Please, Don’t Love Me to Death

by Britni Danielle

Growing up, I always thought it curious how my mother would react to the phrase, “I love you to death.” If she heard it she’d scrunch up her face and say, “I sure hope not.”

As a kid, I didn’t get the gravity behind such a statement–because to literally love someone to death is quite scary. But considering how we casually throw around words, I didn’t think much of it. As I got older, however; the phrase no longer sounded sweet, but hinted at something even more sinister: abuse.

Recently, I read an article about the murder-suicide of model Vanessa Banks. Banks–a mother of three–was fatally shot by her longtime boyfriend after driving him to a train station in Philadelphia. After murdering her, he turned the gun on himself, but the damage was done: he loved her to death.

I often think, write, and discuss relationships with my friends. Although many of our conversations are light-hearted and comical, one thing rarely comes up: relationship violence. But for black folks, and specifically black women, relationships can be physically scary places to be.

Lost in the debate about whether or not Chris Brown is truly sorry for beating up Rihanna are the facts: our sisters, daughters, and friends are being abused, and sometimes killed, at alarming rates.

According to the Bureau of Justice, 652,660 incidents of intimate partner violence were reported to the police in 2008, the majority of crimes, 551,590, being committed against women (and that doesn’t account for those that go unreported).

Even more alarming, black women suffer from higher partner violence rates and are four times more likely to be murdered by a boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse than our white counterparts.

So when your partner says they love you to death, they might just mean it.

I’m a true believer that words have power, and as cliched as it sounds, actions oftentimes speaks louder than words. Although it may be cute that your dude acts jealous when you talk to male friends, or your girl gets mad when you hang out with your female friends, seemingly petty things like mistrust, control issues, and obsession can quickly turn violent and perhaps even deadly.

So if you’re in a relationship and your partner is exhibiting signs that give you pause, don’t just brush them off as cute or a sign that he really loves you. While that could very well be the case, addressing your concerns head on might be the difference between living happily ever after and calling the police for help.

What do you think of the phrase, “I love you to death”? 

  • AustralianGirl

    I agree with this article.
    Why associate love with death? What a sick society we’re in, where this is a common phrase.

  • CaliDreaming86

    Well, what I think of the phrase is that it’s just something people say just because.

  • May

    When I was growing up, I was always told that you are not to say that and if someone says that to you be very aware of them. Yes, people use it to mean something but many a times it has been shown that if I cannot get you then no one else can. So many people have this mindset and in the end turn around and hurt the same person they claim to love. If you love me, let it be unconditional and not to death.

  • London27

    With domestic abuse being more prevalent than what we realized, I do not care for that statement “I love you to death” either. What you view as innocent could very well escalate into a tragic situation. Actions as well as words need to be payed very close attention to.

  • London27


  • apple

    i remember my teacher told me about her sister who exboyfriend/fiance just would not let go, he flew out to another state where she moved and watched her for months..eventually he killed himself but took an old picture of them together and wrote in his blood “true love never dies” …
    thats some scary sh*t!

  • OSHH

    Words have power. so that phrase does not express the kind of love I want, the “graveyard” kind as I heard a mature lady say once.
    People should pay more attention to what they and others are saying, things like “it kills me” and all the like. May seem simple but words have power, only speak what you want over your life.
    I even tell folks don’t say they are broke, even if thats the case, don’t proclaim that.

  • arlette

    omg i have never thought about it like that. i remember reading the story and feeling so sorry for the girl , imagine how much guilt she must feel (not that she should be), she also love the guy.

  • Mariah

    I say it all the time but I don’t intend on killing/hurting anyone

  • sunshyne84

    because that’s the end?

  • Guulo

    I love you to death = I love you more than anything and everything, and I would give my life for you=unconditional love=the ultimate peak of love….or just a pharse people use when one does something for them (it;s only a pharse, like “you are the best”)

    never thought of it as ill hurt/kill you if you leave me and I still don’t view it that way, everything depends on the person saying the words

  • chanela

    so true! i was actually just looking up “commonly misused expressions and words” and you won’t believe the amount of phrases people say wrong all the time. when you really analyze each word in what we say a lot makes no damn

    for example. once and a while is supposed to be once IN a while. why would you say AND a while? also “should of”vs “should have and “its a doggy dog world” vs “its a dog-eat-dog world”

    people really don’t pay that much attention to WHAT they are saying. they just blindly and ignorantly throw around phrases and don’t even write them

  • Candy 1

    I know why people don’t like that phrase, however, I have said it to mean that I’ll love someone until the day I die. I typically say “I love you with all my life” because that is what my mom used to say to me.

  • African Mami

    I don’t know how this article co-related with Chris and Rihanna’s situation. That phrase, I love you to death is NOT meant to spark violence. If anything, all it means is I love you to the ends of this world! I hate using politically correct grammar to suit this world! For instance, back in the day when I was not enlightened about it. I went for an interview with a financial institution. I was asked to describe myself-I used the term aggressive-to mean a go-getter. Apparently, the correct term would have been I’m ASSERTIVE….urrgh-same difference! Whatev….Nonetheless, I did not get the job and I thank God for it! Back to this case, Brit you made a case for it-but I didn’t buy it at all mama!

  • Tami

    I loved my last boyfriend to death…but I didn’t kill him!

  • mamareese

    Ok all this is I love you and I’m crazy. We all know the phrase is used to express a deeper love than what you typically feel. Ya’ll know we get tell tell signs when a brother is not working with a full deck or has it in him to hit you. Don’t be so “Blinded By Love” that you refuse to see it or overlook it. In most cases folks ignore or think we can change folks. My ex says I love you to life because he hates saying I love you to death….you can speak things into existance, even the negative. Brother wont even say goodbye, he says peace…go figure LOL.

  • kisa

    African Mami, I feel you. It is just a thing that people say. Words get too scrutinized sometimes. It’s the intention that counts. As long as you know that there isn’t any malice behind what you are saying, then, you are good!!!

Latest Stories

Maya Rudolph Scores Her Own Variety Show! Janelle Monae, Craig Robinson & Raphael Saadiq to Appear


Dating Don’ts: Love In The Age Of Instagram


New Study: Young Women View Incidents of Sexual Assault as Normal


Pew Center: Only a Quarter of Americans Consider Pres. Obama ‘Black’

More in Relationships
Love Stinks
Time Sisters Kept Condoms At Hand Too