While they're the most sought-after three words in the English language, the phrase "I love you" is a bit vague — and justifiably so. Human emotions are so fleeting and nebulous that even Shakespeare had to invent a bunch of words in attempt to describe them.
"I love you" is a symbolic affirmation that implies loyalty and an overwhelming abundance of positive emotion. But it can mean so many things to so many people that it's essentially impossible to communicate your true significance of the word to the other person.
If you tell a person you love them, how do you prove it? Will your idea of proof be the same as theirs? Probably not.
But "I am there for you" suffers no such weakness.
It's unambiguous. It offers you the opportunity to stand behind your words. It lets your actions speak for you.
And those actions mean more than any "I love you" ever could. Those actions could say, "I love you" more than the words themselves even.
"I am there for you" says you're willing to do the work that a relationship requires. It says you can be leaned upon when your partner cannot stand on their own. It's a phrase of giving, rather than receiving. "I love you" is another way of saying, "You make me happy."
"I am there for you" is another way of saying, "I'm prepared to do what it takes to make you happy." It's the difference between enjoying reading and committing to write a book — they both have value you in their own way, but the latter will wind up saying so much more.
But regardless of intent, the words "I am there for you" are hollow and worthless if you don't back them up. You can sing your love from the mountaintops, but you'll still be drowned out by the volume of your actions if they don't reflect that love.
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