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”? 

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  • 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.

  • 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!

    • 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!!!

  • 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.