There are seven billion people on the planet Earth and 6.999 billion of them I don’t even know. Of the approximately 0.001 billion (or 1,000) people that I do know to one degree or another, there are some that I don’t particularly like, some that I neutral on, some that I do like, and some that I love. These all have a place on the continuum of affection.
Aside from our children, whom we love immediately from the moment we meet them, most relationships grow over time. When a relationship is developing, people typically start out on the “I don’t dislike you” side of neutral. As the relationship develops, they may get to know enough about the other person that they begin to like them. If things continue in the same direction, their affection may grow to really liking them, and may eventually progress to . . . LOVE.
Obviously, there are different kinds of love. The love we ought to have for all people is the kind of love that says, “We are all created in the image of God and we all have value simply because we exist, and I will do my part to not bring harm to you.” Then, there is the affectionate kind of love that we reserve only for people we are close to and fond of. This kind of love says, “You are important to me and I care what happens to you.” We can have this kind of love for our family, friends, romantic partners, and even our pets.
On the continuum of affection, love is certainly stronger and deeper than like. Yet, I have always felt that they deserve an equal and separate place. For example, I often tell my children that I love them, but I also make a point to tell them that I LIKE them, too! Kids know that their parents are supposed to love them, but liking them is optional, which means that it is a personal compliment to them to hear that they are not only loved, but also liked.
When I meet someone new, and I find them likeable, I am not afraid to tell them. I am not afraid to look them in the eye and tell them straight out “I like you!” I do this all the time, but I feel like I am in the minority. I am noticing that most people are afraid to be so bold, opting instead to keep their feelings to themselves for all but romantic relationships.
Yet, most of us want to be liked by our friends and colleagues, so why not tell someone when you like them? When I take the risk to do this, a wonderful thing happens. My words of affirmation surprise them, as if no one has ever told them that before, and their whole face lights up! I feel like I have given them a gift that they can carry with them always, and blessing them blesses me, too!
If you like someone, tell them! If you love someone, let them know! And if someone who loves you tells you they also like you, you can take that as an extra special compliment!!