I hate that phrase.
Someone said it tonight to me on the phone, though no one I'm still with, thank you very much. I've asked that person please never to use those words with me, but apparently he can't help himself. That's right, keep drinking while you're on the anti-seizure medication. What a waste.
I first recognized my abhorrence for the phrase when it came from another quondam boyfriend as he was giving me the old heave-ho. Chris used it as a sort of assurance of my intrinsic value. Some consolation. "I love you to DEATH!" he said nervously, and protesting I don't know what. I should simply have replied, "Don't waste your energy."
What does this mean, really? In his case he was saying, "I like you a lot as a PERSON, but I'm not IN LOVE with you. Don't be angry!"
I object to this phrase because it has so many possible interpretations, its ambiguity is dangerous, but mostly because it's always masking something:
Masochistic- I love you so much it will kill me.
Sadistic - My love is going to kill you.
False and frightening - I don't really love you, so I overcompensate with mock passion to the point of ferocity. Yet, I kind of wish you'd just go away. That's like death, isn't it?
Passive Agressive - I might actually love you, but with a chip on the shoulder.
Glib - Similar to F & F, minus the second F. Reserved for hairdressers, sales people, and casting agents.
Hypermanic - I sincerely need my Ritalin, Lithium, or Thyroid medication.
There is one positive take I can think of. It requires the assumption that it has its origins (those being something I could not discover online), in something older, quainter.
Such as, "I'll love you 'till Death do us part."
I can guarantee you they don't mean it that way. People who love you say, "I love you."