11/09/2011 08:11 pm ET Updated Jan 21, 2012

Lurv, Luff, Lub And Sometimes, Love

Almost everyone can agree that the word "love" is jam-packed with power and meaningful emotion, but what I find most curious is how we deal with it when it's sandwiched in between the words, "I" and "you," as in, "I love you."

Loving someone works well as a concept; it's a private moment that lives in the heart, and all of it's mysteries and revelations are safely considered behind the veil of vulnerability. No one can enter our minds, so the degree of love that we feel can never be known. Outside of the non-verbal communication that may include a psychic, romantic, experiential or familial connection, the only thing that can bridge the gap between one's heart and another's mind is the written or spoken word.

And, unfortunately, (or fortunately, depending on how at ease one is with emotional expression) the purest and most straightforward way of saying, "I love you," is by saying... "I love you."

So simple, so easy -- yet, this tests our comfort levels and works us to the bone as we create new and different ways to rewrite the phrase because, for some reason, the words, "I love you" make us feel too raw, too open to misinterpretation.

Let's break it down: By saying, "I love you," we run the risk of feeling like a fool. Because, with this gesture comes the anticipation of a perfect response -- and sometimes, "ditto" just doesn't cut it. Unfulfilled expectation leads to disappointment, and then, there we are, kicking ourselves for being such saps.

For others, saying, "I love you," is a throwaway. They say it to everyone, at every interval. Nothing wrong with that, but it does tend to dilute the meaning of the words, especially when they're saying it to total strangers. Then, again, they might be ascended masters who perceive love in every molecule of every being -- hey -- it takes all types to make a world.

And then, there are those who avoid saying it at all cost. They just won't say the words. For whatever reason -- and I'm sure those reasons are legit -- the words, "I love you," will not be coming out of their mouths, no matter how much they DO love you.

That's where we get creative. Not wanting to deprive ourselves the beauty of giving love, yet unwilling to display our bleeding hearts right there on our sleeves, we have now at our disposal a variety of softer alternatives.

Like the ever popular: "Love ya."

We could say "you," but that would be too direct. "Ya" lessens the burden and gives it that casual "let's not get heavy," flavor.

Of course, there's, "Luff Choo", "Lots of Lub", "Lurv" and the easy-peasy "xoxo." Good, fluffy avoidance terms. It's like saying, "I love you, but, well... not that much." And you know what? This might very well be true: They do love you -- but not that much. After all, we don't need everyone to love us, do we?

So, we avoid saying "I love you," because of many reasons. We fear the rejection of not hearing the words reciprocated. We fear that once a vulnerable state has been established it cannot be retracted, and that makes us feel exposed. We fear that perhaps our words will be misunderstood and that the receiver of the loving statement might take it too seriously and -- please no, please no, please no -- want us to commit to them our heart, body, soul, mind and bank account -- GOD, anything but the bank account!

Of course, this is only half the problem. The other half is what happens to us when we are on the receiving end of an unexpected "I love you." Holy hell -- what to do?

It's never as simple as it seems, is it? There you are, you've just caught yourself an ear or an eyeful of someone else's "I love you," and you are now obligated to say... something!

B-b-but, what if you don't love them back? Or, what if you do, but you don't want them to know it -- or, or, it's just too much, too oppressive, too fast, too intense, too expected, too everything-you-wanted-to-avoid-but-now-there-it-is-staring-you-in-the-face?

We human beings are such a bunch of wackos, aren't we? We're born into this world with a built-in desire to know love, and we spend the majority of our lives pursuing this need. Yet, when it comes down to actually talking about -- we clam up.

At least, in the end we can say, "I did it all for lub."