We hear it all the time, whether it's at home, while watching the newest chick flick that you dragged your boyfriend into seeing with you, or walking down the halls at school on the way to your next class.
Sure, it used to be one of the sweetest, most coveted one-liners a girl could ever want to hear. Something a guy has to be careful of when, where and whom he says it to. But is "I love you" becoming overused?
We even have a text abbreviation for it -- "ily!" Just like "idk," "lol" or "brb," "I love you" has wormed its way into texting lingo, turning itself into another three-letter word. Not only that, but if you look through the lyrics of songs written in the last couple of years, it's a sure bet the word "love" will pop up in at least two of three.
Of course there's no ruling out the other forms of media. In almost every TV movie or in all the romance novels, we hear "I love you." It comes in every way, shape and form, from being said with a British accent to a slap of the face. If that's not contradiction, I don't know what is.
Almost everyone's guilty of overusing this phrase. Sometimes it's said so much it's only habit. Every time we hang up the phone or Dad leaves for work, "I love you" can be heard in almost every household. But there's a difference between our all-too-casual teenage meanings and the real affection between family members and long-time couples. Our parents and grandparents grew up in a different world. Back then, "I love you" wasn't carelessly blurted out in a moment; it took months or even years to cultivate a feeling like that, especially to get it out of your mouth. But these days it seems like it's said too much.
There are times when it's OK and right to say it. When you mean it, when you feel it, when you actually know what "love" is, those are all times when we should use it. But there are times when these three little words are used when they shouldn't be.
After all, how do you know that a guy's not lying when he tells you he loves you just so he can brag to his friends that he's got a girl and they don't? How do you know your girlfriend isn't just saying it so you'll take her out to another movie next week? How do we know it's the truth?
Or have you ever used the words "I love you" as a way to get something you wanted? Or even just as a compliment? Or maybe to offset something mean that slipped out, like saying to a friend, "You look like a mess -- but I love you!" Sometimes those things happen, and if there's no easy way to get around a mistake, "I love you" seems to be a sufficient fix to the problem.
Many people have come to the point where it's easy, and even convenient, to throw around a phrase that used to mean everything. Some people just don't understand that if we said it a little less, it might mean more when we do say it. If we said "I love you" only to people we truly loved, we'd hear this phrase a lot less.
On the other hand, maybe in our society we're all getting closer to each other, closer than people were back when our parents and grandparents were growing up. So close, in fact, that we really do accept and like each other so much that we can really use the word love, like my friends and I do.
Why should we say "I love you"? Because if we really stop to think about it and we honestly mean it, everything else is OK.
Minna Wang is a sophomore at NUAMES. She loves to hang out with friends, listen to music and text. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.