[Here’s my attempt at the meaning of “I love you”—in the popular romantic/erotic sense, not the “I love you Mommy” – “I love you too, Dear” sense. Note that this definition of “I love you” is all about feeling, all about the subjective emotions of one person. Is there any reason to suppose that such a state of the emotions will bring in its train sexual fidelity and emotional loyalty, kindness and respect, commitment to married or family life, a willingness to make sacrifices for the beloved, or unselfish or altruistic behaviour in general?]
I feel very strong attraction and desire for you (the beloved, that is), and the fulfillment of that desire brings me intense enjoyment (typically but not necessarily including sexual pleasure), overflowing happiness (sometimes verging on the mystical), and a sense of being complete and at peace—or I confidently anticipate feeling all this if I was able to win your love (i.e. realize my desire for you).
[In what follows my email pal Brian, who is a metaphysical naturalist (or philosophical materialist), has enlarged on the above definition of “I love you” so as to incorporate the naturalist perspective.]
I feel very strong attraction and desire for you (my unconscious brain activity has recognized good breeding potential in you, by referring to past experience as well as deeper animal instincts regarding breast size and child bearing hip width, and consequentially has released certain hormones into the bloodstream and molecules across various brain synapses sponsoring the response we call desire), and the fulfillment of that desire brings me intense enjoyment (my desire is coupled with the experience of pleasure, enhancing my chances of survival and in this case, reproduction), overflowing happiness (physiological changes increase blood flow and reduce my distraction to sensory input other than those related to you—hence love is blind), and a sense of being complete and at peace—or I confidently anticipate feeling all this if I was able to win your love (i.e. the anticipation of physical union and mental/emotional closeness—the parts of my brain that look for mirroring clues in other beings lights up, thus fending off the feeling of vulnerability in the world and enhancing desire for you).
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