Good love is “boring”

Bad love is erratic

I just finished reading Samantha Irby’s “We Are Never Meeting In Real Life” (recommended, obvs), and in it she talks about her relationship by saying,

“I’m in love and it’s boring.”

Right on, sister.

Too often, we think love is supposed to be manic

People celebrate “losing themselves,” and “falling” for someone; they get tossed and turned like they have no say in the matter; they let themselves get pulled emotionally willy nilly and chalk it up as “passion.”

“Relationships take work,” we tell ourselves. But we’ve misconstrued what that “work” is supposed to mean.

“Boring” is better than “impassioned,” and while most great relationships have a blend of both, forced to choose, we should readily take the former.Consistently warm is far more hospitable than hot and cold for long-term emotional wellbeing.

Boring is beautiful

By “boring,” I mean stability, consistency, reliability. We can hang our hat on these things; we can only build on a solid, unwavering foundation.

Greatness is built with consistency

As true for relationships as it is for anything.

Weight loss happens with countless little daily decisions, not binging and purging. Building a company happens in the millions of micro-moments, not landing — and losing — That One Big Client. It’s a lot easier to engineer a solution around consistent variables — regardless of what they are.

When a partner (or the relationship) is up, down, hot, cold, ecstatic, pissed, etc., we spend far too much time managing their feelings and not enough time actually building the relationship.

I can’t do anything with an erratic partner. (I know this because I had one once — okay, twice — and it was simply unworkable.)

Greatness is built with agency and taking responsibility

Our partners are not here to keep us “entertained.”

If we approach love with healthy hearts, we don’t complain of “boredom” with our partners, because we understand that they are not here to amuse, distract, or otherwise entertain us. Their lives are not fuel for our amusement, they are not here simply to delight and distract.

We are responsible for our own emotional wellbeing.

Greatness is built with emotional health

Emotionally healthy people do not chase “romance” and put on exaggerated displays. Emotionally healthy people can lap at the edge of excess; they are satiated on healthy displays of love alone. They understand that real, healthy love is in the every day little shit — remembering the dry cleaning; a hug; a word of encouragement before the big meeting — and they don’t require, nor do they have any real appetite for, the showy shit that’s “shareable” on social media.

Greatness is built in the everyday, not the few exciting moments

Great relationships, like anything, are built in the everyday. They don’t simply endure the everyday to just get to the next vacation or fun outing, just like great work doesn’t simply endure the work week to get to the weekend.Relationships are built in the “white space” of life; they are the everyday. So what we do with that time makes or breaks us.

Every moment we spend with our loved one is precious and invaluable. That’s where the relationship lives or dies. And a lot of those everyday moments are, for the most part, boring.

That 80 year old couple holding hands in the park is sharing “boring.” They got there one day at a time.

Impassioned is dangerous

By “impassioned” I mean excitement, excess, extremes. Romantic hedonism — new restaurants, gifts, travel, grandiose displays or constant reassurance or lofty, poetic declarations of love. If you want great love, these should make you want to run.

Bustle put out an article on “17 things to do when you get bored in your relationship.”

I’ll save you a read, because there aren’t “17” things to do. There’s only one thing to do, and it’s: “take responsibility for your own life and understand that it’s not your partner’s job to entertain you.”

There is, of course, a real benefit of trying new things and going to new places as a couple — but only if done with a calm heart, and never with the anxious frenzy to “do something!”

When we chase romance and excitement, we do to “love” what porn does to sex.

I can appreciate a sentimental surprise as much as the next girl, but nothing turns me off more than empty romantic gestures for the sake of the gesture. Given the choice, I’d rather take a dude who never does anything “romantic”but is stable and emotionally-secure every day.

“Passion” is dangerous to hang our hearts on because it fades away. It must either be doggedly pursued and constantly refueled, or it runs the risk of exposing the realization that there’s nothing underneath. Love built on frenzied pursuits leaves us fatigued and washed up, looking at each other at the end of our ropes, frustrated that we “can’t come up with anything else to do.”

In good love, there’s nothing “to do” except love one another. Every day. And it doesn’t depend on how we feel, because good, healthy love doesn’t hinge on our feelings; it’s a choice. Every day.

Good love looks and feels “boring”

Real, healthy love is quiet, not loud. It is calm, not frenzied. It is solid and stable, not flighty or fickle.

As Irby wrote,

“Real love… it’s not a game you don’t understand the rules of, or a test you never got the materials to study for. It never leaves you wondering… what you could possibly do to make it come home and stay there. It’s fucking boring, dude. I don’t walk around mired in uneasiness, waiting for the other shoe to drop… This feels safe and steadfast and predictable and secure. It’s boring as shit. And it’s easily the best thing I’ve ever felt.”

Good love is just the everyday — every day.

You’re Not Entitled To Know Other People’s Feelings

Just like we’re not entitled to their every thought or very being

One of many people’s biggest complaints in a relationship is “when my partner doesn’t tell me how they feel” (or “open up” or “talk to me,” etc.)

Ask these people what’s “literally the worst thing” in love and — second only to the thought of their partner leaving them — they will tell you: the frustration of a partner not sharing their feelings.

So, overwhelmed with the anxiety of not knowing — and being ill-equipped to manage this anxiety in healthier, more constructive ways — these people rush their partner, crowding them emotionally and coercing them,

Talk to me! Tell me how you feel. I wanna talk about it. I want to know what you’re feeling. I just want you to open up. Share with me. Tell me. Talk to me.

Give me. Give me. Give me.

People like this think “love” means “always sharing” and “sharing everything,” and they think this behavior translates as “intimacy,” but in reality it’s just “disrespecting your partner’s personal space” and “steamrolling healthy boundaries.”

I’m not suggesting that shutting down and stonewalling is the path to a great relationship — that’s not good, either. Because love does mean sharing. It does mean “talking about how you feel” and “letting the other person in;”being vulnerable and open and honest — all of that’s great.

But there’s a huge difference between offering and being obligated.

Offering to share with our partner is intimate. Being pushed to isn’t. If webully our partners into sharing, we are directly undercutting the very intimacy we think we’re building. If we whine, or cajole, or get defensive, or pissy, or play any kind of emotional war games in response to them holding back, we are being shittier than they are.

Because other people’s emotions are first and foremost theirs, not ours.What they do with them is their prerogative, not ours. And hearing them,if they choose to share, is a privilege, not a right. We are not “owed” anything in their heads.

“Sharing is caring!”

But care is also about being fair. Love is about respecting boundaries and understanding what’s yours, what’s theirs, and what they want as well.

“Yeah but if I don’t know what’s wrong, then how can I fix it?”

I understand where this is coming from, but it’s also worth understanding: other people are not ours to “dig at” or “fix,” and doing so is only “loving” if it’s also welcomed. Our partners are not our personal puzzles and our relationship isn’t a game of codependency Clue.

“But I just want them to share!”

Mm hm. And you’d probably also like it if someone gave you a million dollars. But we are no more entitled to someone’s personal experience than we are to someone’s money.

“But why won’t they just tell me?! Why is that so hard?”

Because they don’t want to. Maybe they’re not ready, maybe nothing’s wrong, maybe the feelings are still half-baked, maybe now’s not the time, maybe they’re self-soothing, maybe it’s not a big deal, maybe they don’t like how you latch on when they share; it doesn’t matter. They don’t want to. We can’t push.

We can make ourselves available, we can ask, we can invite, we can listen.

But above all, we must respect boundaries and recognize that it’s their emotions — not ours. The good thing is that with that comes the beautiful treasure of understanding: when they finally do share, it’s because they wanted to. And when they’re ready, if it’s important, they will.

Six Things I Learned About Relationships From Improv

Love doesn’t mean having to agree

I just wrote about improv a week ago, but that post was about anxiety / indecision and this one is about love and those two things, not enough of us agree, are entirely different. So they warranted separate posts.

I just started doing improv six weeks ago, and I loved it by the second class (the first being a bit too dicey too tell; I wanted to like it, was pretty sure I liked it, but it was also a bit early to know for sure.) But by the second week, I was definitely hooked, and I just signed up for my second six-week set of sessions.

And here’s what I’ve learned (and loved) about love in improv:

1.) Care About Others

The audience can tell, and so can your partner(s). It just makes for a much better experience — in improv as much as real life. The best scenes have connection.

Even when two characters are fighting, the scene goes a lot better if they fundamentally like one another (the characters, but the actors getting along IRL helps a lot too.) And you can play any character you want if you fundamentally care about them. The audience can tell.

Connection — and relationships — are the number one thing in improv.

And in life.

We get nowhere operating in a vacuum. Everything that means anything involves relationships of some kind.

2.) Trust Others

People always want to summarize improv as “yes, and,” but the connection and rapport with your teammates comes first.

During the first class, all we had to do was go out and talk. We could say anything we want — funny or not — but we had to talk until someone tagged us out, and the whole point of the exercise was to “save” our team members, and trust that someone would “save” us.

And we all did.

3.) Acknowledge — And Then Add (“Yes, and”)

This is the backbone of improv — the “number one rule” (after connection, see above.) “Yes, and” has two parts:

  • “Yes:” whatever your partner says or does, you accept. You run with it. That’s the new reality.
  • “And:” then you add more, and build.

1.) Acknowledge Others’ Realities (“Yes”)

Seems simple enough, but when I heard this phrase years ago, I butchered it. At the time, I tried to use “yes, and” to make a toxic relationship work (i.e., agreeing to everything he said in a fight.) But “yes, and” should never, ever be used in real-life arguments. The whole point of “yes, and” is to build energy, and healthy arguments should instead dissipate and get resolved.

Real-life still includes “yes,” but only in the way it’s actually meant — which isn’t necessarily literal. Rather:

“Yes” simply means you acknowledge what they said and accept it as “real.” It doesn’t mean you have to agree.

“Yes” just means you honor their statement (“okay. I heard that; that’s real”) rather than deny (“that never happened!” or “that doesn’t matter!”) It doesn’t mean you have to like it, or even pretend to.

I learned this the hard way, early on in improv. While playing the girlfriend of an upset boyfriend, I immediately launched into trying to comfort him. Afterwards, our instructor analyzed the characters for the class by saying,

“…and she was obviously totally codependent!! Great job, guys!”


It’s amazing how much we get wrong about relationships.

“Yes” in real life is not “yes, your feelings are hurt and I’m to blame!” It’s more like “okay, your feelings are hurt. I hear you” and then working to unravel and unwind the energy.

(And “yes, and” in improv looks more like, “Okay, sir… but I’m just trying to take your Dunkin Donuts order here.” I trust you see the difference.)

4.) Know how you FEEL! Then know how THEY feel

In the workshop, we did an awesome, deliberate paired exercise where we delivered one line at a time. After one person would say something, their partner would step away and define:

  • What their partner said
  • How their partner said it
  • How it makes them (the individual) feel
  • How they (the character) will use that in the scene

It’s remarkable how often we don’t hear each other’s actual words.

It’s also remarkable how often we misidentify their emotions.

And it’s downright sad when we struggle to accurately identify our own.

Understanding and getting better at all three things makes us so much better — not just in improv, but in relationships and life.

5.) Know What You Want

People don’t realize how important this is — in improv and life. You have to contribute. You need an objective, a motivation, a want. Even “trying to take your order,” from above, works.

What do you want?

As writer Kurt Vonnegut said,

“Make your characters want something right away even if it’s only a glass of water.”

If all you do is sit there, smile, nod, comfort, or agree, then you’re not really there. If you’re not present or participating, adding your own unique desires, wants, needs, and opinions, then you are passive and not a part of the scene, or real life. And both will steamroll you.

As Heidi Priebe wrote,

“If you fail to show up with a ‘deal,’ there’s a good chance nothing interesting is going to happen… Because bending or conforming to whoever your scene partner wants you to be isn’t interesting. It doesn’t create any tension. It doesn’t get you anywhere.”

You have to add and ask for something of your own. What’s your deal? What do you want?

6.) Energy is an exchange

Our instructor wasn’t “feeling it” our third class. Normally an expressive woman dressed in whimsical textures and colors, she was seated when we walked in, wearing a baseball hat and a fitted athleisure top zipped up to her chin. She’d had a bad day.

She still led the class, but the difference was palpable. And it was a really invaluable insight into the level of energy she normally brings, and just how draining it can be when someone isn’t constantly fueling the fire.

We have to do that for each other sometimes. We have to bring it. We can’t expect one person in any relationship to constantly feed the fire while the other one absorbs it.

It’s boring at best, and draining at worst.

Same as in improv as in life. We have to bring if we want others to bring; we supply half of the driving force.

“Forever” Isn’t Ours To Ask of Someone

And it isn’t ours to promise

Every day, countless people promise “forever” to one another.

But this promises isn’t ours to make.

A woman fighting a very aggressive form of cancer once said,

“Forever isn’t yours to give away. All you have to your name is right now.”

Everything changes — and that includes us

You and I are not immune to the laws of nature.

It’s not that I believe that “every relationship goes sour and ours will too.” I’m not pressing you to defend yourself by thinking, “no, I’m the exception.”

I’m not telling you that you will fall out of love. I’m not telling you that you can’t or won’t love forever.

I’m only saying that forever isn’t ours to promise. “Forever” belongs to nobody.

Things happen. People change. Expectations change. People leave. All people eventually die.

Life does stand still for us. Life will not make exceptions. Life will never preserve anything that’s true in the here and now to suit our needs.

“I have been reading lately about how insignificant human beings are, on this tiny blue planet, lost in a massive galaxy of thousands of planets and stars that are thousands of times bigger than ours — and it’s this desperate bid to be great, to be grandiose, to be eternal that becomes the ultimate fall of our species.”

When it comes to matters of life — and the universe — we may have our best intents, but this sort of promise just isn’t ours to give.

We’re setting our loved ones — and ourself — up for potential heartbreak by promising them something we don’t have.

But this truth has potential to make declarations of love more — not less — beautiful.

Instead, promise “now” — over and over

And accept this as the greatest form of love from them, too.

This present moment is our greatest and most valuable gift, and the deliberate choice around what we do with each moment is one of the greatest gestures we can give ourselves — and others.

A partner once asked me, “will you promise to love me forever?”

I told him “no.”

But then I did him one better and said , “but I promise that if I’m here, it’s because I want you. I choose you every day.”

When we’re here, it’s because it’s deliberate, and that’s better than obligation. It’s better when we’re here because we want to be, each and every day.

And it’s better when we treat each other with that day-by-day appreciation.

11 Toxic Relationship Habits We Mistake as Healthy

1. Calling your partner your “everything”

A friend of mine once texted me and said, regarding the girl he’d only known and been dating about six months, “she means everything to me.” Six months after that, he proposed, and now they’re married.

I’m sure they’ll stay “happily-ever-after” married forever. But sometimes I still think about that text and feel a little like: uh. k.

When you make your partner your “everything,” you are saying that everything else — yourself included — is nothing.

You’re suggesting — like, out loud — that the rest of your life doesn’t mean anything. That without your partner in it, you’d be left with little to live for.

That’s not romantic. It’s not cute. And it’s definitely not healthy.

2. Constant communication

Look, communication is good. Great. Real pillar of a strong relationship right there — good job.

Constant communication, however, is weird. And not okay.

One of my guy friends started dating this girl, and I don’t know if it was her or him or both of them (my money’s on both) but those two would talk on the phone like a dozen times a day. She would just call him sporadically with something that, the first few times, seemed like a legitimate important issue, and he’d excuse himself and be all, “brb” but then wouldn’t come back for like an hour.

And it would happen multiple times a day. Always.

And then he damn married her. And as far as I know, they still spend hours of their days doing this.

Fam, that’s not okay after like 7th grade. What the hell are you people doing with your lives? Emotional self-sufficiency goes a long, long way. Youshouldn’t be relying on your partner for company or reassurance any time you have a thought or eat something.

3. Thinking all of your emotions are valid

Sweetie, I tell you this because I care about you: not all of your emotions have legs.

Yes, your emotions are real — nobody is telling you you aren’t allowed to feel what you feel. Absolutely, acknowledge everything that you feel if that makes you feel good. But acknowledging that you feel something doesn’t mean those feelings need to be acknowledged and honored by everyone else.

Some shit should be self-managed.

Just like every thought that pops into our heads isn’t worth saying out loud,sometimes every emotion that you have isn’t worth saying out loud. Some of those should feelings are half-baked and better off regulated by yourself.

4. Asking them to *fix* your emotional issues

Similar, but bigger picture.

Your partner is not responsible for your emotional wellbeing. Nobody can fix your emotional issues but you.

Your partner “not being there for you,” or being “unsympathetic to your crappy day,” or being “distant” during a hug, or going out with friends instead of comforting you — all examples of you expecting them to take care of you, instead of taking care of yourself.

“Blaming our partners for our emotions is a subtle form of selfishness, and aclassic example of the poor maintenance of personal boundaries. When you set a precedent that your partner is responsible for how you feel at all times (and vice-versa), you will develop codependent tendencies.”

Take responsibility for your own emotions and expect your partner to be responsible for theirs.

There’s a subtle yet important difference between being supportive of your partner and being emotionally obligated to your partner. There’s a difference between coming to each other as individuals with free will, who add to each others’ lives — and depending on one another for care.

Don’t use each other to wipe your ass, emotionally. You can do better than that.

5. Trying to make each other happy

Really just the “positive upside” of being responsible for each other’s emotional wellbeing. Because guys, it’s not good even when it’s “good.”

I once dated a guy who won me over by asking, early on, “how do I make you happy?”

Man, I thought this was like the creme de la creme of #relationshipgoals. Andmaybe it is, somewhere, with two healthy people with strong senses of self-sufficiency. But with him, what might’ve once been “sort-of-kind-of-could-have-been” love slowly eroded into some zombie remains of him basing his self-worth on my minute-by-minute state.

6. Doing everything together

Holy codependence, Batman.

There’s a trend here.

7. Being honest about everything

I don’t want or need to know that he thinks the intern is hot. I just don’t.Unless he just needs to air it — say it out loud — to bring it to light and drain the taboo from the situation (in which case it’s for him, not me), I literally have no need to know this. If it occurs to me that he might, I just acknowledge that he’s human, and probably does find her hot, and move tf on with my life.

This is one of those situations where, even if I might wonder if, I’d rather be permitted to be blissfully ignorant and willfully unaware.

Same goes for a drop in your attraction to them, or you having those normal “is this still what I want?” check-ins. Don’t bring all of that shit to each other. Just don’t.

8. Seeking “balance” by keeping score

And being “tit for tat.”

Again, Mark Manson nailed it when he wrote,

“The problem is that many unhealthy relationship habits are baked into our culture… Deal with issues individually unless they are legitimately connected.”

I know some people who tally up chores like they’re still earning star stickers in first grade. Or going through their picks for playground dodgeball — “I’ll take the laundry if you do the floors.”

I know couples who play-pretend at “one cooks, one does the dishes” households and have actually gotten into fights because “one of them” decides to bake cookies but “the other one” doesn’t eat any and refuses to do the dishes.

I refuse to fight about chores. Or splitting tabs. Or who gives whom more oral sex. I actually refuse to fight about a lot of shit, but I definitely refuse to fight about any tit-for-tat bullshit.

Because above any specific fight, I refuse to date someone who treats ourrelationship like baby games (“that’s not fair!”) or watches to make sure I’ve really got ten items or less in checkout.

9. Sugar-coating and never hurting the other person’s feelings

Holy shit, we do so much of this in our every day lives as it is, I would go crazy if I had to pussyfoot around my partner like he was 8. That’s exhausting.

I’m not saying be an asshole. I mean, be a nice person — especially to your partner. And definitely (see above) take care of your emotional needs before you dump them on someone else.

But at the end of the day, if your partner can’t tell you you have something on your face or they need a day alone, that’s your deal and not theirs.

10. Fairy-tales

And trying to buy your way into love.

Vacations, status symbols, a kid — and then another. Romantic gestures, mixing it up, public displays of affection… it’s all for show and it’s all fornaught. You might buy yourself some time, but you’re also putting some substantial lipstick on an increasingly bloated pig.

11. Sticking it out

Yo, I know our grandparents did this, but you know a lot of the housewives of their time were (and housewives of our kin still are) drugged up and drinking at 11 am, right?

I mean. I’m just saying.

9 Positive Relationship Habits We Mistake As Negative

1. Not responding right away

You live your own lives! You’ve each got a million other things going on, and you shouldn’t be each others number one priority literally every single moment.

I get irritated when my clients and colleagues expect this of me as well — when they send me an email and then send me a follow up an hour or two later, asking, “did you see this? Did you respond to so-and-so?” If they violate it enough times, I will reset expectations on what an appropriate response time is, given the message.

There are half a dozen things in the queue ahead of your message for anyone’s attention, so unless it’s on fire, you do not need an immediate response.

To anyone who thinks “answering immediately” is “important” and “right” (time being dictated by whatever has come to your attention most recently, without a filtering system for discerning “do I need to take time from what else I am doing to respond to this now, or can I respond to this by EOD?”) then I’d be willing to guess you struggle with time management and how to prioritize, and probably find yourself flopping into bed at the end of the day, thinking, “wow — where does time go?”

I mean, sure, you should definitely prioritize each other in life. You should like each other that much. But that shouldn’t translate to a literal minute by minute demonstration, and it definitely shouldn’t come down to a minute by minute test.

2. Not bringing shit up

Look, not everything needs to be discussed. There’s some shit my partner does that irritates me, and I’ve never mentioned it. (And I am sure it’s true the other way around.)

Life is “The Boy Who Cried Wolf.” If you make a fuss about “everything” — or even too many things — eventually your “fuss” will become meaningless. (And on the contrary, if you are even-keel most of the time, when you finally speak up about something being important, people will actually listen.)

I’m not suggesting you “bottle.” On the contrary, I’m suggesting you deal. There’s a difference between something that’s actually important, and something that you’re projecting on, feeling insecure about, need to self-manage, or using to abstract feelings about something else.

You don’t constantly need to be prodding each other over everything. Handle some shit on your own.

3. Being honest

And then talk it out.

Mark Manson pretty much nailed it when he wrote,

“It’s important to make something more important in your relationship than merely making each other feel good all of the time.”

But we do enough pussy-footing in everyday life as it is — don’t do it with your partner.

I’m not suggesting we should go around being hurtful, and I do think that diplomacy in discussion goes a long way. But if you’re so afraid of a sensitive partner’s reaction that you can’t bring something up, something’s wrong.

4. Leaving the room — or going to bed mad

After over two years with a toxic partner who would draw drunken “discussions” out into the early-morning hours when we both had work the next day, and now dating someone who’s willing to “drop it and talk things over tomorrow,” and I can say with absolute confidence that the latter is better.

Every single time we’ve had what felt like a “fight” or “disagreement” at night, by the time we wake up the next morning, it’s a quick exchange (“I’m sorry I did/said __” “thanks; I’m sorry I __” *kiss*) and we move on with our day.

If your “discussion” is going on for more than a reasonable about of time — 10 minutes seems like more than enough time to get things out on the table — then I might suggest everyone take some time to cool off and regroup.

5. Not “needing” the other person — and them not being your “everything.”

You shouldn’t need them, and they should not be your entire life. Only in codependent relationships, where two people are overcompensating for a feeling of listlessness or lack of meaning in their lives by becoming enmeshed or overly-attached to someone, is this a thing. Don’t do this thing. Build your life.

6. Having your own lives

You are not attached at the hip, and pretending you are isn’t cute after 7th grade.

Be your own people. You’ll bring a lot more to the table if you are.

7. Self love

Self love is not selfishness.

In fact:

  • Selfish people are overcompensating for a debilitating lack of self-love.
  • Only people who love themselves can love others.

Self love is self-care, self-awareness, self-respect and self esteem.

It sets the standards for how others should treat us, and it also gives us the skill set for how to treat them.

Self love means meeting your own emotional needs rather than expecting/demanding/needing/building dependency on another person to meet them. It means caring enough about yourself to have an answer to “what do you want?”

8. Finding others attractive

You’re a human. I’m a human. Your partner is, also, probably a human.

Humans are attracted to other humans. I don’t want to date someone who mentally dampens anything, and as long as he’s not being a dick about it, he doesn’t have to pretend he didn’t notice anything.

9. Breaking up if it’s not working

What’s toxic is holding it together with forced “date nights” and “trying new things” and pretending you’re not having the same talk over and over and over.

What’s healthy is pursuing what you need to be healthy. And what’s real love is letting them do the same.

Love Has A Spectrum

And there are many types

“Am I in love?”

“Do they love me?”

It doesn’t work like that.

We think the answer is black and white, but that “sudden feeling” early on is something else together (lust, attachment, preoccupation, etc.)

In reality: love must be chosen, and then built over time.

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

Love is far more complex.

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.