Everyone wants to hear I love you. No one wants to hear I love you but _______. It changes the whole meaning of the phrase. It is like a left-handed compliment. It sets you up to hear something beautiful, but ends up with you hearing something ugly. It is disguised criticism, and it is mean, thoughtless, and cruel. (Not to mention, judgmental and self-righteous to boot.)
Beware of I love you but-ters because they don’t play fair. They are especially dangerous for highly sensitive people and empaths because they cause us emotional swings. (It’s a constant challenge for us to regulate our emotions anyway.) We hear and feel the lovely words, then get blindsided by the following criticism. I love you buts wreak havoc with us.
Urban Dictionary defines I Love You, But as: “The phrase someone close to you says before they point out a flaw, something you did or are currently doing wrong, a mistake you made, something embarrassing, or flat out mean.” (Words in bold are from Urban Dictionary, not me.)
The most common I love you buts that HSPs and empaths hear are “I love you, but you are too sensitive,” or “I love you, but you are too emotional.” This implies that there is something wrong with us and the way we are (intrinsically wrong). It is criticizing us for being us. It’s something that we can’t change, so it is a confusing and hurtful to hear from someone who says they love us. We see being sensitive and emotional as our strength (and are well aware that the rest of the world often doesn’t see it that way).The capacity to feel empathy and compassion deeply is who we are and what we do.
If you are hearing I love you but _____, I suggest that you point out to the I love you but-ter that it is hurtful and unacceptable; to knock it off. (Often, they have learned this phrase/behavior in childhood from unhealthy/critical parents.) If they love you as they say, they can unlearn it.
You deserve three beautiful words. I love you. Period.