So... One could consider LOVE to be
(a) A deep, tender, ineffable feeling of affection and solicitude toward a person, such as that arising from kinship, recognition of attractive qualities, or a sense of underlying oneness.
(b) A zero score in tennis.
Here, we'll talk about both.
People in relationships of all kinds - family, friends, partners and even "lovers" - use "love" to cover a number of bases OTHER than love. Love means different things to different people at different times. So if this word is oh so versatile, why do we get a case of the willies when it comes to using it openly, freely and sincerely? I think the point is that most of us DON'T, and THAT'S what scares us about the word "love". We've heard it used out of context, inappropriately and even in hurtful ways enough that we associate negative feelings with a truly positive word.
Imagine what someone might feel when they've heard "I love you" seemingly sincerely for the duration of their relationship only to find their partner engaged in a "physical indiscretion", (I borrow this from S only because it seems so... appropriate!) Or let's say someone wakes up one day to discover they're in an ABUSIVE, not LOVING relationship, yet their partner says "I love you"? How do you expect THAT would mess with someone's preception of "Love"?
Finally, what do you think it would be like to hear "love" in an encouraging way... regularly? I'm guessing pretty darn fine!
Perhaps we could make some RACQUETTE about our NET thoughts on LOVE?