How Different Cultures Say "I Love You"
Impress your partner with the language of love...
Ask anyone what romance looks like, and, if they hail from the United States, they'll probably mention dozens of red roses, chocolates, and lots of flickering candles.
In other cultures, however, the loving expressions Americans are more familiar with might get lost in translation. That's because, all around the world, various countries and peoples have their own ways of saying "I love you." Find out how other cultures say those three little words and, who knows, you may just pick up a new trick or two.
In Japan, public displays of affection – even hand-holding – are highly looked down upon, especially among members of the older generation. Therefore, Japanese people tend to rely on other gestures to show their partners how much they care. For example, a woman might make her partner his lunch (called a "bento"), allowing him to boast to his male colleagues about the incredible "aisai bento" (meaning "beloved-wife bento") he gets to enjoy. In this way, the act of taking care of each other is seen as the best way to say "I love you."
Love Tip: The way to his heart is through his stomach. Show your partner you truly care about a home-cooked meal.
All around the world, various countries and peoples have their own ways of saying 'I love you'...
A recent study by Oxford University [PM1] [WU2] found that Swedish men have the potential to make the best husbands. The study suggests that since they're more enlightened than most about gender equality, Swedes don't expect their partners to do all the domestic duties; rather, they happily pitch in with laundry, cooking, child-care, and cleaning. Talk about an expression of love: Who needs chocolate when you don't have to spend the weekend folding clothes?
Love Tip: When your sweetie has a busy week, offer to help him out with his weekly household chores. Better yet, surprise him with a basket of freshly folded laundry.
While we're familiar with equating a dozen roses with romance, such a gesture would be a major faux pas in Russia. Sending an even number of flowers is reserved exclusively for funerals. Russian women prefer simple gestures – think expressions of love via poetry – and they shy away from men who send expensive gifts. In fact, they are likely to refuse a pricey present if it might make them feel indebted to the giver.
Love Tip: Though he might not appreciate flowers in the same way you do, you can still use flower power by lightly applying some floral scented perfume to attract your man.
In many Latin American countries, language itself defines love. Unlike in English, in Spanish there are actually two ways to say "I love you": "Te quiero" and "Te amo." The first is used to express love for friends, family, your favorite heels and your pet, while the other is used solely for romantic expression. Saying "Te amo" to another person is a very big deal since it's reserved solely for that one special someone.
Love Tip: Though he intuitively knows it, never underestimate the power of saying “I love you.”
The Wodaabe tribe in Africa holds an annual, week-long courtship ritual called "Gerewol" in which men put on a beauty pageant of sorts to vie for the attention of the tribe's young, available women. After spending days grooming and beautifying themselves, men strut their stuff in front of a mainly female audience hoping to impress the ladies with their dance moves and dashing looks.
Love Tip: Though he might not be jetting off to a fashion show, compliment your partner’s looks, dress, hair … you name it. It’ll make his day, and remind him how attracted you are to him both physically and emotionally.
- Match.com: Saying I Love You Around the World
- CNN: The World's Most Romantic Nationalities
- MasterRussian.com: Russian Women
- ListVerse: Crazy Courtship Rituals from Around the World
About the Author
Journalist Natasha Burton has written for Cosmopolitan for Latinas, Maxim, Cosmopolitan.com, and WomansDay.com, among others. The author of "101 Quizzes for Couples" and "The Little Black Book of Big Red Flags," she is regularly called on as a relationship expert by various media outlets around the world.