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Three little words worth preserving

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Through social media and pop culture, we've become a nation into abbreviations. We can't be bothered with the extra half second it takes to utter another syllable or two in casual conversation, so we talk in codes of 24/7, giving the 4-1-1, or grabbing some KFC like it's a fresh new chicken place, not the same old Kentucky Colonel's bucket that past generations consumed. That's all good and well when talking with your BFF, but what about in romantic relationships?

Are we becoming too casual in our busy life to fully express those three little words anymore? A recent job encounter on the phone with my supervisor ended with him accidentally saying, "Love you!" as he hung up. Oops. He has robotically said "Love you" to his wife so many times on the phone, he let it slip to the wrong person, as his sign-off. Total reflex, no real value or meaning. And, mostly, he didn't invest himself in the comment at all, since the "I" didn't exist. I called him back, and laughingly suggested that if he loves me so much, perhaps it was a good time to discuss my raise....

What happened to the power of those "three little words"? If they're now two little words, then "I'm sorry" and "I do" will have to change their historical place as two-word phrases most often used between lovers. If you take the "I" out of "I love you" does it make it less committal? As the new version of a traditional saying that has always meant a great leap in a relationship, maybe it shows how casual people are becoming about everything. Using the full phrase "I love you" seems more impactful, more complete, and more personal, even if some think it old-fashioned. How do you abbreviate one of the most powerful phrases humans can share?

On the positive side, it does seem that watering down the phrase to "Love you" has made it flow more freely in America. Tough guys say it in public to their children, families say it in raised voices across lawns or in airports while waving good-bye. But, I hope singles are holding out for the right partner to reverently say all three words in intimate settings, and to mean them. A personal relationship takes a little extra effort, or if you'll forgive the abbreviation, TLC. Let's not shrug off the importance of putting oneself into the equation, and keeping the "I" in "team", so to speak.

A single thought: Own it.

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