How many times have we heard about “those three little words” that everyone wants to hear?
I love you.
We’re told it’s the phrase that brings light, flowers and champagne into your life. More Hallmark movies and big-ticket rom-coms than you can catalogue are based on the chasing of those words. I love you is touted as magic, as healing, as The Words That Make Everything All Right.
But they aren’t.
So many times we love someone — we truly do — but cannot deal with their lies, their addictions, their refusals to grow and learn. They make promise after promise but it simply doesn’t pan out. Or we have that friend that has been a BFF forever, but we can’t depend on them to keep a coffee date, or remember to return a book, or pay us the $20 they owe us. There is always an excuse, sometimes a good reason — but we can’t take them at their word.
I have had friends for decades that chipped away at my being able to say “I believe in you” until all that was left was “I love you.” I did still love them. But I had to limit my time with them; they became toxic. (Yes, you can still love someone who is toxic for you, but you may well do it from a distance.)
Yes, we can love them unconditionally…but we don’t necessarily believe in them.
On the other hand? For me it’s the FOUR magic words:
I believe in you.
When you believe in someone, you know their word is to be trusted. You know that they are aware of who they are, what they say, what they commit to, and how they bring themselves to the world.
It’s what my husband had engraved inside my wedding ring twenty years ago, when I was taking that scary leap back into marriage — and into full time psychic work, being completely my own boss. He could not have given me a more precious promise.
There are a handful of people who are heart-deep with me, and have only to reach out — with a call, with a message, with any connection — and I am right there for them, in good times and challenging ones, because those are the ones who tell me the truth, as they do to everyone in their sphere. They do not take life for granted; they know that what you give is what you ask for. They give trust, they give honesty, and they give truth in the relationship.
Those four words work for someone who isn’t a friend, but is an important part of your life — like the doctor who tells a patient the truth but works with them as what I call a “co-conspirator,” never brushing off their concerns or treating them as a diagnosis. The patients are seen, and they have faith that the doctor is doing everything possible to bring both a cure and a healing. Such people believe in their physician, and the admiration and affection is deep.
What about believing in those we don’t know? One has only to point to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky for a shining example. He has been straight with his people, he is unswerving in his defense of the land he loves, and he faces with courage the idea that Putin wants him dead. Yet he does not run. As he said to President Biden, “I need ammunition, not a ride.” And he is beloved by the people of Ukraine, because they believe in him utterly, no matter what the outcome of the war.
So when you are choosing between the three words and the four words, see if those four words are just a little richer. Because you can love someone without believing in them — but if you believe in someone, the love is absolutely there. And they will know that in those four words.