So, I know I’m a killjoy. I know that people like to say cute things to each other when they’re in love because those things sound good whether or not they make any sense. But I’ve heard a few too rational people saying gross, unthinking things about their SO’s lately, and it makes me fear for their sense.
My boyfriend is a big dope, and I instituted a rule a long time ago that if he was going to say anything brainlessly dramatic or sentimental to me, he had to say it in a dramatic whisper so I could laugh at it. I just don’t like saying or being told things that are not literally true for the sake of it sounding loving, when expressing love truthfully is so much harder but so much better. Here’s a list of some whisper-worthy, saccharine, and not-very accurate gushiness that just needs to stop happening in the way we talk about our partners.
1. “I couldn’t imagine life without you!” This just demonstrates a lack of imagination. I could totally imagine my life without my boyfriend, Michael – it’d be missing several wonderful things, but it is within the realm of plausibility. Don’t you kind of need to be able to imagine an independent life to keep a sense of individual identity?
2. “I can’t live without you!” As a person who has had someone threaten suicide over the dissolution of a relationship in the past, this is not even close to cute. Yes, you can. Breakups suck, but the world keeps turning and you keep going to work and yadda yadda. I get that people use this in a way that’s meant to be cute, but think about what it means. This is like Co-Dependence 101.
3. “You’re my other half!” Uuuugggghhhhhhhhh I cannot stand the idea that people feel like they’re walking around as incomplete beings (and inasmuch as that’s the case I also hate the phrase “You complete me!”). I get that a loving relationship rounds out our lives in wonderful ways, but relationships of all kinds round out our lives. By this logic we’d only maybe 1/20 of a person inasmuch as we’re sons and daughters, nieces and nephews, grandchildren, friends, cousins, colleagues, confidants, and SO’s. I prefer framing it as us being whole human beings whose lives are elaborated upon by the people we love.
4. “You’re my better half!” BARF. This combines the “other half” problem with unnecessary self-deprecation. M is no better or worse than me, he’s just awesome in different ways.
5. “You’re my partner in crime!” Have I explained adequately yet how much I hate preciousness? Probably not. I mean, what crimes are you committing? If you were committing crimes, would you really be having fun? (I know the answer for some of my friends is ‘absolutely yes.’) If anyone said this who was in a relationship in which the couple genuinely acted as a hilarious two-man prank team, I would be 100 percent in support of the phrase. I have yet to come across that particular couple.
6. “I would die for you!” Even if we’re not going to take this literally (in which case it would be a GIANT RED FLAG), the purpose of this phrase is to say “I’d give up everything for you.” But does anyone (besides a narcissist) really want that from their partner in a healthy relationship?
7. “You’re my one true love!” So, let’s think about this: “True” in this context means “real.” So the implication is that everyone else you ever loved prior to this relationship, well, you didn’t really love them. What a bunch of baloney! Why are we just catering to our partners’ vanity or jealousy by pretending that they’re the only loveable person in the world?
8. “I want to be with you forever!” I can’t be the only person jaded enough by my divorce, my parents’ divorce(s), my friends’ divorces, and/or a lack of religious faith to be fed up with the word “forever,” right?
9. “You just know.” True story: In the last year, Michael and I have gotten together, broken up, gotten back together, moved in together, broken up and he moved out, gotten back together, and several months later he moved back in. I’m in a more complex and contented love with him than I’ve been in with anyone else, but for the sake of protecting my emotional health, I’ve had to run a hyper-rational cost-benefit analysis of being in a relationship with him. All respect to intuition, but sometimes you choose to give yourself over to love because it’s the smart thing to do, not because you just know you will.
10. “You give my life meaning.” If one person is your life’s meaning, I am very, very worried for you regarding the potential eventuality of a breakup or catastrophic loss. Also: A little bit stalker-y, no?