The dictionary defines love as a profoundly tender, passionate affection for another person as well as a warm, personal attachment or deep affection, as for a parent, child or friend. Or, when used as a verb, love can mean having a strong liking for or taking great pleasure in something.
Therefore, with love being so widely applied to anything that you enjoy a great deal, it begins to lose it's meaning when telling a person that you love them.
I remember back in middle school when my friends and I had crushes where we REALLY liked someone (despite probably not even having spoken to them longer than 2 minutes at a time) we would not want to merely say that we like them...but we knew that we didn't LOVE this person. So we used the word "live" (which is obviously already a word, perhaps in hindsight "loke" would have been more appropriate) a combination of like and love to signify the seriousness of our feelings. I'm fairly certain that I could dig up an old notebook or two (yes, I still have way to many of my old school supplies) with "I live ____" doodled on a page or the back cover.
Even back then, my friends and I knew that it wasn't appropriate to throw around the "L" word. However, it seems like that idea has long since been abandoned. Even I am guilty of using the word inappropriately on quite a few occasions. "Oh, I love that shirt" and "I absolutely LOVE Portillo's" are both commonly heard and acceptable phrases these days.
Love has lost it's special meaning. High school couples who are together for 3 weeks and then break up have probably uttered the "L" word to their short-term significant other once or twice. It just is what it is and there is no getting it back.
It's important to me that people that I love truly understand how deep and how strong my feelings for them are. One obvious way to do this is to show them through my actions, but I wanted a way to do it with words as well. So, digging around I realized that I had the answer all along... simply tell them that I love them...unconditionally.
I found a great definition of unconditional love here: http://www.2achieveyourgoals.com/what-is-unconditional-love/
This website states that "unconditional love is when you love someone the way he or she is without rules, not the way you want him or her to be. Unconditional love is the only kind of love that fills you up. Unconditional love is when you love without expecting anything in return. It is when you love without trying to change someone’s behavior and personality."
They go on to say that while you may get upset at the behaviors or actions of someone that you love unconditionally, you still love them just the same as you always have.
That, my friends, is a very hard state to find. It is strongly desired but rarely experienced. It's most common in the love between a parent and a child, but finding unconditional love from a significant other/life partner is not so easily stumbled upon.
You cannot love your man simply because he always provides for you just as you cannot stop loving him because he continuously forgets important life events (birthdays, anniversaries, etc). Well, you can, but that would be an example of conditional love. Same with trying to change the person that you are with...you can't be of the mindset that "if only she cooked better meals, I would love her more" -- you knew she wasn't a good cook when you "fell in love" with her.
That is not to say that you cannot encourage your love to grow into a better, more well-rounded person...but your love for them cannot be determined by how successful they are at meeting your suggestions.
Hopefully I have managed to make my point. Feel free to discuss your opinions.
And one last thing, to everyone that I love: I love you, UNCONDITIONALLY. Things that you say or do may irritate me or downright piss me off from time to time, you may disappoint me or hurt my feelings now and then, but I still love you. And I know I don't say the words often enough, but trust me...I do.