How often do you tell a friend that you love them?
It’s probably not often enough.
There are those friends that we love tremendously, and yet the sentiment goes unspoken.
The love I speak of is not the type one feels toward a a child, a parent, or a sexual partner. Nevertheless it is love that is real and tangible. It is comparable with the love one feels toward an uncle, an aunt, or a cousin.
In fact, we may even have friends that we love more than some of those aforementioned family members. Sometimes the bond is developed over extensive lengths of time, or powerful shared experiences.
Yet, we don’t tell those friends we love them. And if we do, we only do so rarely.
Societal programming and stigmas teach us at a young age that love is reserved explicitly for family members and “lovers.” Friends are found in another bucket of those we interact with and care for. Thus, defining our feelings toward them becomes difficult.
We tell family members and “lovers” who may hurt us or don’t treat us well that we love them continuously, despite knowing deep down that their presence in our lives causes emotional and psychological difficulties.
We do this because we are supposed to.
Coincidentally, to those friends who have proven themselves through their actions and continued commitment to our well-being and success, we have internally withheld this privileged categorization of love. A love we so easily, and without regard to meaning, give to people in our lives who may not be deserving.
Communicating love towards friends can also seem awkward, but that’s more of an indictment on our society than it is a statement of our relationships.
Society tells us we need to be tough, and in failing that, we have put on an air of toughness. This forced and shaky display causes us to repress emotions and thoughts that would serve us much better coming out. Doing so causes us to carry around baggage and problems that may otherwise be quite easy to work through and hash out.
Sharing our love with our friends also allows us an increasingly rare instant of vulnerability. Being comfortable letting our guard down can be intensely powerful.
Communicating our emotions in a positive way is healthy and therapeutic.
As always with Moving On Upwards, I recommend questioning paradigms such as this one.
I believe in maintaining healthy distance from those who unintentionally, or intentionally, seek to harm us; see Pluck Those Weeds From Your Life, but more importantly, I recommend reassessing the depth of our feelings toward the important friends that are so enjoyable and integral in our lives.
I recommend telling those friends that have earned it that we love them. Stating the sentiment accomplishes many things.
We know that love is a guarded and reserved emotion. Telling a friend we love them reminds them that their worth is far beyond utility and proximity.
Additionally, it picks up those on the receiving end. When told they are loved by someone they love and respect, it feels amazing. It lifts the spirit and lets our friends know that they are important and special.
We know these things from our own previous experiences. Having been told we’re loved, it is impossible not to recognize how good it feels. So naturally, we should consider blessing others similarly.
Another important benefit of communicating our love to our friends is our own personal gain from stating the fact.
Despite all the social stigmas and programming against it, sharing our feelings allows us improve our communication skills. Additionally, it strengthens our relationships and bonds.
Studies show a significant increase in longevity due to having close friends in our life as we age; see the livescience.com article Want to Live Longer? Get Some Friends and webmd.com’s Good Friends Are Good For You.
This may seem simple. Yet, as I—ahem—approach middle-age, I recognize the difficulty in staying connected with close friends from years past. This may be due to changing location or generally evolving shared similar activities and interests.
Those I’ve communicated my affection toward previously may not always be present in my life. However, when we reconnect, we pick up as if we never lost contact in the first place.
That shared love never leaves regardless of the time or space that exists between us.
There are far too many negative emotions being expressed these days. Honking a car horn, putting on a scowl, or throwing up a middle finger have become more common expressions than those of love, consideration, and gratitude.
Yet, those negative displays of emotions don’t make the giver feel any positive reciprocal feedback whatsoever. However, sharing our love does so considerably.
We should consciously replace the desire to express ourselves in these negative ways with the blissful habit of looking for more opportunities to share our love.