I know they are only words, but they exist for a reason.
Like paper money, like wooden coins, like pot brownies at burningman, they are currency.
They exist to make communication easier, and in the same way most people won't trade a nickle for 4 pennies, words are less interchangeable than some people might think.
Especially important words. Especially heartfelt words.
When I say I like someone or, love someone, it is a deliberately expressed sentiment. I mean just that. I don't mean they are okay, or that I do not dislike them, or that I could stand to be in a room with them alone for an hour. I don't mean I would last a drink with them. I don't mean they are acceptable partner for my friend or that they do not steal or offend. I mean I enjoy their company, I mean they occupy a space in my mind that makes life just a little brighter, that much more fun.
There are so very many people we get know in our lives. Coworkers and friend's spouses and that guy that has worked at the mini mart for years. We say we like them and we spend time with them, sometimes by choice, sometimes by extension, but is it fair to say, to anyone, that we really like or love these people? Regardless of the attachments formed over time and repetition, are we doing anyone any favors claiming our affections lie with people we have simply learned to tolerate for the sake of peace and community?
I don't know. But I do know that love is a gift and affection is precious. And I can't help but to feel we should claim to like and love a whole lot less people, and maybe tell them people we truly like and love how we feel a whole lot more often. Which is to say, spend those words like the gold they are. Generously, but never capriciously. Because love may beget more love, but not if you throw it in a well and wait for it return your wishes.