Why are we so scared to tell our closest friends that we love them and that they are important to us?
Love and Friendship – Written on Tuesday 28th August
I am at home, snuggled under a duvet on the sofa with a flu-like thing. Today is the seventh day I have had this bug so I visited the doctor this morning. She sent me home with a no new pieces of advice to get rid of this thing. Keep doing what you are doing; rest, fluids and keep the veg intake up with some soups. Why thank you doc, that is what my mum told me to do last week, which I have been doing!!!
Anyway, I digress, that is not what I want to write about. I have just been mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and came across a post from a friend; it was a black and white picture of her and her best mate with the caption: “RIP you big idiot, tell your best mate you love them xx”.
A couple of things popped into my head – why do we not express feelings of love to our closest friends? Why do we not let them know how important they are to us and why do we sometimes feel awkward or embarrassed or shy receiving these sentiments from our friends? Why do we wait until someone is dying before we tell them how much we love them? And why did I need this reminder before I told my people?
I love you. I appreciate you. I value you.
I show my love for my friends in deeds, but I don’t often tell them how much I appreciate and care about them in words too. It need not be an explicit “I love you” all the time. It might be,” “I really appreciate you.” “I value you and our friendship.” “Thank you for being a part of my life.”
Many kinds of love
It seems to me that we are missing something. Besides recognising the love between a parent and child, in today’s world when we think “love” we connect it only to romantic love. Our western society, and particularly the movies, have glorified it to the level where it is seen to be the highest attainable and most desirable type of love there is. But it doesn’t last…
But there are so many other “loves” and other ways to love, which we don’t acknowledge as love, and therefore, do not spend enough time nurturing.
The ancient Greeks were far more sophisticated than us. They had 8 different words in their vocabulary for the robust and complex emotion of love. I have the thought that English may be failing us with just the one word. For example, they had Eros or Erotic Love – romantic passionate sexual desire, the type you have in the first year or so of a romantic partnership which usually fizzles out. There was Philia or Affectionate Love. The ancient Greeks valued philia far above eros because it was considered a love between equals. The feeling of affection and loyalty seen in solid friendships, the sense of sacrifice for your pack.
Then there is Pragma or Enduring love. It is a love that has aged, matured and developed over time. It is beyond the physical. You can find pragma in married couples who’ve been together for a long time, or in friendships that have endured for decades.
Unfortunately, pragma is a type of love that is not easily found. It is the result of effort on both sides. It’s the love between people who’ve learned to make compromises, have demonstrated patience and tolerance to make the relationship work.
Maybe we need do need a few more words in the English language for love.
Taking a risk
Even if I took the actual words “l love you” to a friend out of the equation, the last time I told a friend they were valued and important in my life and thanked them for sticking with me in the friendship was at least a month ago – and I possibly had a few wines in me.
I have just sent Marcia, my wonderful friend of nearly 20 years, a message, with a disclaimer: “I am not drunk… and I love you and thank you for being in my life”. Why did I feel I needed to make it a bit funny for her to receive it?
I guess we find it hard to express our love as much as we find it difficult to express our feelings when we are going through hard times. We are so afraid of being vulnerable – I do get it. But having the courage to be vulnerable is a beautiful thing. It shows those around you that it is more than ok; it is not weakness, it is strength. And when a friend is opening themselves up to you, whether it is expressing their love or expressing their hurt, receive and respond as you would like someone to do for you. Be kind and understanding. Being able to receive this information in an authentic way also asks you be vulnerable, and I think that is why people gloss over it or make a joke of it. Because they too are afraid of opening themselves up.
I have lots of whys and not many answers today. If nothing else has come from reading this, please tell your people they are loved and valued.