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The Meaning of Love

“Nothing is mysterious, no human relation. Except love.”
Susan Sontag


Welcome to the month of LOVE!

Valentine’s Day is upon us and once again shops are filled with cutesie love hearts and chocolates. Florists are brimming with roses, restaurants are making preparations for this wonderful day and anywhere you go there is always a reminder- online promotions and deals, TV/radio ads, shopping suggestions on free commuter magazines. It’s madness! As the date draws closer the hype gets stronger and stronger and people find themselves going doolally trying to find the perfect present for a loved one or a date for this fateful night:

GOTTA get a date, GOTTA get a date, GOTTA get a Valentine’s date!!!!

The meaning of love, Red gerbera flowers, glitter hearts and ribbons

The importance of being loved or finding love has clouded our judgement as millions of pounds are being spent around the world to inform someone that you have a crush on, fancy or love them.  So has Valentine’s Day lost its true meaning?  Shouldn’t  it be less about the showy things and more  about the simple things, like passing a note to a sweetheart during class, or just smiling or plucking up the courage to speak to someone you have fancied for months on the bus?

valentine's day coupleLOVE… what a word! Such a mysterious and all-encompassing word.

In many languages there are different ways of expressing love.

For example, in Portuguese I love you would be translated to Te amo, but there is another way to tell somebody that you care for them dearly, which is  eu gos to (I like you a lot)

The same applies to Italian with Ti amo and Ti voglio bene, in French with Je t’aime and  je t’aime bien and even in German Ich liebe dich and Ich mag dich.

However, in English we only use one expression, and that is I love you, and it can mean different things depending on who you are speaking to. Let’s look at some examples:

To a partner

I love you is often whispered softly into an ear, or uttered after a lingering stare. You all know this feeling, don’t you? This is the most romantic use of the expression and shows commitment and a strong connection to the other person.

To your best friend

  • I love you is often said to a friend after a couple of drinks (or more!) and what it really means is “You are my friend and I really, really like you, and you get me, so I will stick with you through thick or thin, and I am a bit tipsy but you know what I mean” usually followed by a bear hug and a couple of tears.
  • I love you could also mean “thank you” to a friend for helping you out when you are in difficulty: “I can’t believe you agreed to help me move….I love you!”

To your hairdresser

When you say “oh my god, I love you” at the end of your hair appointment, you want to tell your hairstylist that that they did an amazing job and that you are extremely pleased with your new haircut.

To a colleague

You can use I love you when you have managed to get somebody to cover for you or agree to something.

“So you can come in early to cover my shift? OMG I love you!” or in this conversation

Fay: “I’m rushing off to class and I don’t have time to photocopy page 75.”

Simon: “I’m free now. I’ll do it for you.”

Fay: “Thank you sooooooo much. I LOVE you!”

To your barista

Imagine you are a regular at a coffee shop and after a night out you come in looking and feeling a bit worse for wear and your coffee is made without you even ordering it. As you collect your coffee you sheepishly say “Oh my God, thanks, I love you!”

This I love you means “I am so totally grateful that you acknowledge me every day and that you remembered my order, particularly when I NEED coffee the most!”

To a shop assistant

You can use I love you when your size is unavailable on the shop floor and the shop assistant goes out of her way to find your item in the warehouse.

When she arrives holding your item you shout out “I can’t believe you found it. I absolutely love you” in delight.

These are just a few examples, but my point is, don’t be afraid to declare your love on any day of the year, not just on Valentine’s Day!

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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