Saturday, January 30, 2010

Like vs Love

I remember my mother saying, "I may not always like you, but I'll always love you," a lot during my weird teenage years. I'm sure every ones either felt it or said it in some way, shape, or form throughout the years. I'll go further and bet that every ones been on both the receiving and giving end of that particular emotion. Having said that, I'd like to go on record as saying, 'I'd rather be liked than loved.' I listen to my wife tell everybody that she loves them; whether it's her own mother or someone on facebook that she hasn't seen in ten years. Now I hear her daughter tell everyone she knows, 'I love you.' And why not? In this day and age it's become impolite not to love. Love that new car? Love one another? Love thy neighbor? I don't even know my neighbor! In a love/hate black and white world, 'like' has become the grey area. No one would say, "hey, you're alright. I like you." When they can exclaim, "I Love you, man!" I'm done with that. I'm done loving an ice-cold Coke after a hot summer day at the beach. I'm through loving that perfume my wife wears on our days off together. Don't get me wrong, I love the neck it's on and everything that goes with it. Just not the perfume. I like the perfume. I love the neck. Taking this philosophy to the next step is where it becomes harder to swallow. I would compare likability to friendship. I was taught: Like your friends. Love your family. So I use my best friend as a unit of measure. How much do I like _____ in relation to Jeff? If there's no comparison, I must not like ____.
The reason for my new curiosity into liking something or someone stems from two unique observations. The first happened last weekend during 'family game night.' I realized that both my wife and myself were being very guarded in what we said, or even how much fun we had as so not to offend each other. Yet little animosity still ended up seeping into the game. Casual friends wouldn't let something like that happen, yet it can happen to a husband and wife. Are we no longer friends? If not, does that mean we don't like each other? We say 'I love you" all the time, but I never remember hearing 'I really like you.' Is that just me being corny? I mean really, who says 'I like you?' maybe that is the problem -- Maybe we don't bother liking before we love. Perhaps it's a foregone assumption that 'liking' falls under the 'love' umbrella. This theory is the second anomaly I am referring to: the complete loss of the word like. People in popular culture love it or hate it, because liking or disliking would take time and effort to get to know and understand something or someone. Time that no one seems to have any more. Are we so afraid of learning that we need to make instantaneous decisions about everything? Do we assume taking our time is synonymous with dawdling or being indecisive? Perhaps I'm at this point because I am guilty of this rushing. I was afraid of what I might learn so I skipped right past like and on to love, because if two people love each other, that's all they'll need to live happily ever after. I guess that may be true, so long as they don't plan on spending any time together. Which, of course, is preposterous if you really expect 'happily ever after' (and I do). So it's time to put forth the effort to like not something but everything. Like pizza, Saturday night showers, the sun on your face. And especially put forth extra effort to like your wife and kids and mom, because they already know you love them. On the other side of this particular coin: be likable. Don't settle for being loved, that's the easy part. Be nice, say 'please' and 'thank-you,' and listen. People love you for who you are. People like you for what you do. Doing is always harder than being. My only hope now, is that when my wife reads this, she doesn't hate it.