Friday Faves: What Does "Love" Even Mean These Days?

I am in the most amazing, secure and satisfying relationship I have ever been in but there is just one so-called “problem”; after nearly a year and a half, neither of us have said, “I love you.”
Now I know what this probably sounds like to some, or possibly even most, of you. (Believe me, I see it in the facial expressions of concerned friends and hear it in the tone of their strongly worded reactions.) There is obviously a clear issue here, right? Well, actually, I’m not so sure.
Now, to be honest, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that part of me (the part that sometimes, uncontrollably slips into this cliché, fairytale, chick flick inspired way of thinking that all love stories have basically 1 of 3 plots) at times wishes one of us would just find the courage to come out and say it already. I mean, it’s been long enough! And the pressure from friends and family who act like this is the biggest thing in the world to be concerned about, only adds fuel to this flame.
However, my usual, more sane, more rational and level-headed reaction to all of this is, “Who really cares?” Is actually saying that phrase really as significant or necessary as everyone our age makes it out to be? I mean, isn’t it true that actions should speak louder than words?
We are currently in a world where nearly every word in the “relationship dictionary” is rapidly being redefined. Take the word, meaning and supposed “sacredness” of marriage, for instance. It’s being entirely altered by things like the exceptionally high divorce rate (and the never ending publicity about celebrity divorces and adultery in the press). Or what about the many different names have we come up with in the last decade to define the new, modern, complicated relationships that keep arising: open relationship, no strings attached, friends with benefits, just hooking up… the list continues. Who even knows what the proper meaning and context of monogamy and love is these days.
It seems silly that no one would take a step back from all this to take the time to redefine the word love in its modern sense. I mean, I don’t think it’s necessarily unreasonable to think that with everything that’s going on in today’s world it’s practically inevitable that the word and definition of love is taking on a very different meaning as well. But it doesn’t seem people view it that way. It is still constantly being used, seen and heard by everyone, everywhere: in the songs on the radio, on television, in movies, and in real life, of course. I find it troubling when everyone throws the “L-word” out there so quickly and carelessly in their relationships; it makes it hard to take the word seriously anymore.
I think young people need to wake up and realize we’re not in high school anymore. Love should no longer mean the same trivial thing as it did then, a time when I too used the word so frequently and freely in all my silly little relationships. I’m no longer calling my boyfriend at all hours of the night, trying to convince him to sneak out to be with me or sending him passive aggressive texts about his rude and standoffish behavior. Instead, there is respect, trust, mutual understanding. It is obvious that we care a great deal about each other. I’m not sure I’m ready, or that it is necessary, to use the word love so loosely as I have in the past. I don’t need it in order to feel closer to him or to try and make our relationship stronger or more serious. I am completely satisfied with where we are in all those areas. So, if it is as monumental of a word as everyone makes out to be, then I don’t think it’s wrong to assume that choosing to wait a long time in order to exchange these precious words with your significant other—choosing to not make that substantial of a promise and commitment so quickly and easily—may not be such a bad thing. Perhaps it could even be considered advisable to some.
So help try and clarify something for me here; I must be missing something. Does using and exchanging this phrase help to somehow legitimize the relationship to both the participating members and its observers? And if so, why? Should that really be the case?

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