3 Simple Words That Are Way More Powerful Than “I Love You”

"I love you" isn't the only way to tell them you care.

Last updated on May 31, 2024

Words More Powerful Than 'I Love You' Lisa Vlasenko | Canva

Words are powerful. They are necessary for communication on the most basic level but also represent the deepest expression of who we are. How we communicate shapes us as individuals … but what we communicate defines our relationships. Quite simply, relationships are measured by words. There’s a progression that typically starts with "I want you" and ends with "I love you."

It seems simple, but there’s a dynamic underneath these words that, surprisingly, often doesn’t serve you or the relationship … and certainly doesn’t go far enough in creating the relationship you really want. 


The first major milestone in a new relationship is "I want you." It’s the first and most basic declaration of desire and attraction. It means that there is some kind of chemistry pulling you together … pheromones on full tilt. And it’s completely in the present. Immersion therapy, if you will, while you explore your similarities and differences. There isn’t any future commitment beyond "When can I see you next?" Freud would call it a playground for the Id.

Here are 3 simple words that are way more powerful than “I love you”.

RELATED: The 2 Words That Are Way More Important Than 'I Love You'


And often, you are so immersed in the other person, that you don’t even recognize yourself. The next, and some say last, relationship milestone is "I love you." For most people, "I love you" is the pinnacle of relationship success. It tells the other person that you’re all in, that you're committed to them and what comes next — forever. When first said, "I love you" is a declaration. Three vulnerable words blurted out too soon, too powerful to keep inside anymore, it's scary and thrilling at the same time. These three words are all about you though, and how you define yourself within this relationship.

@jayshetty Let’s make sure we’re aligned on this use of this powerful word ❤️ Clipped from my talk with @melrobbins ♬ Transcend - Piano Version - TWO LANES

You say "I love you" because the things you love about the other person inform who you are. Love is all ego.  And "I love you" is problematic in other ways too. Love is beyond your control. You fall in love, right? Interesting turn of phrase — falling in love. So, love is at the wheel. It says you’re a willing passenger in that speeding car — even though you can see the cliff up ahead. You’re powerless and at its mercy. Again, like all those pheromones earlier, love is something that happens to you. Your response is a reaction. And over time, "I love you" loses its power. It loses that intensity.

RELATED: The Only Way To Know If You Really Love Someone, According To A Therapist


It either evolves into a deeper knowing and acceptance… or it becomes rote and slowly fades away. So, love is fleeting. You got out of the car at some point and it left you behind. No wonder, since you were never in control of it anyway. And what does "I love you" even mean? How do you know you mean the same things when you say "I love you?" The sheer idea of love gets all tangled up in different perspectives and interpretations.

Some people define it as dependence — "You have something I want and don’t have myself." Or it means control — "I can manipulate you to give me what I need." 

And lastly, it is defined as a responsibility — "I love you, so I need to demonstrate it by what I do for you." 


Do any of those sound familiar? I fell into that last one in my own marriage. Somehow, this subconscious definition of love said that my value in the relationship was completely based on what I did for my husband. It’s a terrible, powerless place to be when we aren’t valued for who we fundamentally are. Once I realized I had this self-limiting belief, it became really clear that my (now ex) husband shared this twisted definition of love. He too only cared about what I could do for him. 

Once a relationship gets to "I love you" where does it go from there? 

For most people, that’s the end of the line. There’s nothing else once they’ve declared their commitment to the unknown future of forever.

RELATED: 3 Phrases Vastly More Important Than Saying "I Love You"

And how is that possible when we don’t know what will happen in the future? We aren’t there yet and we can’t make decisions in the unknown. That future commitment is now based on what you know right now. And to keep that love alive, it always needs to stay within those parameters, which limits its ability to evolve and grow. I believe in love. I really do. I’ve been blessed to find true love in my own life post-divorce. Love on its own isn’t enough though. It’s not the last milestone in the relationship. Do you want to know why?


There are no milestones. Love is never a destination. It’s a journey that never ends when you put yourself behind the wheel. 

The three most powerful words in a relationship are "I choose you." 

These three simple words will change your entire relationship. Why? "I choose you" is here, right now. And in this present moment, you are in your power. You’re not reacting. You’re not attached to their choice. And you don’t need to control their choice

These words are intimate and vulnerable at the same time. 


"I choose you" says "I see you. I value you. I respect you. I want you. I love you. I choose you. I’m committed to you right now." 

Right now is when commitment is most important.  There are no future guarantees or limitations. You’re in the driver’s seat. You decide where you want to go at any given moment. You choose.  

RELATED: 10 Subtle Ways Your Guy Is Secretly Saying 'I Love You'

Laura Miolla is the founder and CEO of Smart Divorce Strategy, is a Professional Certified Coach (CPCC and PCC), Mediator and Parentology Coach. She's a contributor to Thought Catalog, Medium, Huffington Post, Babble, Parents Magazine, among many others.