Love and Like 12/23/22

Thoughts with Richard Bleil

Articles that begin “with did you ever” are usually the first ones that I stop reading. It’s such a cliché way to begin an article, and yet, let’s do it here.

Did you ever hate someone that you love? there’s a common misconception that the opposite of love is hate, but the reality is that the opposite of love is indifference. If I don’t love somebody, then I don’t care enough about them to hate them. It’s just reality. So yes, you honestly can hate somebody that you love, and, in fact, there has to be some amount of love to hate them in the first place. It doesn’t need to be a lot, or deep, and may amount to less than a thimbleful, but if there is nothing, then indifference kicks in.

It’s important to note that there is a difference between like and love. Poets have been debating for eons what love truly is and what is the nature of love, and I certainly won’t be able to answer that question today. Nobody can seem to settle on the true meaning and definition of love. I think love is caring about somebody, and it’s important to note that there are different levels of love. When you tell somebody that you love them it doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re in love, that you’re ready to marry them, that you want to spend your whole life with them, but regardless of the type of love that you mean, it doesn’t mean that you like them. I’ve gotten in trouble in the past for telling somebody that I love them when, in fact, what I meant was not intended to mean romantically. Truthfully, you can love somebody as a friend, or you can love somebody casually. Love isn’t always an “end all” feeling.

There’s a distinct difference between love and like. It’s possible to love somebody and not really like them. It’s possible to love somebody enough to care for them but not want to spend time with them. To like somebody is to want to spend time with them, to enjoy their company to want to converse with them. To like somebody, there is an inherent desire to spend time with them.

We have a habit in our culture to overuse the word “love”. When somebody says “I love you”, the normal response is to say “I love you, too” or “I love you back” or some rendition of that response. I have gotten in trouble in the past because if somebody says this to me, especially for the first time, I don’t like blurting back this response because it’s just too programmed. I’ve found myself in hot water when I explained I don’t want to respond that I love you now, not because I don’t but because it’s going to sound like a standard response and my feelings are deeper than that. I’m not sure they always understood when I said that.

What we don’t say in our society is that “I like you”. It has a very different meaning and connotation to say, “I really like you”, or “I enjoy you”, “I respect you”, “I appreciate you”. We just normally don’t say that. Perhaps we should say “I like you far” more often than we actually do. I suppose the point of this blog, if there is indeed a point at all, is to say that it’s not just enough to say I love you. I know that I’ve touched people very deeply with the simple phrase, “I love you and I really like you”.

Now we find ourselves in the season of communion. It’s a time of gathering of family and friends, of expression of love and well-wishing. Give it a try. Tell someone, “I love you, and I want you to know that I really like you, too.” It’s interesting how the wave of pleasant surprise will wash over the recipient’s face, almost like you’ve just given them an extra and unexpected gift. If you want to go deeper, tell them all of the things about them that you truly appreciate.

And don’t feel like you have to restrict such expressions of true appreciation and affection to the holiday season. We all enjoy positive reinforcement and need to hear encouraging and flattering words. You can say it in a text, or on the phone if you’re old-fashioned like me, but it’s so much nicer to say in person so you can see the expression on their face. And who knows? Maybe you’ll even get a warm embrace out of it! Who’s ever not up for a hug?


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