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I used to have a boyfriend that would say “I love you more” all the time. Bleh.
I hate “I love you more.” It drove me insane.
It’s not a big deal to some, but to me, it makes love competitive. Why can’t people just love us? Why do they have to love us more than we love them?
One day, I finally snapped.
“Do you really think you love me more than I love you?”
The question flew past my lips before I could stop it. I’m still not sure what reply I was expecting.
“Are you okay…?” he asked, followed quickly by, “Of course not.”
Jake was looking at me as if I had sprouted a second head and understandably. I went from head-over-heels to annoyed in less time than it takes to even say I love you more. But what Jake didn’t know was that this agitation had been brewing for weeks.
That’s not his fault, of course. He wasn’t a mind-reader. So I clued him in.
“Sorry, I just hate that phrase. Can you not say it anymore? I feel like we’re competing on who loves who more,” I told him.
You’d think that if Jake actually “loved me more,” he would have accepted that. End of story. But no.
More, More, More
The very next time I love you’s were exchanged…he said it again, and again, and again. It was always more, and more, and more.
You may be thinking, so? What’s the big deal? I’m sure that’s what Jake thought after all too. Why does one little word matter?
Maybe he didn’t mean to make my love feel less than his. But words have power. And Jake decided to ignore my feelings.
Love isn’t competitive. Now, don’t get me wrong: I love competition. Friendly competition might be good on game night, but when it comes to love? No, thank you.
By saying “I love you more,” Jake was making love a competition. Who could love who the most? And he always claimed the winner’s circle.
Leave Out The More
Susan Orenstein, a psychologist who specializes in relationships, said, “Couples should think of themselves as a team.”
But it’s hard to think of your lover as your teammate when they compete with you on such a fundamental level. It made me think: what else is Jake competing with me for?
The more I thought about it, the more I realized how competitive our relationship was overall.
If I had a cold? He had the flu.
If I got praise from my boss? He got a trophy.
If my dad did something nice for me? His dad gave him a new car.
Any time I had any news, Jake always had more. Including in his love for me.
That’s when I realized, Jake didn’t love me. He loved one-upping me. He loved saying, “I have that/do that/achieved that/or feel that…more.”
But he didn’t love me as a person, and I realized that I was quickly falling out of love with him.
I asked Jake why he kept saying “I love you more?” His answer? Apparently, it wasn’t a “big deal” to him.
And that was answer enough for me to say adios sans the amigo.
Teamwork, Not Competition
It’s years later, and I’m in a healthy long-term relationship.
Now, when I tell my fiance that I love him, his response is, “I love you, too.”
It may sound silly but that “too” means everything to me. It’s not a competition, but a partnership. His love for me works with my love for him to create a team.
Competition has its place, but leave it out of love.