Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Ways to say I love you

The ways to say I love you.

How do I love thee? Wrote Elizabeth Barrett Browning, “let me count the ways” and just as the poet does this, so we know there are many ways to say I love you, or should that be many ways to show how you love someone. She loves her love “freely” “purely” “I love thee with passion” “from the ends of beings.” This is a woman who is saying how she loves him in words that are as effective as “I love you”

You can show your love by making great sacrifices. “Sacrificing your happiness for the happiness of the one you love is by far, the truest type of love.” (Oscar Wilde).

This is what my heroine in Dangerous Enchantment does initially; she sacrifices everything to protect the boy entrusted to her care. This shows her love for him. She never has to say I love you” he knows that by the things she does.

When Robert Burns wrote of his love, he said she was like “a red red rose”. That’s newly sprung in June,”
How wonderful to be told that you are loved that much. What could be more perfect than a red rose dripping with dew…sigh.

And John Donne so wants to stay abed with his love that he wishes the sun gone. He is angry that the sun comes in creeping through the curtains, meaning that he will have to part from his love. “Busy old fool, unruly sun, why dost thou thus through windows and curtains call upon us…”

But perhaps the question this week is not quite as esoteric as it might seem. How do we writers show love? It can be tedious to write “I love you” and how many of us keep the reader’s waiting for the words to be spoken. How does the reader know that the hero or heroine is in love? We can describe their inner feelings, how they feel when they see their heart’s desire. The things they do, the softening of the alpha male. The kindness to the heroine that he, unexpectedly shows. And we can show it by our protagonist’s pain when one or the other seems to be attracted to someone else! Not jealousy but a pain of loss.

With Valentine’s Day having occurred this week all minds are on love, but isn’t it a bit trivialized by this commercialization? It does irritate me when peple say “love yu” and you know they can’t possibly. Why do they say that, it would be better to say “Like you!” Or is that me being terribly mean because I know I won’t get any flowers or cards this year? Perhaps. I am only human after all.

Oh but wait…yes I did receive some flowers, from an ex-student of mine so there
Doesn’t that tell you something? It might not be romantic love but it shows love of a kind and a love that is precious too.

Ways to say, “I love you”? Nothing sounds better than those three words if you are in love, and as Francine pointed out, how much sexier they sound in a foreign language.


  1. Wonderful post, Margaret! I love all the examples from the poets that you've reminded us of.
    And I do agree about the commercialism of St. Valentine's Day. A friend of mine wrote on FB yesterday: "I'm so very grateful for my wife who loves the non-forced expressions of my love for her like freshly picked wildflowers, a scrubbed kitchen floor and a hot cuppa tea in the morning." I thought that was a wonderful way of saying 'I love you.' Better than all the sentimental Valentine's Day cards you see in the shops!

  2. Spot on - does she know what a treasure she has?I hope she does!

  3. Did you get the e-card I sent you, Margaret?
    I agree that actions are a wonderful way to show how much we love. Several times in my life pure love has radiated palpably through my body like a wave of powerful energy. Once, I was looking at my husband across a crowded room. Another time, I was fixing dinner and I looked at him and my son playing in the living room. Typing 'I love you' seems too small unless I couple it with an effort to put that feeling of pure love into words.

  4. Hi Ana, No I haven't received an e-card so far.
    Did you send it to my google address? I will check and see if it's there. I don't go into that particular account very often. Cheers Margaret.

  5. She does, Margaret. Her response was "I don't need anything special on Valentine's Day because I have you all the time." They've been married about 25 years, and I thought that was a beautiful exchange between them.

  6. Hi,

    Lovely post Margaret, and the piece about a heroine who "sacrifices" everything for another is so perfect for a romance. Especially, one in which things are going brilliantly until disaster/tragedy strikes and then the heroine willingly intends/wishes to set the hero free from upcoming marriage. Needless to say, being a true hero he won't let her go and fights his corner but it's tough on him all the same! And yes, it's the theme from my latest contemporary novel. ;)


  7. Perfect quotes today, Margaret.

    I know Valentine's Day is steeped in tradition, but with all of its commercialization, I tend to think of it as a Hallmark Holiday - although not quite as bad a Sweetest Day! My hubby and I always promise to NOT do anything for each other. We celebrate our love all year long, not just one day out of the year.

  8. That is a lovely idea, Debra and quite right too.
    I do like the US idea of Valtentine's being inclusive,i.e. Grannies and Dads and Mums but it has got crazy.
    Sounds an interesting plot, Francine.
    Paula that so echoes John and I!

  9. So glad it reminded you of your happiness with John, Margaret. No-one can take those memories away from you.
    I hadn't realised at one time that Valentines were so inclusive in the US (and Canada too) since that's not the case here - Valentines are for lovers (or hoped-for lovers!). One year I got a Valentine card from a Canadian friend (can I name-drop again? - she was actually Canada's first woman astronaut and I met her in 2002 and got on really well with her). The following year she sent me a Valentine card and I sent a message to an English-born friend in Canada saying 'Huh? What does this mean?" Of course, this friend fell about laughing and explained that general greetings were sent on Valentines Day, so it was not what I thought it might be!
    On a final note, my WIP is set in Egypt, so I checked out the Egyptian for 'I love you' which is 'ana bahibbik' which, to my ears, doesn't sound the least bit romantic LOL.

  10. I guess it depends on the way it's said!!