Love is a scale, not “on” or “off”

He or she does more than “loves me” or “loves me not”


We talk a lot about love like it’s an on/off switch —

“I love you.”

“I don’t.”

To be fair, some professions of love are stated something more like “I’m falling in love with you” or “I’m starting to love you” — but things like that come across as more “cute” at worst or even “disingenuous” at best.

Even though they’re probably more true.


We develop fatigue slowly. We develop hunger slowly. And those are physiological feelings.

Love is a decision, followed by a series of actions, and while that decision might be “yes” or “no,” getting there takes time, and over time we might invest a growing level of energy every day.

In the beginning, developing love for them might be the same love we feel for most people — a general want for their wellbeing.

Then we care for them as we do our friends and family and other close people in our life, actively investing in the relationship.

And then we might care for this person even more than our friends and family, but that doesn’t mean we love our friends and family any less.

And, sure, there’s some pinnacle of love, perhaps — you would literally take a bullet for them.

But if push came to shove, you could only take a bullet for one person, once. Does that mean you love the others less?

People can probably love us while also preferring we not get fat. But can they love us if they would leave us — or feel less for us — if we did? I’m not sure. Maybe.

Where do we draw the line between “love” and “not love?” And, more importantly, why?

Why do we group love into some binary function — on or off?

We love as a scale. We develop feelings, sure, but then we decide. And as part of that decision, we invest — not everything at once, but snowballing over weeks, months, years.

Loving “right,” we should love them more — have invested more — ten years from now that we do today.

But that doesn’t make the actions and effort behind “I love you” in the present tense any less loving.

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