The words "I Love You" are not as simple and meaningful as they sound. I believe they were intended to convey respect, warmth, honesty and sincerity; words for special people in our lives. Not words that are loosely thrown around without much thought. How disheartening to realize these words are also used with narcissistic, selfish and dishonorable intentions.
Elle, a 25 year old college educated professional, employed with a large fashion firm thought she had met Mr. Right when introduced by friends. Ryan, a 26 year old Army Special Forces Soldier , with four years left to serve was delighted to meet Elle. He described himself as adventurous, well traveled and eager to have someone special in his life. Ryan was visiting friends in Oklahoma when he met Elle. Early in their exchange of information Elle asked Ryan if he was married or had ever been married and he replied, "No." He also denied having children. He explained to Elle that life in the military did not lend itself to long term relationships due to his frequent and often lengthy absences. But he shared with her that he was lonely and longed for someone to share his day to day experiences.
Ryan was stationed in North Carolina and returned several days after meeting Elle. They talked by web cam, telephone, email and text messaging for the next seven months. Ryan had planned a trip to Oklahoma to visit Elle for her 25th birthday but "failed to show;" nor did he call for 15 days.
Elle was disappointed and sad. They had planned several activities and she had purchased tickets at his request. Friends and family encouraged her to forget him and move on with her life.
is this a word??
Ryan phoned Elle on day 16 to say he had received an emergency deployment to Kuwait and had no access to any type of telephonic equipment. To her friends this sounded shady. Early on in their talks Elle shared with Ryan that due to her past relationship issues as well as abandonment and lies from her father; honesty was paramount if he was to be in her life.
Ryan was tenacious in trying to win Elle back saying he would keep her better informed and never leave without communication.
Once again he planned to visit; sending Elle a confirmation with his flight information. He later called to surprise her with a trip to Las Vegas for New Years, again sending confirmation. Elle was feeling good about the relationship. She and Ryan talked daily, often for 2 to 3 hours. One evening as she was making plans and looking forward to his visit, her phone rang. The caller identified herself as, "Jessica, Ryan’s wife."
Elle learned that Ryan and Jessica had been married four years and his "emergency deployment" had actually been a vacation to Myrtle Beach with his wife. Elle also learned Ryan had a 4 year old daughter from a previous relationship. Jessica seemed shocked at times by Elle’s sharing of her many web cam and email conversations as well as Ryan’s profession of intense love and desire to be with her.
Ryan telephoned Elle after learning of his wife’s discovery, telling her he had planned to tell her he was married and planning a divorce when he came to visit. It really did not matter anymore. The facts were the facts. Elle had asked very specific questions to which Ryan lied. He told her he loved her on many occasions. This is where "I Love You" gets confusing; maybe not to the person who says it but certainly to the person who receives it.
Love is an action word. When said over and over with nothing to back it up it becomes meaningless. No one is allowed to intentionally hurt another. Lies and love are not synonymous; they were never designed to bond and no one, at least no one who is committed to honesty should accept them as the new age duo. Lies cause pain by themselves but couple them with love and profound pain results.
Elle’s story is not unique. Countless couples have sat on the therapy sofa saying, "I Love You" in the midst of lies and disrespect. I Love You does not stand alone; it is more than saying the words, so much more.
In his book, The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz, a nagual or guide shares his wisdom on love. "If someone is not treating you with love and respect, it is a gift if they walk away from you." In the end, this turned out to be the only gift Ryan ever gave Elle.....and while it isn’t what she had wanted, it definately is what she needed.
Vicki L. Mayfield, M.Ed., RN, LMFT is a Marriage and Family Therapist and Registered Nurse. She has a part time private practice and works part time in a Behavioral Medicine Department.