Love is not about saying “I Love You”

I don’t like gems. Just… something about precious rocks that gives me the ick.
Seeing a “Kay jewelry” tv ad, my then-boyfriend hums “Every kiss begins with k” and announces he and I should go ring shopping. I’m thrilled, and I say I love what he means by it but let’s not do a ring.
He says yes let’s do a ring. I say Hey, remember how I feel about gems? He says he doesn’t care. He wants to give me a diamond, and I must accept a diamond. I say I understand you feel like you are ripped off of an experience, but can it please be about me since I’m the one who has to wear it every day…maybe we can do a ring but without a diamond?
No, he says. It will be a diamond ring, and that’s the end of the story.

That was the end of the relationship.
No, it wasn’t about the diamond ring. This conversation made me realize that’s how he viewed the world. He will tell me “I love you” in the way he wants, and I’m supposed to receive it. There was no consideration of what makes me feel loved. Such as him taking a second to think about how I’d feel.

There are a lot of that in this world.

I have a dog. And he taught me that I too have this tendency.

He is a rescue with his own understanding of the world. I got him when he was three and had no chance to mould his world the way I wanted him to see it.

We worked together, and now I’m blessed to live with a dog whose decisions are based on his love for me not based on his fear of the world.

He walks away from me because he trusts I’ll be there the next time he looks for me.
He comes back to me when he’s unsure of what to do.
He gets my attention when he’s scared.

That’s how be says “I love you.”

My actions that he sees as me saying “I love you”:

I am always calm and confident, allowing him to feel safe.
I am his survival – food and walks.
I give him instructions and keep him safe when he is unsure.
I am home a lot. I let him sleep in the bedroom.

My expression of love he hates:

Hugs.
Cuddles.
Kisses.
Sleeping on my bed.

Almost daily, I struggle with the urge to give him hugs, to share a cuddle, and to generally be physically close.
He just wants to sit a few inches or a few feet away from me and stare at me.

I have to let him win because my prioritizing my way of saying “I love you” only distresses him.
Every day, I tell him how much I love him by eliminating all of my gestures of love.

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