. I know we could never work and simply want the very best for him.

My other loves are different, and also different from each other. They all run deeply, but I don't know why they aren't the same. Something to think on during a rainy day!

Ariakas 09-04-2010 04:41 AM

unrequited love has been one of my most painful lessons - in life. Congrats to you for understanding how it would be and reflecting on it before hand.

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