Do You Ever Feel Obligated To Say, “I Love You?”


Your lover turns to you and tenderly says, “I love you.”

How do you react?

Does your heart open wide with love? Or do you feel a sense of obligation to reply with an equally tender “I love you”?

Notice the subtle way that we start to deceive our partners and ourselves when we act out of a sense of obligation. Do you feel the subtle closing of your heart, and the growing distance that this creates?

The Problem Is Not Your Partner’s Honest “I Love You”

The problem is our unwillingness to be honest to ourselves. Maybe right now we don’t feel like saying “I love you.” Maybe we’re just not thinking about love at all.

So why don’t we just say, “Thank you”? And take in the love that comes to us as a gift to nourish us?

Why do we complicate things by trying to please the other person? Why do we feel obligated to say “I love you too”?

The other person is already full of love. They just told us so. What could they possibly need from us? They give. We receive. It’s so simple. And as the recipient of their love we become the luckiest person in the world.

When we really receive another person’s love and take it in, we often do feel real love inside. And who knows, we may even find the words to express it.

But Why Do We Step Out Of Our Integrity To Say It?

We step out of our integrity because we are believing something. We are believing that there will be consequences if we don’t reciprocate.

Things like, “They will be hurt if I don’t say I love you too.” Or, “They will get mad at me.” Or, “They will leave me.” Or “They will think I’m no longer interested in them.”

If you really want to find freedom on the other side of “I love you,” then question the thoughts that keep you feeling obligated to say it.

Here’s One Way To Do It

Fill in the blank…

“If I don’t say ‘I love you’ then my partner will __________ .”

You might find a list of things. You may find lots of imagined consequences. Write them all down and take them to The Work.

“They will get mad at me.” Is that true? Can you absolutely know it’s true? Question these beliefs as if your relationship depends on it, and find out the truth. And then test what you find in real life.

You Can Do This With Your Mother, Father, Sister, Or Lover

If you really want to get to the bottom of it, find a specific situation where you said “I love you” out of a sense of obligation. And write a whole Judge-Your-Neighbor worksheet on the person you said it to, and what they would have done if you had not said it.

You may find a whole new way of relating to them after you question these fears. The sense of obligation falls away as you honor your integrity. And integrity is the basis for true love.


Todd Smith is a facilitator of The Work of Byron Katie. By continuing to question his own beliefs and fears using The Work, he is able to support you as you question yours. To find out how to do The Work with Todd, visit his website here.

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