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Thursday, February 13, 2014

How often do you say "I love you" to your loved ones?

I read something fascinating the other day...

Videos of children and college students saying "I love you" to their parents have gone viral in China.

"Are you drunk?" one parent responded. Another father replied, "I am going to a meeting, so cut the crap."

In China, parents and children don't typically swap the phrase "I love you," according to sociologists. Last year China Daily asked people if they said "I love you" to their relatives. "I have never said 'I love you' to my family, and I don't think I will in the future," one 56-year-old said. "Saying it aloud is embarrassing for me."

(If you're from China, I'm really curious to hear if you agree with this!)

Meanwhile, on the other side of the ocean, I can't seem to stop. I tell Toby and Anton that I love them every five seconds, and with Alex, I tell him I love him daily—and, if I'm being totally honest, I also often ask him "Do you love me?" which is so lame and needy but cannot be helped!

I'm curious: How often do you say "I love you" to your loved ones? And what nationality are you? Do you think your culture/upbringing affects your answer? Would you like to say it more, or do you think saying it too much cheapens it? I'd love to hear...

P.S. Motherhood around the world, and have you ever said "I love you" first?

(Photo of Paul Newman and Joanne Woodward. Thanks to Kristin for sending me this Business Insider article)

393 comments:

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Tinna said...

In Iceland, I love you is reserved for your partner. Very rarely people say it to their parents or children. Luckily there are other ways to show affection :)

lena said...

I was born in China and moved to Canada on my eleventh birthday. Based on my experience with family and family friends, this is totally true. I'm fairly certain I will also never say it to my parents even though I now say it to my boyfriend daily.

Physical affection is also rare. For example, I hug my mom but never my dad (I am a woman). Although my parents are more used to it by now, my mom used to tell me it was strange whenever I said "sorry" or "thank you" for little things. I think to her, sentiments like those are just so obviously a part of the family and relationship that it doesn't need to be expressed. As lots of people with similar backgrounds have noted here, I've never doubted my parents' love or devotion to me so I don't see any harm in it.

However, I think this resistance to expressing emotions can also cause problems. For example, mental health issues are almost never discussed and that can prevent individuals from seeking the appropriate help.

Sara Emily said...

Every night before bed, and every morning before work i tell my significant other. I tell my elderly mom each time i call or she calls. I tell my nieces non stop i think its important that they know how valuable they are to me.

Julie Doherty said...

I'm from France and I've been married to an american. I say "I love you" all the time but when I feel it even more deeply, I say " Je t'aime ", it has more weight to it. "I love you "still sound like a movie, even if I've been in the states for 5 years !

Sara Sue said...

Same as Paige, above! I tell my darling Daniel that I love him every few hours (to minutes)...I think it so often, and every so often it pops out.

Speckled With Freckles said...

I say it daily. Especially to my parents, most specifically my dad. He travels a lot so ending every phone call with "I love you" is very special no matter how casual it sounds to another person. My mother also has many moments of self doubt and when she gets upset I tell her that no matter what I will love her because she is my mother. When it comes to my significant other he comes to epiphanies sometimes(it's really cute actually) and goes "Wow, I really love you." I respond with "I love you too." I think there is more pressure saying it to your significant other the first time than just saying it daily. I think we do it because we just want to let them know that no matter what happens, that we will always love them. *On a completely different side note, when I greet my friends sometimes I say "Hello Love!" Not because they are my lover but it's a change of "Hey what's up?" It also let's them know that I consider them pretty close.

simply blythe said...

i say it all the time to family, friends, inlaws (yes, family i know)...i don't think there is a "too much".
i'm american through and through.

Annie said...

I love how many nationalities have posted on this comment! Yay for diversity!

tali said...

I say it all the time to my husband, friends and family. Me and my mom (who is Israeli) have always said it to each other, but I remember the first time my dad (who is American) said it to me. I was in college, and my grandfather, his father, had just passed away, and he was going through a hard time. I remember feeling it was really significant and I was very moved (and cried!). My husband says it to me all the time, but when his parents say it to him (which they do A LOT), he never says it back! Funny. But it does make me feel special.

Mia Stizzo said...
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Mia Stizzo said...

somehow as a child I decided that it was silly and embarrassing to say I love you to my mom (she's Mexican and told us she loved us every morning and night). My Italian dad NEVER told us/tells us he loves us. I've never kissed my parents and can count on one hand the times that we've hugged in the last year. I don't tell my sisters I love them or hug them either. ever.

funny though, my family is crazy close. we spend a lot of time together at family events, watching baseball games on TV and getting together for dinner. my sisters and I text each other all the time and hang out socially pretty often. my non-feeling dad will frequently save newspaper articles for me that he thinks i'd like and put air in my tires for me. :)

I tell my husband and toddler son I love them ALL the time.

weird!

TheJepsens said...

I am from Denmark. Growing up, I can't remember my parents ever telling me that they loved me, although I always knew they did. Today I live in the states, and I seem to have adopted "the American way". I say "I love you" to my husband and my kids at least 25 times a day, but the Danish "jeg elsker dig" is reserved for bedtime and special occasions :)

Elga B. said...

I'm from Brazil. And though I know we are by nature really warm people, my family is not fond of saying "eu te amo". We say that to each other just like twice a year, maybe, if nothing special happens. My partner and I rarely say it either, most of the times we said it I believe we were fighting. The rest of the time we kind of say it with different words, like compliments without occasion, just a "you're beautiful" or "oh, my love" when we have those spontaneous romance moments.

josashimi said...

I'm not from China but I am of Chinese descent. Chinese families very seldom say 'I love you'. I certainly didn't hear it growing up! And I actually can't remember if my parents have actually said it to me - ever! But - love is expressed in non-verbal ways. Food is a primary way of expressing love. Cooking, buying treats, taking loved ones out for a meal.
Chinese families seldom say 'Sorry' either. Guess that's a whole different story again!
Great post, Joanna. I'm reading here in Australia where it's already Valentine's! Hope you have a great one.

Unknown said...

I am French and we NEVER would have said that in my family - I think it was understood that "Je t'aime" means something romantic (i.e. almost sexual) that had nothing to do with family love! On the same level, Valentine's day is for lovers in France, now that I live in the US I am always surprised to see little kids celebrating Valentine's Day, or parents giving cards to their kids! But I do say Je t'aime to my daughter every night at bedtime, America is rubbing on me!

Lily said...

I tell my 3 year old son multiple times a day. I usually get on my knees and look him in the eyes. I want him to know that saying "I love you" is important and that I mean it. I tell my husband a little less often but still at least daily. With extended family I tend to tell them on parting but that's about it.

My Mum used to tell me she loved me ALL THE TIME and still says it every time we talk. She's very emotionally outgoing, whereas her brother simply can't say "I love you" to anyone.

My husband says it freely to myself and our son, but not as often as I do. His family don't say I love you, ever. I've known his family for a decade and never heard any of them say "I love you". Which I find completely bizarre.

We're all Australian. My husband's family is of English/Portuguese descent.

Lauren said...

I say it ALL the time. I know it's morbid but as a kid I decided that if anything ever happened to someone I loved, I would want that to be the last thing they heard from me so I always say it getting off the phone, leaving the house, etc.
On the flip side, I have a friend whose mother never told her and she is one of the neediest people I know. She has also grown up telling not just her family but everyone "I love You."
(America)

Jenn K. said...

Korean-American. Even though I never really heard it growing up, I say it allllll the time to my husband, and I know I'll do the same with my daughter (due in July). I can't help it! But strangely saying it to my parents feels awkward...

amy v / over&under said...

I'm English, married to an Argentinian living in New Zealand. We say "I love you" daily, usually at least a few times a day. Growing up in a northern English household we never said "I love you" as a family, but now that I live on the other side of the world we always all sign off FaceTime with "love you". Still feels slightly embarrassing but I like it.

katemakes said...

I'm Canadian (English/Scottish/Icelandic) and we said 'I love you' and 'I'm proud of you' all the time in my house growing up. And it was my parents' conscious choice as their parents rarely said it to them. The big compliment around our house is "I really like you" - because of course, we all love each other. And my 6-yr old son says 'I love you' while he's busy playing. Like he's so content that he just has to say it. And as I've gotten older, I've started saying it to my close friends and telling them how much their friendship means to me. When I lived in Japan I found that people never said it and I thought that was so sad.

katemakes said...

I'm Canadian (English/Scottish/Icelandic) and we said 'I love you' and 'I'm proud of you' all the time in my house growing up. And it was my parents' conscious choice as their parents rarely said it to them. The big compliment around our house is "I really like you" - because of course, we all love each other. And my 6-yr old son says 'I love you' while he's busy playing. Like he's so content that he just has to say it. And as I've gotten older, I've started saying it to my close friends and telling them how much their friendship means to me. When I lived in Japan I found that people never said it and I thought that was so sad.

alliecal said...

I grew up in the Southeastern United States with American parents. We said/say it all the time. I don't think it's cheapening to shout it loud, shout it proud. I love my sisters, my best friend, and my pets all the time. It's not like I only love people during the Christmas season and tolerate them the rest of the year. I don't only love people on their birthdays or Valentine's day and then stop loving them at midnight. When I feel it, I say it, and I always mean it.

Milan Lee said...

I can't help but feel a little offended by the generality of this post, and I feel it inaccurately represents certain heritages. Does any one else feel that way? I think communicating affection has less to do with your heritage and how your relationship is with the other person, and how you want it to be.

I grew up in a Japanese/Vietnamese household in America and as children we said "I love you" to our parents all the time. We even had a family prayer that we said at the dinner table about how "we are a family, we love each other". But after adolescence, we stopped saying it, and now as adults it's almost painful and awkward to it, particularly between my sisters and I. It's easier between parent-child, but still, rare.

However, in my marriage today, I say it every day to my Korean-American husband.

Kelly Rae said...

I'm from the states (Texas) and I say it ALL the time.

Jen C-L said...

I just heard this on the radio today and then read your post:http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2557336/The-secret-happy-marriage-Tell-partner-I-love-10-times-week-three-dates-month.html

vmcarnevale said...

My husband and I tell each other we love each other like a bajillion times a day. I tell my dad I love him before hanging up the phone, but not my mom, even though my mom and I very close (she's my best friend!) I don't say it out loud to my brothers but will sometimes say it in a text or message. It's a weird thing to think about! Also, I am from America (white, Midwest, haha)

Jen C-L said...
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Disa Chantel said...

I say it to my boyfriend at least 5 times a day. And he's usually the one to say it first.

May Argentum said...

When in love I say I love you constantly. Now that I think about it even though I am very close to my family I never say I love you to them.
I should start doing it. Thank you for the great post.
xoxo,
Mayra.

Sammi Egan said...

I'm such a loser, because I have a *ton* of walls up with the whole love thing & can only say "I love you" to a handful of people.... BUT I tell those people all the frickin' time. Like my best friend, whenever I see him I tell him & when we say bye to each other whether it's in person or on the phone I always say "love you, bye". Luckily he's soft as & says it back ;) haha.

Caitlin said...

i tell my husband i love him at least three times a day- when he goes to work, when i get home from work, and before bed. also, i tell my parents i love them everytime i see them, when i'm saying goodbye to them, whether in person or on the phone.

Kristian said...

Joanna- Have you ever read The Four Love Languages? I think you would find it interesting (this topic just reminds me that book). One of the love languages being "reaffirmng words" such as "I love you."

Which, by the way, I say ALL THE TIME. It just, like, slips out, without even meaning too to my husband. But my parents and sister say it to each other all the time.

Tonni said...

I'm Canadian, and chiming in with an interesting perspective from my 79 year old grandfather. he's talked about how he and my grandmother raised their family, never said I love you, and in fact, were borderline verbally abusive- but he's since changed his ways, and tells us frequently that he loves us, and encourages us to say it to our kids- he's even had frank conversations with his elderly siblings about saying I love you to their children and grandchildren- telling them they'll regret it someday, get over the awkwardness- some of them have never verbally communicated love to their kids, and still refuse, despite the encouragement. I LOVE that he's such an "I love you" evangelist, he's leaving an amazing legacy to his 17 grandkids and 23 great-grands :)

Leigh Augustine said...

Oh, Joanna, I loved reading that you ask Alex if he loves you. I do the same with my husband often, and even the more off the cuff, "You like me?"
It always embarrasses me to do so, but not enough to make me stop. It encouraging to know I'm not the only one. Perhaps we should stop thinking of ourselves as needy and instead view ourselves as in pursuit for affirmation. Maybe that's the same thing in some people's eyes, but I think it's healthy to assert our emotions and request the same of others. Vulnerability and weakness are not one and the same.

Mrs. May said...

'I love you' is a frequent refrain in my household (my husband, daughter, myself and the dog). My family didn't say it much when I was growing up though (1970s-80s). And whenever we say it to my grandmother, she cries. I wonder if she ever heard these words as a child, or from her children when they were young?
Caucasian/mid-west

Kelly Huljev said...

I tell the people closest to me that I love them ALL the time. My 3yo and I tell each other "I love you all the time" around 100x a day. Same with my husband. I tell my parents every time I see them, as well in almost daily texts. I think it's so important to express your love to the people who mean the most. My favorite quote just so happens to be, " To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life." - Pablo Neruda.

saraadelesongbird said...

i'm canadian and my dad once told me as a kid that saying i love you was unnecessary after i started mimicking a friend who told her parents all the time. however, he signs all his emails and cards "love, dad"... we canadians are just a little more reserved, what can i say?

but yes. i'm like you... i tell my boyfriend i love him all the time and ask him if he loves me a lot too (i've tried to cut back as he's become way more verbal - yay!). funfun love love. HVD joanna!

Stephanie Chaplin said...

I'm an English girl through and through so we never said I love you in our family, instead saying 'lots of love'. Now I'm married I say it to my husband all the time. In fact most mornings he wakes me up by saying, 'good morning, I love you'. Brings the biggest smile to my face! I've started saying it to my family now too, maybe it's since I moved to New York and they feel further away...

Melissa :) said...

I say I love you alllll the time! I say it to friends, I say it to my family, and I say it to my husband and bunny rabbit a ton.

My husband, on the other hand, says it frequently to me (and the rabbit), but he and his family very rarely say it to each other. They are also not very physically affectionate, whereas my family is hug-happy.

We both grew up in Indiana with your basic Midwestern families.

DB said...

My sister and I both say I love you to my mom every time we end a conversation on the phone or, when I'm at home, any time either leaves to go somewhere. We've always done that which I never thought was strange until my friend in high school overheard me talking to my mom on the phone and was shocked because she said they only said 'I love you' during important events like Christmas. When my uncle overheard me do the same thing this year (10yrs after that) he asked me if I was talking to my mom and when I said yes said, 'that is so nice.' So it's def. not an extended family thing in my family.

I'm from the east coast and I feel like northeast coasters don't show affection at the level othet areas of the country do. (we say I love you but we do not hug in my family)

Ashley said...

I am also so fascinated with this topic! I too say I love you so often to my husband - I mean, on average a dozen times a day, maybe. I just feel like there is so much love, I don't know how else to express it but say it over and over! I have good friends who are Swedish, and I always remember them telling me that there are multiple ways to say I love you to someone. At least one is for everyday use and there is one that is SO special and intense that even these couple who lived together and had been in an exclusive relationship for years had never said to each other. I kind of like that - that there is an extra special phrase to use for those times when I love you isn't enough...

Annie Trout said...
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Alexa said...

i am american and i say it several times each day! i really value having been raised by affectionate, expressive parents. when i love someone, i say it—and as often as i am blessed with the chance.

Colleen D. said...

My boyfriend (of 4 yrs) and I say it all the time. It's long-distance right now too, and we actually say it even more now. Multiple times for each of us through out the day :)

Kodi Jensen said...

Potentially an environmental thing as well cultural? When I was growing up, we said it a lot in my home with my mom and stepdad, who I spent the most time with and have always been close with. But in my dad's home, who I wasn't close with even though I was there often, it was rare. Now with my husband I'm always saying it, and yes, asking him if he loves me even though he tells me he does all the time!

boilingwok said...

From India. My family often says it but I think that is because we are becoming more western especially in cities.

I live in a Chinese majority culture and can confirm that their families don't say I love you to each other though they do say it to their bf/husbands.

They are so uncomfortable hugging or telling their friends they miss them. SO no farewell hugs or anything.

Massiel said...

I'm Hispanic, born in the US. Growing up, with my parents and brother, we didn't really say it so much. But we spoke in Spanish and I second what someone else said, it's a MUCH stronger phrase in Spanish. I also think it's a little awkward to say to parents and siblings. But, better than saying it, we showed it. My parents outwardly loved us and us back. Lot of hugs, kisses, smiles, family dinners (every night), etc.

Now, with my long term bf, I say it all the time, in English. Both ways of expressing it feel right to me, so long as its truly meant.

Marie said...

My boyfriend is the one who is always saying I love you. I say it, but I'm more reserved about it with both him and my family. He is also the one who asks "Do you love me?" I really love when he asks this. It makes me all jittery and fuzzy.

Gigi Lam said...

I am from Macau in China and a great fan of your blog. It's so true that we rarely say it out loud to our family. We are mostly shy about that. I am comfortable with writing it in a card/e-mail for friends and my brother or say it to my Hubby but not in front of my parents. The only one time I said it to my mom was at my wedding. When I was studying in US it seems easier to express appreciation/affection for each other but now that I move back, it seems to me even between friends I have to take up some courage to express my feelings and gratefulness, maybe it's because we have now grown up or it's because of the culture around us? I so admire the bold expression of love in US and wish we can live it out in here.

Zaida said...

I'm from Peru and I can say is not that common to say i love you here( i mean between your relatives) I think it's from open minded cultures where showing your feelings is well seen. But besides we don't say that phrase too much, we are very affectionate, we kiss for everything, to say hi and to say good bye. I kiss my baby and my boyfriend all the time!

Rachel Brown said...

I think saying I love you is wonderful. I am the oldest of four and when we were all little, mom and dad would visit our rooms at bedtime to tuck us in. They would ask "what was your favorite part of the day?" and always said I love you before leaving our rooms. Then as our childhood years went on, we started "quiet" shouting "I love you all, goodnight!" from our beds. I remember smiling after hearing my brothers and sister yell back, and our parents too. It was a great way to end the day. Even now that we are all grown up,whenever we find ourselves sleeping over at home, fort the holidays or something, we yell it still.

I also tell my son I love him all the time, and he is only five months old. I just love him so much I can't help it! From Seattle, Washington.

Tatiana said...

I grew up not hearing I love you and frankly, it hurt my feelings. I finally said something to my mom when I was nearing the end of high school and heading to college, and it made a huge impact. I never doubted that she loved me but it's just nice to hear. And now I say it to my boyfriend all the time and my future kids are gonna hear it nonstop.

I'm Brazilian -- the culture tends to be very open and honest, but I love you is not said a ton outright. I think it's because the culture itself is so affectionate that those three words aren't said too often. For example, you kiss cheeks when you say hello and goodbye, and hugging is frequent so it's pretty clear you love each other!

girluncaged said...

My ex-boyfriend used to think saying it all the time cheapened it - I believed that at the time until we went our separate ways and I met my current boyfriend. He an I say it all the time and it only becomes more meaningful. So I think it may depend on the person ;)

Sarah Raaen said...

I am an "I love you" whore! I love to tell those I love, I love them. LOVE LOVE LOVE!
My maternal relatives are Hispanic and very affectionate, so we tell each other "I love you" a lot of the time, especially when departing or ending a phone/video call. My paternal relatives are Scottish and are wasps. I'm not sure that I've ever heard them say "I love you".

Unknown said...

When my husband tells me he loves me (which is often), I like to return it with I love you instead of I love you too. It feels much deeper and real and not like I am saying it just because he did.

kpotter19 said...

I'm American (from Michigan too!) and growing up my parents both told me they loved me daily. They still do every time we talk. I used to tell my husband (who is British) all the time but he rarely reciprocates so I've really cut it down. I miss it though. I wish we both said it more.

Jenna said...

Your motherhood around the world series is really, really awesome! P.S. I say I love you every day :)

Megan E said...

Canadian and I say it all the time!

I've actually trained my Dad to say it to me all the time too even in texts. My mom just naturally does. And my sister isn't super affectionate actually so I just have to trust that she does.

I think I like it best when it's said aloud and confirmed. It makes you feel validated and secure.

I wonder if other cultures/countries create that same validation in a different way?

HN said...

I'm from Japan. I've never told my parents "I love you" nor my parents told me that neither. If a Japanese family say it each other, it is kind of weird.

We also don't have custom to give a hug much. I love hugging, but when I tried to give a hug to my friend in college, she said "Ah, can you stop touching me?" Some people like it, but some people dislike being touched. (By the way, she was one of my good friends at that time, and we chatted hours and hours often.)

Our expression of love is totally different. I feel like American's expression is very recognizable. But if you have a job far from your old parent's place, you wouldn't move back for them, right?

My parents bought a house near my 90-year-old grandma's house to take care of her, and my dad commuted to work taking 3 hours one way for more than 10 years. (It only took him 30 minutes to commute before our move.) However, I never saw him talking to her much.

Young lovers can say "I love you" each other. But it feels like a translation of western culture. If I say something to my parents, I would just simply say "Thank you (for everything)" and probably that's what they would say me comfortably as well.

mruetschle said...

I tell my husband daily and my children multiple times a day. My own mother is Dutch and rarely told me she loved me, and was also extremely sparing with compliments. Being a sensitive child, I missed it terribly. My father who is American told me he loved me at times but was also very critical so the atmosphere accompanying the words did not make them register well. He is far mushier with age, however! I try to give my kids lots of specific positive affirmation along with the more general "I love you's" and praise them for their hard work or effort wherever I see it. I love it when they express how loved they are - I know it is registering!

Long Haired Child Living in the Strawberry Fields said...

In Chinese and Japanese the word for "Love" is seen as a bit disgusting (in a childish cooties eww kinda way) when used to say "I love you" to someone so if they do they mostly just use the word that translates to "like" in English. Its seen as lighter and not in a heavy creeper aura :)

With my American family side we throw I love you's left and right but with my grandmother in Japan I almost have to force it outta her haha Whenever I say I love you to her she just says 'okay' and I'm like "Don't you love me??" and then she like "Of Course!!!" Ya its pretty hysterical too when I try to hug her or kiss her on the cheek and she tries to block it with her wrinkly old hands. Sorry grandma but you're no match to a twentysomething American granddaughter who wants to show you her affection.

eKim said...

I grew up in a traditional Korean family (we moved to the States when I was 5) and we never ever say "I love you". In fact, I think it would embarrass my parents because they (particularly my Dad) does not express his feelings. It just wasn't how their generation was raised in Korea but I think things have changed out there. To date, I don't think I've ever said it to them. But they know that I do and I know that they love my siblings and I more than anything and we've never doubted that.

However I do say it quite frequently to my dog and my husband who grew up saying it to his family. If we have children I know I'll say it to them and plan to encourage them to express their feelings as well.

Sunshine on my window. said...

I'm Chinese, but not from China. I get the Chinese-not-potraying-emotions-kind of thing. And sadly, its true.

I'm struggling to say I Love You to my parents still. I wrote about it here (http://www.vanessachua.com/2013/10/)

It's really a struggle for me. Kinda weird, are the exact spot on words I would use to describe why I don't say it.

But as I grow older, I force myself to say it. Yes force, because I always have this huge wave of love in me, but never portrayed on the outside. And I always feel so glad after saying it.

carla said...

Japanese-American here. My parents NEVER said "I love you" to us kids, though they'd joke about it ("We're Japanese! We don't say those kinds of things!"). That we were loved was always implied, but I do have to say that I always fantasized about growing up in an affectionate family. As a result I'm demonstrably affectionate with my husband and son. Love those cuddles!

Victoria @ Hibiscus Bloem said...

I grew up in a home where those words were not often said (that I can remember anyhow). But in my own home now, with my kids and husband, they are said so many times each day.

I recall a Chinese colleague telling me that he did not tell his wife (when she was his girlfriend) that he loved her. It was not done. He told her he liked her a lot. He did not tell her he loved her until they relocated to Europe and his attitidue and awareness changed. He now says in regularly and to his children too.

Leija said...

I am Indonesian, born and bred in Indonesia, and not surprised at all with the Chinese i-love-you video. My parents never say it to their children or each other. I never say ILU them or to my sibling. I say it sometimes to my husband, but it's not a habit... only when I'm being really, really, really sentimental. Though I say it a lot to my toddler son :)

Nevertheless, I know every one of them loves me very much, as I do to them :)

Cathi said...

I say I love you every time I talk to my kids, my friends and family. However the last time I spoke to my dad before he was killed, I didn't say I love you but said see you tomorrow as he was coming for a visit. I truly regret that even though he knew how very much I loved him. xxoo

Jennifer Li said...

I was born in Taiwan, but came to the US when I was two, so I basically grew up here. I said I love you to my parents all the time when I was little, and I still do. However, when I go back to Taiwan and visit my relatives, that phrase is never uttered. In fact, I don't think I have ever said I love you to any of my aunts, uncles, cousins, etc. They would probably be embarrassed by such a bold statement and wouldn't know how to respond...I'm guessing there would just be awkward silence...ha!

ag. said...

I say it all. the. time! And I'm Canadian. : )
I grew up saying it to my parents constantly - I can't end a conversation with them without saying it. And now I've sort of carried that on with my husband…but like readers above, it just pops out and I find myself telling him soooo often. I thought it'd be the same when I had my son and I'm sure it will be as he grows up but at 10 months old, I tell him every night as I put him to bed. My husband was the opposite - he has never heard his parents say 'i love you' to him - but now he says it to me just as much as I say it to him.

Xuelin said...

I'm Chinese, as is my husband. We were both raised in a traditional way without our parents saying "I love you", and in my husband's case, without hugging or kissing. Within our marriage (and before that) he does not say "i love you". He has probably said it less than 3 times in the 13 yrs we've been together (and i had to ask). To our two kids, he does not say it. On the other hand, i say it all the time to the kids, and they're young enough to not be embarrassed yet. Even when they're old enough, i will continue. My husband's not saying it has been one of the biggest sources of conflict in our relationship and is still today not resolved. I think life is too short to keep such sentiments to yourself, so, Joanna, its not lame. It's important.

Sadie Marie said...

In my experience the families I have met from China are the closest most loving families. They show their value for one another much more than westerns. However that is just a small sampling.
I don't know how much they say "I love you." but their honor and affection shows it consistently.

nowisalways27 said...

I'm American and I grew up in a family that said they loved one another, but usually at like significant moments--graduation, moving away. It wasn't a daily thing.

I used to think it cheapened it to say it a lot, as well. But, now that I live very far away from most if not all of my friends and family I feel the need to say it, even to people I have never said it to before. Maybe because now I know I mean it, and because it holds a lot more significance than just the three words now. Something we take for granted from day to day.

I kind of wish I could say it more, but socially, I think people just look down on it here or throw it around any old way. But I at least make sure that when it is bursting out of my mouth, it's the truth.

Jacqueline Tan said...

It's true that in Asians culture we don't often say "I love you", as I think that we prefer to show it through caring for each other, making each other's life easier but cooking, driving them around, doing the laundry, opening a saving account in their names! And it's so awkward to say it in chinese as well!

Despite my growing up in an environment where "I love you" isn't a common phrase, I make sure I tell my boyfriend that every night and morning when I wake up, he's european and thinks I am extremely corny, but has since told me he loves me every day too, I also ask him if he loves me! it just goes to show that we as human have an ability to adapt and to change, no? I still don't tell my parents I love them, they know it cause I make every effort to buy them gifts I know they would like and of course to give them money during festive seasons!

Love your post today!
x
chinese

Jacqueline Tan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
晓贺 said...

My husband is from China and he hardly ever says I love you to me and our two Kids. Even when he meets his mother at the airport after a long time he doesn't hug her... - it's just not in their culture I guess. He also says that German say these phrases (the same with Thank You and Please) way too often... - I try to say to my kids "I love you" every day - but Germans defintely don't use it as often as Americans...

Elizabeth said...

I'm American and I tell my husband all the time (and my family back in the US). My husband is South African and he also says it all the time...but I totally pull the "Do you love me?" card too. I just love hearing it!

Schenck catherine said...

French here. "Je t'aime" is not something you hear people say to one another, except when you're young and dating, or to your kids. My almost 9 year old daughter tells me she loves me very often, and I do too, I say it to my 12 year old son, but he says it rarely, although he hugs me a lot. My husband and I used to say it a lot when we were first dating, then engaged then married, but it faded and now it would sound stupid and corny somehow. But my husband wrote me the sweetest, most romantic letter for Valentine's day, and it made me cry. To me, it was more meaningful than a thousand careless "je t'aime" thrown around.
I 've never asked him if he loved me, I know he does. I'll never ask that, somehow, and neither will he. I'm sure you find that weird!
I love the way Americans say I love you, but sometimes, it sounds completely meaningless.

*** KITSCH *** said...

To my kids, the whole day
To my husband.... when i need to ;)

Unknown said...

I'm half Japanese (Mom) and half American (Dad). My dad has been the affectionate "I love you" huggable bear throughout my life vs. my mom has been the restrained, rather aloof parental figure. Her way of showing love was through home-cooked Japanese cuisine breakfast, lunch, and dinner and by making sure we were always happy (otherwise she would fret, alone). She has become more vocal about her love, with age, but this is definitely a cultural aspect of Japanese (and other Asian) cultures. I took a fascinating course on emotions and psychology and learned that psychology isn't necessarily a lucrative or very well-respected job in Japan because it's considered simply too Western/counter to Asian culture. The idea of sitting down and talking about your emotions feels strange to them, and so our course discussed the idea of hyper vs. hypo-cognized emotions. Hyper being ultra-sensitive and immediately assessing "Oh I'm feeling really depressed because of x,y,z" versus in Japan, where they have hypo-cognized emotions (i.e. not discussing or being in a society that values emotional discussions). So studies found that when a Japanese person may be depressed or have any kind of emotional upset, they often express it via their body, e.g. "My stomach is upset" "I have a headache" "My fingers are tingling". These are important lessons reminding us that what we consider "basic emotional awareness" and/or discussion is not really universally valued or talked about in the same way across cultures. The best book I read on this (I read it to my extended family when in Japan and they thought it was just a hoot how true it is!): Geography of Thought by Richard E. Nisbett...He's a professor of psych at the Univ. of Michigan and when this book came out in 2003, it spread like wildfire among the half-Asian community at my school!

Julie Hashimoto-McCreery said...

I used to keep myself from saying it, like it would lose its meaning if I just told folks "I love you!" even when I meant it.

I'm half Japanese, half caucasian and grew up in Hawaii. My mother is 100% Japanese and I don't believe I've ever heard her say "I love you" in my 28 years. She will write it and nearly always signs letters or e-mails "Love, Mom" but verbally... never. When I write her back, I sign "I love you, Mom." I don't know that I've every verbalized it to her, as I worry she'd be embarrassed or feel like she should say it back and that would make her uncomfortable.

As a wife and stepmother, I find myself saying "I love you" numerous times a day... it seems my worry of the words coming across as meaningless has worn off. I figure life's too short to not tell the folks you love that you love them.

Allison said...

chinese american chiming in here and i was just talking about this topic with a mainland chinese colleague today. i have never heard my parents say "i love you" to each other in my entire three decades on this earth, and they have admitted that they have never said those words to their parents. we have started saying it to each other (my parents to me and my sister and vice versa) but again only in english, never in mandarin. my colleague admitted that she has never said it to her parents and she could not even give her parents hugs!

minims said...

I'm second generation Chinese born in Malaysia, and my parents have never said "I love you" to me, or my brother or to each other.

While I think it's something rare in the Chinese culture, I guess language is part of the reason why these words were not said enough especially if you come from a Chinese speaking background.

rarasrumanti said...

I know how it must be quite strange to not be able to say I love you to our loved ones but it's so true! I'm Indonesian and I've never said I love you to my parents in person. I'd say it in emails in a casual way to end my message but not in text messages. I know.. weird right? But it's just so awkward for us. I say it often and so easily with my husband and daughter and friends though. So it may be the generation gap that makes it awkward. And maybe this awkwardness ended in my parents' generation... I hope it has. I'm Indonesian.

Josephine Kalm said...

I´m swedish and I tell my loved ones that I love them quite often :) Me and my boyfriend tell each other several times a day and always before we go to sleep. I always end phone conversations with my mother, father, sister, grandparent and a few of my cousins with telling them I love them before we hang up. This was actually nothing we did as kids but has become more important to me in the last few years, I kind of want to think that if someone would die unexpectedly, they will know that I loved them :)

afikaaday said...

I am an American living in Sweden with my Swedish husband and baby. I say it all the time! My husband is more reserved (Or Swedish) in his use, although he uses it much more often now than he did before he married an American. And since our son came along I hear it much more often :)

Audrie said...

I'm Chinese and grew up in Singapore and I honestly don't recall my parents saying "I love you" while I was growing up. I'm not very touchy feely, but I do like to tell my husband I love him almost every day. I live in the States now, so I tell my family I love them whenever we speak on FaceTime or when we text. My middle sister is particularly fond of making sure I know she loves me more :)

I think because I moved to Australia when I was 17, and then to the States, my parents are a little more comfortable saying "I love you" since I'm so far away. Mum remains a little more hesitant though... she sometimes just waves me off when I tell her I love her hehe It's not that she doesn't love me, but she wasn't brought up like that. My dad's quite happy to tell me he loves me and that he's proud of me.

But I was brought up to understand that not saying the words doesn't mean they don't love us. We're taught to respect our parents for putting food on the table, a roof over our heads etc, because their hard work is love.

Chelsea said...

I'm American and my fiance is Czech, and the two cultures are totally different with respect to saying "I love you". he has never said it to anyone in his family, and at the start of our relationship he actually said he felt weird saying as often as i was saying it! but i guess it grew on him because now, 5 years later, he tells me he loves me many many times a day :)

Maria said...

I'm French and I never heard je t'aime as a child. Lately my dad after some (not serious) trouble in the family lately told me : "you know we love you right ?"

I prefer people who don't say it too much. I think saying it all the time can lead you to not show it. In a way of thinking "he knows I love him so I can allow myself to ... (to not be there for his birthday, to get him only that cheap present...) I guess for most of the time I'm wrong. But I've noticed many times in friends and family that the ones who say more often aren't necessarily the ones who show it and for me that's what matter at the end...

doyouwantapotato said...

I'm Portuguese and I don't remember ever saying it to my parents or vice versa.I don't think I have ever heard them saying it to each other either.
I think it sounds too strange in certain languages, whilst in english 'I love you' sounds nice and soft. We prefer to use 'like' in portuguese.
My boyfriend and I say 'I love you'all the time though, but then again he is English, so maybe that's why.

Natalye said...

I'm American and we always said it in our family, though through the teenage years it was usually something that the parents initiated and the kids returned.

I live in Germany now, which is a much-less emotive culture. At the same time, the word "love" is reserved for people. You wouldn't say that you love your new iPhone, for example, because that's more hyperbolic, but rather that you like it (and there are varying degrees of liking something).

My husband is German and we say we love one another all the time - when we wake up, when we go to bed, when we part ways, at the end of a phone conversation, and just because. But aside from the "Ich liebe dich," there is also a phrase "Ich habe dich Lieb," which is more along the lines of "I have love for you." So this is the type of love expression you would use with close friends or kids, as opposed to the more personal and romantic "I love you."

Nice Brew Interior Design said...

I'm English and have never told my parents or sister I love them and my parents never said it to us whilst we were growing up. I would find it very odd and awkward if they did!

My husband and I on the other and tell each other all the time!

Katerina said...

I say "I love you" ALL the time, especially to my son and husband! And I really like to hear it back!

Michiko said...

I've never heard it from my Japanese grandma and rarely from my mom, but they show it in non-verbal ways :-)

dudioy said...

I don't say i love you on a regular basis, only on special occasions to my parents, i think it's implied.
And to boyfriends i say with a little more frequency, but i just can't keep on saying it everyday, besides the fact that i think it cheapens the meaning of it, it's a little embarassing to me.
I'm from Brazil and people here usually are quite expressive of their feelings.

Bron M said...

I'm Australian and I say it to my baby roughly every 3 seconds, to my partner, to my parents and occasionally to my siblings. My partner has a less demonstrative mother and stepfather & no sibs... I think he only tells me. I'm encouraging 'love language' between him and our daughter... maybe it will catch on & maybe it won't.

My sister lives in Hong Kong, married to an Englishman and they say it frequently to each other & their 3 beautiful kiddos.

Helena said...

I say I love you the whole day long. To my husband and my baby. We are South African. And love is big in our house.

Tara said...

i come from hong kong. the concept of "love" is very different in the west n the east. our love towards parent is filial piety, it is your action and your behaviour towards yourself n parents, not by a sentence.

el {what you fancy} said...

It took my father passing away suddenly, to tell my mum I loved her before going to bed that same day. I also told my boyfriend (now my husband) that I loved him for the first time the same night. Maybe it's the British way... but I say it far more frequently now.

Keegan said...

My family is very affectionate and we say I love you a bazillion times a day. Of course it doesn't cheapen it, as long as you truly mean it every time you say it. My father and my husband both came from very un-affectionate families that didn't express emotions like love. My father found it difficult at first with my Mother, he would tell her not to say I love you so much because she was going to wear it out. Once she cut back he started asking her if she still loved him. Since then my Dad jumped on the I love you bandwagon. My husband has always been a cuddler and was the first to say I love you in our relationship, which surprised me once I got to know his family better and realized that's not how he grew up. You never know what will happen in the next moment of life, it's silly to be afraid to let people you care about know that.

Jessica S. said...

I'm Chinese and although my family is very open with saying the phrase "I love you", a lot of my friend's families hardly ever say it to each other and often find it hard to express their sentimental feelings to one another. I'm pretty sure that this is partly a cultural phenomenon as well as a generational one- because younger Chinese people are definitely more open towards expressing their feelings to one another nowadays, perhaps because they are more exposed to Western media/culture. :)

Olithée said...

What a sensational and passionating topic ! Definetely, I am french and rarely say I love you. The only cultures im connected to is the asutralian/american culture through family and they keep saying it all the time, so as french as I am I get the sensibility to understand that yes its cool and essential to say it, because life's short and its good to let things know.

Simona Morachioli said...

I am italian and I also never said I love you to my parents nor my sister- very weird, as we are so family oriented!
On the other hand, I say I love you to my boyfriend every night before I go to sleep and a lot of other times when i feel it. I was never ashamed of it.
I guess I will be an I love you kind of mum with my kids but who knows?

Megan said...

I say it to my kids multiple times a day. I can't help myself. When my kids are toddlers I seem to say it even more: "I love you!" I'll exclaim to my two-year-old. Still not enough. I say it to her a couple more times, and she's so precious in my arms, but the words still aren't enough. Then I give up until the next tme the feelings bubble up. I don't know what it is, but I say it even more when my kids are really little. As they get older, somehow I feel shy saying it with such extravagant abandon (my oldest daughter is 8, and I guess I don't say it to her as much as with my 2-and4-year-olds. Must fix that. :)).

I'm American.

Idle Wife said...

I tell my husband I love him all the time and he tells me. We both experienced loss early on in life and I think we both feel like you should take that one second to tell someone how you really feel because you never know what could happen and you might not get the chance again. In fact, when I first realized I loved my husband (back when we were dating) there was never a thought about telling him too soon or maybe freaking him out with it. I just had this overwhelming sense that I HAD to tell him so that he'd KNOW. The worst thing is not being able tell someone how you feel and it ends up being too late. That's the worst. You should do everything in your power not to let that happen.

Luke Snellin said...
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Joanna Snellin said...

My Dad comes from a very old fashioned British family and grew up rarely hearing I love you. He was sent to bed with a hand shake and a pat on the back as a kiss goodnight wasn't considered very "gentlemanly"! My Mum's family is a lot more loving and so my brothers and I grew up hearing and saying it all the time.

Caitlin Ashley said...

All day, every day. It feels just as nice to say it as to hear it. I'm American, and my parents raised me this way. My fiancé and his parents were not big on saying it, but I've turned all that around :) It's so colossally important to say and hear.

Luke Snellin said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharita Hyppolite said...

It is totally cultural. My husband is Haitian American and I can't remember the last time he told me he loves me. I can't even remember the last time he told his mother he loved her!! LOL! We've been together for over a decade and his theory is that after all these years I should know by now how he feels. That would make me angry if he wasn't the most affectionate person on the planet!! I finally realized that he is a physical lover instead of a verbal one which is good for me!!:- )

Caitlin Ashley said...

By the way, reading these posts has been incredibly fascinating and educational! I'm picking up on the idea that in some languages, the phrase "I love you" can be almost sexual, so I'm beginning to understand why some cultures express love in other ways to their children and families. What a great thread you instigated, Joanna! :)

Maywyn Studio said...

Phone and visit endings 100% always say: By. I love you.

Cheree Moore said...

all.the.time.
When I hang up the phone or someone leaves the house (this includes my extended family).
To my son and husband at regular intervals throughout the day. I can't imagine not saying that phrase.
When I was a kid, I recall saying it (accidentally) to a teacher because I was so used to saying it! I'm Canadian-American.

reddaisie said...

I'm from Malaysia (Chinese). My mum says it quite often so we feel quite ok saying it. But it really depends on the family..many of my friends don't. I guess those who are English educated feels more comfortable saying it aloud compared to those who are Chinese educated.

Tasneem Hussain said...

Growing up we didn't say I love you a lot in my house. I feel that as we have gotten older we have begun to say it more. Maybe we realize how much more it means now...especially since we are scattered all over the world. In my home my husband and I say I love you all the time. I definitely ask if he loves me as well. Even though I know he does it is always nice to hear it. And when my little one is cranky in the car I keep asking him if he knows that I love him...or sing classic Bollywood love songs to him and he is happy.

Ileana said...

I grew up in Miami and my family is from Nicaragua. We say 'I love you' all the time, including at the end of every phone call! I say it to my boyfriend every day. He's from Iowa and I don't think he grew up saying it nearly as often, but now we both say it all the time.

girlseeksplace said...

I'm Polish and Lithuanian on my dad's side, but don't know much about my family history. My grandfather is gone now, so I likely never will.

That being said, I hardly ever used to say it to my parents when I lived with them, but now that I've moved out, we say it all the time. I don't end a conversation without it.

Lauren E. said...

I'm with you, Joanna! I say it maybe every 15 minutes to my boyfriend and when we're being extra silly we say, "You don't even LOVE me!" Prompting the other one to gush about how much that isn't true.

My parents also say it to us kids (now 31 and 29 years old) all the time. Every email, text, and phone call ends with, "I love you" and from my mom I get the occasional, "Just wanted to tell you I love you." It's always nice to hear and even nicer to say. <3

Alexandria Mitchell said...

I say it all the time to my husband, our dog, my sisters, my parents and grandmothers. I've come across friends that say it but it feels phony. Close friends and childhood friends, I can totally understand using the phrase. My husband's family lacks physical and verbal affection. I've only heard it said once between my husband and his mother. I find it so strange! You can't just assume someone loves you. You have to say it everyday, before its too late.

Sara said...

My parents are from Bangladesh, but I was born in the US. My mom has always said "I love you" to me and my brother - multiple times daily. I'm 26 now living far from her and she texts it to me all the time and it's how we end all of our phone calls and emails. My dad has recently become more comfortable expressing love verbally -- I remember being so warmly surprised when he first began saying it to me. Such expression certainly isn't necessary for me to understand my parents love me, but it's such a lovely feeling to have sustained throughout the day, week these affirmations of their (our) love.

Connor said...

When I was a child, I can remember absolutely making sure to tell my parents I loved them whenever I got out of the car to go to school, or they left the house. I was a macabre child and really afraid that if they died or something, my last words would be something other than "I love you."

-C

Kathcasey said...

My twin brother (our birthday is tomorrow) died 11 years ago. Our whole family was so grateful for how much we told each other we loved one another. We never took it for granted and we always knew (and still know). True love can't be cheapened with repetition.

Julie (Middle Maintenance) said...

My grandmother told me once when she was growing up (in the 30's, on a farm, as one of 11 children) that her mother never once told her she loved her. As a result, she decided at a young age that she would tell her children that she loved them every single day. And she did!

As a result, I grew up hearing it multiple times a day from my mom, who was always so great at telling us not only that she loved us, but what she loved about us.

One of my favorite childhood memories is waking up in a foggy haze to my mom leaning over me in the dark, whispering, "I love you" into my ear. She was checking on me before she went to bed. I've always loved that she said it to me even when she thought I wasn't listening. <3

Now as an adult, I am of course among the camp that you can't say it enough! There can never be too much love!

Lorie said...

Growing up in Kansas (Heinz 57 mutt of Dutch, English, Swedish, Norwegian, Native American, French, etc), my family wasn't much on saying "I love you". I moved to NYC for work in '96 and talked to my parents every week, but we still didn't say it much. Then in 2001, following 9-11 and a surgery that I had 2 weeks later, it just happened, we started saying "I love you" at the end of every conversation. Reflecting now, I think it was the sudden realization of how fleeting life can be and how important it is that they know how you feel.

Moira said...

For me it's almost superstitous, like if I don't tell someone I love them then it could be the last time. I think part of that comes from losing my mom when I was in college and regretting never having certain conversations with her. I say I love you to my boyfriend, family, and close friends when I talk to them :)

Sarah said...

In German, you would only say "I love you" (ich liebe dich) to a very serious romantic partner. It is totally weird to say that to anyone else, but you can tell them that you have love for them (ich hab' dich Lieb). You also wouldn't say things like "I love burritos" - love itself is reserved for the very serious emotion, everything else you like, or it pleases you (moegen, sich gefallen, etwas gernhaben). I know nothing about China or Chinese, but perhaps it's also a linguistic convention.

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Fisher Sisters said...

I have a general rule, or maybe more of guideline for myself: if you think something nice about someone, you should tell them. I realized I often thought- oh he's good at that, or her hair looks lovely, but I didn't actually say it. And why not? I feel so happy when someone tells me.

And the same goes with saying I love you- I say it when I think it. Which happens to be often. Especially with my husband.

Culture does probably somewhat dictate these things though. I'm American.

Ms. Shypoke said...

I say it many times a day to my husband. I say it to my dad every time I get off the phone. I didn't do it as much when I was younger. However, when my Ex-husband's mother died suddenly and the last time he had a chance to talk to her.. he wouldn't get on the phone because he was too busy (the day she died)... I was reminded that you never know when the last time you speak to someone will be.. make sure they know you care!

velievakari said...

I am Latvian and I very rarely say "I love you", it was never said in my family until my aunt and uncle moved to the UK where they got used to saying it. To me these words are too special to be said on a regular basis here and there. Latvians prefer to keep most of their feelings private but that does not lessen the strength of these feelings and they are implied by works not words. I like this attitude because when someone says "I love you" - it is special. :)

Kate Runyan said...

I am American and I say I love you several times a day...even to my dog! I also use it informally. A stranger helped me get my car out of a snowbank yesterday and I said, "Ah, I love you! You made my day" In fact, now that you mention it...I probably say "I love you" every single time I end a conversation with my family, close girlfriends and my boyfriend. If I didn't say it/hear it, I would think something was wrong and vice versa!

So R. said...

I am mexican and when I was growing up te amo (which means I love you) was never said, we used te quiero (which means I care for you) and it was used very rarely. After my father died (I was 21) my mother started using it more. I live in the states now and my husband and I say I love you all the time and I think that if I have children I will tell them that I love them everyday. Why keep your feelings? One day it might be too late.

Lichia Liu said...

I am from Taiwan, and my parents have never told me they loved me, although it's expressed in a myriad of other ways everyday. It's just way too strong to express verbally! Even to my siblings the words don't come easy... it's just not in our family culture. I have no problem saying I love you to my boyfriend, though.

Lisette said...

I tell my husband daily and my family members and close friends before I hang up the phone. I'm American.

Stacia Ho said...

I'm a Chinese-born Indonesian.. and this is one of those things that make the great divide in the Western and Eastern cultures. It's just weird to say 'I love you' on a day-to-day basis. I don't think I've ever said it to any one of my family members except on paper, like in a greeting card or in a text message.

I attended college in the States and a couple of times, this has came into the topic with my friends from other parts of Asia. Most of them find it quite odd as well ...

I don't know why exactly and I don't think anybody really knows, but I feel that we fear what we will sound like. It's almost as if we're saying it because we want something.. In Mandarin Chinese, "wo ai ni" is often referred to the romantic partners instead of familial relationships or friends, even though like in English it can be just for anyone.

Still can't figure out why :/

Nora Gomez said...

i constantly tell my husband i love him. i just love saying it out loud. also, every morning, i text both of my parents "have a wonderful day, i love you." they've grown so used to it they call to see if i'm ok if they haven't gotten a text from me!

Irene Dutilh said...
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Irene Dutilh said...

I am Spanish: I love to say "I love you" to my family. They say it too, but I am the one who say it the most. Sometimes I feel like I have to say it first so they will say it back.

I say "I love you" constantly to my boyfriend. He is Irish and he say it to me all the time as well.

My mum family (with Mexican origines) say it often. My dad family is a very traditional Castillian family with French origines, they do not say "I love you" or cry in public... But I say it often to them, so at the end I make them say it back :)

Alaina said...

I say it all the time, such a habit. But, I do truly mean it!
I am from MN.

courtney said...

I think I tell each kid 'i love you' like 100 times a day. My husband probably 3-4 times :)

Jessica Quadra Andrews said...

very interesting! We say I love you a ton in my family (we're Nicaraguan). But my grandma who lived with us our whole lives never said I love you and was not affectionate AT ALL! She did, however, show her love in a big way in other ways so we never had doubts. :) She's my mom's mom, and I think my mom probably became more affectionate over the years through being with my dad, who is also Nicaraguan and very affectionate. :) My husband and I say it at least once a day, and we say it with his family every time we talk. We have lots of love to give!

Liz said...

could it be that in Chinese they have a different way to express affection in a parent/child relationship? I live in Norway with my Norwegian husband and our daughter (I am American). Here, lovers say "Jeg elsker deg" to each other, referring to romantic love, while "Jeg er glad i deg" is used more often between parents and children, and even between romantic partners. The "glad i deg" statement translates to love, but to me it will always sound weaker.

Emily Hsiung said...

I am a Chinese-born-Canadian with parents who immigrated to Canada when they were in their mid to late 20s.

The funny thing is I can totally relate to the comments that opened your article. I'll go up to my mom sometimes on random days I feel pangs of nostalgia and hug her and say "I love you" (albeit awkwardly) and she won't hug me back but put a puzzled expression on her face and say "...what's wrong?"

I never say "I love you" to my father, nor to my sister who I am relatively close with. It's almost an unspoken understanding that "Obviously I love you, I feed you and encourage you and support you". But there is definitely the "weakness" associated with it too.

On the other hand, I have no problem saying it, in terms of comfort, to my significant other or to my friends and other family (like cousins). I say it to my really close female cousin every time we talk.

I do feel like saying it too often cheapens it. I make sure I really feel the love welling up inside me before I have to blurt out that I love someone (which is quite often anyway). Just saying it as a passing comment or a quick goodbye is not something I do.

Us: said...

"...and with Alex, I tell him I love him daily—and, if I'm being totally honest, I also often ask him "Do you love me?" which is so lame and needy but cannot be helped!" You are perfectly adorable!!

K said...

To my husband: all the time, several times a day (although, he has always been MORE apt to say it first -- even though I said it to HIM for the very very first time).

To my parents: very rarely. It feels almost like it belongs at the end of a phone call or something, but it would be SO awkward to do it out of no where. Even with my mom, who I'm very close with! I'd say it and I bet she'd respond with "ooookay. Bye"

but strangely, to my in-laws: every time we hang up the phone or part ways, even if we're at their house and we're going to bed. And my husband wont NOT say it, even if they forget or something... i'll be going to hang up the phone and he'll be like "l-lov... LOVE YOUUUU!"

Heather said...

I say I love you very often, to family members (when leaving a get together or hanging up the phone), my husband (every morning before we go to work if not more), and my friends (when I won't see them for a while), my students (when they need reminding that I am on their side) - pretty much if I realize I love someone, I tell them. I get it from my mom, who said she realized at some point that it might be the last time you ever see someone and you should tell them you love them - I think she regretted not saying it to her dad more.

Pick n Pock said...

My family is English – my Mum's side is definitely not into saying 'I love you', but my Dad's side is. I am very much into it, but my husband and girls... not so much.

Now I've worked out why – in my immediate family we've all done the questionnaires in the books 'The 5 Love Languages' and 'The 5 Love Languages for Teenagers', and it works out that 'words of affirmation' and 'physical touch' are the ways that I feel loved, whereas 'acts of service', 'quality time' and 'receiving gifts' are the biggies for my husband and girls. So while culture can be a factor, I really think it depends on the person.

I highly recommend reading those books, by the way! They've helped us realise how we can best show love to others (I'm getting more 'I love you, Mum' comments and hugs than before, because the girls now know how important it is for me!)

Rebecca said...

American here. I like to say it a lot, especially to my children- my husband prefers to "save" it to give it more meaning, but it is always the last thing I say to my family before I get off the phone with them or say goodbye. I lost loved ones unexpectedly as a child and began the habit then. I want to know it's the last thing I said.

goodnightstars said...

I say it every time I say goodbye to my parents or my brother. I don't think there's such a thing as saying it too often! Spread the love!

Indra Vargas said...

I say it all the time, to my parents, my brothers, my friends and my dog. And the thing is that i always mean it.

nancy said...

Im Chinese and I was born in the US. I consider myself to be affectionate in my relationships, but I surely didnt learn that from my parents. I have never heard anyone in my family say "i love you" to another person. I think in Chinese culture, its more about showing your love rather than saying it. Ive never said it to my parents and they have never said it to me.

Eliza Jane said...

My Fella and I just discussed this after I read this post. We agreed that, on average, we tell each other we love each other on average 6-12 times a day. We also often ask "who loves you" to the other, and we always respond "you do." We've known each other 11 years and have been dating for almost two. We don't say it to each other because the phrase has become meaningless or flippant, but because we just really DO, and can't keep it in.

StardustElisabeth said...

I don't say "I love you" very often to my family. I believe that in the Netherlands it's just normal that way. We know that we love each other, so we don't have to say it.
But I do say it a LOT to my boyfriend, and I also have this bad habit of asking him 'Do you love me?'.

plch said...

In Italian too there are two different way to say I love you: 'ti amo' is very romantic so it's not usually used among friends and family, speaking with them we use 'ti voglio bene' instead. I say 'ti voglio bene' all the time to my children, I said very often to my parents and my sister too, to say ti amo would really seems out of place. To my husband I say 'miluju ti' because he's Czech :).

PeBu said...

At least 1 time per hour!And I ask a lot too!!(I'm Greek)

emy said...

I say it ALL. THE. TIME! Especially now that I have a little one. Growing up, my dad made it a point to tell my brother and me he loved us at least once a day, because his own father never said it. It was so reassuring to hear him say it (and to know how much he meant it)! I don't mind for a minute letting my loved ones know just how loved and chosen they are! Even a casual "Love you!" is meaningful if it comes from an authentic place. Those little moments add up.

Clari said...

I'm Brazilian and I say it to my English husband every day. He always says it back - it wasn't so at the beginning of our relationship. Can't be overused. Who doesn't want to go back in time and say it to someone they lost?

Lu said...

every day, every chance i get. to my husband, pups, parents, friends (and to a few coworkers even if i substitute "i really appreciate you" to keep it from being weird sometimes). i also express my love by cooking for people every chance i get. :-)

AfterEightOClock said...

Great article. I say it a million times a day. You got to. :) My 18 month old little boy, Max just started answering me with squeals (not words) just little squeals so, I'll say "I love you, do you love momma?" And sure enough I get a little happy squeal :) Makes me feel so good every time.

AfterEightOClock said...

Great article. I say it a million times a day. You got to. :) My 18 month old little boy, Max just started answering me with squeals (not words) just little squeals so, I'll say "I love you, do you love momma?" And sure enough I get a little happy squeal :) Makes me feel so good every time.

mishi x said...

I am Chinese and grew up mostly in China but live in California now. My mom's side of the family is more verbally affectionate, so my mom and grandpa say "wo ai ni" (i love you in Mandarin Chinese) pretty often - not on a daily basis though, more on days when I'm feeling down, and with my grandpa, after each time I call him. :) I've never heard my dad said i love you even though i know he adores me. He'd make fun of us if he heard me and my mom say that to each other, too. Silly guy lol. I also say i love you with all my Chinese-American/Chinese-Canadian family, and they always say it back.

My husband, who is also Chinese, finds it REALLY REALLY HARD to say i love you out loud. He's never said it to his family or anyone he dated before me. I'm still trying to get him to say it back, so far I've only succeeded once... He actually said "I love you too" one time when he was drunk, HA!

JH said...

I'm 1st-generation Chinese, and can relate to the never saying "I love you." My family and I never said it to each other and it's not a big deal. I don't think it implies a lack of love, and I don't feel any less loved. We've just expressed it in different ways (e.g. Mom/Dad waking up and de-icing/heating up the car for you while you get ready for school/work, paying for college, home cooked meals, etc.).

However, I married white dude and we say it to each other and our dog-son daily. :-)

B said...

My husband and I say it several times a day. It's wonderful! My previous partner would only say it on special occasions. So I can say from experience that hearing it all the time is so much better and more loving than hearing it twice a year.

Unknown said...

I'm Canadian and my husband is Japanese. I say it to my family and close friends all the time. We say it to each other probably every day at some point. But he doesn't say it to his parents or friends. He says it would feel weird to suddenly start, since he has never said it or heard it before. He thinks it's very sweet that I say it to my family though, and sometimes wishes he could say it to his.

ays said...

In our family, we didn't grow up saying "I Love you" all the time. We actually feel quite sheepish when we say it (like to my brother who I have to admit, I'm not close to). But my husband and I say it all the time to each other. I'll probably bring up my kids (when I have them) saying it to us too.

natalietamara said...

Great question :) I'm English but don't mind saying it all the time.

I say it to my mum everytime we talk on the phone or say goodbye in person.
To my boyfriend, I say it everytime I think it which is very frenquently (gahh that sounds so cheesy now I've written it down!)

Unknown said...

Yesterday we said it a a hundred million times , just because we are so in love right now.

Emiline said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Emiline said...

In my family, we don't say 'I love you' regularly. We really only say it when one part or the other of us is going on a trip. By extension, my husband and I are the same way. If one of us is traveling without the other, then we say I love you. I think we just always figure that the other person knows I love them. Otherwise, I wouldn't spend so much time together. We are American and sailed over shortly after the Mayflower, so I think it is more about upbringing than culture.

Mary E said...

I say it all the time to my husband. His family says it all the time each other. My sister and I started saying within the last 5 years or so (and it's normal for us now)! My mom has said it a few times that last couple of years and my dad to me--I remember it once! We are a super tight-knit family, but we just don't say that a lot. My German friend says that it's just weird in her culture to say it (unless you're married to the person or something). She says it to her American girlfriends only!

ewang said...

My husband is Chinese and his parents and him NEVER say "i love you" to each other. Meanwhile my midwestern family says it every 5 seconds and they say it to Jon who has grown to love the warm embrace it makes him feel. I would love to tell my inlaws that I love them bc luckily enough I do...but it seems that maybe it wouldn't be well received.

ewang said...

My husband is Chinese and his parents and him NEVER say "i love you" to each other. Meanwhile my midwestern family says it every 5 seconds and they say it to Jon who has grown to love the warm embrace it makes him feel. I would love to tell my inlaws that I love them bc luckily enough I do...but it seems that maybe it wouldn't be well received.

Ana Ribeiro said...

I am a Brazilian, down here we say TE AMO (which means I Love You in portuguese) very often, specially with my mum and my 2 sisters, they both live in Canada and I believe missing them makes me say i love you to them more often, basically every time we talk to each other or write each other.
However, because in Brazil male chauvinism is very strong, usually men are not very good at saying i love you very often, it's getting better but there is still a long way to go. xoxo

megan said...

I can't imagine not saying i love you. I tell my dog probably 50 times a day. My boyfriend even tells his best friend that he loves him when they get off the phone. He would kill me if he knew I was telling you this!!

coloradoloveaffair said...

This is so interesting! I grew up saying it and hearing it rather frequently from my parents and siblings, which has continued into my adulthood. Now, I tell my husband and infant daughter that I love them all the time. But, my mom has told me that she's made a point to tell us so frequently because she didn't hear it often from her father, who is Japanese. Outward expressions of affection are cultural, I think. Fascinating!

GKIM said...

My parents are both CCKs (Crazy Christian Koreans) and I cannot tell you how many times they will say "Jesus Loves you " to me. How many times have they said I love you? Probably under 10- lions share probably when I was an infant, when I graduated from high school, college graduation and my wedding day.

kiwigem said...

Oh my gosh. I think I begin and end every single interaction I have with my children with some version of "I love you." Each of my kids has their own little song about how much Mommy loves them, and they are subjected to it constantly. The bigger kids even sing to the littles. The 2 1/2 y.o. says it even when she's mad... "I love you, you jerk!" LOL. I also say it to the rest of my family and closest friends whenever we part or get off the phone.

Lauren Doxey said...

my dad once dated a girl briefly that told him her father never once said he loved her. my dad was completely appalled by that. he made a vow to tell his children he loved them every single day. my dad has four daughters and was a rockstar at telling me he loved me every. single. day. growing up. he would always ask "lauren, have i told you today that i loved you?" no matter what my answer was, he would always say he loved me. i tell my husband i love him multiple times a day! and i always end phone conversations with my family by saying i love you.

Esperanza said...

Funny you should ask, as I've been recently struggling with this. I am Mexican-American. My family is loud, and always in each other's business - love fills every room in our house. But we don't tell each other that we love each other, we just know. In fact, it takes me some effort to tell romantic partners that I love them. Love, in my life, has always been implied, not spoken of. One of my New Year resolutions was to start telling the people that I love that I love them. Let me tell you: it is HARD.

Kelly said...

I'm from the US and I say it each and every time I hang up or part ways with one of my family members and even sometimes friends.

My husband and I saw it to each other multiple times a day.

My husband's father did't say I love to him as a child and it made my husband sad so I happened to mention it to my father in law once- and after that he gave my husband a big hug and told him he loved him. Several months later my father in law past away and that "I love you" was and still is very dear to my husbands heart.

You never know when the last time you're going to speak to a loved one- so make sure you take the opportunity to tell them you love them every time you have a chance, you don't want to have regrets!

Anonymous said...

I'm Chinese-Canadian, and I NEVER say "I love you" to my parents! I can't imagine ever doing it! But everyone in my family knows that deep down we all love each other :)

Jill Douglas said...

My husband and I say it so often, I think it has kind of lost its initial power, in a way. But I think that would be inevitable, and it's the moments that they show us how much they love us by their actions and choices that make my heart swell at least. :)
I plan on saying it to my future kids as much as possible, aka every 10 minutes :)

We also make it a habit to say I love you before we bring up a negative thing, such as "I love you, but sometimes you do this..." Just to confirm that they know no matter how they mess up, they'll still be loved.

dinaclabaugh said...

My husband estimates that we each say it at least a dozen times a day. (I love him so damn much!)

Mila Bassett said...

There is a line after which saying "I love you" loosing meaning. My husband and I say "I love you" every night after saying "good night". That is a special moment for us to end the day with. Same ritual with the kids. It makes me cringe every time I hear people ending their phone conversation with "I love you" when it equals "Bye". This is different from when you talk with your loved ones on the phone once in a while. In that case, again, it comes out as genuine and conveys the real thing.

Emily said...

I say I love to you my fiance all the time. I can't end a phone conversation with my family or fiance without saying I love you and hearing their response. The weird thing is, I've never felt comfortable saying it to my close friends, even though I care deeply about them! It just has never felt right to me.

Rebecca Lynne said...

I say it so often I constantly remind my husband that I mean it & am not just saying it as matter of course. But alongside the words I have trained my kids to couple I Love You with hugs and kisses, and the other night without any prompting from me the three of them (5, 3, 21mo) had a joint hugging/kissing/I love you moment before bedtime! I was teary with pride. I am Cuban-American and come very an extremely affectionate family.(My husband is American with conservative Prostestant roots and I am happy to report that after 15 years of infecting them with my effortless shows of affection they finally hug and say I love you when saying goodbye in person!)

Rebecca Lynne said...

I say it so often I constantly remind my husband that I mean it & am not just saying it as matter of course. But alongside the words I have trained my kids to couple I Love You with hugs and kisses, and the other night without any prompting from me the three of them (5, 3, 21mo) had a joint hugging/kissing/I love you moment before bedtime! I was teary with pride. I am Cuban-American and come very an extremely affectionate family.(My husband is American with conservative Prostestant roots and I am happy to report that after 15 years of infecting them with my effortless shows of affection they finally hug and say I love you when saying goodbye in person!)

Lexi said...

I say "I love you" all the time. To my family, to girlfriends, to my husband, and my dog.
My husband often asks me "Do you love me?" and I'm curious, Joanna, why you do that too? If you're saying "I love you" to someone multiple times per day, then why be "needy" and ask the question? I'm just trying to figure out why he asks me this.

Ashley Penman said...

I say it all the time. I always say it when I part from my family or boyfriend. It may sound morbid, but I'm always thinking in the back of my mind, what if something happened to either of us, I want the last thing I said to be that I love them. Even if we're fighting, I always say it. Maybe it does cheapen its meaning, but I can't help it. Colorado, USA

Ashley Penman said...

I say it all the time. I always say it when I part from my family or boyfriend. It may sound morbid, but I'm always thinking in the back of my mind, what if something happened to either of us, I want the last thing I said to be that I love them. Even if we're fighting, I always say it. Maybe it does cheapen its meaning, but I can't help it. Colorado, USA

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Pix'Aperture said...

I wish to speak.....but chinese culture just dont do that....feel awkward.

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