Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Tip #42: I Love You

I LOVE YOU. Three simple words forming a very simple sentence that consists of a subject (I), a verb (love), and an object (you). We hear it on a constant basis via songs, television, family members, and from loved ones (if you are lucky enough). However, this simple little sentence is remarkably potent and loaded with emotion, be it spoken or written. In the English language it is a very definitive and bold statement, but ironically millions upon millions of people vocalize throughout their daily lives that they "love" a certain song, that they "love" chocolate cheesecake, or that they "love" their favorite television show, thus stripping the value of the word love when it comes to inanimate objects, types of media & entertainment, or a romantically unattainable person...weird, huh?

But saying "I love you" to a person with whom you have deep feelings for can, and is, be a very daunting affair, especially for the first time! For most it is a positively terrifying ordeal, and in some cases relationships have fallen apart because neither person took the initiative to take the "I love you" sad...

An important lesson I once learned from watching the television show Ugly Betty is that: Not saying I love you to a lover first is not a sign of power, it is a sign of being afraid. So true! Declaring honest love to someone should never be a competition or a power struggle, it is just honest declaration of one's love toward another...and naturally vulnerability is at a an all time high, flat-out rejection is a huge risk, and emotions are raw like an exposed nerve.

Of course, the biggest concern is what if he/she is not at the same point in the relationship and might only reply, "Oh...that's nice..." or worse, laugh right in your face! The worrier's imagination will run wild. On the flip side, if you are the receiver of the first "I love you," this puts you on the spot and at an awkward position for a reaction. It's just one of those threshold points in a growing relationship that is not unlike, "Will you go out with me?"/"Will you sleep with me?"/or "Will you marry me?" Each stage being marked by an awkward moment potentially laden with rejection.

But a lot of this has to do with language and romantic culture. To drive home an example, let us take a trip back to France...beecawze, werr aye am frum, wee arr zee luverz, not zee fyterz! Oui, Oui! Actually, did you know that in the "official country of romance" there is no such phrase for "I love you"? It's true! Instead, there is an echelon that exists ranging from "I like you" to "I adore you." It pretty much goes like this:

  • Je t'aime bien = I like you well (used on a quasi-friendly basis)
  • Je t'aime = I like you (the root term)
  • Je t'aime beaucoup = I like you a lot
  • Je t'aime trop = I like you too much
  • Je t'aime à folie = I like you to madness (Whoa!)
  • Je t'adore = I adore you
Quite simply, in the French language there is a noun for "love," amour, but no verb for it. However, the closest approximation to "I love you" as we know here comes in two forms:

  • Je t'aime, tu sais = Translation: I like you, you know that? (equal to the initial "I love you" in a budding relationship by ending the statement with a question that needs to be answered)
  • Je t'aime, mon amour/coeur = I like you, my love/heart. (The simple "I love you" seasoned couples share on a (hopefully) daily basis. 
So there...that's the French lesson for the day! Now let's examine what the hierarchy of love terms is for the anglophone languages: 

  • I like you
  • I like-like you/I like you very much
  • I really like you
  • I love you
  • I love you to pieces
  • I adore you (can also be construed as a friendly compliment by adding the word "simply" into the phrase, as in: "I simply adore you!")
Now, don't get me wrong...the different awkward stages of a relationship do exist in France and in the world over, but I'm just pointing out that there is a different and gradual nuance in play here that makes the transition from "like" to "love" in a highly passionate country is always assumed and is the main goal of the relationship...not a milestone or a hurdle to clear.

You are now probably thinking to yourself, that's all fine and good, ya Frog, but how the hell is this a tip that will help me...I don't live in France!!!


The tip is this: Don't make sharing the first "I love you's" such an ordeal or hurdle. Like the French, you need to gradually introduce the "L" word into your relationship's vocabulary. Start small, maybe ending a letter with "Love, [insert name here]" and women alike always pause to ponder over the meaning behind that signature sentiment like giddy school children. If you disagree with this then you are either lying or overusing the word "love" in your everyday communicative practices, thus lessening its emotional power. 

Another way to work in the "L" word into the relationship is to use it in a heartfelt compliment: "I love the way you said that," "I love it when you wear that perfume," "I love the way you look tonight," or "I love how you howl at the full moon." This does work me. Once, a certain someone I find myself pining over said to me over casual dinner conversation, "I love you for having a zippo lighter when you don't even smoke anymore!" (It's always a good idea to have a source of fire on you at all times) My heart was aflutter for a full week from that sentence. It was small and an insignificant comment, and in no way a grandiose declaration of any amorous intent, but the language it was framed in really touched me. She could have simply stated: "I find it rather interesting that you carry around a fully fueled, old fashioned mechanical flame starter when you clearly do not require it for recreational tobacco use."

Moreover, if you do find yourself in the awkward "I love you" moment you must use the utmost tact and grace as to not upset and/or embarrass your lover. Let me share with you the first time a girl told me "I love you" and the awkward moment that followed as a preface...

It was the hot and tumultuous Summer of 1994 and I have been seeing Jessica (names have been changed to protect the guilty) for a good three months or so. We met as co-workers at the Gap located on 8th Street and Broadway (Yes! I worked at the Gap for 8 months to help pay for college. I'm not proud...but I was young and needed the money. Striving for the "Denim Expert" position was a low point in my life and required years of therapy to put it behind me. Don't judge!!!) On one particularly lazy afternoon while Jessica and I were getting cozy on my couch, we started to playfully kiss one another while exchanging verbal pleasantries. At one point, between a kiss and a lip nibble, I said, "I really like being with you," to which she replied, "I love you too!" (What? Hold the phone!!!)  

"What did you just say?" I immediately inquired.

"Nothing," she sheepishly recoiled.

"No," I insisted, "not said you loved me!" It was my first time hearing those words and I was probably too smug for my own good. Jessica's only response were sudden tears of overwhelming embarrassment.

She really put her emotions on the line by blurting out an "I love you too" without me initiating with the proper "I love you." In her mind she thought she was returning the sentiment, but in reality she was the one to say it first. Tears were streaming down her soft face. Fortunately, at the time, I felt the same way about her! Kissing away her tears, I reassured he that I felt the same and we then spent the following three years like a married couple...that is, until she left me to rekindle a high-school romance and moved out to go back to Florida. Thus is romance...thus is life. No regrets...

The lesson here is that the awkward "I love you" phase can pounce on you at any given moment, whether you are saying it or hearing it. The moment is the moment, and you must respect that! It takes a lot of courage to take the plunge. If you feel the same, opposite, indifferent, or confused by hearing "I love you" from someone for the first time, you must play your hand with absolute decorum and, again, tact.

So, the second part of the tip is how to tactfully handle each situation when hearing those three little words from the person(s) you are involved with:

  • Scenario #1: You love her/him as well...all is Gothic gravy! In return say that you are in love with them as well, share a passionate and meaningful kiss...progress your relationship from there.
  • Scenario #2: You saw this coming but are not ready to return the sentiment -- This is the first touchy scenario. If you aren't ready to commit and declare your love back to this person, politely state the following in a really respectful manner (or something very similar): "I am really flattered by your words, and I am very fond of you as must understand that...but I find that saying "I love you" back at this time is too fast for me, and I wouldn't want to lie to you if I did say it. I just want to be absolutely sure of my feelings for you before I say you understand?" and then have an intelligent discussion about your feelings for one another, making sure that no one leaves hurt, angry, or pressured.
  • Scenario #3: You are really not into this person, or are very indifferent...this is the second touchy scenario (stalkers are made of these). If you are in a casual relationship and the "I love you" bomb is dropped on you at a point in which you are totally uncommitted or unattached to the other person, this step will undoubtedly seem premature and unwarranted...not to mention unexpected and uncomfortable. This is when you have to be blunt and to the point. "Whoa! Let's slow down here! I like you and all, but this is way too sudden. I don't want to hurt your feelings, but please understand, I simply can't rush into things right you understand where I'm coming from?" From the conversation that follows assess the relationship and either progress within it or end it at the next opportune occasion.
Of course these three scenarios are very generalized and you will find that each situation is rather unique. The guideline is to treat each situation with respect, tact, and genuine decorum as to not completely shatter some one's open and vulnerable heart.

In short, whether you declare your love, or are on the receiving end, or you both arrive at the plateau of love gradually and mutual, be sure to tread lightly and take into strong consideration the other person's feelings and emotions!

Bonus: How to say "I Love You" in other languages:

Afrikaans: Ek is lief vir jou!
Albanian: Te dua!
Amharic: Afekrishalehou!
Arabic: Ohiboke (m to f), Nohiboka (f to m, or m to m)
Armenian: Yes kez si'rumem!
Basque: Maite zaitut!
Bengali: Ami tomake bahlobashi!
Bosnian: Volim te!
Bulgarian: Obicham te!
Catalan: T'estimo!
Creole: Mi aime jou!
Croatian: Volim te!
Czech: Miluji tev!
Danish: Jeg elsker dig!
Dutch: Ik hou van je! 
Esperanto: Mi amas vin!
Estonian: Mina armastan sind!
Farsi: Tora dost daram!
Filipino: Iniibig kita!
Finnish: (Mä) rakastan sua!

Frisian: Ik hald fan dei!
Galician: Querote!
German: Ich liebe dich!
Greek: S'ayapo!
Gujarati: Hoon tane pyar karoochhoon! tane chaahuN chhuN!
Hawaiian: Aloha wau ia 'oe!
Hebrew: Anee ohev otakh (m to f), Anee ohevet otkha (f to m), Anee ohev otkha (m to m), Anee ohevet otakh (f to f)
Hindi Mai tumase pyar karata hun (m to f), Mai tumase pyar karati hun (f to m)
Hungarian: Szeretlek!
Icelandic: Eg elska thig!
Indonesian: Saya cinta padamu!
Irish: t'a gr'a agam dhuit!
Italian: Ti amo!
Japanese: Kimi o ai shiteru!
Korean: Dangsinul saranghee yo!
Latin: Te amo!
Latvian: Es tevi milu!
Lithuanian: As tave myliu!
Malaysian: Saya cintamu!
Mandarin: Wo ai ni!
Marshallese: Yokwe Yuk!
Norwegian: Jeg elsker deg!
Polish: Kocham ciebie!
Portuguese: Eu te amo!
Romanian: Te iubesc!
Russian: Ya tyebya lyublyu!
Sanskrit: twayi snihyaami
Serbian: Volim te!
Sesotho: Kiyahurata!
Slovak: Lubim ta!
Slovenian: Ljubim te!
Spanish: Te amo!
Swahili: Nakupenda!
Swedish: Jag älskar dig!
Tagalog: Mahal kita!
Thai: Phom rug khun (Male speaker) Chan rug khun (Female speaker)
Turkish: Seni seviyorum!
Ukrainian: Ya tebe kokhayu!
Urdu: Main tumse muhabbat karta hoon!
Vietnames:e Anh yeu em (m to f), Em yeu an (f to m)
Welsh: Rwy'n dy garu di!
Yiddish: Kh'hob dikh lib!
Zulu: Ngiyakuthanda!


  1. Elvish: Amin Mela Lle
    Klingon: qaparHa’

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