A rose by any other name

I think you’re nice

September 08, 2023

When was the last time you said, “I love you”, and truly meant it?

I’m not talking about saying those three words as you gaze deeply into the eyes of a romantic partner – although that’s also important. I’m talking about expressing genuine, selfless love for the people close to your heart, the ones that really matter to you.

You know who they are. They’re the ones that make life worth living. Your desert island people. Your pack. If you were to call them up in the middle of the night and tell them you’ve killed someone, they would show up ten minutes later with a shovel and a body bag, and never ask any questions. They’re not merely friends, or family. They’re more than that, because true love transcends those labels.

I’m very lucky to have people in my life who love me and tell me so. To not have to wonder, to just know it for a fact, feels like a superpower. It’s something I never take for granted, and I like to think that the people close to me probably have a pretty good idea of how I feel about them, too. At least I hope that’s the case, and I strive to make it so.

People should know where people stand. I’ve always believed that. And yet, most of us never really say it. We think it’s understood, or implied. We think it goes without saying, because saying it is embarrassing, and awkward. What if the other person makes fun of me? What if they think I’m silly? The more we think about it, the easier it is to find an excuse to avoid saying it. And so, we don’t.

Charlie Chaplin once said, “We think too much, and feel too little”. He was right back then, and he’s even more right today. That’s a shame.

Can I let you in on a little secret? Everybody likes to feel loved. Everybody. Even when it’s not convenient. Perhaps even more so then. A spontaneous, heartfelt expression of selfless love is one of the nicest things a person can do for another. There’s literally zero downside to it. It doesn’t take anything away from you, and it can be such a precious gift for the other person.

Expressing love is perhaps the most important thing we do as humans. It’s what defines us. It’s who we are. Love fuels our creativity and inspires us. It makes us better. It makes us whole.

So, say it, and mean it. It only takes a second, and it needs no explanation. Own it, and make it a habit. Let it become part of who you are; I promise you it will be worth it.

It doesn’t even have to be a literal “I love you”. If you can’t quite bring yourself to say those words, don’t worry. There’s a million different ways to say it, and a million more are being created every day. It doesn’t really matter how you say it, just as long as you do.

For all my introverts out there, here’s a few of my favorite ways to say “I love you”, without actually saying those words. Because, as the Bard himself put it, “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet”.

In no particular order:

  • I wish you were here”.
  • You mean the world to me”.
  • You have my sword (bonus points for nerdery)”.
  • You’re always on my mind”.
  • I’m thinking of you”.
  • Here, I got you a beer”.
  • You bring a smile to my face”.
  • I’m so proud of you”.
  • I brag about you all the time”.
  • I trust you”.
  • I’m always in your corner”.
  • You don’t have to say anything”.
  • We’ll do it together”.
  • You give me strength”.
  • You’re my secret weapon”.
  • I want to travel the world with you”.
  • I’d go anywhere with you”.
  • With you I’m at peace”.
  • I wouldn’t miss it for the world”.
  • I wish I could be more like you”.
  • There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for you”.
  • I got you”.
  • Always”.

I know they sound cheesy, but these are not mere platitudes or clichés. When you say something like this to another person, and mean it, it has a profound impact on whoever is on the receiving end, I assure you.

I hope you find this article useful, maybe even inspiring. Now there’s only one thing left to do: go to that special person, choose your favorite way – better yet, come up with you own – and tell them. You know who I’m talking about; you’ve known all along as you were reading this piece.

Don’t wait until next month, or next week. Don’t even wait until tomorrow. If you’re lucky enough to be in the same room, just look them in the eye and tell them right now. And if you’re not, don’t put it off until you are, because by then the moment will have passed. Just call them, or text them. FaceTime them. Send a raven with a note. Whatever. If all else fails, just send them this article and tell them, “It reminded me of you”. That will do it. That’s all it takes.

It’s that easy.

Just trust me on this one.