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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:

1 – 200 of 393   Newer›   Newest»
Regine Karpel said...

I say it all the time

Jessica Martinez said...

I say "I love you" quite often, and so does my family. I almost always say it when parting, or getting off the phone. I am half Hispanic, and I do find that side of the family to be very affectionate. I wouldn't want it any other way :)

Joanna Goddard said...

my dad, who is english, used to tell us NOT to say "i love you" when hanging up the phone because he thought it made the phrase sound meaningless. but now he actually says it, so i think he's changed his mind. :)

Kat G said...

I say it all the time! I don't think it cheapens it. From America.

Karelys Beltran Davis said...

I am from Mexico so saying I am sorry and I love you is way to strong in Spanish so we just say it in English. It's like it softens a bit.
I don't say it and hear it from my dad often. But with my mom and brothers we use it in English.

With my husband (who isn't Mexican) and my baby we do it all the time (and yes, "do you love me?") is awesome.

Scout and Rice said...

I can't imagine not saying it daily, especially now I have a daughter. I tell both her and husband many times a day; while we're sitting at the table eating, while we're watching TV, when I drop her at school. I say 'Did you know that I love you very much?'
Sometimes she says 'I love you too, Mummy'. and it melts my heart.

(We are Australian but I don't think our upbringing was very different to Americans)

My husband doesn't say it as often out of the blue, and I wonder if it's because he is a man, with men being taught not to express their feelings as much.

Aja said...

Sometimes I do that same thing Cup of Jo with my boyfriend, women are just that way! I am glad I'm not the only one :)

Marine said...

I grew up in a French household and my family wasn't big on "I love you"... I think we all figured it was just implied because we're family, and you know, we love each other. My sister was the only one that said it on a regular basis to my parents, and I remember thinking it was strange at the time because I just wasn't used to hearing it. My husband, on the other hand, is like you. He tells me he loves me multiple times a day, and asks me if I love him at least twice a day. I will never say it as often as he does, but I'm slowly getting used to saying it more often to him. My common response when he asks is "Of course!". I don't feel the need to say it often, but I understand that he likes to hear it often :)

Scout and Rice said...

I also think it's nice to tell people you love them in specific ways. Such as 'I love you - I love it when you sing to me'. I don't really think saying 'I love you' can be cheapened, but being specific is a nice way to make your point.

Mercer.nat said...

I've grown up saying it. But since moving further from my family, I say it to end every single phone conversation. Especially with my mother and twin sister! If we don't say it, I often feel compelled to call back just to say it, because it feels like something isn't quite right! From Boston!

Zana Fauzi said...

Never said it to family, otherwise I'll get that why-are-you-so-touchy-feely look?

But I say it all the time to close friends, who are mostly Europeans. I am a Malaysian.

Marine said...

An interesting side note: Another phrase I didn't grow up hearing a lot was "Bless you" after someone sneezes. At my first restaurant kitchen job though the sous pastry chef used to scold me for not saying it, and now I say it every time I hear someone sneeze. My family thinks I'm strange when I say it to them though. Hey, families are strange.

Mary said...

I say it all the time. I ask my kids all the time if they know how much I love them. "We know! We know! Geez!" My youngest will sometimes tell me "I already know that! You don't have to tell me!" Whatever. I tell them anyway.

I am kind of with your dad, though, on saying it every time you hang up the phone. I don't. Sometimes I do, when my husband is calling from the airport on his way on a long trip perhaps. But if we're just talking in the middle of the day, I generally wouldn't.

shruti kapoor said...

Growing up in India we never said I love to each other. I think it's a very American thing. People use the phrase at the drop of a hat here which sometimes sounds a bit meaningless to me. Having lived in the US for 14 years now, i still find it hard to keep saying I love you to some of my best friends. It doesn't mean i love them any less.

I think more than the number of times, what matters to me is that one should mean it when they say I love you. It shouldn't be said out of habit!

Jaclyn Quigley said...

My family and my husband and I say it constantly. It's nice to be reminded and to be so open in admitting how I feel. I always want it to be the last thing I say to someone before we part/hang up, just so I'm sure they know they're loved.

anniethered said...

I try to make "I love you" the last thing I say to my husband when I leave the house. It's a small thing, but I think it's so much nicer to leave behind a thought of love than "Can you take out the trash?" or even "See you tonight!"

Celeste said...

American here.

My husband is much better at saying "I love you" than I am. My family is very affectionate, my parents always end phone conversations with each other and me with "I love you." When I'm with my family, my mom or dad will frequently hug me and say it.

Somehow, I was programmed not to be cuddly or express my love very easily. I tend to wait until my husband says it and affirming it. I've tried to be meaningful, however, and initiate it (he also asks if I love him, which is what drew my attention to my lack of expression).

KatieChristine said...
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Carol said...

I only ever say that to my dog and my kids when they were babies. I'm caucasian with a mostly British background (no sex please, my parents never showed any affection for each other in front of me).

peppysis said...

I grew up in the US. I tell my husband everyday that I love him but did not grow up in a household that said I love you to each other. I only heard it when I got in trouble and got "the talk"... "Now, you know we love you... but..." It sounds strange to me when I do hear my Mom say it because it sounds like it makes her uncomfortable to say it.

www.peppysis.blogspot.com

Elle said...

I'm from the north of England where we're meant to be quite 'plain speaking' and un-romantic, but I tell my husband and little one I love them all the time. My husband says it even more than me - many times each day. I am very lucky. It's lovely to love and be loved, so why wouldn't we say it?

shishi said...

I grew up in Germany with my mum's side of the family and although we say I love you to each other we do not say it on a daily basis. For me it is something that goes along with "special" moments. My mum would tell me that she loves me when I was upset and she wanted to comfort me or when she was proud of me for achieving something extraordinary.
My dad and his family lives in Los Angeles where I have spent all my summers growing up. They would say I love you with every phone call and every goodbye and on many more occasions during the day which always felt very weird to me...and still does! I guess it really is a cultural thing.
I have noticed that the word love in general is used much more in the USA than in Germany.

kcmarchetti said...

My family says I love you on a daily basis. No one says it more than my Italian/Portuguese Dad though! Loved growing up with such an affectionate and vocal Father

Christina said...

I tell my boyfriend I love him several times a day. But we're long distance, so I feel like it bonds us when we've got an ocean between us.

I love my mom and sister the most, and yet I rarely tell them. I've gotten in the habit of saying it to my dad when we're hanging up from the phone, but we aren't as close. I have no idea why!

I'm Canadian. Early 30s. Happy girl.

Trina said...

My nationality is American but my ethnicity is Filipino (my parents emigrated from the Philippines in the '70s). We were not a family that said "I love you" at all or were very affectionate as I was growing up, but I never doubted my parents' or older brother's love for me. My sister-in-law, on the other hand, is a child psychologist and affectionate by nature, and she has taught my niece and nephew to be open with their "I love you"s, which they will often say spontaneously and sweetly. (Like, we'll be sitting on the couch watching a Nature documentary or something, and my little nephew will suddenly give me a hug and go, "I love you, Auntie." It's a surprise, and kind of awesome.) So what has ended up happening is that we say "I love you" a lot to the kids, but still not that much to each other. Except maybe an occasional "Love you" at the end of a phone conversation. With my mom. :)

E. said...

I say it a ton to my husband, family and friends - and I'm glad I do! But sometimes it's such a habit that I say it when I don't mean to, like when I'm hanging up the phone on a contact, or something. Today, I said it without thinking to an co-worker! I don't regret it, per se, but I felt pretty lame!

Melissa said...

We say it everyday. Also, we use sign language to say "I love you!" whenever one of us is driving away.

Elle said...

I'm from the north of England where we're meant to be quite 'plain speaking' and unromantic, but I tell my husband and little one I love them all the time. My husband says it even more than me - many times each day. I'm very lucky. It's lovely to love and be loved, so why shouldn't we say it?!

Jen said...

i say it all the time to my kids and husband but growing up in a korean household i've never heard us or my parents say "i love you" to each other.

Jennifer said...

American, and I say it all the time! Even to my friends when hanging up the phone. And I often ask my dog, "do you know that I love you?" He doesn't answer, of course, but I think he does :).

Elizabeth Lee said...

I love saying "I love you!" My family has this little tradition when when we hang up the phone by trying to one-up each other on how much we love each other. I say it to my friends a lot too.

I'm Korean American and single, but I'm living in England at the moment! x

Dani said...

It's funny- I was just thinking about this!
My family is really big on 'love-yous'; when we're feeling affectionate, or want something from the others, when we're saying goodbye, or going to sleep. I think it stems from my mom always saying "You never know when one of you could be gone, so make sure the last words that come out of your mouths are nice ones!"
I'm living with some other family for a while now, and they hardly say it to each other. It's been kinda a withdrawal thing for me, strangely, and I'll text my sisters to let them know that I love them, just to say it.
(Physical affection has been the exact same)

Bessie Mae said...

I say it all of the time. I tell my husband I love him a million times a day....our two pups are second runners up for the love. I talk to my mother daily & tell her I love her everyday. I was raised by my mother who told us every day she loved us....so it's natural for me. I'm a white, middle-class, chic raised in South Georgia. If I love you, I'm going to tell you! What if it's the last time we ever talk for some tragic reason? You will know I loved you.

joana said...

in portugal we don't say it often, only to THE person, and still it's considered corny.
we have another way of saying i love you which is more common (and prettier, in my opinion), which translates to 'i like you sooo much' or 'i like you very much'. to us it means a lot :) i do think saying i love you too much cheapens it, makes it normal, banal, and for me it should be something special everytime.
with my aunt, who is american, however, we do say it, and i actually do love it :)

so:
amo-te = i love you
gosto muito de ti = i like you very much
gosto tanto de ti = i like you sooo much

i find these language differences so interesting! glad you brought it up :)

Lindsey Cox said...

I'm multiracial, and grew up with a blended family of bio and adopted sibling and multiracial parents, we said I love you all the time , come times casualy and sometimes with added gravitas, however I have two emotional artistic parents, both of them had a parent who wasn't affectionate and both made an effort to intentionally and actively love each of us kids as important individuals. As a parent and a wife I am incredibly affectionate and say I love you with my words and actions(or at least I always try) to both family friends and strangers alike, all you need is love right,.

officiallyobsessed.net said...

I'm Chinese, but grew up in one of the more Americanized households in my larger family, probably because my parents settled in a very white community before I was born, vs. my cousins, who were raised in NYC and SF. My parents and I said and say "I love you" a LOT, but always in English! I know the words for it in Cantonese, but I'm not sure I've ever said them to my parents, and vice versa. So funny! And while I sign emails to my extended family with "Love," they never do that back to me, hmm. I also once got scolded by my aunt for saying "thank you" to her too much. As she noted, "we're family, you don't need to thank me for things!" but it's an ingrained habit of mine, because if I feel gratitude (or love), why wouldn't I express it?

Rachael {All Things Beautiful} said...

ALL the time! I always say it when hanging up on the phone with family members and best friends.. it feels strange to hang up and not say it. And my boyfriend and I say it to each other often as well. Always at night before we go to bed, followed by a "SO much." I grew up in a very demonstrative and loving household and was told to always share our feelings. I feel like you can never tell your loved ones you love them enough.. life is precious and you never know what tomorrow holds.

Rachael {All Things Beautiful} said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Diana McNeill said...

I say I love you to my boyfriend every time we hang up the phone, throughout the day when we text, when we are falling asleep. I say it to my friends constantly, to my family all the time. I'm always emailing, texting, and calling people to say I love them. Why would I waste my time here not saying I love you whenever I get the chance??

Stephen K. said...

I say "I love you" to my wife daily, and with family members any time I speak with them on the phone.

I'll have to read more about the study, but I wonder if the geographic areas that tend to not say "i love you", say other things instead? And I'd like to know why they think it's embarrassing. Context is so important.

Mojo said...

I'm British Armenian and say I love you as often as possible to my family and friends. It is said with complete sincerity...I really do love them and I want them to know that. I was very reserved as a child and young adult and regret not saying it more to my mother. She died this autumn, a few months after I had my first child, and now I wish I had taken every opportunity to tell her how much I loved her.

Mojo said...

I'm British Armenian and say I love you as often as possible to my family and friends. It is said with complete sincerity...I really do love them and I want them to know that. I was very reserved as a child and young adult and regret not saying it more to my mother. She died this autumn, a few months after I had my first child, and now I wish I had taken every opportunity to tell her how much I loved her.

CarmenB. said...

I am first generation Mexican American.

I don't recall my parents or my siblings every saying "I love you."

Now, as an adult, my mom and I end phone conversations with "I love you." It's nice, but I'm still not used to it. My dad, on the other hand, has never said it.

I hope that when I have a family, I will say it all the time.

Vaness said...

So, I'm french and we are saying each others "I love you" daily with my almost husband (7 years of relationship)when we leave the house, by sms or a any time. With my family, we are more reserved so we say it when we go through difficult times ant that's kind of sad :-(
Happy valentine day Joanna !

Ivana said...

I like saying I love you to my family. However my parents don't always reciprocate... womp womp.

My boyfriend gets upset if I get off the phone without saying I love you.

Ivana said...

I like saying I love you to my family. However my parents don't always reciprocate... womp womp.

My boyfriend gets upset if I get off the phone without saying I love you.

Kimberly Merritt said...

Every single day. I learned that from my parents.

Andrea said...

If someone from China can reply on this post, she must have a VPN because your blog is blocked.
I lived in Shanghai for 7 months last year and this was the only way;)

Emme Gee said...

I'm italian-american and I say it multiple times a day to my husband, and every time I talk to my family members, and even every time I talk to my close friends. Can't ever say it enough!!!

Tracy S said...

I'm Chinese, and I don't think I've ever heard my parents ever say 'I love you' to me or to each other. I've said it once to them, and that was the MOST AWKWARD experience for all of us involved. We don't even hug or kiss each other.

But I'm married to an American man and we always say 'I love you' to each other daily and to our son, all the time.

The good thing is, our son actually says 'I love you' to my traditional parents and they're getting used to the 'I love you' from our son (their grandparents) and they actually reciprocate every time too :) And our son always give them hugs and kisses.

yha said...

We never say it! In Vietnam, like China, it's just not a phrase that people use. Growing up I never heard my parents say I love you to us the kids or even to each other. I never even thought it was unusual until I started dating. And now that I'm married to an American I try and remember to say I love you from time to time.
My mom says I love you to my kids, but in English, which I find pretty cute.

LittleMy said...

I have said it about 4 times in my life to my mum and she's the same back to me. I tell my husband everyday. It's very weird but embarrassing to say it to my mum. I feel the need to tell my husband I love him very often. I am British, we are oxymorons I think :)

Dizzy Lizzie said...

From India. My parents say it to me ALL THE TIME. But I don't say it back, which is weird and mean, I know. My husband and I tell each other frequently.

Shelley Musleh said...

I'm from Michigan and we're a typical hodgepodge ethnicity-wise.

I say I love you all the time to everyone. My family all says it quite often, especially my mom. My brother rarely ever says it back...I will say I love you, James! silence....and then I yell with a big smile "TELL ME YOU LOVE ME BACK!!!!!!!!" and then he will say it.

I tell my cats I love them about 30,000 times per day (pathetic haha, mostly because I work from home and I'm with them all day) and I tell my husband probably about 5-10 times a day.

It can't be helped! every time I'm reminded of just how special someone is, maybe they tell a joke, or have a certain grin, or are frustrated about something that is so "them" I can't help but just say it!

sharareh said...

I live in Germany and here it has basically become the same as in the US concerning this subject. But where I originally come from, Turkey and Iran, it is kind of difficult because our words for "I love you" are the same as "I like you". An expression for I'm in love (romantically) exists but that is definitely not usable in family context. I think it is kind of sad because when I say "seni seviyorum" or "dustet daram" it somehow sounds weaker than saying Ich liebe dich / I love you. And I would say that it is less outspoken in turkish backgrounds. We are too serious for cheesy affectionism ;)

Liv said...

My heritage is Chinese though I was born and raised in the US. My parents (born and raised in China) never said "I love you" and were never physically affectionate (once we weren't babies anymore) until I was in high school and our pastor preached a sermon about the importance of demonstrating and verbalizing love in families, knowing this was a thing with Chinese families (it was a Chinese church). Since then my parents (my dad specifically) went out of his way to build that habit. It was kinda weird/surreal at first but now it's pretty ingrained in all of us. In my own family with my husband and son I can't say it enough and though my husband thought it was weird at first, he says it automatically too now. Yes it's partially habit but I don't see how it can be a bad habit - who doesn't want/need to hear they are loved as often as possible? I figure if I say it enough, it will be fully ingrained in my soon's psyche and something he can always find comfort in. One of the best mama moments was the first time he repeated back to me "lobe you mama."

Sausage said...

I say it to my husband and son daily. My son, who's 5, said as he was going to sleep the other night "Je t'adore Maman" and my heart melted. We're Canadian and speak French at home. My husband says "Je t'aime à la folie" and it sounds so lovely in French, not at all as romantic in English.

DreamCatcher said...

Greek here.
Up until a few years ago, greek families weren't used to saying I love you at all. Which is very strange because the greek culture is sooo family oriented. I'm 39 years old and I think that I've never heard it from my family.
My sister and I (and our cousins and same age friends)though don't seem to stop saying it to our children!
We always knew that our parents loved us but just saying it outloud was something that we apparently did miss a lot.

Julie Powers said...

I am a New Englander of Irish/Italian decent. Growing up we heard I love you very often from both parents but a little more from my Irish father. I married a Portuguese man who tells me he loves me several times a day. I am very lucky he is so affectionate since his parents never said I love you much to him and his siblings growing up and still don't. He grew up in northern Portugal.

brooklynash said...

i do in fact think that saying it too often cheapens it. i would much rather show (and be shown) that i love someone. words are cheap and plentiful.

Eeelisa said...

I'm Korean-American. As a child I used to say "Good night, I love you" to my parents every night. But basically stopped when I became a sour teenager (ha!). I didn't say it very often as a young adult, only when I really remembered or felt like they needed to hear it more than me wanting to say it. But now I'm in a serious relationship with a white guy and we say it all the time to each other! Which made me reflect on how little I say it to my parents; so I've been trying to say it more of now. But definitely not as much as I say to my boo.

I've thought about this topic on and off before. So glad you posted this! It's really insightful!

Kat G. said...

I'm half American, half Austrian. Neither of my parents raised me to say "I love you" on a daily or even regular basis. Generally our family prefers to make gestures of love (like getting an unexpected phone call, a spontaneous hand-written letter, or even being surprised with a home-made glass of jam), rather than saying "I love you" out loud. Even with my boyfriend we only exchange "I love you"s during particularly emotional conversations, on special occasions, or after sex...

emmy d said...

My husband and his family say it ALL the time. Every phone call with any family member and he tells me multiple times a day, which I must admit I find taxing. I want to say I KNOW! You don't have to keep saying it! My family only says I love you if we are having a particularly moving or emotional conversation, but never on a regular basis. I feel that when we do it is much more meaningful, otherwise it becomes an overused phrase like How are You?, just said for the sake of saying it. We are American, but my family's background is German, and is not at all touchy-feely.

Meredith said...

I say "I love you" ALL THE TIME. To my parents, fiance, siblings, aunts, uncles, friends, etc!
I'm shocked I haven't hung up the phone at work by saying "OK, love you, bye!" ;)

Unknown said...

My husband says it multiple times a day to me. That's the kind of family he grew up in. It was weird for me at first, because my family is very reserved, but now I couldn't live without it. It doesn't cheapen the words to say them often if you mean it.

Hanh said...

I grew up in Vietnam. Yeah we dont say "I love you" very much there either. It's one of those unspoken things, so our family "showed" it more than we said it.

My mom used to complain that I'm much sweeter to my friends in the US than I am to her. I blamed it on my parents saying "Well you guys never told me such sweet things when I was growing up, I'm not used to saying such words in Vietnamese".

But my wise father pointed out to me, "You're right, we didn't usually say it. But maybe you could be the one to change that."

So I try to say it to my Vietnamese circles as often as I can now. But I still use mostly English. It's still much awkward to use Vietnamese.

With my dogs and husband, however, "I love you" flies out of my mouth every few minutes. Sometimes I wonder if they get tired of me yabbing those word so frequently.

Jeannie said...

Ooh, this is so interesting, and it's funny that you posted about this because my coworker, who is Chinese from Hong Kong, and I were talking about it!! I'm Vietnamese American (2nd generation, meaning I was born here), and I say I LOVE YOU to my mom all the time after our phone conversations and when I leave my parent's house. Vietnamese people don't usually express affection with words either, it ends up feeling uncomfortable for many, and as if it were forced. But, I've managed to make it mainstream with my parents :) With my boyfriend, who is also Vietnamese, we say it to each other all the time! :) I love doing it! I find it interesting that a few people posted that they're "American" without specifying race - there's no default race for "American" so I wonder what they are? It comes across as racist, just something for thought! I'm sure they don't MEAN it.

J said...

I saw it to my family all the time, especially when leaving or hanging up the phone. But my husband does not say it to his family at all, hardly ever. Its so strange to me that no one in his family says it to each other. We are both the same culture, religion, etc and grew up about an hour away from each other.

JacPfef said...

CONSTANTLY. Seriously, constantly. And I like to hear it constantly, too, you're not alone :)

Mami China said...

So this is super interesting. I am mixed race-Mexican (my dad is from the US) and Korean (my mom is born and raised in Korea but lives in the US now). We said i love you all the time as kids, however, my mom did tell me that culturally in Korea you also don't express I love you openly, even within families. My dad was definitely the one who pushed "love" in our home. Now I am married and we say it all the time to each other and to our three boys. Interestingly enough a friend of mine who is Vietnamese American told me she also doesn't use "i love you" in her everyday speak because she was raised to believe that the words are sacred and shouldn't' be misused as a daily flitting phrase. I disagree and want my family to not only know I love them but that it's always the last thing I say to them when I leave "just in case." And PS. Joanna I also always ask my hubby if he loves me, and even further I ask him why, lol. I tell him its just to make sure we are doing everything we can to keep the love alive.

nancy @ adore to adorn said...

Well this particular post hits home for me. My (Chinese) parents were immigrants to the US and I was born in the US. I grew up very Americanized so I said "I love you" all the time. It just seemed so natural for me. I didn't even think about it. BUT, I noticed my parents never said it. Only when I started nagging them about saying it did they say it. But, it was such a strong cultural difference. Here they were...immigrants having grown up in China and here I was, their child, growing up in America. Eventually, they would say it out loud but it wasn't on their own and it wasn't without much conscious effort. At first, I felt sad about it because I was a kid and didn't realize their background. But, as a teenager, when I finally understood more about where they came from, I was never offended and just made more efforts to say it out loud to them so they could hear it. (They have since passed away)
xo,
nancy

Nina said...
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emilie nicole said...

i say it ALL THE TIME! i lived in france until i was 8 and then moved to the US. not only does my family tell each other we love each other daily - we also kiss on the cheek when greeting or leaving one another's house.

Nina said...

I have never said those words to either of my parents and they have never said it to me. We are Indian but my parents have been in the United States since the 70s. They have assimilated to everything else besides saying "I love you"! When I was little, it really made me sad to see other parents telling their children how they felt. Now, as an adult, I realize my parents show their love in so many other ways. Their actions have spoken louder than words to me and I couldn't be more grateful. I'm sure I'll say it to them one day but for now I will respect their traditions.

Gabriella said...

I have an American dad and a Latin American mother, and as much as I know my parents love me, we don't really say this to each other. Sometimes in cards at birthdays or holidays, but in general affection seems to be expressed in other ways. Once, when I made a point of saying "I love you" to my mother, it came out so awkwardly and I felt so weird about it! Even with my boyfriend, when we say "I love you" it feels like it has so much gravity, even if we both know the other feels that way. Sometimes to soften it we say "I dwuve you!" (corny, but what my boyfriend used to say as a kid.)

dani said...

We have always said "I love you" a lot in my family (parents, 4 siblings, uncles/aunts, etc.) It is always the last thing I say on the phone with any sibling or parent or with my husband for sure. My husband and I say it daily, atleast a few times a day and now we have an almost 8 month old son whom we say it to constantly. I'm American, grew up in a modern Jewish household. My husband is Korean, and he did not grow up saying it. In fact, he can't recall his father ever saying it to him, which I think is really sad, but it's obviously cultural. It's certainly not how he intends to be with our family, and he is the most loving and sweet person I know so it doesn't seem to have scarred him too much!

His parents certainly DO love him, that much is clear, it's just not something they express with words.

I don't think it cheapens it to say it often....makes me feel happy every time I hear it or say it!

christine chang said...

Both my parents are immigrants and are of Asian/Latin heritage. I feel the way they were brought up was rather strict, but my upbringing was filled with alot of I love yous and also alot of hugs! And still at the end of a phone conversation we end with I love you, or at least I try to remember to do it too. I know for alot of my friends of Asian descent though it is not that way. They can count on one hand the number of times they've hugged their parents, and never say those 3 letter words! Definitely perspective. <3

Unknown said...

My parents and I always end conversations with "I love you." And usually my brother and I too, now that I think about it. We're American, but WASPs, which I think makes it less common that we say it so often. I think I'm the instigator of this though since I live far away--I made it a habit for everyone!

There's a good This American Life episode about fathers saying I love you where a therapist tells this woman's dad that he should call his kids every day for 30 days and tell them he loves them. He only makes it 2 days or something. There's another story in the same episode about a dad who never says I love you, but shows his love by making his daughter an emergency survival kit. Very interesting and definitely worth a listen: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/438/fathers-day-2011

Lizz said...

I say "I love you" to my wife several times a day...in the morning, at night, any time we're parting, on the phone, and randomly throughout the day. We don't have kids, but the pups get told "I love you" very, very often as well.

Now that I'm grown and realize that you never know when you'll last speak to someone (not to be morbid) I say "I love you" to my parents and siblings every time I see them or speak to them. I love that we're all comfortable saying it to one another.

jenbeth said...

I say it all the time, but my parents said it all the time so its habit I guess. But that doesn't mean that I mean it less. In fact, I say it often because you never know if something will happen and I want my family and friends to know I loved them.

Even my friends and I will say it to each other sometimes.

I'm American, and from the West coast (not sure if that has anything to do with it?).

Lauren said...

My husband and I say it multiple times throughout the day! Even if it's just a quick "Love you babe!" text. It is just so comforting to hear it. I tell my four month old son "I love you" all the time. I'll say "Your mommy and daddy love you soooo much" and he'll just give us a huge smile! I was adopted and my parents said it to me a lot, it really validated their feelings towards me and made me feel safe in our family. I can never say or hear it enough! I tell my girlfriends I love them all the time and I think it catches them off guard, but hey! I love them so they should hear it! :)

liz @ btb said...

I tell my two year old son "I love you, love you, love you!" All day, every day.

Kelli Nakagama said...

I am a fourth generation Japanese-American (so the third generation born in the US) on my dad's side and my mom is Caucasian American. My family rarely says "I love you" or hugs each other. The love is understood but showing/telling it is really awkward. I've actually never hugged my Japanese-American grandmother in my entire life! I think it would be weird to do so.

Teffy Perk said...

I'm from Brazil, and there we say I love you all the time. I say it to my parents and they say it to me, and I say it to my brothers as well. I see no point holding it back if it's true =)

{Teffy's Perks} X

Clementine said...

My family is French, living in NY, and we rarely say we love each other. But it never bothered me that my mother never says she loves me, because I know she does, and she tells me in nonverbal ways. I think it's more meaningful to show someone you love them by caring about them, being attentive to their feelings etc... as opposed to just saying the words. Though I guess you can do both!
We actually kind of make fun of how easily Americans will say it to each other. And I still find it weird when my American friends tell me they love me.

Michelle Chang said...

I'm Chinese-American - I was born and live in the US, but definitely view my Chinese heritage as an integral part of myself. My parents immigrated from China in their 20's and I can recall only one time in my life when one of them (my dad) said "I love you" to me in either Chinese or English (he said it in English). I can't remember ever hearing anyone in my family or anyone in China (when I've visited) saying the phrase to each other.

As for me, I don't think I've ever said it in Chinese. I can only remember saying "I love you" in English to my parents maybe a few times in my life. I say it more often to my closest friends, but I'm still very reserved about it, only expressing my love through the spoken phrase when I really strongly feel like I need to say it (e.g. when I really really want to show my love in all ways possible, or when I know it's what someone that I love needs to hear at that moment). I don't think that's because saying it all the time cheapens it. I think it's just a difference in the way we express love in different cultures. Thinking about saying "I love you" in Chinese already evokes these feelings in me: mushy-ness, tension (anticipating how the other person will react), and embarrassment; it almost feels unnecessarily confrontational. But then I am totally okay seeing others swapping it, and of course I love my parents and friends just as much as those who say "I love you" do.

I also notice that my parents rarely touch in front of me (and others), including kissing and hugging. I've never seen them kiss (not even on forehead/cheek/hair) and I've only seen them hug a few times a month. I'm the complete opposite - I'm a super touchy person when it comes to loved ones. I wonder why that habit didn't transfer to me while not saying "I love you" very often did.

Jesse said...

all day long to my boys! and i ask my husband if he loves me all the time!! ❤❤

http://semiweeklyeats.blogspot.com/2014/02/work-outfit-9.html

Carly said...

My fiancé is Italian and says he never says "I love you" to his parents or siblings, not even when they were kids. He says the exception is during sad times, they may say it. But together (I'm American), we say it often to each other!

jamie said...

I'm from a family of Irish midwesterners on my mom's side and my father was from Chile. My mother's side is fairly affectionate, but my father's side far more so.

To be honest, I know there are thousands of cultural nuances even within New York, but I can't help being vaguely offended when friends aren't quite as affectionate (even things like hugging hello or goodbye).

Fer said...

I say it all the time to my husband :). I'm Brazilian and he is American... I grew up not saying or hearing "I love you", so for me was really hard to say. My husband was the first and only guy I said those amazing three words, and it makes me so happy I can say that to him and hear all the time. Xoxo

Rowena @ rolala loves said...

I'm Chinese and my mom never said I love you to me. She felt that she showed me that she loved me by everything she did for me. I'm actually married to a Chinese man now and we say I love you multiple times to each other every single day. It never gets tired or less meaningful. :)

702parkproject.com said...

Thanks to the tragic death of a family member when I was young, my family has always smothered each other with "I love you"...and luckily my husband is the same way! Whether it's on the phone, via email, or in person, we never part without saying it. I can't imagine it any other way! :)

S said...

I say it to my parents every time I leave the house and I say it to my boyfriend and I say it constantly.

Van said...

I'm a first generation Vietnamese and growing up, I never heard it from my parents, never said it to my parents. It wasn't until recently, after my father's stroke, I started to force myself to say it regularly to them. Even now, it feels strange to say out loud, but I'm hoping in time, it starts to feel normal. It's a cultural and generational thing I guess. I broke the mold. With my current fiance, we exchange our feelings very openly and regularly... because who doesn't love to hear that they are loved?

Noner said...

When I started college years ago, I began saying I love you to my immediate family whenever we before hanging up on the phone or leaving each other (instead of goodbye). Then 5 years later my uncle (we were very close) passed away suddenly. The thing that got me through it was knowing that I had said "i love you" the last time I saw him. Now, it's something my entire Mexican family does with one another. Its a great feeling!

yelizabeta said...

russian. preeetty sure it's a russian thing too but i have lived here since i was six and i love you was never a thing with the fam and/or relatives. that said, my mom recently started saying it...so awkward at first, but now i exchange i love you with her all the time (in english ha!). when we were young, it was implied - i never felt unloved. definitely think culture plays a small part.

my husband is american and with him i'm an "i love you" freak.

ps asking if he loves you is less needy than saying "you don't even love me" lol. which is what i do sometimes. in good humor. of course it's followed by a "you don't even love ME!"

Kim said...

I say those three little words routinely, like when parting or hanging up after a long phone conversation, but I also really like to say "I love you" spontaneously, when I really feel it. Sometimes it seems like when "I love you" is always said in the same context, like when saying goodbye or when being, um, intimate, it's less meaningful than when it's said spontaneously and at unexpected times. That's why I like to mix it up anyway!

JorgenJang said...

So fascinating!!! I come from a European-American family that says "I love you" all the time, and particularly at the end of every telephone conversation. My husband is from a Chinese-American family, and he doesn't recall either his mother or father telling him they loved him until well into his adulthood. He has deep emotional wounds about this that he is still dealing with. He is extremely demonstrative with our kids, but that quote about Chinese parents being used to "educating their children with negative language" is so true, in my husband's experience. Had to share this with him -- thanks, Joanna!

Ashleigh Blatt said...

From the US: I say it all the time to my girls. So much so I am pretty sure my 21 mo that is learning to talk thinks "byeiloveyou" is all one word. She says it when leaving playdates or her classrooms - all the time too.

Roxane Gomez said...

I am French, and saying "I love you" is something that we would never do in my family. Even I, today, would feel extremely shy to tell my mother that I love her (I can't even imagine ever telling it to my father)! Now, I live in the US, with my husband who is American (in the way that he was born and grew up in the US) but comes from a Mexican family who speak only Spanish, and I was so surprised, meeting them for the very first time, that they told me right away that they loved me!! But very fast I understood that they simply said it all the time, while always truly meaning it. So I would say "I love you" to my husband's parents, but not my own. Of course it's also something I do all the time with my husband, in all three languages, every day, at least 10 times a day haha ! And it's something I want to do with my children as well, mostly because I think I sort of wished I had heard it from my own parents when being little.

Margaret said...

I agree with Michelle. My parents are both Chinese and are very emotionally reserved. I never heard "I love you" growing up--or even now. As a parent, I can see how you express love by providing for your child(ren). Why interrupt that constant service with such a bold declaration? It just doesn't seem congruent.

Of course, even though my husband and I are both Chinese, our upbringing in the States make us more open and willing to say that to each other and to our daughter. I wonder why. What a great topic to think about!

Maggie said...
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tracy said...

i think it's definitely a cultural thing. i'm chinese born in the US, and my parents don't say "i love you" very often (if at all) and only sometimes if i have said it first. most of the time they just say, "OK." i think it makes them feel uncomfortable and awkward! though my mom has commented there's no need to say it, because it's understood. but growing up, it would have been nice to hear! that being said, i say it to my husband and daughter daily (if not multiple times a day :). i don't find it meaninglesss, and i want them to know how much they mean to me. my husband is affectionate but he doesn't necessarily SAY the words as often and on his own (e.g not in response to me!). though we say it over IM and email when we're chatting throughout the day so it works out :)

Katrien said...

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Yous-Are-White-People/dp/0061543667

I read this book, 'I love yous are for white people' a while back, it followed along the lines of this conversation.

Making it Anywhere said...

With my family we say it every time we get off the phone. My husband goes to work much earlier than I do, so every morning I text him "i love you" when I wake up, if i get distracted and am late with my text... he gets worried! Then we text it to each other if we know the other is having a busy day, so after rushing around and meetings I'll have that waiting for me. We say it a lot randomly while we are together. He even says it in front of his friends, but we are pretty mushy and just super in love and like to revel in it... (see... mushy)I'm native american and he's regular american.

Kate Harrop said...

ooh! i grew up in europe but i think i'm very american in this. i say it ALL the time. even to my roommates who double as the best friends in the world. :)

Amanda said...

My husband and I say "I love you" every phone call before we hang up, every time one of us leaves the house, and often before we fall asleep. Ever so often we say it at random other times. We have only been married 10 months. ;) My husband is from Africa and I'm from California. I'd say it might be more common for his culture.

Mindy Day said...

I say it to my mum now on the phone as I don't live with her anymore and know she misses me! I might say it to my dad & brother once a year, but I say it to my boyfriend weekly! I am British. My boyfriend is also British and his father has never said that he loves him! so can depend on the family.

Emily said...

I'm Canadian and say it constantly! Every conversation on the phone with my family ends with it and I never part with my family or husband without saying those words...even if I have to chase them down or call them back! I think it stems from a fear of those not being the last words I ever said to them if, God forbid, something were to happen to them or me! My German- Canadian grandparents didn't really use it much if ever. I know they loved us, but never remember hearing it from them.

jo said...

i say it a lot, multiple times a day, to my kids. to my husband usually once a day. we've been married for almost 12 years now and have gone through times where we didn't say it as much. but i like saying it frequently. perhaps because my parents are getting older, i feel the need to let the people who are dear to me know that they are dear to me. i would hate for something to happen to any one of them or to me and for us not to have said, "i love you" the last time we talked, you know?

Eipuriru Chan said...

I am from Hong Kong and when I was 8 my family and I immigrated to Toronto. I have yet to tell my parents "I love you" (neither in Cantonese nor English) in person. I also don't recall them saying it to me. However, I often show my love for them in written forms ;)

Emily said...

I'm Canadian and say it constantly! Every conversation on the phone with my family ends with it and I never part with my family or husband without saying those words...even if I have to chase them down or call them back! I think it stems from a fear of those not being the last words I ever said to them if, God forbid, something were to happen to them or me! My German- Canadian grandparents didn't really use it much if ever. I know they loved us, but never remember hearing it from them.

Leah said...

I love my family and friends dearly but very rarely say those exact words to them. Maybe I should start!
Leah, Ireland

eleni.anne said...

When I was a kid, my family didn't say it all that often. But one time my older brother came back from college and started saying it every time he said goodbye because we never know when it will be our last goodbye, so you should always let people know how you feel. Now everyone in my family says it whenever we leave, get off the phone, etc. And I often say it just whenever I feel it :)

Manda said...

This is something I feel good about.

I tell my Husband I love him after every phone call and every time we part ways. And honestly,quite often out of the blue.

It took my awhile to get comfortable saying it regularly to my Parents and Sister as I got older- but now I'm in a comfortable place with it.

I'm plain ole white, American. :)

Tracey said...

When saying goodbye on the phone or in person, most of my family is pretty consistent in saying "I love you." It might sound morbid, but you never know what could happen and you never know if those are the last words you'll ever say to them. I've definitely called my mom back to say it if I forget. I kinda think it's sad some people don't say it often or at all. It's just nice to hear.

Lívia Ikeda said...

I'm from Brazil and I tell my husband and 1-year-old daughter that I love them daily. I also ask my husband if he loves me every night. It is so nice to hear and say.

Bethanne said...

i am from america, my husband is english. his family didn't say it as much, and so he doesn't say it very often. I grew up in a household that stated those words all the time, and i still do! We know the ways in which the other expresses love. So we always feel it:)

Bethanne said...

i am from america, my husband is english. his family didn't say it as much, and so he doesn't say it very often. I grew up in a household that stated those words all the time, and i still do! We know the ways in which the other expresses love. So we always feel it:)

Anitra Sweet said...

My grandfather was full Norwegian and my dad never heard I love you from his folks... not one time. Which is sad. My dad as he gets older, doesn't say it as much either. We text it :) My mom def says it all the time and I say it to my kids all the time! My hubby and I say it daily but sometimes it's just so casual I don't feel the strength of it. I also make sure I say the word "I". Adds more punch! :)

... said...

Interesting post and comments!

I'm Norwegian and my family never say I love you, even though we would go through fire and water for each other. I would be very worried if my parents said it, maybe something would be wrong or someone would be sick?

My husband says it sometimes but not often, he once told me after a fight that he loved me madly and it's something I really remember. He also said it in our wedding. I say it sometimes to our baby, but I would say "mamma loves you" to make it easier to say.

We have a phrase that would be translated to I care about you, that is common to write in cards. "Jeg er glad i deg!"

I think you would like social/cultural anthropology, Joanna!
Hanne M.

Jenny Ramion said...
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{Monika} said...

I'm from Poland and I say "I love you" a lot :) And so does my family, my parents, cousin etc but not so much the rest of Polish people.. or my husband who is Norwegian ;) For some reason its to much, or embarrassing, people don't know how to say it or how to respond to such open share of feelings. Which is to bad.

Emily said...

I'm Canadian, but my dad is Macedonian-Greek and my mom grew up in a tense 1950s Montreal household with parents who were too busy partying to show affection. As a result, I don't think I've ever heard an "I love you" from my parents or sister, although we are very close! I feel very uncomfortable and hesitant to say it to anyone, even my friends. I STILL haven't said it to my amazing boyfriend of a year, even though I want so badly to say it every day... it just feels so unnatural. I hate this and I wish I felt more comfortable expressing myself. I do, however, say it to my cat constantly when no one else is around :)

Rhiannon K. said...

This is such an interesting topic. I have said I love you to my grandparents my entire life. I don't know if I ever remember saying it to my parents, or them to me very often. My husband and I say it every day, so I hope I do a better job of telling my own children. I think it's a phrase that can't be used enough to encourage and uplift!

Mary Schaubert said...

I loved reading these comments!! I say it constantly, my husband and I even say I love you when we're signing off instant messenger (we often chat while we're both at work.) Also, I have a sweet friend who wanted to start all our group of friends saying it to one another - at first it was a little weird, and he totally sprung it on me on the phone once. He said "i love you" before we hung up and I was so taken off guard because he's my husband's best friend! When I asked him about it later he said it was something he was going to start doing with all our friends, because he did love us. So I've started doing the same with all my friends and girlfriends as well.

kimberly m. said...

I tell friends and family a lot. But I realize now I don't think I've ever asked someone if they love me- something about that is scary. Like I don't want them to have a negative response. or hesitate. or pause... making me doubt them. I'll just assume they do. I'll be happier that way.

kimberly m. said...
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Lauren Cormier Taylor said...

My husband and I say it all the time. Multiple times per day - out loud, over email, in text messages, etc. And every time, it makes me smile. I say it to my parents whenever I get off the phone with them, or leave after visiting them, or whatever. I think people should say it all the time! Spread the love! :)

Janice Poulsen said...

I am Canadian!!! To my husband and grown children I say, "I love you!" often. For sure every time I leave the house....at the end of every phone call I say good bye with that phrase....and always before I go to bed at night. "I love you" is part of my every day language....I always say it and mean it...and I am not ashamed of it:) I hope when I am dead and gone my loved ones will remember and be able to close their eyes and remember by voice, "I love you!!"

Stephanie W said...

I grew up in a family that said "I love you" to each other multiple times per day - when we left for the day, when we were being tucked into bed, when we brought home a good grade, saying goodbye on the phone, etc...My parents were always open with their emotions towards each other (good & also bad which I have realized as an adult was not always the healthiest thing for a child to witness) and towards my sister and me. I would describe our family as very passionate - we feel love, happiness, sadness & anger very deeply and have a need to express it. When I was in college, in my second serious relationship, the guy I was with told me that he felt saying "I love you" in every day life took away its meaning and that it should only be used in special circumstances. I hated not being able to express my feelings for him verbally when I felt them and, among other things, this contributed to our relationship ending. In my current relationship (that is 7 years strong) we say "I love you" all the time and I wouldn't have it any other way: every time we hang up the phone, the last thing we say to each other when we go to sleep, when we're cuddling on the couch feeling warm inside and out, when one of us makes the other laugh and feels that surge of happiness and love for our partner...I think verbally expressing our feelings every day - even after we've been cranky and gotten into an argument - helps us to always remember how much our relationship means and that we love each other no matter what.

Erin said...

What a fabulous post, and terrific comments. I've really enjoyed reading this.

I'm a New Englander married to a Mexican-American, and we say I love you constantly in our house. I actually try to stop myself sometimes, because I do worry about it becoming noise. But the thing is, I say it when I feel it, and I feel that brimming over love many many times a day. I also think it's not a bad practice for living a loving life, so long as - as many people have said here - it is true and meaningful and your actions correspond to your words. Wonderful conversation!

MelanieKPrice said...

I say it so much to my almost three year old that I am sure she has mastered the eye roll by now.

I tell my hubby every day and I too, ask him if he loves me. Usually during my insecure, emotional moments.

I grew up in California so the 'I love you' in families (at least mine) is said pretty often. I do have a few friends who are a bit conservative with their I love yous to their family. One gal is from Minnesota and the other Wyoming. Not sure if there is a relation there?

I tell me GF's that I love them all the time too. Maybe I'm just an old sap...

Nicole said...

I don't think saying it too often cheapens it - my dad started to say it at the end of every phone conversation suddenly, and the last day I spent with him (he died suddenly and unexpectedly two years ago) he told me he loved me with tears in his eyes. I take comfort in knowing we told each other that we loved one another in our last few moments together, and appreciate how important those three little words can be.

HannahT said...

I always try to say I love you when I leave a family member/close friend or get off the phone. It's a little morbid, but often I think -- you never know what could happen and I'd feel terrible if the last thing I said to that person wasn't I love you.

Khadeeja Ashai said...
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Carrie said...

I'm a Detroiter and say I love you to my husband more times than I can count. Thankfully he says it just as much unprompted (although sometimes I do ask ;) ).

Carole said...

I think a lot of how we use (or don't use) those words stems from our upbringing.

Never a day went by that my mother didn't tell me that she loved me. Sometimes several times a day. When she passed away (I was fifteen), I had no doubt that I had been loved (and wanted).

My father was the opposite. It wasn't until I was in my late 30s and he was ill that he ever uttered those words. No problem showing his anger, but not so great on the flip side. He was an older generation of Italian, and hadn't been raised to show affection or offer praise. I don't think he knew how. How can you know if you've never experienced it?

Although that said, due to his part in my upbringing, I'm very slow to use those words myself. I'm not sure why, because I had my mother to counter balance all of that.

My husband says it every day, and usually more than once. I know he wishes that I did the same.

Kate said...

Growing up, my mom said it to me all the time (and lots of hugs), but I never heard it from my father. I remember once when I was home visiting from college, telling him that I loved him and I only got an awkward silence. I've since convinced him that hugs are ok. My parents were never very affectionate toward each other while I was growing up. When I met my husband's parents I was first embarrassed and then in awe at how affectionate they were toward each other.

My husband and I have a silly saying "I love your guts" that we use quite often, in addition to the regular "I love you". When we have kids, I plan on saying it all the time. I want them to know that I love them, even if it annoys them.

My sister and her husband are much more conservative with affection, and once, when I told my 10 year old nephew I loved him, he awkwardly said "Thanks". I'm not even sure he understands the saying, which I find really sad.

I now make it a point to tell my parents, in-laws, and sisters that I love them whenever we end a phone conversation or part ways.

Catherine Fishback said...

I grew up in a family that says it all the time. My husband (born and raised in America, but of German heritage) grew up in a family that is very opposite. He said his Dad can count on one hand the number of times he's said it to his mom. We've found a happy medium in our marriage, where we only say it when we really feel it (usually ends up being 1-4 times a month). And honestly, I'm usually the one to initiate it with him following with a coy, quiet "Iloveyoutoo". At first, this bugged me but now I like that it's reserved for more special times. I feel it makes it more meaningful. When we have kids though, I'll probably shower them with "I love you"s all the day long.

Mina said...

I say it every time I talk to my family and tell my husband at least once per day! I was raised in America but my dad is from Iran and both my parents told me they loved me everyday of my childhood.

Jennie said...

My family did this funny thing when, out of the blue, one of my parents would just shout, "Love everybody!" and we would all reply in unison, "Love everybody!"
We said "I love you" all the time to each other, but those loud shouts are among my most favorite memories of being a child. Now that my parents are divorced, I treasure moments when love was proclaimed to the collective - as auditory reminders that at one time, my parents loved each other enough to shout it to us all!

Amanda Schroeder said...

All. the. time. #cantstopwontstop

Kristen said...

All the time to my husband and he says it to me constantly too. I'm From CT and he's from MN. My mom (she's of Polish heritage) rarely said it and vice versa, but since I moved away we say it every time we speak. My dad (he's of Italian heritage) only when I see him in person. It's funny though I almost never physically show signs of affection to my mom, but I always hug my dad. My sisters and I never share the expression, but show physical signs of affection when were together.

Brianna Aspelund said...

I am 21 and still live in Alaska with my alaskan native/swedish family. We will randomly hug each other more than explicitly say I love you. While getting ready for the day or while getting dinner prepared we will hug each other. Saying I love you is said more before someone leaves for a long trip, arrives from a trip, and more frequently to younger kids.

Jenny said...

We say it all the time. I am English and my husband is German and we say it every time we go to work and every night when we go to sleep.

Growing up we often said it to our parents and heard it from them but more often from my mother and not every day. I think I've heard it more from my Dad since I was about 17 and he and my mum divorced. He's definititely mellowed.

Now I always say this to family on the phone when we hang up (I live in Germany and they are in England)

I find it so important, I never want to have forgotten to say it if it turns out to be the last time I speak to someone, as morbid as that sounds.

I don't think it makes it meaningless - it's reassuring. :-)

joanna.lai said...

I'm Chinese-Canadian, and having immigrated as a kid we definitely didn't say 'I love you' at all. My mum would often say things like, "Do you know how precious you are to me?" and my dad would sometimes tell me that he missed me when he was away, but never straight up "I love you". In fact, hugs are rarely used in our family to convey affection. You could imagine my dad's surprise when my boyfriend (American) gave him a big friendly hug during Christmas this year!

joanna.lai said...

I'm Chinese-Canadian, and having immigrated as a kid we definitely didn't say 'I love you' at all. My mum would often say things like, "Do you know how precious you are to me?" and my dad would sometimes tell me that he missed me when he was away, but never straight up "I love you". In fact, hugs are rarely used in our family to convey affection. You could imagine my dad's surprise when my boyfriend (American) gave him a big friendly hug during Christmas this year!

A French Cloud said...

my parents never said it to me growing up (that I can remember...) but I say it all the time to my family.

Melissa said...

I'm Chinese American and I'm so lucky my parents say it all the time. Even when hanging up the phone.

Karli said...

I'm American and my family grew up saying it a lot to one another. My brother also passed away suddenly when I was a teenager and I think in the back of my mind I am afraid when I get off the phone with my loved ones it might be the last time I talk to them so I always want to make sure I tell them that I love them.

stacie schaat said...

My love language is "words of affirmation", but my husband's is "acts of service". He tells me he loves me all the time by doing the dishes, grocery shopping, etc. What's interesting, is that as each of us has tried to speak each other's love language, it makes it that much more meaningful. When he makes the effort to verbally say "I love you" often, I know how much he really means it, because he's doing it for me.

msn said...

Hello,

I was born and raised in France but my parents are from Tunisia. They never said loud that they loved me, but I felt loved for sure. Now, I am happily married and I have a 2 year-old and I keep saying "je t'aime" to him. As for my husband, we say "je t'aime" quite often especially when we feel it but not every day because for us, words are strong of course but acts are more powerful. And also, I feel if I start to say it everyday, it's like saying " bonjour!".

Siheme , Florida (moving to mMryland in March yeah !!! :-))

Rebekah said...

My dad is Japanese and my mom was American. They were married and lived in Japan my first 10 years of life. My mother was very verbal in her affections and I heard "I love you" a lot from her. Although I knew my dad loved me, he never initiated saying "I love you" to me.
But if I said it first, he would respond with an "I love you too"...for some reason that's a lot easier to say I think. But after my mom was killed in a car accident when I was in my early 20s, my dad and I became close...and now he will initiate "I love you" when we say goodbye as he gives me a big hug. Losing his wife has brought out a tenderness in him and a realization that being strong doesn't necessarily mean not expressing affection. I'm 35 now and I am still slightly surprised but delighted every time he tells me "I love you".

JJshorteee said...

My family and I grew up in China and we do NOT express our feelings verbally to each other. My mom only started hugging and kissing me and telling me that she was proud of me when I was in high school. I knew that she loved me, obviously, but our culture just isn't used to expressing our feelings out loud. She grew up during China's cultural revolution, and it was considered inappropriate for couples to even hold hands in public! Now that we've lived in the US for 2 decades, we almost always say I love you in English at the end of every phone conversation :)

JJshorteee said...

My family and I grew up in China and we do NOT express our feelings verbally to each other. My mom only started hugging and kissing me and telling me that she was proud of me when I was in high school. I knew that she loved me, obviously, but our culture just isn't used to expressing our feelings out loud. She grew up during China's cultural revolution, and it was considered inappropriate for couples to even hold hands in public! Now that we've lived in the US for 2 decades, we almost always say I love you in English at the end of every phone conversation :)

Abby said...

I say "I love you" to my fiance every couple of days, often when we're falling asleep. With my parents and sister, though, it still feels hard to say, since we hardly ever said it growing up. Usually we'll say it if one of us is going on a long trip, especially now that my sister and I live away from home. My mom in particular grew up in a very "austere" (her word) home full of proper Anglo-Saxon folk, so maybe that's why!

christi said...

So interesting to read all these responses! Most of a few generations of my family have been born/lived stateside, but my British grandmother was always slowest to say it of anyone, and it was very special when she did.

My husband and I say it back and forth all through the day. I'm the affectionate youngest child in my family, and they all tell I'm lucky to have found someone who not only takes all that affection but gives it back!

not to write an essay, but my dad says it often (as does my mother), and he also used to say, jokingly, "you love me so much you can't even stand yourself." which is true. and now I find myself saying it to my husband, and he usually replies back that it's true. :)

Nique Etienne said...

I say it all the time and honestly only expect to hear it back from my mom and my brother. My grandmother would only write it and never say it. Usually when I say it there is an awkward silence or a "oh yeah me too" (really because they think silence is more awkward).
Family, gotta love em'.

Sangeetha said...

I am from India. I have never said "I love you" to my mom or dad ever. I have never regretted it either. Because we always knew we loved each other and there was no need for saying the words to reinforce the feeling. I have never heard my friends say "I love you" either. I guess it is a cultural thing.
We live in the US now.I have a four year old and say it to him all the time. I do the same to my husband too! But still never go back and say it my parents. I am not sure how they will take it when I say it aloud!

Emily Getty said...

I say it several times a day to my husband! I think he thinks it cheapens it a bit when it feels like I'm saying to him so often, but I can't help it! I am from America (MN! go Midwest!) and grew up hearing it from my parents and family members. Last weekend I heard my 4 year-old niece say to my brother, "Always remember that I love you!" It was the sweetest thing. :)

Caitlin Kelley said...

I was raised in a house that was overall not too lovey. I am the youngest and the only girl and now that we have all grown up and moved across the country I always want my brothers to know how much I love them even from far away. I always say I love you at the end of our phone conversations and they say they love me back but I don't think any of them have ever initiated an "I love you" to me. I also highly doubt my brothers ever say I love you to one another- guess it might be a gender thing?

reveuse said...

My family is from China. We don't say "I love you" at all... but funnily enough, although my boyfriend has the same frigid Chinese upbringing, we say I love you to each other all the time!

Mlle Chêne said...

I'm French. In my family we don't say "Je t'aime" that much. Only for special occasion.
But with my husband we did it more, but not in public, it's very an intimate sentence.
When I was aupair in US my host family was saying "I Love You" all the time!(it was more like "LOV YA" very fast at any moment). It was weird to me.
But I think behaviours are changing in France. Today young parents are saying Je t'aime to their children more often.
But I still be surprised when my nephew is telling me he loves me, even if I thought it was too much in US, I prefer to say it daily it helps you to express your feelings.

Unknown said...

interesting. in my mother tongue, which is luxembourgish, there is no verb for love. you say - i like you. and mostly only couples do! i can't recall my parents telling me - they used other phrases like "i am proud of you" / "well done" / "i am so happy you are my daughter". That being said, I specifically recall a discussion with my father when I was about 8 years old, never to use the word "hate".

now i live with my husband and 18th month old daughter in rome, italy. my daughter is called "amore" by strangers on a daily basis and a few days ago while shopping with a friend, she stopped in the middle of the conversation because her italian partner send her a text telling her how much he loves her.

i admit it must be nice to ear even an "i like you" more often! i will keep it in mind! ;)

Vikike said...

Hi Im from Budapest, Hungary. In my language I love you is used in strickly romantic sense. Thats why we dont say it to our parents!

nina | itsazooatthezoo.blogspot.com said...

I'm Euro-American and my husband is 1st generation Chinese-American. We say I love you to our children all the time, constantly, even my husband. But, we rarely say it to each other. We used to say it all the time, but we since have had discussions where we felt saying it all the time to each other felt meaningless. This was more coming from him, but I went with it and understood it. He always felt that it was more important to show his love by doing things for me rather than saying it. So now, we only say we love each other when we're really, truly feeling it. It doesn't happen often, but when it does, it's very powerful. It holds a lot more meaning. When we say we I love you to our children, we're really feeling it right then. That love connection is so incredibly strong, more so than any love I've ever felt so I feel that all the time and want to say it!
Daily, I feel my husband's love for me when he gets me a glass of water without me asking or draws me a bath when he knows I'm not feeling good or giving me a massage without asking. These are the proofs that he loves me.
He grew up never saying I love you to his parents or sisters. They still haven't. It's part of their culture and it's silly to fight that. It's a strong part of his culture that I need to respect. I see their love for each other in the things they do for each other.
Excellent topic!

Veronica said...

I say it all the time to my husband, daughter, and parents. (And them to me.) Not to my friends though.

While I suppose it is somewhat more of a habitual thing at times, it is also an accurate depiction of how I feel for them and I think it's great.

Also, saying "I love you" to my husband as we leave, especially after a more challenging morning getting ourselves and our toddler out the door, can almost remind me how much it is true and kind of set me at peace as I drive off. For my daughter to see love expressed between us and for her can only be a positive thing.

Nicole Lam said...

I say it all the time to my boys and my husband. Especially every night before bed, multiple times. We exchange our usual mantra "Goodnight, love you, sweet dreams." And every now and then, my 4-yr-old will just out of the blue go, "I love you, mommy" with all the sincerity his little heart can muster. Then my heart bursts and I immediately tell him just as sweetly that I love him very much, too. And don't even get me started when my 2-yr-old says it. Talk about heart melting.

Interestingly enough, my husband is from Taiwan and we've always said we loved each other throughout our entire (18 year) relationship. And his mom has always told him that she loved him, especially when they get off the phone, she'll just say "ai(I) ni(knee)," which is "I love you" in Chinese. And she always tells me that she loves me, too and gives the biggest hugs. His dad said it, too, but maybe not as much, but he always had some sweet, loving Chinese nickname for my husband so that even if he didn't say it, you knew they just loved him so, so much and were so very proud of him. So that's really interesting to me about the cultural aspect of it because to me and my family and my husband's, it's always been said.

Lucie said...

I am from the Czech republic and we don't say "I love you" to our parents or relatives at all. I find it unnecessary. We said "I like you" which in fact means in our language actually the same thing as "I love you". It means I like your personality, not just how you look. And in fact we don't say it as much as people do in America. And I find it comfortable. We said I love you just to our partner and I think it's good enough.

Brittany said...

I have just left home so don't have kids of my own but with my siblings (all younger than me) they would mockingly say 'yuck' or 'ew' if I said that, and my Mum would probably say 'yeah whatever' (again, as a joke - in no way mean). I grew up in Hong Kong though and this post is spot on - no one here (or the very local families, not the families that have western ideals and values) says I love you or shows any kind of affection except towards their boyfriend in the early stages of their relationship.

Wens said...

I'm Australian, my parents are American and we never said it to each other growing up. I have 2 sisters and 1 brother and we are all incredibly close, in fact our whole family gets along amazingly well, but we hardly say "I love you". We were never told not to, it just wasn't said much, although I felt it strongly always and still do. They are special words.

Gina said...

I don't usually say "I love you" to my parents and brother and they neither do, but I try to tell them from time to time. The only person I tell is my grandma, I have to tell her I love her every time I see her, cause I really feel in the mood to say "I love you". My last boyfriend used to tell me he loved me everyday, but for me it's really difficult. I think it's important to tell your beloved ones you love them but it's much more important to demonstrate love in spite of just telling "I love you".

JennFlagg said...

My family was always an "I love you" family, when parting, and when saying goognight.

When I was 14 my father passed away tragically, and ever since then I always say "I love you" when parting. I learned how fleeting everything can be and so I always say it when parting. God forbid it be the last time.

With my husband I do ask him, if he loves me often, just to be cute. It is fun, I sing it now, "Do you love me?", and he sings "yes I do!"

Ladybird Johnson said...

Oh man, I say it all the time! To my husband (many times a day... like at least 10x/day, in person or in text), to my pets (no kids yet, but if pets are any indication, my future kids are in for some serious love talk), to my parents (both parents, who I talk to daily, and from whom I live about 10 minutes away), to my brother whenever I talk to him (once a week?), to my friends (you know, my dear, long-term friends), to random kittens and puppies, to my friends' babies.

For sociological data purposes, I'm 34, female, American, caucasian, of German and Scottish descent, and I'm an attorney.

Ladybird Johnson said...

Forgot to say - my parents started the whole "I love you" as a way of ending a conversation, or before leaving or going to bed. Their parents weren't affectionate (or supportive, really), and they wanted me and my brother to know just how much they love and value us. And it worked.

My husband's family never said it to each other, but since he and I have been together, he has started saying it to his mom, which I think is sweet. She seemed surprised when he started doing it, but I think she likes it.

It's funny how expressing emotion, even if it's a fact, can make people uncomfortable. I think it's really great, though, to express it. I understand the argument that you don't need to say it all the time if you're related to people, because it's assumed, but I think that's a dangerous way of thinking. It might lead to loving your family but not liking them. Whereas if you constantly remind yourself, and them, that you love them, then you're more likely to enjoy their company, and like them as human beings. It takes work to be kind to people, and saying I love you might make it easier.

Georgia Christakis said...

Joanna, my English boyfriend said the EXACT same thing! When he first said it, a few months into our relationship, that was his exact explanation as to why he wouldn't say it all the time.

Now we both say I love you pretty much every time we get off the phone; it's a left over habit from when we were wicked long-distance and we'd only call each other when one of us was boarding a flight to let the other know they were on their way! And he definitely doesn't ration out the verbal affection anymore. I suppose an American girl has that effect on British fellows :)

Sarah Fujiuchi said...

I think culture definitely has a part in this. My (Japanese) husband never says it with his family (also never hugs, kisses, etc). I always thought it was bizarre when we'd go visit them once or twice a year not even to hug hello and goodbye. On the flip side, he could not be any more loving or affectionate with our own children and me as well.

Milena said...

Hey, I´m from Germany and we have another phrase here for family, it´s "ich hab Dich lieb" which is not so strong like ILoveY but stronger than "I like you". ILoveY is usually reserved for your partner in a romantic meaning.

Chetna Singh said...

Joanna..it is such a culture based thing. I grew up in India and we never said "I love you"..doesn't mean that we did not love each other. The only time I said "love you" was when my mother was in the ICU in critical condition after a bypass and she squeezed my hand back..I'll take that over any" love you". Having said that, I do say it to my kids and my husband a lot..and sometimes I wonder if they even appreciate it..it's almost like a hello? But, I do love hearing it back! There is no right or wrong about it..do what your heart tells you and long as there is love ..you are just fine!

mfelenyuk said...

I'm Ukrainian and I can count on one hand how many times I have heard "I love you" in my family. We are family, of course we love each other, I don't need a verbal confirmation of it. My mom now says "we love you" sometimes, but it creeps me out.

I do say it to my american husband, but not very often, maybe when leaving for the airport, or after he's had a bad day. I think saying it often cheapens it and it becomes just a habit. At least for me.

On a not related note, we also never say we are proud of you or anything like that, it's just assumed, no daily/weekly confirmation needed.

lynn said...

This is such an interesting topic. My father was from an Italian background and was very loving. I say "I love you" many times daily to my loved ones. On a funny side topic, I accidentally said "I love you" to my friend when I hung up from a phone conversation with her because it's such a common practice to say it in our home! I was pretty embarrassed but she gamely said it back! Ha! My husband, who comes from a Scottish background, shows emotion grudgingly and he doesn't really say "I love you" unless I say it first. In fact I often say "Permission to approach?" before going in for a hug because he's that skittish. And lastly, my mother's mother never hugged her or said she loved her which I find so sad being a mother myself now.

Jo Waterhouse said...

Yes - daily, if not more.
My Jack told me he loved me before we even got together.

spidermonkeytwo said...

I'm from Ireland. My family doesn't have a problem saying I love you but I did up until my dad got sick a year ago. Now we say it all the time.

Joy said...

I'm from New Zealand. I tell my 18 month old a lot and always when I put him to bed. I don't say it to my husband every day but definitely every week.

I totally get the "do you love me?" question. Especially as a pregnant gal.

Kate said...

When my (now) fiance were a few months into saying "I love you" he was on the phone with someone at a bank or the cable company or something and as he hung up he said "Bye, love you." to the poor confused girl on the other end of the line. It was hilarious! It was like accidentally calling your teacher "mom" when you were little.

But we say it before we go to sleep, when we leave for work, and when getting off the phone. Can't have it enough!

abigail jane schrag said...

Like you, I say it to my daughters and husband constantly. I also ask my husband if loves me, which does feel needy and silly. I also say I love you at the end of every conversation with my parents. I am a part Canadian/American who lives in Washington, but I have lived in China for many years before. I am naturally inclined to express love and would always tell my Chinese co workers that I valued their friendship and would sometimes even tell them I loved them. Most would respond uncomfortably but others (the younger generation) would show the affection back. But between familial love, it's so hard to see because they are so private. I think Chinese would rather show their love through duty and gifts than verbally.

kelly said...

i say it to my husband everyday. i say it to my dog every 2 minutes. :)

growing up, my dad once punished me by forcing me to tell my mom i loved her and i refused. i would not say it. i'm pretty sure no one in my family has ever said it to each other.

i'm a halfer-- mexican & white.

Linzy said...

We always say "I love you," when we say good bye- going on a trip, hanging up the phone, leaving for work- even if you are fighting. It's a bit morbid but when I asked my mom she said that we say it because we want the other person to know it, but also so that if that ends up being the last time you ever see them, you know exactly what your final words to them were. And she was right. My grandmother and my mother are both gone now, and I know exactly what the last words I spoke to them were.

100857970824211404384 said...

As someone not born in the US, with family who were not from the US, I definitely did not grow up hearing and saying "I love you" often. I began saying it more as I grew up in the US, and my also family adjusted to saying it more often as well, but I believe it doesn't feel as natural for them.

I'm definitely a person who doesn't say "I love you" unless I mean it. I firmly believe that "I love you" should not be used to mean "please" or "thank you," or the like, as it seems to be used. However, I think I would be fine with saying it more often, but only if I meant it. I fall into the camp of people who believe that saying "I love you" too often cheapens it.

Gaby Morales said...

Hi! Im'm from Buenos Aires, Argentina and We say it a lot, but I think it is our generation the one tha actually says the words, when I was a little girl, my parents wouldn't say it much altough they were vere affectionate phisically. Me and my husband say it all the time, and I agree, It can lose some power in the sound, but not in the meaning. When my three year old boy says "Te amo, mami" the second before he falls sleep, it melts my heart, I wouldn´t have it any other way. I rather make it part of our everyday language than having to ait to hear it.

Janan said...

Growing up with my American Mom and Nicaraguan/American Dad we said I love you a lot. Sometimes lightly and sometimes with more meaning. I hated being told to tell someone that I loved them though. Now, the Husband, I and the 4 kiddos say it just as much, more maybe:) I do try never to make them say it. (like I had to) Dear friends that are faraway will get an I love you at the end of phone conversations too.

Jamie said...

I'm Chinese, born in the US but brought up in Hong Kong. Growing up, my family never said I love you to each other. We would say it through our actions and other words or phrases like "I care about you", but specifically the word "love" was not used. Hong Kong, probably one of the most westernized city in China, being a former British colony, is still at the heart a Chinese city with traditional Confucian values. Family means duty. You were filial to your parents and elders - that was the Chinese way of expressing "love" the family unit. "Love" meaning honor and respect in that sense.

Being back in the US for almost 10 years, I notice that people say "I love you" a lot. My boyfriend who is a second generation Filipino-American says "I love you" all the time, he grew up in a family that says it multiple times daily. He and I say it to each other everyday because that is the way he is used to expressing his love. He still doesn't understand why I don't say it to my family. I don't verbalize it with those specific words but I know they know I love them in my actions and hugs and they know the same from me.

Sam said...

I've never counted the times I say it to my husband, but I would guess probably a 100 times a day at least. I don't feel like it "cheapens" it at all. As many others have stated, I would hate for something terrible to happen and to feel like I didn't express it enough. My dog probably hears it at least 20 times a day as well.

Jamie said...

2

Christine said...

I am the child of immigrants, my mom from Vietnam and dad from Hong Kong. They came here a few years before I was born in the early 80s. Growing up, I don't think they ever said "I love you" to us, but we always knew it by the other things they would say to encourage us as well as by how hard they worked to give us the things they never had. Providing for us and sacrificing was how they showed us their love.

Now that I am married and have a 1 year old, I tell my husband and daughter everyday that I love them.

Pauline Kiwii said...

Hi ! I really love your post and the fact that everybody feel concerned. I had a great moment reading all the comments !
Thank you for all the love <3

For my part, I'm French. My parents as far as I can remember never tell me they love me, and I never tell them either. It is like this in our family.
But since I have a boyfriend, I learn to say it. As I'm in a long distance relationship, say I love you at phone is really important to me. In case something really bad happen, I would like the last sentence heard is I love you.
Now, I sometimes say it to my parents, but they may have some chinese blood, because they answer I must be drunk too !

Lorin Yin said...

I'm Taiwanese and work often in China. More and more, young people will say "I love you" to their significant others, spouses, their children. But the older generation (maybe over 40? Especially over 50.)

The older generation are still uncomfortable with verbalizing their feelings like this. But at the same time, they also don't kiss in public, or hug, either.

But I feel this attitude is changing and I feel it's a good thing.

Gina said...

I was raised in a Vietnamese household, and my parents never said "I love you" either. I remember asking them about it and my mom matter-of-factly said, "We don't say I love you by saying it. We say I love you by the things we do." And it's true, my parents always provided for me and they always made sure I was taken care of. I think my questioning it resonated with my mom for some reason, now they say "I love you" all the time. It's a cultural thing.

Now that I'm married, I say it all the time to my husband (and my dog). I plan on saying it all the time to my kids when I have them. It's a nice phrase to hear every once in a while.

Paige said...

I think I tell my husband I love him every 15 minutes or so. I'm just always thinking it...and it pops out! And I tell my parents in emails and any time we talk on the phone. (I'm American)

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