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maglevsky
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11 Dec 2014, 8:51 am

Warning: I'm starting this thread as a sort of conversation with myself in the hope that writing things down will give me some clarity. It may well turn into a load of introspective navel-gazing that's no use to anyone else.
Also, I'm really unsure which subforum would be most appropriate for this. I have my reasons for not going to the obvious "Love & Dating" section, but also don't have any strong objections if mods want to move it there or anywhere else.

Quick summary:
I have trouble telling people that I love, that I love them. I don't want to say it. It does not feel right. Some really want / need to hear those "magic words". But I hardly ever say them. It creates friction & alienation.
How to solve this problem?
Which problem, anyway? My reluctance to say the magic words, or others' need to hear them?

To pre-empt some possible questions:
- What kind of love? The main concern is romantic love, but it also occurs sometimes with parents, siblings, and my kids.
- Do I have alexithymia? My score on this test: http://www.alexithymia.us/test.html is 108. IIRC that means I have "some alexithymic traits".
- Do I really love them? Let's see... it's true that I have been called cold, arrogant, unfeeling, "a robot" and "autistic" (meant as an insult, not a diagnosis) a couple of times. Then again, I've also been told the exact opposite (more often if I remember correctly, but my memory tends to be optimistic). There's a whole epistemological debate to be had about what exactly love is, the potential for self-deception and how one might go about verifying love. Something to do with oxytocin concentration in the blood, perhaps? I'm a bit of an armchair philosopher so I'm into these sorts of debates. But not on this thread. For all practical intents and purposes, I (think I) know what being in love feels like, I've been there, and I can identify and name the feeling when I feel it. Likewise, I (think I) know what it feels like when someone loves me and can usually tell, without them having to tell me. And yes, I prefer when they don't tell me.

More coming... need to take a break right now


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maglevsky
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11 Dec 2014, 10:08 am

One more potential question to pre-empt:
- Does this happen with other emotions too? No. With other feelings, sometimes I talk about them and sometimes not, but when I do, or when someone asks, it doesn't make me uncomfortable. The only other somewhat similar thing that makes me uncomfortable is when others share their own negative emotions with me and I can't think of anything to say or any practical way to help them, but I feel they expect me to say something. I have been told I'm a lousy listener by such people. OTOH I've been told I'm a great listener by people who really just need someone to listen to them, without necessarily expecting a reply. At times, such people have opened up to me and told me things they would not share with other friends/acquaintances.


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Kiriae
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11 Dec 2014, 10:47 am

I have similar problem but its not just that I am unable to say "I love you" but that I am unsure if "I love you" describes my feelings correctly. What does loving someone mean? Wanting to have sex? It's lust, not love. Not wanting to loose someone? It's being selfish, not love. Caring about someone? It's the feeling of responsibility. Wondering what the other person is doing at a moment and with who? Curiosity/jealousy...

I need to feel the love to say it,its not a random thing to be said at any time.
I am pretty sure I felt it a few times - it was a warm, calm emotion all over my body when I was thinking about the person I liked. That's when I wanted to say it. But the person was not there and was unreachable so in the end I never said it to anyone. Well. I did once, when my crush happened to be there but I used Japanese "Suki dayo"(we are both interested in anime and we were watching one at that moment) and the person misunderstood it as a random quote, not a love expression and I was too ashamed to prove her wrong. :roll:



maglevsky
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11 Dec 2014, 6:09 pm

Quote:
I need to feel the love to say it,its not a random thing to be said at any time.

+1
You're asking "What does loving someone mean?" but from the rest of your post it seems to me like you know pretty well what love is. Could it be that it has to do with the difference between love and the word "love"? I think that's part of it for me, I intend to write more about this but probably not today.
It's also interesting that you find it easier to say the "magic words" in a foreign language. It's the same for me. It's hardest in my mother tongue, slightly easier in English, and easier again in languages where I'm less proficient.

Wishing you lots of warm fuzzy love in your life :)


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maglevsky
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11 Dec 2014, 6:43 pm

Possibly related: I'm also bad at giving and receiving compliments.
Hate it when people are "fishing" for them.
OTOH when I admire someone, I sometimes like to explain to others, in their presence, what exactly I admire them for (sometimes with some mild teasing added when I know the person can handle it). But it has to be spontaneous and unexpected.
When people say "too many" good things about me I usually say: "alright, what do you want?" even if I think they are genuine and not just trying to manipulate me in some way. Makes me uncomfortable.


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maglevsky
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14 Dec 2014, 5:42 pm

So, the previous posts were background info to show where I'm coming from.
Now I'd like to put some meat on the bones.
The theme is the WORD "love", as opposed to the thing itself.
What is this word?
Firstly, like every other word, it's a signifier, a tool that makes it possible to talk about something, in this case, love.
Secondly, the word "love" is a tool that people use to manipulate other people, to make them feel guilty, get them to do things they don't actually want to do, etc.
And thirdly, it seems to me that the word "love" is also the focal point of a sort of ideology (for want of a better word). I'm not sure if this ideology has a name or if its principles are clearly spelled out anywhere, but from the little I can see it seems to be an ideology that I don't agree with.


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maglevsky
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14 Dec 2014, 6:57 pm

Let's look at some examples of the word "love" as a tool to manipulate people etc.
- professing love when all you really want is get laid
- feigning love to get access to someone's wealth, confidential information etc
- using it to establish a relationship where, if you later ask for some kind of favor, the other person feels that they owe it to you (doing that specifically with the intention to cash in on that favor)
Need I go on? I'm sure y'all can think of a few more.

Confession time... many years ago I went out with a girl for the following reasons: (1) I was horny, (2) she seemed nice and interesting even though I could never really connect to her, and (3) I knew she was going back home (very far away) a few months later, so there were not too many strings attached. Then one day she said she loved me. I wished I could think of a gentle let-down but couldn't, and yes I was also horny, so I said I loved her too, which was clearly a lie. Ironically, because it was clear to me that the whole thing was little more than teenage hormones, and I thought she was still a virgin at the time, I could never bring myself to go "all the way", not before this incident nor after. It just seemed wrong. So I lied, people, I betrayed the sacred truth and polluted my beautiful honest soul with a dirty horny lie, and all I got for it was a few BJ's! :lol: Don't get me wrong, they were nice BJ's and all, but, look, aaaarrrgh! Mea maxima culpa!

Sure, looking back on this now it seems just a harmless bit of fun and I don't beat myself up over this at all. In fact our paths crossed again briefly a few years later, and as far as I can tell she remembers the whole thing as being fun, bears no grudge and I did not inflict any scars.

But still I think something changed that day.
Before, I was aware that the word "love" is often used as a tool to manipulate people, and it had already happened to me a couple of times. But at least I had not done that myself, and so I guess I had this idea that I could live in a world where love means love (and other words also mean what they say), as long as I kept away from the liars and manipulators. Afterwards, I guess I stopped believing in that possibility. True love still exists, I can (and do) still love and be loved. But if I want to know whether someone loves me or not, I look at their behavior and disregard anything they might say about love. The only thing the L-word does for me now is trigger a sort of reflex to increase the sensitivity of my bullshit detector.

And I have real trouble understanding how any reasonable person with a bit of life experience could feel differently about this. But apparently, some do... :scratch:


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maglevsky
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14 Dec 2014, 7:00 pm

Still to come: the bit about the word "love" being the "focal point of a sort of ideology".
That's gonna take me a long time to write, so it will have to wait for another time.

Comments welcome!


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RyanLewty
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maglevsky
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25 Dec 2014, 6:33 pm

Yeah Ryan, thanks, I guess you meant well but either didn't read or didn't understand what I wrote. No great surprise there since it turned out lengthier and less coherent than I'd like. :lol:

Anyway... the page you linked to has basically 3 things:
Strategy Number 1: Physical Affection
Strategy Number 2. Words of Affirmation
Strategy Number 3. Romantic Gestures

My whole point is that I can't do Number 2. I'm also not very good with Number 3, and it seems that only Number 1 and a bit of Number 3 is not enough.

Why can't I do Number 2? In a nutshell, because the words have become so tainted by misuse that I just can't bring myself to use them. Let's look at Number 2 - it's broken down into 3 subcategories:
- Spontaneously telling her how you feel about her
- Recognising her accomplishments or abilities
- Complimenting her appearance

Seems to me that >>50% of the times people do any of these things, it's not genuine; i.e. they are just using the words to manipulate someone into giving them what they want. Does anyone here seriously disagree with that assessment? (not a rhetorical question, I don't do those).
Why would anyone want to hear such things? I know I don't. I do want to be loved, I do want people to find me attractive and all that, but I want to feel these things from people's actions and behavior. Direct verbal compliments, declarations of love etc do nothing for me except put my bullshit detector on high alert. This seems perfectly natural and logical to me, and I honestly don't understand how anyone except extremely naive people or young kids can see it differently. But they do. Why??

It's not something that I can just accept and adapt to without having to actually understand it. As things stand, I feel physical revulsion at the word "love" (not at love itself!) in any context where the person using it stands to gain something (like sex or money) by saying it. Here on the forum it's different because there is nothing at stake, so it becomes possible to have some degree of confidence in the purity of each other's intentions. But out in the real world - how could I? How could anyone?


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maglevsky
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26 Feb 2015, 4:15 pm

Just to report back... so far the most interesting thing I've found in this quest is this:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8UHGMHOiv4

EDIT: this one is similar but better: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elOHUpy1Ppo
(end of edit)

Some of it may sound like jargon to those not acquainted with the whole "Nonviolent Communication" concept, but here it is anyway. I've been getting into NVC a bit lately. I like how Rosenberg (the NVC guru) actually gets into with what the word "love" means / doesn't mean / should mean. Apparently his opinion is that it should refer to a need rather than a feeling, and I like the reasoning he gives, but I'm not at all sure that I understand all the implications. AFAIK, generally within NVC, having a particular "need" implies nothing about how the need will be met or (where appropriate) by whom. If that is so, does it even make sense within the NVC framework to speak of loving a particular person? I'm intrigued and confused, probably need to find a forum dedicated to NVC to find the answer to that one.

Another thing I came across:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greek_words_for_love
Apparently the ancient Greeks had 4 different words where modern English only has one. So perhaps part of the reason the word "love" triggers my bullshit detector so strongly is that it's really a mashup of a few quite distinct things that really should have different words.


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timtowdi
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01 Mar 2015, 10:56 pm

I've heard this problem come up a lot -- something about the word "love" really does a number on a lot of people with AS. Something about inability to pin down concretely what it means combined with fear of making and being held to a commitment one didn't intend to make. And sadness at not being able to understand this apparently crucial thing everyone else talks about and wants.

I would suggest not worrying about it. If you're not sure you really love someone else (because you're not sure what love is), sub in caring, attentiveness, helping the other person, being there for the other person to turn to, being there in emergencies to have the other person's back. If something bad happened to this person, would you feel terrible, even guilty for not having been able to help? Probably yes. So if you feel and do these things, take it as given that you understand love, and love this person. And even if you say the word very rarely, or only in writing, if you show love by doing those other things routinely, that will be plenty.



Zil333
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01 Mar 2015, 11:57 pm

You can say I love you too in a platonic, non romantic, as a sibling. Whichever works for you. I don't have trouble saying I love you to family or friends although occasionally I'll add in platonicaly(spelling?). If you feel no love them then that's fine it's not weird or wrong. Some people whether they are your family or not you just don't develop feelings for them. It's just how it for some people. Hell I'm like that at times.



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03 Mar 2015, 5:16 pm

This might sound odd, but I try to imagine a scenario such as the other person being hit by a bus. Then I think about how I would feel if that happened. If I think I would feel really sad and miss them a lot, then I reason that I love them.
I'm not comfortable with just throwing the love word around, either. I used to have a similar problem with "thank you". For some reason, it made me incredibly embarrassed both to say it and to have it said to me. Something about the power dynamic of expressing gratitude. Somehow I've gone the other way now, and say it all the time. Weird. :?



Adamantium
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03 Mar 2015, 7:36 pm

maglevsky wrote:
- Spontaneously telling her how you feel about her
- Recognising her accomplishments or abilities
- Complimenting her appearance

Seems to me that >>50% of the times people do any of these things, it's not genuine; i.e. they are just using the words to manipulate someone into giving them what they want. Does anyone here seriously disagree with that assessment? (not a rhetorical question, I don't do those).


Yes, I disagree with that assessment. There may be people who do these things in an insincere or manipulative way, but that's pretty sad and their loss.

The reality is that it is possible to have strong emotions for your mate and tell her those because you want to.
It's also possible to say nice things about the things that she does because you sincerely think well of them.
And it's possible to compliment her appearance because you like it and want to let her know.

Your concern about the purity of intentions seems bizarre to me--You want to praise the appearance of a woman you are attracted to with out wanting sex? It's more "pure" if you are not interested in sex? That seems pretty much irrational to me, or at least based in some very different definition of attraction than I know.

As for saying "I love you," if you do feel intense affection, why not say it? How is it revolting? If you don't feel it, it would be despicable to say it, but if you do, what's the problem?

I love my wife. Being around her makes me happy. I miss her when she is away.
I respect her accomplishments and abilities.
I think she is gorgeous and she makes me feel like a randy teenager.

She is not going to read this, so I have no conceivable gain from saying this.

I am not terribly naive or a child.