I'm A Lover, Not A Fighter
"I'm a lover, not a fighter."
"My orientation and skillset help me contribute through creativity,
not destruction, so I avoid violence and am not interested in it."
Men usually use this expression to disengage from possible
confrontation. This can be applied literally to fights, for example,
and metaphorically to other forms of confrontation, such as in court.
Nancy: "Do you want some snow for lunch? Ha-ha-ha!”
Chris: "Ha-ha-ha. You're lucky I'm a lover, not a fighter!"
1. Although this is an expression, and, as such, can not change its form, it is possible to encounter this expression modified in ways that suggest it can be conjugated,
and. therefore, an idiom. For example, someone might say, "He is a lover, not a fighter." This is extremely rare, however, and not the standard usage.
2. This expression incorporates the noun "lover" in an older sense of "romantic person / creative individual." Today, "lover" means "secret boyfriend / girlfriend of a married person." It is very common for Japanese and Korean speakers to mistakenly use "lover" in the sense of "boyfriend / girlfriend." This expression may, therefore, inadvertently contribute to misuse of this word.
3. Literature Reference: Author Thomas Hoover uses this expression in his 1988 novel The Samurai Strategy to have a character describe disengaging himself from a cutthroat business world: "Remember that old saying I used to have about being a lover, not a fighter. I always know when it's time to call in the huntin' dogs and piss on the fire. I'm back in town to stay."
4. Media Reference #1: Journalist David Carr quotes a corporate executive, Summer Redstone, as using this expression in a July 13th, 2007 article for The New York Times, entitled "Sun Valley: Late Night With Eric Schmidt" to describe corporate litigation: "'During the course of my life, I’ve occasionally found it necessary to file lawsuits,' Mr. Redstone said, adding that this is not his preferred mode of doing business. 'I hate litigation,' he said. 'I’m a lover, not a fighter' —an assertion that was seconded by his wife, Paula Fortunato, who was sitting nearby." ()
5. Media Reference #2: Journalist Steve Inskeep uses this expression in a May 29th, 2014 NPR piece ("50 Cent's Pitch: Just A Bit Outside") to describe a celebrity comment: "Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep. Rapper 50 Cent joins Justin Bieber and other celebrities who've thrown a terrible first pitch at a baseball game. 50 Cent tried at a Mets game. Video shows him throwing left-handed. The ball flies farther and farther left-left of the catcher - even beyond cameramen who were lined up to record his embarrassment. Later, he commented on Instagram. You know that saying, 'I'm a lover, not a fighter'? Well, 50 cent said, 'I'm a hustler, not a ballplayer.' It's Morning Edition." (https://www.npr.org/2014/05/29/316891543/50-cents-pitch-just-a-bit-outside) (At 21 seconds into the broadcast.)
6. Media Reference #3: Tony Torn's character of "The Toymaker" uses this expression in season 5, episode 13 of the television series The Blacklist ("The Invisible Hand") when threatened with a gun: "You're not gonna need that, Mr. Reddington. I'm a lover, not a fighter." (At 38 minutes and 25 seconds into the episode. Originally aired February 7th, 2018.)