“There are some who never would have loved if they never had heard it spoken of”, said La Rochefoucauld. Expressing love has been through the history of literature a sort of statement, which has developed a whole series of myths and experiences over the centuries. In this sense, love has helped to define the essence of human beings.
In our romantic relationships, we use emotional expression as indicators of the presence or absence of love. We say things like “Don’t you love me anymore?” when the other person has not shown certain feelings in settings where she was expected to do so. Similarly, when someone tells us “I don’t feel the same for you”, we can infer that it means “I don’t love you anymore”. It is not easy to declare your love for someone, especially if one hopes to be taken seriously and, at the same time, one tries to keep distance from the evaluative aspects of love held by the beloved one. But the problem is that the large number of disparate emotions, thoughts, and motivations, seemed to describe elements of love without systematizing them and without suggesting why anyone would love some people but not other.
“I love you” is a sentence used to express love for another person, the most famous examples being those of romantic novels. In these novels, authors try to put emotions in words; some authors succeed, others do not. Nevertheless, this process might be seen inversely. Writers attempt to construct emotions through the use of words. They treat love without emotion as if it were an individual’s truth. They construct a context, and give meaning to certain words, so we can talk about love. They try to construct love as an emotional performance.
We try to relive the great passion of love, but paradoxically it seems that we cannot. We can narrate this great passion, though we cannot relive it. Although it is not possible to relive it, it is possible to reconstruct this particular mood by using words. We can construct purely emotional situations, only through the use of language, thanks to such a performance.
When it comes to this “wordy” love issue, another fascinating topic is the interpretation of the great romances, i.e., the interpretation of signs, looks, gestures, which are very tenuous in performance. But those signs are part of the body language and express emotions and they are extremely weak. They exist at the very moment of their own expression and then they disappear. To attempt to repeat them in order to achieve the same effect is useless. It’s like a repetition of the phrase “I love you” between unknown persons.
The expression of love is not just a statement expression, but it’s a complete performance of our body. The way and form of performance, like being shy for instance, influence the actual performance itself. “I love you” said by a shy person has not the same response that an “I love you” said by a self-confident person. The sentence is the same, but the two performances are really distinct from each other. Words are designed to produce real emotions, which might exist in the intersubjective space.
“I love you” is like a magic formula, it represents a point of no-return between the speaker and the listener. After this performance the relationship between these two subjects changes forever.