In 10th grade I took what passed for a psychology class in my high school. The only thing that I remember from it is that the teacher, Mr. Larson (not that one, the other one -- the one with the mustache), told us that instead of saying "I love you," we should strive to say "I love myself when I'm with you." I thought that was nice, and it seemed true, so I tucked it away as a sort of litmus test.
And to be sure, not every relationship I've been in since then has met that standard. I mean, the heart wants what the heart wants, right? But one of the things that I love the most about Jeffrey is that he really pushes me to see other people's perspectives, and sometimes to see what my own perspective really is. It's not just this one thing, but even if it were, I would still know without a doubt that being with him has made me a better person. And that's just one way that I love myself because I'm with him. It's changed the way I look at everything, really, and made me infinitely more understanding. And I think that's a really great thing.
But twice last week I ran afoul of friendship law because I've taken that too far with friends. The first time, I was chatting with a friend and talk turned to his ex-wife -- someone I've never met. And even though I knew precious little about it, I tried to see her perspective. And my friend said, "I'm right here in front of you. You know me. You don't know her. Why are you giving her the benefit of the doubt?" He was pretty upset, and he had a good point, and I apologized.
Then another friend complained about something someone had failed to communicate to him, and I tried to explain to him that it was probably just an oversight. And then he, too, got upset.
So I recounted this second, similar story to Friend 1. And he told me that he appreciates what I do, that it helps make him a better person, and that he didn't want me to stop doing it. But that sometimes a dude just wants the confirmation that the other guy's an asshole, or an offer to go in on the violence.
And you know, I think he's right, but not just for dudes. I know how great it feels to get that kind of backing. I think from friends, what I long to hear (and should therefore say more of) is not "I love you," and certainly not "I love myself when I'm with you." It's "Yeah, fuck that guy."